Yesterday my sister texted to inform me her husband’s brother had been found in the basement, dead. He hung himself. This came after he had a nervous breakdown last week and spent time in the psych ward-two whole days, then they released him. Two days later, he killed himself.
I did not know this man, other than to say hey when he periodically appeared at family get togethers. He was two years older than, no previous history of depression, and a week ago he was in my mom’s kitchen, getting a plate of food for Christmas dinner, and today, he is gone. He left behind a devastated family, the second of this woman’s sons to commit suicide. Neither had psych histories. Drug histories, yes. Maybe that factored in. I was just stricken by this news, even though I did not know him well.
They kept him two days in the psych ward. They put him on Zoloft. They sent him home. Despite him telling them he was having visual and audio hallucinations, wanted to die. They sent him home. And now he’s dead. And I am furious with that hospital, and I am furious with mental health care in the United States. Depression is not benign. This is the 4th person I’ve known who has committed suicide. This is an epidemic. And things are only going to get worse, thanks to our current political regime and climate.
People seem to think I focus too much on my psychiatric disorders, as if they are my identity. This is not the case. I am passionate about the topic because so few people are. I want to advocate for better mental healthcare, I want to educate the public, I want people to get their heads out of their asses and realize…depression kills.
It nearly got me this last year.
And the saddest part is that I was under a psych nurse’s care. I was basically being blown off, disregarded, and not helped at all. I started thinking dark thoughts and a lot of them stemmed from her dismissiveness and seeming disbelief in the seriousness of my conditions. Part was the extreme anxiety, which was far worse than 6 years ago when I was left a single mom without a dime to my name.
This nurse didn’t show any interest when I told her about this.
She called me out for drinking and rather than making me want to stop…I wanted to do it more. Why not? If my psych professional doesn’t even believe I am disabled but trying to get better even while going down the drain…why should I want to suffer sober when she made me feel so worthless? And this was mostly before the last appointment, that last one just shoved me against a concrete wall. The day before the appoinment, I wrote “I wish I didn’t have to see this “do you want fries with that’ nurse doc”. My feelings have little to do with being called out for poor decisions. I own those. But a lot of my poor choices have been due to extreme stress, toxic situations, and feeling stuck with a psych professional who made my feelings of desolation more extreme.
It took a week or so for me to come to my senses, and offly it was R, without meaning to do so, made me realize simply be saying, “Does this woman know you?” And she doesn’t I got stuck with her because of their staffing issues and I was afraid to ask to switch back at first lest I be insulting or non compliant. Then when I worked up the courage to ask about switching back, she said she wasn’t offended either way and I thought, well, that’s cool…So I stayed, even though every appointment made me feel worse than the last. And when you have disorders of the mind, it is so easy to villify yourself at every turn. You don’t like someone’s bedside manner, it must be your fault for being disordered in the head.
It was this constant self doubt brought on by her and R, and this newfound level of psychotic anxiety that got me to wake up and realize…”No, she does not know me, I do know me and this is not even close to my norm. I may be out of bed and functioning by I am doing it for everyone but me. I am serving R, I am sleepwalking through being a parent, I get no joy out of life, yet my stress and anxiety level are worse than anything I can remember…”
I did something I don’t advise anyone to do, but I quit Trintellix cold turkey. And within days, I was feeling less anxiety and also, less depressed and more in control of my feelings. How about that? Now it could be a temporary thing from coming off a bad medication and I could go down the rabbit hole in a week or so.
To combat that, I have excised R from my life. He texted me around 11 pm Friday berating me for not agreeing with him that Republicans and Trump are our saviors. He said he credited me with more intelligence than to believe fake news and have an opinion other than his. So the next night when he asked when I was coming back to ‘work’ cos he found this great car for me…It was so easy to tell him I was done. Work, to me, means 40 hours a week, taxes withheld, and I have legal rights against having my intelligence insulted for having different political views. By berating me over something so personal yet expecting me to be his indentured servant…he ensured being told to go to hell. Though I was slightly more circumspect than that about it. Not that it mattered. His response was “You’re not making sense” and “I need the key back so I can find your replacement.”
So today I returned the key and his friend’s wife has taken over my spot. Yay for her. She probably is doing it even for no gas money. And you know, I have never feel more free in my life. All the guilt I thought I would feel…not there. I may be hurting myself in the long run, but as I told his deaf ears, I will never respect myself if I let someone else buy me a car. And by that, I mean, I will never respect myself being under someone’s thumb. Not that he cared. He was miffed by my disobedience but made it very clear how insignificant I am. As if six years without even a Christmas or birthday text didn’t tell me.
Again, I may crash and burn soon. For now..I feel free and stronger and less stressed. I am having less trouble with my kid now that R is no longer sucking the life out of me. And for the psych nurse (or Doctor, as it says on the script bottle) to be so callous and dismissive of how toxic this situation was for me, as well as not recognizing that my entire personality and symptom set had metastasized with this medication…It’s damn near criminal. Now I put in 6 years of off and on servitude trying to keep myself relevant enough to at least have a half assed current reference when I get well enough to work…and because she was of no help, the bridge has been burned and I had to do it. I was heading for a meltdown. A simple note from her saying I was not in medical shape to meet his expectations could have prevented so much stress as well as the negative reference he is going to give, even if not asked…No amount of therapy could have made that situation better, only a psychiatric professional could have given me a legit escape route. She may have thought she was giving tough love but what she did was force me to burn a bridge when I was fully prepared to take the mature route and give notice and all that. He pushed me with the insults to my intelligence, but it was ultimately her lack of support or even concern that resulted in everything going to hell.
It’s done now, I am free, and I am doing better. No thanks to her.
And my sister’s marital in law’s suicide really help put things into perspective for me. I only have so much energy, as most of us with mental conditions do.We can only balance so much before the tipping point. I would much rather spend that time on causes that make me passionate, that help others, than being some narcissist’s whipping boy. (girl, whatever.) Maybe I bare some responsibility, though I’m not convinced as I tried to tell him for two months I was melting down. He just wouldn’t hear me and I was waiting for a professional to say, “Maybe this just isn’t the time, I can write a note so he can’t hold it against you.”
I am apparently my only advocate right now and I think I am doing a damn fine job at doing what is best for my mental health. Without a degree.