Daily Archives: November 9, 2014

Life On The Inside, Part 1

For those who’ve been in a mental health facility, this account may seem like old hat, but for those among you who have never had occasion to be in such a place, I hope to enlighten and maybe even entertain you a little.

It all started in our local ER, where Dr. Awesomesauce had sent me after we talked on the phone and where I sat in the “suicide room” for a solid six hours, waiting to be transferred to the psych unit in a neighboring town. I spent much of that time talking quietly with Will when I felt like it, and staring at the bare walls when I didn’t (which was most of the time). I hoped I wouldn’t be seen by anyone I knew; this was the hospital where I used to work and where I have a lot of friends. I looked every bit as bad as I felt. My hair was matted and greasy, I had absolutely no makeup on, and I was in my pajamas. What’s more, I didn’t give a shit. Even the sight of the security guard who hovered around the nurses’ station to watch me didn’t bother me.

I did have a few bad moments when I had to get into the back of what had once been a police car, complete with a cage and those hard plastic seats. I’m terribly claustrophobic and almost panicked, but the transport team talked me down and kept up a steady stream of chatter to take my mind off the situation. We drove through streets packed with trick-or-treaters, which made me think of my grandsons and how I was missing out on all the fun of Halloween this year. That almost made me cry again—I’d probably cried more in the previous week than I had in two years—so I sat back and tried to concentrate on the beauty of the fall scenery.

Soon we arrived at the facility—the dreaded “downstairs”—and I was greeted by a security guard who proceeded to pass a wand over me to check for weapons. Of course none were found, and then I was met by my admitting nurse, who took me on a tour of the facility that was to be my home for the next week (although I didn’t know then that I was going to be there that long). Did I mention that I’m claustrophobic? Thankfully the open floor plan and arrangement of the common areas were such that I didn’t feel confined, or I would have done very badly.

Then I was led to my private room, which had my first name on the door as if I were in a nursing home, but I think it was for the purpose of being easily identifiable by the staff. I’d come in with nothing but the clothes on my back and a sack lunch from the other hospital, so I didn’t have anything to put away; as little as I knew about mental hospitals, I did know that my purse would be confiscated and my possessions gone though, so I didn’t bother taking anything.

I was too depressed to want to socialize, but since there was no TV or even a clock in my room, I kept popping out to look at the clock at the nurses’ station. I also explored my room and marveled at all the ways a patient could NOT hurt herself: the clothes hook on the bathroom door bent down when more than a pair of jeans was put on it…..the grab bar next to the toilet was flush against the wall…..all the corners were rounded…..the bed was a five-inch-thick mattress on a platform. There were no electrical cords, and the windows were made of safety glass and locked. And every 15 minutes, a staff member would make rounds to check up on me.

So I spent my first night writing in the journal I’d been given and wondering at how calm I felt. I’d been SO afraid of the hospital, and yet I felt relieved to be there because I felt safe. For the first time in weeks, with several locked doors between me and my life on the outside, I felt that nothing could hurt me, and better yet, that I couldn’t hurt me. What I didn’t know was how much I would learn between that night and the time I was released.

To be continued…..


Making Sense of Suicide

*Trigger Warning. This post contains content that some people may find disturbing*

 

I have only been affected by suicide twice, personally. In my freshman year of high school, one of my classmates committed suicide. We had a large class, so I really didn’t know him much more than passing him in the halls, so I wasn’t profoundly affected. Two days ago, a young girl was brought in by an ambulance. She had committed suicide, but her mother discovered her and called 911 anyways. We exercised all the appropriate measures, but honestly there was nothing to be done. I am surprised by how much this young girl’s death has affected me. I didn’t know her, I simply recognized her as a human being going through insurmountable anguish. To truly put a human face to the enigma that is suicide is startling and powerful. I have been thinking about the young lady most of the weekend.

A fellow bipolar blogger has been suffering for some time. A family illness, inability to keep a job due to her bipolar disorder and financial troubles have her feeling desperate. Fortunately, she made the brave decision to check herself into the hospital and she’s feeling much better. For those who do not suffer from mental illness, suicide seems so selfish, so impossible to understand. There’s no one reason why people contemplate suicide, the reasons are as varied as the person.

As any of you who regularly read my blog know, save my “real life” identity, I am quite open about my struggles with mental illness. I’ve always sought to break down barriers and reduce stigma, to help people feel less alone. In that vein, I am going to share with you one of the most painful experiences of my life, to help explain what can drive a person to suicidal thoughts. I find that open and honest discussion about things can lead to understanding and change, so…here goes:

My ex fiancee and I had broken up.  I will not divulge what set me off because I like not being sued for libel, but it was bad.  The day I found out I came home and exploded. I screamed at the top of my lungs, my face on fire and tears streaming down my face. I have never felt such pure rage. Things got physical and I packed a bag and called a coworker to see if I could spend the night at her house. I went out to the car without telling my ex I was leaving and drove to my coworkers house. I was still crying, still enraged, shaking and nauseated. I was having a hard time finding my coworker’s apartment and that’s when I heard my phone ringing. It was my ex fiancee, looking for me. I refused to answer. I pulled over to get my bearings and was idling not far from a telephone pole. At that moment, there was a crystalline calm as I stared at the telephone pole. I remember thinking I could just slam my car into it. The pain would stop, the embarrassment would end. No more pain. My ex was still calling. I picked up the phone and told him I wanted to die. I hung up and finished driving to my co worker’s house. With her support, I made it through the night safely. There were other very dark nights, but none matched the breathless desperation of that night.

I wish I could say that I have gotten over that pain, that I don’t have dark thoughts every now and again, but I do. I wish I could make my ex understand that I wanted to kill myself. This wasn’t some run of the mill relationship to me, he was in every breath I took and my life will never, ever be the same. I honestly hope that it was worth it to them. I hope maybe that crosses his mind when he’s  having a tender moment with his current girl, that that tender moment nearly came at the cost of my life. Is that mean? Petty and bitter? Probably. But depression spares me no miserable thoughts, so why should I spare them?

What gets me through the dark times is mostly the reminder that the dark times, like everything else, is transitory. Life is a cycle, with ebbs and flows and the light will come back eventually. There are too many things I want to do, too much coffee to drink, too much life to experience to end it. My life’s mantra is “the only way out is through” and I believe there is a reward for all suffering. If you are feeling suicidal, please seek help. There are countless resources available to help you. Stay strong and don’t believe the lies depression tells you.

Filed under: Self Discovery, Wellness Warriors Tagged: antidepressants, bipolar disorder, depression, pain, suicide

Life Causes Hangovers

Booze can give you physical hangovers. Fortunately, there are ways to combat that kind of hangover.

Life, on the other hand, gives hangovers that you can’t spring back from with strong coffee or a pain killer.

And I have the life hangover from hell.
Forced myself to be functional all week, it drained the fuck out of me. Toss in the cold symptoms, the warm/cold weather, mood swings, anxiety attacks…Drained is an understatement. Then yesterday it exploded when they sent my kid home from school with pink eye.
I had to go into the shop so Bex watched her for me.
Next I know, my dad is calling my cell freaking out that I have to get my kid out to the hospital, why haven’t I done it yet.
I’m 41 years old and I’ve done fine caring for her since she was born. Having my family treat me like an imbecile who doesn’t care enough to start panicking over a case of pink eye is insulting.
What they consider apathy is what the counselor taught me to do to avoid upsetting my kid. She has to see me keeping it together so she can feel safe with me and know I will take care of the problem. Freaking out will cause her insecurity and anxiety.
And that was when it hit me…My parents probably instilled the anxiety disorders in me where their idiotic histrionics.
It’s all about triage. Kid is breathing? Not bleeding? Not doubled over in agony? It’s not worthy of hitting the panic button.
Cause for concern, yes.
Cause for panic, no.
This is huge for me, being able to discern this. I don’t know why I can’t use the same logic on my other panic triggers. Maybe because I care more about my child than myself…I don’t know.

Spent three hours at the hospital outpatient room. My kid was putting on a drama show from hell yelping about the pain in her eyes. Oddly, she wasn’t doing it when there was no audience. Turns out, she has pink eye and an ear infection. I have to administer eye drops four times a day, anti biotic three times a day. That’s on top of my own med management. By the time we got home last night…
The whiskey came out.
It doesn’t solve anything.
It does however wrap an overtaxed mind in protective gauze.

I did fuck all today other than cook a couple of meals. I earned the vegetation. I will tend to the other shit tomorrow. Maybe. I may be mid nervous breakdown tomorrow for all I know. The lamictal isn’t really doing an impressive job leveling out the mood swings right now.
The spawn is feeling much better. That’s a good thing.
I’m hungover from life. Life just throws so much at you and even the most expert juggler is going to have problems keeping too many balls in the air.
Like a four day weekend for a sick child who loves to complain yet isn’t sick enough to lay in bed.

I’m dealing with it. It may not be good enough for my idiotic family but it occurs to me…I don’t care what they think. I care how they make me feel. Because being such insensitive assholes must come naturally to them, they are excellent at it. Oppressive personalities. Very unhealthy for me.

Aside from life kicking my ass for another week…I’ve got nothing to say. My mind has calmed and I am looking forward to the simple joy of curling up under my warm covers with a purring cat on my pillow.
Amidst all the bullshit of life…there are the little things. And the little things are what make me keep going.


So Much, So Little

We went into the house tonight and the entire outer frame was done, you could see where everything is going to go. I took tons of pictures, it’s really exciting seeing how close the house is. I mean it still won’t be ready until February. Actually having the house actually seeing some action makes it more bearable.

Today my cold also felt a little better. I got some napping done. Other than that I got nothing done. I mean there isn’t much for me to do anyhow. Yet doing nothing makes me feel guilty.

I can’t paint in the dining room again until after thanksgiving and probably Christmas. It sucks. Jim says we can set something up in the bedroom for me. I hope so, not being able to paint for 2 months will suck.

Emotionally I’ve been stable. That’s a positive at least!