Several days before I made the call, I was suddenly overwhelmed and struggling with irrational anger at myself and at Bob for us going ahead eleven years ago and having another child. It was a decision mutually agreed upon, but I knew in his heart he wanted to try again to get a boy baby—and that hadn’t happened. I was realizing that I was going to be a full-time parent for at least seven more years—eleven if I counted college. I was angry that I had not foreseen how deeply into our fifties having Rachel so late would put us when she finished school. I felt I had given up my freedom that would only be a year away with Amber graduating in 2017 if we had not had Rachel.
Having these feelings hurt me on the inside. I was angry at myself for being angry at myself and at Bob. I knew the anger was irrational—I loved Rachel and was glad we had her in our lives. The anger at myself morphed into self-loathing over several days and made me despair for my relationship with my youngest daughter—I didn’t want her to feel unwanted and unloved because of my own selfishness.
I finally decided to call my husband and tell him what was going on. I didn’t feel afraid, just resigned. Here we go again, I thought. Rachel was watching cartoons on TV, and Amber was upstairs taking a quick shower—unaware of the drama going on inside my head. I was about to upset their worlds all over again for the first time in five years. My youngest had been in kindergarten the last time I went on the ward.
(From here on out, the details get a little blurry).
Bob could tell something was up as soon as we started talking—I was near tears. After a couple of general questions about how I was doing, he asked me, “Are you having self-destructive thoughts?”
I said, “Yes. And I can’t make them stop.”
“Then I need to come home.” Not a question but a statement.
“Yes,” I said.
After we hung up I tried calling my psychiatrist to see if he would admit me or not. Try getting ahold of any doctor close to five o’clock on a Friday. His office said he was out of town until Tuesday. His receptionist recommended I go to the emergency room. I called my counselor’s emergency number and left a message for her, only for her answering service to call me back and give me the same advice after failing to reach her.
By that time, I was starting to feel desperate. Before I had always been admitted directly to the ward by my doctor after speaking to him. But going to the emergency room with such a complaint made me nervous.
Finally my husband was home. I packed a bag with necessities while he called his mother to come sit with the kids until he could get back home—with Amber on heavy cold medication, she couldn’t be left alone with her sister like we might have done otherwise.
I tried to remember what to pack and what not to pack from the last time I had been at St. Dominic’s in 2011. Could I bring jewelry? I decided to leave my rings and watch at home. Could I bring deodorant? I couldn’t remember. In my confused state, I couldn’t remember any of it. Finally I decided to just pack my makeup bag, contact lenses, and clothes.
I did pick out nice clothes to wear, two palazzo pants outfits—one with a navy sleeveless top and striped navy and black pants, another with a terra-cotta orange top and wildly patterned pants. On the mental ward at St. Dominic’s Hospital you are allowed to wear your own clothes and wash them as needed. I didn’t see me staying past Monday, so I stuck with two day outfits, two pajama sets, and enough sets of underwear to last me that long. I knew from past experience that I would feel better in nice clothes instead of dressing in sweats and pajama tops or some such casual clothes.
By the time I finished, Bob’s mom was at the house. She hugged me, and I hugged her back. Bob had already explained to Rachel that Mommy was going to the doctor, but Amber came downstairs to the sight of my mother-in-law in the kitchen and me standing in the den. I don’t know what kind of look I had on my face, but she stared at me wide-eyed.
I simply said, “I’m going to the hospital again.”
Her eyes got bigger. She knew exactly what that meant—that suicide was on my mind again. She reached out to me and hugged me wordlessly. I said,” Bye,” and she didn’t answer.