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2022.11.23 Message from Matt (My Week in the Psych Ward)

Hi there!

I have a lot to be grateful for this year: everyone in my family is healthy, I have a loving, devoted, brilliant, stunning wife, I get to make food clothes for a living, and I made it through one of the most challenging times in my life this year.

For much of 2021, I was experiencing mania or hypomania resulting from bipolar disorder. This heightened state was exacerbated by the fact that I was developing an addiction to ketamine that quickly got out of hand. While those closest to me knew I was doing it, no one knew its level. I had experienced a few manic episodes earlier in life, but never to this extent. By the beginning of 2022, I often slept 3 or 4 hours a night, sometimes not at all, and even experienced full-blown psychosis for a couple of short spells. Shit got real quick, and I put everyone around me through hell I wouldn't wish on even my worst enemies. I have grappled with substance abuse for close to 25 years, and as you may know, I haven't had a drink in almost four years because it was ruining my life, and I felt like it would someday cost me everything or even kill me. And just like years ago, with my drinking, the closest people to me were at a loss on how to help me, and things were getting rapidly worse. They made the difficult decision to have me committed after I returned from a trip to Austin, where I made some (to put it lightly) alarming calls to them and displayed erratic behavior that put me in danger. I wrote some details here last night but have edited them out today. Partly, I'm not ready to share, and partly I have to save something for my memoir, ya know?! I haven't put much of this down on paper before, so I'm processing a bit as I go, so excuse me if this is a bit disjointed.

After a couple of days of hiding out from my family in hotel rooms, I was picked up by two police officers from a psychiatrist appointment and told that I needed to go with them to the ER to be checked out. Even though I agreed to go without a struggle and was not under arrest, they cuffed me and then wouldn't uncuff me even when I was sitting calmly in a hospital bed. I was going through severe back pain then, and the cuffs and position they had me in were painful. I asked again to be uncuffed, growing increasingly restless. The next thing I knew, I was being held down by a nurse at the hospital, given a shot, and I woke up 8 hours later in a psych ward surrounded by primarily people battling schizophrenia and other grave mental health disorders.

I couldn't (and can't) believe places like this still exist. They offered no genuine assistance to patients there, and most were treated as subhuman. There was no therapy, no exercise, no books, nothing that resembled actual care. There was human shit smudged on the wall of my room from a previous inhabitant, right next to a marker-drawn swastika. I stabilized within 24 hours or so of being there and found myself in the unique position of being the sanest person in a mental hospital, staff included. Patients met with the psychiatrist in the hallway, where everyone else on the floor could hear the entire session. I could go on and on about how terrible this hospital was, and if I can find a lawyer or a journalist to help me take down this awful for-profit (of course) $1100/day facility, I will do so. No one deserves to be treated the way they treat their patients. But that's not the point of this story, at least not at this time. And if we're looking for silver linings, which at this point in life, we fucking should be, I was able to sober up and get to a stable mental state at that shithole. I'm thankful for that.

I spent an entire week in the hospital, with no access to the internet and 5-10 minutes of phone time a day. But Brooke, MR EATWELL's COO, held down the company and dealt with my family (not an easy task) while I was gone. Like a boss. Thank you, Brooke.

I began re-building trust with Chera while I was in there, knowing that we had a long way to go once I got out to get back to a place where marriage seemed like a good idea again (spoiler alert: we got there, and I'm so fucking thankful to have her by my side as my wife). My younger brother, who is also my best friend, eventually allowed me to earn back his trust and vice versa. I spent the next couple of months in a pretty serious funk. You don't spend a year going up up up without a severe comedown, and there were times when I thought I would never be the same. I struggled to find the motivation to continue running this business, and creativity was nowhere to be found. But I found a doctor that specialized in what I was going through and some non-traditional methods of therapy, and I began doing the work. Chera and I found a couples counselor we could see when we needed an unbiased third party to help us work through the issues that arise when something significant like that happens in a relationship. And I pushed through. We pushed through.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote that I didn't know if the business would survive because we were sitting on a lot of inventory, and cash flow was nearly non-existent. The other part of that equation is that I made some rash and expensive business decisions while I was manic and could not push through the depression at times this year to do what I needed to do professionally. But the sale we ran last week ended up being massive for us, and we're in a better spot now than I thought we would be. There's still plenty of work to do to get to a place where I feel comfortable, but we're on the right track, and hopefully, after this coming weekend, we'll be in an even better position.

I know many companies have already started their Black Friday sales and encourage people to shop from now until next week. But the truth is that I believe that Thanksgiving should be a time when a. You get to spend quality time with your family and friends and not scour the internet for deals on shit you want before it sells out, and b. Brooke and I should be able to do the same. There aren't many of us that work here, and we always want to be available during a big sale to answer your customer service questions.

So, we'll be closed on Thanksgiving for the second year in a row. The site will go dark early Thursday morning until midnight ET when our biggest sale of the year will start. Everything will be 25% off. There are no catches, no exclusions, just a big old discount on all the stuff we have in stock. We'll send out an e-mail on Friday morning to remind you, but if you are still reading this, you probably have been down with this brand for a while, so I'll tell you that if you're still awake at midnight, you should hit the site and grab what you want because it could be gone by the time you wake up in the morning.

I'm not sure why I am sharing this story with you, a relative stranger (or you might be someone who knows me personally and maybe didn't know that this had happened. Hit me up, and we can talk about it if you want.) When I started writing this, it was not my intention to do so; I just wanted to say that I'm thankful for my family (both the ones I was born with and the one I have chosen, my friends, and you. And, of course, Fred. But I think it's important to know that even people that seem to have their shit together might also be going through full-blown mental health crises and spending 150 hours in a Girl Interrupted-style facility. So many of us suffer in silence because, as a culture, we have stigmatized mental health issues. But we don't have to. Everyone's got their shit, ya know? And it's easier to deal with that shit when you know you're not alone.

Appreciate your time and you. You are a rockstar, and I always say this, but without you, there would be no MR EATWELL.

If you think I can make your life even a little bit better, please do not hesitate to reach out to helpme@mreatwell.com; I wouldn't be here if it weren't for the people who stood by me during my most challenging days, so I'm here for you.

Best,

Matt

P.S. Ketamine can be a LIFE-CHANGING drug, in a controlled medical setting. It is best used in moderation, to be sure (find a good doctor with expertise!); it is unmatched in its ability to help you see things from another perspective and work through issues. It is beneficial for depression, addiction, and PTSD, to name a few. If you have any questions about this, I'm happy to talk to you and point you in the right direction. Okay, that's it for real. Have a great Thanksgiving; you're amazing.

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9 comments

  • Blair Root

    Just wanted to say you’re an amazing human being and me and my husband both love your suits and we appreciate you! Thank you and happy thanksgiving 🫶🫶🫶🫶

  • Mally Wagon

    Boat face,

    Please accept this note in lieu of me texting or calling (I don’t have your number any more).

    I actually had a dream about you the other night after seeing that pic of your beautiful wife in the bathtub (never thought I’d write that sentence and it not be weird).

    I’m glad you got some help, have a strong support system, and are navigating through as optimistically as you can.

    Writing it out has always helped me sort my shit out; please keep doing it. The accountability factor comes into play, so sharing is probably a good thing. But selfishly, thank you for sharing because I like keeping up with you.

    I want you to know that I genuinely like and care about you. I will always consider you a friend. We’ve had some fun times.

    I’m sorry I didn’t reach out or know you were going through it to remind you how special you are when you probably needed to hear it most.

    I admire your dark humor, your resilient spirit, your intelligence, your refined taste and creativity, and your openness.

    You’re good people and deserve good things (in moderation, of course). I would love to catch up with you some time.

    Hit me up if you ever pass through.

    I don’t think you have the same number, so if you get this pls email me your number so I can connect with ya. I don’t know if this is public or an email so I’m not going to post my comment here.

  • Myndi

    First, I am so sorry to hear how you were treated & really appreciate you sharing your experience. As the momma of two kiddos (ok, they’re men, but still my babies) that have been on similar paths with mental health & substance use challenges I want you to know how glad I am that you are here, getting the support that you need & thriving. This NEEDS to become ok to discuss & our system MUST do better. Thanks again for sharing your story. I will be sharing it with my special people too. Big loving, motherly hugs to you, Matt!!!

  • Meg Roberts

    Thank you for sharing your story. You are so brave and so strong.
    I suffer in silence a lot too, but trying to work through it.
    I wish you all the best on your healing journey. One thing that helps me, is to remind myself that healing is not a linear process.
    You got this! And I know we are strangers but your story hit close and I wanted you to know (which I know you know) you’re not alone!
    I love all the suits I have gotten from you and wear them very proud!

    Cheering you on!

    All the positive healing vibes,
    Loyal customer Meg xo

  • Tracy L

    This was incredibly inspiring and eye-opening for me. I’ve had the “grippy sock” experience four or five times starting at age 14.
    I was at Saint Francis in PK. There was no difference other than being cuffed. Shit on the walls. People trying to pull their own teeth out. Doctors and nurses who could give two shits about you calling your mom. Meetings in the hallways without parents or an advocate present. (Peer Advocates are a thing now that you can request at certain hospitals to sit with you in your meetings to make sure it is person-centered and you have a say in your care and treatment. It’s part of my job although I am not on the frontlines.)
    It was the most awful experience of my life and I did it a handful of times because there simply isn’t another option when it comes to mental health. See a therapist, or check yourself in. There’s no in between. Aside from this- tmi maybe but near and dead to me- in 2018 I lost my best friend on planet earth, my brother- to mental illness. It is very real and it is very real for men too. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I would be happy to chat about it any time.
    I would also like to suggest the documentary called “Willowbrook: The Last Great Disgrace,” an expose by Geraldo Rivera fifty years ago this year. It’s horrible and sad but it shows how far- and how short we’ve come when it comes to mental illness.

    All the best always,

    Tracy

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