Look, you can throw a shit ton of pills at PTSD and it’s really not going to do anything, at least in my experience. When the brain suffers this trauma there is no going back. You can have something similar to remission but it’s always the fucking boogeyman under the bed. It might not grab you but it’s there.
On this night last year, at just about this time the lying bastard that depression is got me in the corner and beat the hell out of me.
I didn’t want to feel anymore, didn’t think I could. I was ready to find a peaceful dream…just fall asleep and let the pain fall away. With a handful of sleeping pills and another of pain pills, I made an attempt.
I penned the following note to my children:
You both are a dream come true. I never loved anyone or anything as much as I loved you. I know that may not seem like a lot right now, but with all my heart with every fiber of my being I have prayed over your lives, for your very existence. I dreamed you to life. I know I have failed you miserably. I hate myself for it. I hate that I have given you less than you deserve in life. That I was too young and ignorant to pick a better father for you. You both deserved better than that. NONE of it is your fault. It is mine alone. I could never forgive myself for that. Today would have been Chris and I’s 15th anniversary had we remained married. I was never strong enough to leave him, always stuck in codependence but I had to be strong enough for you. The stakes got too high. Please know that you were planned and dreamed and hoped for and so very loved. Please know that. It is not a lack of love but my own weaknesses, my failing mind, spirit and body that I do not want to burden you with any further. I want you to be free of me and my inadequacy. Please believe me when I say that there have been countless days that the only reason I went on was for just the you. I just couldn’t anymore. My heart and soul were beyond saving and repair and there is no one to blame for that. It was a seamless stretch of circumstances with no bounds in which I was buried by hopelessness. I am tired and have nothing left to offer in this shell. I only have my love and guidance which I pray I am given enough of Gods grace to allow me to protect you from my poor choices and mistakes from a distance, but allows you to know Im always with you. You are my life, my legacy. You must go on and be the change this world desperately needs. The light that casts away darkness as you always did in my heart. You alone are enough just as you are. You always have been and always will be. Love and carry one another to the finish line. Ill be watching. Ill be the biggest fan of your lives.
I love you.
Please forgive me.
A phone call came through despite my phone being on “do not disturb”. On the other end, an angel.
There were police and paramedics.
An ambulance ride.
Saying: “I fucked up. I don’t want to die”
In and out of consciousness.
A hospital transfer.
Conversations I couldn’t stay conscious throughout.
I lost days but not my life.
A year later, I find that I am stronger than I ever thought possible.
I have to keep finding that strength on my own.
So I kept living.
Being on medication for mental illness is not fun, nor is it easy, and no one I’ve ever known does it just for kicks. Kids don’t buy black-market Prozac to take to raves. People don’t use B12 shots as a gateway drug to heroin. The side effects and troubles with taking medication are very real and (if you have a chronic mental illness) are something you have to deal with for the rest of your life. Even if a drug is working for a while, it might stop working and you’ll have to start all over again with something new, which can be incredibly frustrating and disheartening. And then you have to deal with the side effects of the new drug, which can include “feeling excessively stabby” when coupled with some asshole telling you that “your medication not working is just proof that you don’t really need medication at all.” I can’t think of another type of illness where the sufferer is made to feel guilty and question their self-care when their medications need to be changed. When I went on my first antidepressant it had the side effect of making me fixated on suicide (which is sort of the opposite of what you want). It’s a rare side effect so I switched to something else that did work. Lots of concerned friends and family felt that the first medication’s failure was a clear sign that drugs were not the answer; if they were I would have been fixed. Clearly I wasn’t as sick as I said was if the medication didn’t work for me. And that sort of makes sense, because when you have cancer the doctor gives you the best medicine and if it doesn’t shrink the tumor immediately then that’s a pretty clear sign you were just faking it for attention. I mean, cancer is a serious, often fatal disease we’ve spent billions of dollars studying and treating so obviously a patient would never have to try multiple drugs, surgeries, radiation, etc., to find what will work specifically for them. And once the cancer sufferer is in remission they’re set for life because once they’ve learned how to not have cancer they should be good. And if they let themselves get cancer again they can just do whatever they did last time. Once you find the right cancer medication you’re pretty much immune from that disease forever. And if you get it again it’s probably just a reaction to too much gluten or not praying correctly. Right? Well, no. But that same, completely ridiculous reasoning is what people with mental illness often hear … not just from well-meaning friends, or people who were able to fix their own issues without medication, or people who don’t understand that mental illness can be dangerous and even fatal if untreated … but also from someone much closer and more manipulative. We hear it from ourselves. We listen to the small voice in the back of our head that says, “This medication is taking money away from your family. This medication messes with your sex drive or your weight. This medication is for people with real problems. Not just people who feel sad. No one ever died from being sad.” Except that they do.
And when we see celebrities who fall victim to depression’s lies we think to ourselves, “How in the world could they have killed themselves? They had everything.” But they didn’t.
They didn’t have a cure for an illness that convinced them they were better off dead.
Whenever I start to doubt if I’m worth the eternal trouble of medication and therapy, I remember those people who let the fog win. And I push myself to stay healthy. I remind myself that I’m not fighting against me … I’m fighting against a chemical imbalance … a tangible thing. I remind myself of the cunning untrustworthiness of the brain, both in the mentally ill and in the mentally stable. I remind myself that professional mountain climbers are often found naked and frozen to death, with their clothes folded neatly nearby because severe hypothermia can make a person feel confused and hot and convince you to do incredibly irrational things we’d never expect.
Brains are like toddlers. They are wonderful and should be treasured, but that doesn’t mean you should trust them to take care of you in an avalanche or process serotonin effectively.
~ Jenny Lawson, Furiously Happy: A funny book about horrible things
Ive come to write here several times and I just end up sitting, watching the blinking cursor in front of me, not knowing where to start and what to say. So, Ive decided to put my phone in talk to text mode and just let go … without giving more thought than is really necessary to what I’m thinking as I think it. I cannot keep pushing it down.
Stream of consciousness, narrative mode…
The last post I wrote, on Monday, was written through tears. The mask shattered. I crashed and it burned. I did nothing but cry. All I could do was cry. I didn’t get out of bed until noon and I was crying. Everything hurt. Physically and emotionally. I didn’t want to hurt anymore. I didn’t want to try anymore. It all seemed futile. Pointless. I thought of ways to dull everything out. Then there was suicidal ideation.
I was standing at the kitchen counter, cutting up the pineapple, crying, when I accidentally slipped and cut myself. I actually admired the sharpness and welcomed the pain. That’s when I knew I was in trouble. I attempted to get out of the house for a while. I walked the dogs and made the phone call to reach out to someone but I couldn’t stop crying long enough to continue the conversation with my father or even get myself ready enough to go anywhere with him. I just couldn’t.
It was then that I knew I had to put my plan in place. The plan I have in place in case it gets to this point. The point when I start to tell myself things like:
“I don’t want to be here anymore”.
Step one, I call my husband. I told him how bad it was and he urged me to call my psychiatrist, which I didn’t want to do because I knew what would follow. My sister is getting married on St. Patrick’s Day, my parents are all tied up with that, there are a lot of things going on with the kids this week, I didn’t want to set anybody off into panic or worry with so much in the balance. But my husband asked me to stop and think what I would do if none of those things were on the table and the answer, with everything else aside, was easy. I wasn’t safe and I needed help. Everything else aside, I would call my psychiatrist or go to the hospital. So I did.
Step two, I call my psychiatrist. I tell her how bad it is. She urges me to come in to see her for admission. Again, I hesitate. I struggle with what it is going to mean to everyone else. And I set it aside. It’s time to go. I want to live.
Step three, I commit to commitment. I reach out to a friend to tell them the decision that I’ve arrived at so that I am accountable to it. In doing so, I reached out to the only person in my life who understands my darkest moments even when I’m keeping my issues close, Biscuit. She knows my plan. She understands it personally. We are each other’s “check mate”. It makes the conversation about it very short and self-explanatory.
Unfortunately since Biscuit lives on the other side of the country and because Hubster was at work and I still only have my temporary driver’s permit, I had to reach out to someone else for a ride. Fortunately, in my haste it was someone who I normally wouldn’t reach out to but who I found out cared for me more than I could have ever imagined. Sometimes you don’t know how much someone really cares until you allow them to.
My Dad arrived at some point in the steps. I couldn’t say which. We had a rather unfair conversation in which he attempted to be compassionate and I was very frustrated and didn’t want to hear about praying and what God’s role was in all of this. I told him that which afflicted me was not something that could be prayed away and if I thought it would fix me I’d likely spend a lot more time on my knees instead of pacing the floor in my manicness, but that’s not how brain chemistry works. He also started to talk to me about my childhood in an apologetic way. I appreciate this now, but in the moment it was more than I could handle and as my friend pulled in the driveway, I rushed out the door, away from all of that and into my friend’s arms. My Dad thanked her and we went on our way. She thanked me for giving her the chance to be there for me. It meant as much to her as it did to me and that felt really good in a moment of such vulnerability. I felt safe.
That’s how I ended up in the hospital for two days. Turned out that my mood stabilizer required 300-400 calories to be ingested at the time of dosing in order to be properly absorbed and because I have been so sick recently and not eating, I really wasn’t getting my medication. They switched over to a sublingual that won’t come with the food requirements and that is making a huge difference already.
Im currently back home and bed bound with a migraine and nausea while Hubster and the Diva are at Jedi‘s school play. I don’t feel great about that. In fact, I feel like a shitty parent because since I was in the hospital, I missed the deadline to make transportation arrangements for Pickle as well. Speaking of shitty … I’m not. I’m all backed up which is likely just adding to the nausea I’m dealing with. Thank you, gastroparesis. I don’t know how I’m going to handle going through another flare up. I guess I’ll just cross that bridge when I get to it. In the meantime, I’m just laying here in the dark, listening to ‘House, M.D.‘ episodes. It is too much to ask for just ONE episode where someone presents with my symptoms and diagnoses? I feel like I’m just the sort of case House would have loved to dissect.
On the plus side, my circulation issues allow my fingers to be the most nimble sort of ice pack over my eyes … so at least there’s that.
– I finally finished reading ‘Daring Greatly by Brene Brown today. The book should be required reading in the class of “LIFE”. Its been life altering for me. I highly recommend it. For everyone. You should also check out Brene’s TED Talk videos. Absolutely amaze balls stuff can come of this.
– I spent my evening in the ER at Metropolitan Veterinary Hospital. Apparently my littlest, but oldest furbaby, PNut, like PDiddy but smaller and way weirder, because he thinks he’s a big dog but also a cat, simultaneously, ingested something square shaped. $250 later, we are taking him home to watch for vomiting and bloody stool. We live large! Saturday night’s are lively around here!
– I am nearly finish with importing and editing my posts from across the interwebs to their final destination here in Stephieopolis. I gave myself until the end of February to complete this task and the closer I get the more I find myself procrastinating. It’s not just this. I seem to like to see how close to the edge of things I can get without plummeting to failure. Except I dont enjoy it but continue to do it so then it begs the question: Why? I have no fucking clue. Maybe it’s a part of my mental illness. Maybe I find it somewhat exhilarating to push myself. Honestly, I dont know. Am I the only one who does this?
– My stomach is still causing a raucous. As I type this Im forcing myself to drink a milkshake. A milkshake may not seem like something that would truly need to be forced, however, when everything you ingest causes pain, it’s tough. I guess you could think of it like sex without lubrication. Sex is great but if it’s going to leave you uncomfortably raw, you might feel differently about it. Just sayin. Now, lets take some drugs!
– I am 463% done with winter. Old man winter has been a merciless, mean bastard. He must be stopped!
My eldest son is always in a pickle. This is how he got his nickname. Except this story isn’t nearly as cute as say, the time he put a slide on top of our picnic table so he could “fly like Superman” and flew right into the top of a chain link fence, requiring stitches.
No, this story unhinged me for a couple days.
The first incident involved him and his friend conspiring to steal a box of cookies bought for the group home where he lives during their return trip from the grocery store. I explained that his side of the story made no sense at all and he was the only one who had anything to gain from lying which is how lying works. He remains insistent that he was set up by staff. They are making it up and he’s done talking about it.
He has a very warped perception of reality which does nothing but feed his preoccupation and paranoia regarding injustice.
The second incident occurred the night of the Super Bowl. The staff could not find another young man and Pickle’s friend. When they searched Pickle room, lo and behold, the kid was hiding in Pickle’s closet and Pickle gave what seemed to be a very rehearsed line of “Oh look, there’s someone hiding in my closet”. Unfortunately, he’s not the best performer. That fact is completely lost on him though. It is very easy to tell when he is attempting to be deceitful due to his cognitive disability.
This incident was what left me unhinged. It stirred the stank, shit pot of emotion that I keep in a very deep and protected part of my soul. A place where I keep the darkness of Pickle’s horrific, child sexual abuse. The fears of him becoming perpetrator.
I know it was this fear that caused my psyche to instinctively set off anger. Anger that the staff of the group home can’t keep their shit together. After all, THIS is exactly why Pickle doesn’t live with us. He is a danger to my other two children. They are too “stimulating” for him and his cognitive disability doesn’t allow him to comprehend, much less recognize, triggers. Him not living with us is the huge factor of my own guilt and shame as a mother. Try as I may to reconcile it and knowing it’s the best thing for all of my children, it’s still hard to not feel like I have failed him. People try to comfort me, but who really understands what that is besides myself? The only person I have crossed paths with who can somewhat relate to the situation is only at the beginning of her journey.
It’s a very convoluted, hard thing … the likes of which I cannot elaborate.