Another Year – The Giving Keys
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Another Year

I was hospitalized at a mental health acute crisis facility on December 6th, 2015. You know, what everyone calls the "insane asylum" (I call it "crazy jail"). As with everyone who's walked through those doors, I was volun-told to be admitted (translation: admit myself). I immediately flatlined into despondency; I was just too exhausted to pretend to want to live.

I have a whole list of reasons for my being in the hospital, and they all have really fun names: avoidant personality disorder, bipolar disorder, dermatillomania, schizophrenia... I'll stop there, since all of the mental illnesses I'm blessed with are socially unacceptable to acknowledge as things that exist anyway (a fact that I am painfully, bitterly, and self-deprecatingly aware of).

I spent my 22nd birthday in the hospital, and I tried to look forward to discharge so that I could actually feel something, possibly even something resembling happiness, to be alive to see another year. I left the hospital after 10 days, and my family gave me a not-hospital birthday dinner a few days later. One of the gifts I received was a key: "BREATHE" was its name. This was my first experience with The Giving Keys, and I was deeply attached to my key from the moment my aunt gave it to me.

I wore my key every single day, especially to the outpatient Partial Hospitalization Program I'm now in. I didn't feel safe until I had that necklace on, until I could close my fingers around my key and clutch it close.

One of the patients in the program was having a particularly hopeless day, and the moment I heard her try to explain through sobs that she couldn't take the pain of living anymore, I knew that I'd found the person who needed this key more than I now did. I told her about The Giving Keys, and gave her a hug and all of my well-wishes for a meaningful future.

Now, I'm going to begin traveling another path on the long, long journey to recovery, one guided by a different charm and the hope my key has inspired.

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