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My Voluntary Commitment to a Mental Institution: Pt. 1

Updated on November 19, 2012


Too Many, Too Much

The Fourth of July-Fireworks, Indeed

The Fourth of July this year, 2012, was not a celebratory event for me, not at all. In fact, it was one of the most bizarre and disturbing days of my life.

I am one of the most tolerant and calm people I know; I am a homemaker, a writer, full time grandmother of a 22 month old little boy, the caretaker of 4 dogs, 4 cats, 1 hen, and a husband; it goes without saying that these 'duties' carry quite a lot of responsibility. It is a veritable zoo here in my home; however, I am usually able to handle day-to-day challenges with ease and even pleasure.

Expecting to enjoy the usual activity, I began my routine: showering, making coffee, feeding the animals, and waiting for my grandson's arrival. My husband had already left for work, and was not aware of my distress at the time.

Rather than nonchalantly going about my business, I began feeling annoyed and resentful of virtually everything that needed me and expected me to serve them somehow; I have always felt that I was a 'natural giver', but on this day, I wanted no part of it, I was through.

Uncharacteristically, I began screaming at the animals-particularly the dogs-and their usual demands for food, water, and going outside; I was actually resentful of the dogs' wagging tails and their enthusiastic morning greetings. As soon as they calmed a bit, I insisted they go outside so that I could have some peace. My expectation of serenity was not met, not at all.

My Initial Symptoms

Rather than sitting down and enjoying my coffee, finally without the animal-induced chaos, something within seemed to unravel. The tapestry of my emotions was torn and suddenly without form; I 'watched' myself as my mind began to disintegrate into something alien: a hopeless, malignant, and alarmingly dangerous reality.

As soon as I settled into my rocking chair-a place of peace, usually-I began fantasizing about knives. I began thinking about how I could end my life, I imagined a detailed scenario of the event; It seemed a viable and sensible decision at the time as a solution to my stress-related despair. In addition to the maddening situations at home, I was overwhelmed by seemingly insurmountable financial problems, the recent release of my husband from the hospital, now a changed man, and my decreasing sense of self-esteem.

But rather than act on these delusions, I tearfully phoned the local sheriff's station and reported my intentions.

Books on the Prevention of Suicide

Into the System

After the call, everything seemed to take on a strange quality of its own; it was as if I had sold my very soul to an unknown entity; 'the system' was now in control. I had given my near future to something obscure, the legendary 'big brother' was now my superior, the director of my life. Yet I had volunteered my being to this social structure with semi-blind trust; as a trained/educated sociologist, I was acutely aware of the possible consequences of my actions, yet somewhere in my disturbed mind, I knew I was in desperate need of help.

Thankfully, my husband arrived home from work soon after my conversation with the sheriff and I told him in no uncertain terms that I needed to be driven immediately to the hospital. I mentally noted that he was mystified and concerned by this demand, but in hindsight, I was so self-absorbed that I barely noticed the man at all. We drove the short distance to the E.R. in uncomfortable yet pregnant silence; it was as if he intuited that I was in deep emotional turmoil. I now know that he had sensed the change in my behavior and attitude days before.

The Arrival

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Bound for West Hills Hospital

Upon arrival at the emergency room, and after a number of phone calls to find an open and available bed, the social worker in charge of my 'case' determined that I was to be admitted to West Hills Hospital by ambulance, The hospital is a facility 200 miles from home in Bishop, California. West Hills is in Reno, Nevada-one of my least favorite cities on earth. Despite my misgivings, I went willingly.

Below is the mission statement West Hills provides:

"Acute inpatient hospitalization occurs only with a physician's order for conditions that cannot be safely or effectively treated on an outpatient basis. It is the most intensive level of care offered, providing 24-hour skilled nursing observation; daily interventions and oversight by a psychiatrist; and intensive, highly coordinated treatment by a physician-led team of mental health professionals. Inpatient hospitalization is always short-term and designed to quickly stabilize the most serious symptoms to allow a quick transition to less intensive levels of care.

West Hills Hospital offers acute inpatient care for adults, adolescents ages 13-18, and children ages 4-12. Dual diagnosis programs are available for adults and adolescents with a secondary chemical dependency diagnosis.

Advantages of Acute Inpatient:

  • Safe, controlled, structured environment
  • 24-hour skilled nursing care
  • Intensive physician involvement
  • Physician-led multidisciplinary treatment team
  • Able to utilize both medication and psychotherapy, as appropriate
  • Medically supervised detoxification (for alcohol and drugs)
  • Intensive treatment not available on an outpatient basis
  • Tutorial-based school program available
  • Up to 10 hours of daily programming
  • Seven-day-a-week programming"

Fear of the Unknown


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    • lorlie6 profile imageAUTHOR

      Laurel Rogers 

      13 months ago from Grizzly Flats, Ca

      Thanks so much, cindi! I've also been away from this site for years, and am glad I came back for a moment to read how you 'have been there!' I really get what you said about care is brutal. You take good care, now!

    • cindi h profile image

      cindi h 

      13 months ago

      Hello sweet Laurel,

      I have been away from hubpages for 7 years. I have been through ALOT. As if by fate I came upon your article and truly felt I was reading about myself. I too am a child of the seventies, a wife and mother of three with 2 grandbabies and a third on the way. I am the caregiver for everyone ALL the time, it never ever ends!! So I wore your shoes too. What a brave soul you are and thank the heavens that you sought out help. You are amazing!!!

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Hi Laurel, I realise this is over three years old but your story is relevant to me today so I needed to read it. Thank you for sharing this personal story. I will go read the second part and comment more in depth there. I hope all has improved.

    • lorlie6 profile imageAUTHOR

      Laurel Rogers 

      4 years ago from Grizzly Flats, Ca

      Thanks so much, Peg! I have improved-almost miraculously. I think what I needed to do was "change my thinker"! I am also in recovery from alcohol and prescription meds which was a huge part of my problem, obviously. I now have 68 days clean and sober and so grateful!

      Ahh, Peg, thanks again and take good care of yourself...


    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 

      4 years ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      Went looking for you today after such a long absence and read this heart felt story of your situation. I truly hope by now that you have conquered the impulses that you felt at the time, and thankful that it prompted you to take quick and appropriate action. Without going into it, I experienced a time in my life that I thought I could not face - tried to get out - and thankfully, went on to find much happiness in another time and place. I pray that you are by now up to your usual creative activities, taking care of you rather than everyone else, and happy in your daily life. Your story will definitely give others hope and encouragement to seek help when needed. Love and hugs to you today.

    • Joy56 profile image


      4 years ago

      My heart goes out to you

    • lorlie6 profile imageAUTHOR

      Laurel Rogers 

      5 years ago from Grizzly Flats, Ca

      Wow, mythbuster-sorry for such a late reply, it's inexcusable though probably understandable I hope. Your 'short' comment speaks volumes to me. Thank you. Hang on-I will.

      Maggie-you are quite a lovely for coming here to read this and I truly appreciate it. Depression is insidious. Those soft hugs of yours will not be forgotten-I've never got them before! Bless you!


    • Maggie Crooks profile image

      Maggie Crooks 

      5 years ago

      Hi, Laurie. Thanks for a great description of what depression feels like. I made more of a comment on your 2nd installment. I hope you are doing much better and will continue to improve. Many soft hugs.

    • mythbuster profile image


      5 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      Laurel *HUGS*

      I've been to a head-space and also an institution eerily similar years ago. I can identify with that strange feeling of turning control over after that 1 phone call... the unknown, during short spans of time, is ultimately safer than random thoughts...

    • lorlie6 profile imageAUTHOR

      Laurel Rogers 

      6 years ago from Grizzly Flats, Ca

      So nice to see you here in such short order, bb! The stigma surrounding mental illness and its treatment is alive and well, so those afflicted don't exactly broadcast it.

      I choose to share my story with anyone who'll listen...


    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      What beautiful honesty, and so important that you shared your story. I am guessing but I would imagine this is something that happens to millions of people and we never hear about it. Thank God you made the decision to reach out for help.

      I will head to the second part of this riveting story.

      blessings my new friend


    • lorlie6 profile imageAUTHOR

      Laurel Rogers 

      6 years ago from Grizzly Flats, Ca

      Greetings again, my friend! Interrupted by life? Oh, how I get that...I think it was John Lennon who said "Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans." (One of my very favorite quotes!)

      Growing up is quite a chore, no?

      As always, take good care!


    • vrbmft profile image

      Vernon Bradley 

      6 years ago from Yucaipa, California

      Thanks, Lorlie, for sharing such a personal experience, and I am about to read part 2. I have not kept up with my hubpages notifications and I saw this post about a month ago and started reading and then was interrupted by, by, by LIFE!! oH MY! sO I am here on New Years Eve, catching up a bit on Hubpages. Thanks for sharing. We all learn so much from each other. And our families also learn a lot when we reach those places of being DONE, often times learning to "grow up" a little bit more, and begin helping themselves and become a little less dependent on US!! Well, I am off to part 2. THANKS AGAIN AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!


    • lorlie6 profile imageAUTHOR

      Laurel Rogers 

      6 years ago from Grizzly Flats, Ca

      I was traumatized at the thought of institutionalization, however (as you'll see in the second installment) it was an experience that was essentially positive in its outcome.

      Thanks for stopping by,


    • gsidley profile image

      Dr. Gary L. Sidley 

      6 years ago from Lancashire, England

      Thanks for sharing your personal story. I will shortly go and read the 2nd installment. In particular, I am interested in how you found your in-patient experience. In the United Kingdom (where I live) psychiatric in-patient care has been severely criticized, and rightly so as there are many reports of how admission traumatizes people.

    • lorlie6 profile imageAUTHOR

      Laurel Rogers 

      6 years ago from Grizzly Flats, Ca

      Hi maggs224-your reading means much to this 'unbalanced'-at times!-writer! ;) These days all seems much better-I've gained strength and insight.

      Thanks for the up vote and button-hitting!!!

      Take good care,


    • maggs224 profile image


      6 years ago from Sunny Spain

      A touching account which I am sure will prove to be a help and inspiration to many. I read the second part first but came here as soon as I had finished it.

      I am so glad that things have worked out so well and that you had the insight and courage to do what you did.

      voting up and hitting buttons on my way out

    • lorlie6 profile imageAUTHOR

      Laurel Rogers 

      6 years ago from Grizzly Flats, Ca

      Hi Louisa-I'm so glad you took the time to read this, and am sorry I've yet to write the second part. As John Lennon said, "Life's what happens when you're busy making other plans." And life just started happening once I was released-good things, but challenges that I've been concentrating on in lieu of writing.

      Things do seem to be settling down now...just in time for the holidays! ;) Haha, it never seems to end. Which, I do believe, is a very good thing! The alternative is not on my wish list any longer.

      Thanks so much again for the visit,


    • Louisa Rogers profile image

      Louisa Rogers 

      6 years ago from Eureka, California and Guanajuato, Mexico

      Once I started, I could not stop reading this. I'm amazed at the clarity of your awareness (and your writing clarity) through a series of emotions and mind states that were so disturbing. I found it a bit disconcertling to come to such a abrupt end, when I am so emotionally involved in your story, but I understand this is a series, so I will go follow you. I'm a newbie by the way and just getting the ropes down.

    • lorlie6 profile imageAUTHOR

      Laurel Rogers 

      6 years ago from Grizzly Flats, Ca

      Hi ahorseback!!!!!!! Wow, so great to hear such inspirational words from you, my friend. How's about 1 SECOND at a time??? ;)

      And I've found a daily gratitude list a grand help.

      Much love,


    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Laurel , All I know is that you are too awesome a person to fail. The world awaits your direction , wisdom , and compassion ! I DO understand the addictions , believe me ! A lot of people don't realize that helping {enabling ] others constantly is an addiction too And I know that sometimes our poor grasp on memtal health at times . Depression is a horrible horrible disease , I've been there ! .....Fifteen minutes at a time ! WE can do this ........:-}

    • lorlie6 profile imageAUTHOR

      Laurel Rogers 

      6 years ago from Grizzly Flats, Ca

      Oh, sweetie-we are of a feather, so they say! "They" also say that everyone has his/her breaking point, or as you've coined it, 'unexpected shocks'. And never forget the value of 'faking' normal-you know, 'fake it 'til you make it'! It really does work.

      I didn't mention that my hubby, Anthony, has made a full recovery which is a true blessing-only now we are both sober from alcohol, and quite bored! Now's the time to re-do our home, go for drives up the mountains to see Fall colors, and other things we'd never thought of doing before.

      All is glorious now-one day at a time!!!!!!

      xxxxoooo, Martie,


    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 

      6 years ago from South Africa

      Aauuww, Lorlie, how I wish I could give you a hug! Your reply also meant a lot to me. This hub of yours unexpectedly ripped into the old wounds. Yes, various events can cause the same kind of shock.

      Re your husband's condition. I do believe that medication is often more devastating than the illness. I've developed a rebellious attitude towards medicine, and in particular towards sleeping pills and tranquilizers. My common sense and also observation of others, urged me to believe that it is not good for the brain to be in a horizontal position for longer than 8 hours per 24 hours. The chemicals secreted - which make us sleepy and eventually asleep - is like any other drug extremely dangerous and more so in overdose.

      Thanks again for your reply. Just go with the flow from hour to hour and hold on to your guts. Yes, we tend to think that we are 'weak', but fact is, we are only flesh and blood. We can handle just so much and nothing more.

      I'll keep you in my thoughts. Please keep me informed. I've suffered this condition twice - so I'll be able to understand and support you :) It took me about 2 years to recover, although I've managed to 'function' normal - or rather pretended to function normal. Oh, and I know, an unexpected shock will make me 'fall' again.

      You know the 'fight, flee or fall' command; sometimes falling - (playing dead) - is truly the only option.

      Warm South African hugs to you, Lorlie :)

    • lorlie6 profile imageAUTHOR

      Laurel Rogers 

      6 years ago from Grizzly Flats, Ca

      How wonderful to hear from you, Martie!

      Unfortunately, the topic is not so wonderful. Thanks so much for sharing such an intimate story of your experience-I can truly relate to such betrayal, though in this particular case, betrayal wasn't the immediate issue.

      I was frantic about my hubby-he'd gone through the same 'program' a few weeks prior and came home a different man. His humor had disappeared. He seemed brain-damaged. The attending doctors said this 'slowness' (in speech, thought-processes, memory, etc.) could indeed be permanent. My future was to be a care-taker? Of course I would, he's always been the love of my life, but it hit me like a ton of bricks.

      I think that was my trigger to contemplate suicide. Seemed like the only feasible option.

      So off I went to deal with my 'situational' depression-full on! When you say " I was inherently too weak to face the damn truth..", I don't agree with that assessment of you-since you seem much like me-weakness is such a silly term when folks apply it to MAJOR life events/disappointments/fears...that it really-if one survives, as we have-points to amazing human courage and strength.

      Facing what you had to deal with so suddenly must have called upon your core of being-your courageous soul!!

      I get the sleeping pills, too-quite the escape from the realities you absolutely HAD to face and deal with-for you and your 2 children. And who wouldn't NEED to escape these horrors-at least 'till your strength came back with a vengeance??

      Agghh, people like that ex of yours have to deal with Karma at some time (too bad we don't get to watch, no? ;) )

      This comment has meant the world to me, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

      PS: I am currently doing beautifully-I received some excellent instruction on depression and anxiety...I'm still a walking nut-case-which is just me!-but most of the time, I BELIEVE I AM RIGHT about my perceptions of others!!!!!

      Much Love, Martie,


    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 

      6 years ago from South Africa

      Oh my, lorlie, I remember a day during my 9th year of marriage the exact same thing had happened to me. All of a sudden I was through, no longer willing or able to be the me I was the day before, doing what I was happily doing for 9 years. I was done as in DONE. A shock - the realization that my husband - whom I've trusted with my life and entire (unknown) future - was infatuated with another woman, threw me instantly and completely off balance. (And how I still feel ashamed because I was inherently too weak to face the damn truth!) I had no idea that I was suffering a mental disorder - shock and reactive depression. I thought I was just too tired and disappointed and too fed-up to go on. So I took a sleeping pill.... TEN fooking days later, with an ignorant and unfaithful husband, two children (8 and 6 years old) and myself captured by seemingly merciful Father Sleep, not realizing that I was killing myself by taking a sleeping pill EVERY moment I became aware of reality - my mother finally came all the way (3 hours drive per car) to fetch me and my children and to get me back to life again and to the doctor to be treated with the essential medication. Oh, how I sometime still mourn that sad event in my life!

      And I still realize that I was married to a man who had no clue whatsoever of his wrongdoings, and he is still a heartless narcissist creating and maintaining severe psychological damage in the souls of everybody and all in contact with him. And he is not at all able to realize this. I really wonder exactly how slow and secure the Wheel turns for people like him ????

      Oh, but my story is not half as bad as that of million others. So why do I share it? Just to stress my empathy and total comprehension of the condition you have found yourself in.

      This hub can save somebody's life!

      How are you now, Lorlie?

    • lorlie6 profile imageAUTHOR

      Laurel Rogers 

      6 years ago from Grizzly Flats, Ca

      So good to see you, Eiddwen! Yes, I am getting better with each passing day, feeling stronger.

      Thanks for the kudos,



    • Eiddwen profile image


      6 years ago from Wales

      Hi lorlie so sorry to hear you haven't been well but glad you are now getting back there and as always that you are being brave enough to share your story .

      This was straight from the heart and downright honest.

      This is going to help many others and I now look forward to many more by you.

      Take care my friend.


    • lorlie6 profile imageAUTHOR

      Laurel Rogers 

      6 years ago from Grizzly Flats, Ca

      No offense taken, ahorseback! Yup, 'Nona' here seems to be the 'go to gal' for almost everything, but saying NO is beginning to happen. It's hard but I am proud of myself!

      Thanks for writing again,



    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Laurel , your right , so many of us accept too much -in much of our familys requests or simply in our own sense of responsibility . Its okay for you to say NO! You can teach your children so much more by saying no !, than by caving in for the "better of all ". Men especially are good at expecting a mom or wife or gramma to do that . [Speaking for only my own feelings ]please don't take offense.......:-}....we miss you and care ! Remember that . The souls of us writers blend together here in cyberland !lol.....because we are alike ....Big Huggs ! and Be Well!

    • lorlie6 profile imageAUTHOR

      Laurel Rogers 

      6 years ago from Grizzly Flats, Ca

      ahorseback!!! I am doing very well, thanks for asking. How are YOU? I think my 'sense of responsibility' got me in trouble in the first place emotionally.

      I'm learning to say 'no' these days to demanding family members, have applied to 2 jobs so far-so I am making strides!

      PS: IF I get a job, I'll still try to share here as much as possible!

      Much love,


    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Laurel ! My friend , I have missed this somehow . I hope and pray that you are okay , and yet know that we are never "Okay ", I know one thing care too much about others ! Your sense of responsibility is all inclusive ! "knowing " you is knowing an amazing person . I agree with all the above ....You are brave , and intelligent and we have missed you here ! Please heal for us all that you can ! You and I have known each other for two and a half years and we must continue on ! Your sharing this with us is soo you ! Thank you for that and be well!

    • lambservant profile image

      Lori Colbo 

      7 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      Laurel, I wish I had been so willing my first time to reach out for help. I am sorry you are going through this but I see a lot of hope for you just by your attitude. I look forward to your next installment and hope you hospitalization was a positive on.

      God bless you.

    • Green Lotus profile image


      7 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      You are so smart and so brave Laurel. Thank you for sharing this crisis with your readers. It it sure to help many others who read it.

      Continue to stay strong and be well.

    • lorlie6 profile imageAUTHOR

      Laurel Rogers 

      7 years ago from Grizzly Flats, Ca

      Thanks so much Gypsy 48! It was really strange to call the police, but in the end, I know I did the right thing.

      Thanks for visiting.

    • Gypsy48 profile image


      7 years ago

      Laurel, I admire the way you have handled your situation. You have the strength and smarts to have taken the steps necessary for your well being. Looking forward to part 2, take care:)

    • lorlie6 profile imageAUTHOR

      Laurel Rogers 

      7 years ago from Grizzly Flats, Ca

      iamaudraleigh-Yes, I am in a safe place and am having no more thoughts of hurting myself or anyone else. I am on the road to recovery with great hope; thanks for the visit.

      Marsei-Overcommitment is exactly what I was trying to get at here-that's my tendency-it's hard for me to say 'no' to almost anything a friend or family member wants or needs. I'm trying to utilize the 'tools' I learned while there. Thanks for coming by, my friend.

      drbj-Your encouraging words mean a lot to me-I appreciate them! Like most anyone on this planet, I'd thought about suicide before briefly as a teenager, but this was simply too close to reality. I'm not sure I thought of my decision to phone the cops a strong one, but now that you've pointed it out, I suppose it was! Thanks for commenting.

      Bindiya, my sweet daughter! Thank you so much for coming by to read this. Your mama is pretty well now, and the fact that you came by to read and comment means quite a lot to me! Love you, too.

    • profile image

      Bindiya Bhatt 

      7 years ago

      It was indeed touching Laurel Mama, You are a strong woman and I am glad that you found a solution....God Bless You...Take Care Mom,

      Your Loving and Caring Daughter


    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      7 years ago from south Florida

      Few people, Laurel, would have the strength to commit themselves under the circumstances you described. You did what was best for yourself and with professional help I am sure you will overcome the stress that pushed you literally to the edge. You are strong and you are smart and you will survive. Promise.

    • Marsei profile image

      Sue Pratt 

      7 years ago from New Orleans


      I was touched by your hub and so glad that you got the help you needed. I have been buried in editing work lately from my reporters and have been in a fog. Very smart and strong of you to get help for yourself. I know you will be okay now. It's just important, I think, not to overcommit. My reaction to overcommitment stress is more directed in animus to others, rather than myself, which is not exactly healthy either. Hope you continue to thrive. I think the hub is so wonderful. People need to know that these things happen to intelligent, productive people and are nothing to be ashamed of.


    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Keep us posted. I hope you ae in a safe place since leaving the hospital. I understand "completely". Thank you for confiding in us!

    • lorlie6 profile imageAUTHOR

      Laurel Rogers 

      7 years ago from Grizzly Flats, Ca

      Elena, I am so glad you stopped in to comment-I have been neglecting my friends here on HP!

      Familial support is so important; I'm lucky that some of my relatives live only a mile away.

      Thank you for the angel kisses-right back at ya!


    • lorlie6 profile imageAUTHOR

      Laurel Rogers 

      7 years ago from Grizzly Flats, Ca

      Hi Sharon-I decided that this Hub had to be a series since it was getting so long! Sorry you felt sad, but I'm working on the second part-which will be the last.

      It's a strange thing, this suicidal ideation-it is not an attempt, but the persistent thoughts of suicide. But it feels just as dangerous once you 'surrender' to these thoughts. That's why I made the call.

      I am doing quite well now; the folks/staff at West Hills were fabulous and gave me quite a number of psychological 'tools' which are helping me cope with what sent me there in the first place!

      Thanks for coming by, Sharyn,


    • Lady_E profile image


      7 years ago from London, UK

      Hello Laurel - this was touching to read and I am so glad you got support. Do take care and I hope your family and friends are very much in touch.

      Sending you Angel Hugs.

      Love, Elena x

    • Sharyn's Slant profile image

      Sharon Smith 

      7 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi Laurel ~ I was very intrigued by the title and had to read. I am truly amazed at the care you obtained for yourself, knowing that something just wasn't right. I give you tons and tons of credit because that is not easy to do.

      Although I have never been at that point of wanting to end my life, I have been in a relationship with a person who felt suicidal often. I believe even when you know you need help, it still is very difficult to simply stop your daily routine and take the time for yourself to get the help you deserve. I wish my friend had the courage you do.

      I feel sad that this is part of a series since I definitely want to read more and I must wait. I wish you the best and hope you are doing well today.



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