Finding Hope When Facing a Mental Health Crisis

By Melissa Mollner

Photo by Emily Fletke

Photo by Emily Fletke

It was Easter morning of 2010. A friend took me to get bagels and then drove me to be checked into the psychiatric hospital in my hometown. Two other close friends met us at the hospital.

As we sat in the intake room, I felt calm because I knew these life-long friends had my best interests at heart, but also overcome with fear and confusion as to why I was there. My mind was unraveling and creating an alternate reality that nobody around me shared.

At the time I was 28, living in a Los Angeles beach town, working as a project manager at an advertising agency, and part of a vibrant church community.

Triggered by a recurrence of childhood trauma, I was on the downward spiral of a mental breakdown. I had been sleepless for days, and driving back and forth from LA to my hometown, a 90 minute journey.

This hospitalization was the start of a severe manic episode that lasted several months and ended with an eventual diagnosis of bipolar disorder.

Days after being discharged from the hospital in California, while on leave of absence from my job, I flew to New York City to visit a friend who didn’t know my circumstances and thought I just needed a little trip away from everything.

What followed sounds like something out of a movie. After two weeks in the city, I quit my LA job by email and booked a room at The Plaza. (I had really expensive taste!) My behavior became alarming to the staff and led to me being taken by ambulance from a side entrance at The Plaza to St. Luke’s psychiatric facility. I was sedated and woke up the next morning alone in a padded room.

Although mental illness runs in my family, it wasn’t addressed or discussed in our home. When I found myself smack dab in the nightmare of a mental health crisis, I didn’t know what to do.

I spent one month at St. Luke’s. Although not fully well when discharged, I was taken in a cab from the hospital to the airport, and I flew back to California.

HITTING ROCK BOTTOM

Even though I was back “home,” I found myself to be at the most devastating point in my life.

Being released from the hospital to my new reality seemed more of a nightmare than my stay in hospital. The feeling of shame and the notion of talking to people about my experience filled me with considerable fear. I cut myself off from many people because I struggled to openly share what I had been through.

I had no vision for how my situation could be turned around. It felt huge and daunting. Everything seemed difficult. But my faith in God and prayer kept me alive and fighting during that time.

My prayers for God’s help became very basic. I prayed before every social situation. “Help me” was at times the only prayer I could muster because of the anxiety I felt.

I remember being in my car before therapy, praying for God to get me through the hour because I felt numb and didn’t know what I was going to talk about.

Once I was well enough to interview for jobs, I prayed, “God, can you give me an honest way to answer the inevitable question about the lapse in my employment without getting into my history?”

One answer to prayer was the wonderful community, new and old friends, I joined as I got involved with the theatre where I grew up doing shows.

God answered my prayers over and over. A thousand of those little prayers amounted to so much. I still asked God, “Why me?” and “Why mental illness?” I don’t think I ever got a specific answer, but I know that he faithfully strengthened and carried me through this time.

As odd as this sounds, almost everything in my life is where it is today because of that life altering event. And that’s a good thing.

THERE IS ALWAYS HOPE

I’ve learned there is always hope.

I moved to NYC in 2015. Living in the city where much of my mental breakdown played out is redemptive. When I walk past The Plaza, I can now look back at the incredible journey I have been on.

Nine years later, this Easter looked very different! I served with the amazing worship team at my church. While there, a friend prayed over me for the weight of all that has to be done before my production of Revelation: The Musical opens Off-Broadway on May 9, 2019.

Producing Revelation: The Musical is truly a dream come true. God has aligned so many details over the course of years to make it happen. I get to bring an incredible show that points to hope to New York City.

In this process I have found myself back to praying a lot of little prayers. Sometimes the bigger the mountain to climb, the smaller, more frequent, and more specific our prayers need to be. Call out to God, and he will be faithful to you — no matter what.

Revelation: The Musical runs from May 9 to June 9, 2019 in NYC. If you need to experience true joy, this is the show for you.

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Melissa, always and forever a Southern California girl at heart, has loved calling New York City home for the past 4 years on the Upper West Side. This summer she's excited to be venturing north, moving to the Washington Heights neighborhood surrounded by an incredible community of friends and artists. Melissa is Producer of Revelation: The Musical, opening Off-Broadway May 9. www.RevelationTheMusical.com