Then ; Now

If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of self-harm or suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text CONNECT to 741741 in the United States. I no longer recognize that version of myself. The version from the hospital, from the bathroom floor, and from long before the bathroom floor. The version who was sloooooowly being crushed under the weight of her anxiety, the one who walked around with a pained, twisted smile pretending to enjoy a conversation or activity but who was more than likely too preoccupied with arguing with some corner of her brain hissing thoughts like run, panic, window, glass, goodbye. The version who wanted to stay home, to stay in bed. For whom Jason would cautiously lock up all the Tylenol and Advil before leaving her alone. That particular safeguard started happening just over a year ago; we didn't get there overnight. The descent is slow and sneaky. I blamed my work stress, household stress, the election, that fucking garbage-haired racist buffoon, my period. There was always something I could point at and blame for why I was feeling so unsettled and unbearably anxious. (The depression, on the other... Read more →


Better Now

Quick question. No, wait. Two questions. 1) WHYYYYYY DID I BUY THEM THIS 2) How long before the batteries die a malicious early death and I can claim that oh, sorry, those are SPECIAL batteries that we don't have and need to be special-ordered and delivered via yak from Malaysia, meanwhile, why don't you leave Simon with me and also, bring me a hammer. For reasons. Unrelated. Other than the beep-borping-insanity brought on by that damn thing, I'm doing pretty well. I still hit the occasional rough patch where either the depression or anxiety spike, but since I finally have the ability to know what life feels like WITHOUT those dueling bastards, I can actually stop and recognize that okay, time for some self-care or mindfulness or deep breathing or sunshine or whatever the fuck. It's been a really, really long time since I could even tell the difference. The kids are doing really well too -- they're all such funny, matter-of-fact sorts who are just like, okay, Mom was sick but now she's getting better. She takes medicine and goes to a lot of doctor's appointments to stay better and out of the hospital. Yay Mom! I'm hoping that... Read more →


On Hope & Helping

Someone I love very much called me over the weekend. It wasn't the first time they've called, but it was the first time I answered in years, due to their struggles with addiction and mental health issues. You just didn't know which version of this person you'd end up talking to. But they'd tried to call several times after finding out What Happened, and their voicemails and texts seemed to be coming from the good version. The kind and loving version, the version I desperately miss. So I answered. It was the other version. They were very, very drunk and immediately started talking about suicide. About a bottle of pills and balconies and being in possession of a gun. Maybe it was a super misguided attempt to empathize, but it only made me cry and beg them to stop stop stop. No no no. Jason grabbed the phone out of my hand and hung up, alarmed at my hysterics and well-versed in this particular person's abuse and manipulation. "Why did you even answer?" he asked as I sobbed. Because I thought they were better. I thought they deserved to hear from me that I was better. I thought we could... Read more →


Depression Hacks

Leaving your phone charger downstairs is an excellent trick for getting out of bed in the morning. It's amazing how much better you feel after washing your face. Wunderlist is a great to-do list app where you can include "get out of bed" and "wash your face" every day and get a jolt of satisfaction when you cross that shit off. If your shoes are completely decrepit and falling apart because you've worn them almost every day for the past 15 years, you're allowed to buy yourself new shoes. You're even allowed to buy yourself new shoes just because. Remember how your baby would sleep six hours one night, then only 45 minutes the next night even though you did everything exactly the same? Remember the sleep regressions and the teething and slow dawning realization that baby sleep doesn't progress or improve on the most logical or linear path? Yeah. This is like that. And that's okay. Counter the anxiety of house or dinner guests with cleaning the everloving crap out of your house, even if it's just one or two small corners of it. Gaze at all the everloving crap you've managed to throw out with a sense of... Read more →


One Month On

We spent the 4th of July in Baltimore, then went up to Hershey, PA for the rest of week. The boys only had two requests for summer vacation: Fireworks and Hersheypark. We were happy to oblige. (And yes, of course Noah brought the Declaration of Independence to its birthday party. And Sonic the Hedgehog, because why not?) (My phone died barely an hour into our day at the park, so this is the only documentation of my physical presence.) It's now been a full month since it happened, the event, the attempt, the night it all nearly stopped but didn't. Sometimes it still feels very near and very close, while other times I look up at the sky and see fireworks, or the world whizzing past on a rollercoaster, and it fades far, far away. To a different time and place I have no interest in ever revisiting. Read more →


Scrambled Eggs

Every night, Jason would call me on the ward and put his phone on speaker so I could listen in on the familiar, boisterous chaos. He'd put the groceries away while the boys squealed and shrieked over all the new cereals and bickered over which box to open first. They'd all try to talk to me at once and the dogs would start barking and someone would say "whoops" and Jason would say "get a paper towel" and I'd sit there on the other end of the line with a big grin on my face and tears in my eyes because I missed it all so much. And then the ping of guilt, because I missed so much of it all. So many morning when I couldn't get out of bed to pour the cereal or scramble the eggs or kiss them goodbye before school. So many evenings when I was irritable and impatient and snappish, when whatever mess required the paper towel would be like, the last fucking straw. I'm done. I'm out. I can't deal with any of you right now. (And then the vicious, downward spiral of guilt, because I'm a terrible mother/wife/friend and I'm failing and... Read more →


How I'm Doing

Let's take a break from the flashback-type posts and talk about today. Specifically, how I am feeling today. I feel really, really good today. I felt really, really good yesterday. And the day before that. I came home from the hospital with several follow-up appointments already made for therapy and my psychiatrist, and a lot of medication. (Well, a lot of prescriptions for medication, technically. Which Jason dropped off at Target on our way back, while I sort of shuffled behind him in the flip-flops I'd been given at check-out [I'd shown up at the ER barefoot], blinking and marveling at all the colors and sane-looking people.) I've dropped all but two of the medications from the daily regimen (because sleep is nice but so is being awake enough to like, function a level or two above comatose) and Jason keeps anything and everything with overdose potential hidden away in an undisclosed location. (He did the same thing with the benzos at first but eventually we stopped that because I never really took them and also I was feeling fine! Totally fine! Nothing to worry about here, folks.) (Back on the ward, we collectively declared "FINE" to be an unacceptable... Read more →


Being There, Part II

The game truck was there. Ezra's handmade GAME ON IKE! banner was there. His cake was there. (And it was delicious. A million billion thank yous to Isabel for making it happen.) His big brothers were there. All his friends and grandparents were there. His mom was there. And it was perfect. Read more →


Being There

Every morning, we were asked to set a goal for the day. These goals were written next to ours names on a whiteboard, along with our mood rating, which we ranked from one to 10. There really weren't that many goals to choose from -- attend groups, get your meds adjusted, work an AA step, and....uh...take a shower? Walk some hallway laps? Re-read the July 2016 issue of Glamour for the seventh time? -- and since this was a short-term facility, eventually everybody set the goal of discharge planning. For some patients, that meant dozens of calls to dozens of 30-day rehab centers in search of a bed. For others, a spot in an intensive outpatient program. Or a series of fraught counseling sessions with desperate and/or estranged family members, since you either went home with them or to a homeless shelter. Or not at all, for a few patients who set their goal to "discharge planning" every single day but were obviously not going anywhere. Then there was me. I just wanted to get discharged in time for Ike's birthday party on Sunday. I'd promised him a Sonic the Hedgehog cake. I needed to be there. I needed to... Read more →


Damn Unpretty

Warning: This post is graphic. Help is available for free by phone or text if you or a loved one are contemplating self-harm. I was likely never in danger of dying from the overdose itself. I was more likely to die choking on my own vomit while unconscious on the bathroom floor. Not exactly a glamorous exit off this mortal coil. They send you down to inpatient wearing nothing but oversized paper scrubs and a pair of grippy socks. I wasn't allowed to wear a bra. You can wear approved, non-drawstring clothing after your first psychiatrist consult, which usually takes about 24 hours. A few people didn't have anyone to bring them clothes and spent their entire week in those paper scrubs, which eventually shred and rip and disintegrate. We raided the ward's lost-and-found and found some community t-shirts, which could get passed along to the next paper-scrubbed newbie. Three female patients ended up wearing the same shirt with a vaguely sexist slogan on it, which they shrugged off because at least it wasn't chafing their boobs. You learn fairly quickly to always change your clothes in your bathroom, since your room doesn't lock. Your bathroom doesn't actually lock either,... Read more →