July 21st, 2019 marked the four-month anniversary since my work accident. As this blog’s title states, I am still recovering even four months later. Out of the seven injuries, about four of them are still giving me issues with knees being the worst. The strained groin area is a close second. If you read my last blog then you know I am also recovering in my mental health. If you have not read it yet, here’s an easy access link just for you: Passed Out While Holding an Oxygen Mask. It is an easy and quick read. Go ahead on over, I’ll wait here until you’re done reading it.
This Summer was meant to be filled with fun and adventure. It was going to kick off by being the best man in my editor and close friend’s wedding. Next was to enjoy being back in this area, spending time with family and friends. I imagined being an Uber or Lyft driver for a few months to help make some extra spending cash to prevent depleting my savings. Some fundraising for the cross-continental trip and youth ministry in Alaska was also on the agenda. Then, pack my remaining things at my parents’ house in my dad’s van, which would then become mine. Last and certainly not least the Summer was to conclude by driving all the way back to Alaska. However, on June 16th, all of that took a detour.
Since my accident on March 21st, my mental health has been challenged. It is no understatement to say that this is the worst and longest cycle of depression I have faced in my entire life. With everything that had happened this past year, it became harder and harder to remain healthy due to the continuous experiences of trauma and setbacks. At some point, a depression cycle started post-accident on March 21st and did not end until about a few weeks ago when I was discharged from a behavioral hospital. That’s right, the detour on June 16th I mentioned… was for hospitalization. I self-admitted to the Reading ER on that Sunday for suicide ideation. Within 24 hours I was transferred to Haven Behavioral Hospital. I was under 24/7 care and attended daily group therapy sessions. Once discharged from inpatient care, I opted into a step-down program called Partial Hospitalization Program or PHP. I received a certificate for completing the program. I am now in outpatient therapy. This is when you meet one on one with a therapist. In addition, every few months you check in with a psychiatrist to go over your medication(s).
Due to focusing on myself and my mental health, not a whole lot has happened for me this Summer. In fact, to avoid extra stress I canceled all my speaking engagements and fundraisers for the months of June and July. Any time I spent with people was focused on my immediate family. This step was to avoid depleting myself from talking about Alaska with everyone. I have considered for a while now how I would handle sharing this news publicly. For the sake of myself, to prevent having to tell everyone individually, and to help raise awareness, I have decided to journal out this blog in hopes that it sheds some light for someone facing similar difficulties. The biggest obstacle I faced was the stigmas around inpatient care and mental health in general. Since going into inpatient care the majority, if not all of the stigmas have been dispelled. I was well taken care of by the staff at Haven and would recommend them to anyone in need of their services. They are located on the 100 block of N. 6th Street in Reading, Pennsylvania.
While I put everything on hold these past two months, I determined I no longer had the mental stamina for a cross-continental trip. As a result, my personal belongings, my chinchilla, and the van will remain in Pennsylvania indefinitely. I will be flying back to Alaska in the middle of August to resume my job at the school. Once back in Alaska, I plan to take a break from most things including ministry. I need to ease back into things and see what I can handle. But, that’s an update for the next blog…
A BIG shout out to all my amazing family and friends who have been so helpful to me during this time of intense care. I wouldn’t have progressed as quickly as I did in the short amount of time without all of your support. Thanks for the hugs, the visits, the encouragement, helping to do little things like make sure my bills got paid, and to the big things like my editor telling me, “I’d rather have you around for decades than one day.” as he graciously relieved me of my best man duties so I could focus on me. With that, I bid you a good day and thank you for reading!
Save the Date:
Tuesday, August 13th
4:30pm – 7:30pm
Spirit Night at Chick-fil-A Berkshire Mall
Author: A. P. Smither
Editor: P. J. Walk