The New Old Normal

This post is sponsored by Blue Apron. The first 50 readers to sign up with Blue Apron with this link will get $50 off their first two weeks! I came home from the hospital late Friday afternoon, just in time to meet the boys at the bus stop. I showered, changed my clothes, and unpacked the plastic hospital bag of pajamas and books and other ward-approved belongings. A few hours later, I made dinner. Chicken and poblano tostadas with roasted zucchini, to be exact. It was the easiest way to feel normal again. I've since learned not to rush back into "normal" too quickly -- the next day I attempted to take all the kids to all the lessons and then run all the errands by myself and nearly broke down in overwhelmed, anxious tears the YMCA parking lot -- but to focus on the little things. Like scrambling eggs, packing up backpacks for camp, folding laundry, making dinner. (Opting for comfort food much? Oh, you know it.) Dinner I can do. Dinner I can handle. Dinner has to happen one way or another, and I feel better and stronger for making an effort to spend 30-40 minutes on it... Read more →


Escape Room

At first glance, the psychiatric ward looked like any other hospital floor, just kind of crappier. The furniture was older and most of it was mismatched. My roommate had a side table with drawers while I only had one of those wheelie tray things they serve your meals on. On the other hand, I had a hospital bed that adjusted automatically with buttons, while hers was so old it adjusted with a weird sort of hand crank. The ward was too nondescript and bland to feel haunted, but ghosts were everywhere. The wall above my bed was covered with bits of Scotch tape and vague, faded squares of whatever had once been displayed there. Photos? Artwork? A manifesto of some kind? Another wall was covered with doodles of interlocking triangles and arrows pointing at the centers. By the sink, the outline of where a towel rack used to be. On the ceiling, the empty track where a privacy curtain once divided the room. The closets had both empty brackets for clothing rods and gouged-out hinges for doors. There wasn't even a toilet paper holder in the bathroom; just a weird metal cubby for the roll to sit in. All the... 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 →


Oh! Goody

This post is sponsored by thredUP. Raise your hand if you do any of the following things while shopping online: Go on a wild Add To Cart spree only to end up with a mortgage payment's worth of items at checkout, where you get overwhelmed by the decision-making process and ultimately abandon everything. Spend a inordinately long time debating the multiple color/size options on a single item (do I dare buy something other than black? what the hell is a S/M vs. a M/L? if the model is 5'11" and somehow wearing an XXS, what time does the second train arrive in Cleveland?) before getting overwhelmed by the decision-making process and ultimately abandon everything. Scream at your screen that you JUST WANT PANTS THAT FIT AND MAYBE A NICE TOP AND PLEASE STOP TRYING TO MAKE $150 BIKINI BOTTOMS A RELATED ITEM OKAY before giving up and going back to Amazon to look at costumes for your cats instead. Ahem. Yeah, my issues with clothes shopping run pretty deep. It's why I own so many yoga pants that I dislike almost as much as actual yoga. So I very much dig thredUP's latest product offering: curated Goody Boxes that outsource... 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 →


The Night Of

Warning: Graphic suicide talk ahead. Help is available for free by phone or text if you or a loved one are contemplating self-harm. I remember looking at the empty pill bottles on the bathroom floor. First from overhead, then at eye level. The labels blur and I close my eyes. I remember feeling cool tile on my face and relief in my veins. Done. It's done. I don't have to think about doing it anymore, because it's done. I don't remember how I got downstairs to the basement, or how long it took. Did I walk? Stumble? Crawl? Did I stop to contemplate my children's bedroom doors on the way? I don't know. Part of me wanted to get up off that floor, and it did, somehow. I remember Jason roughly dragging me towards the bathroom and his fingers in my throat. The part of me that wanted to stay on the bathroom floor wails and howls and begs him to stop. After that, there's nothing. A dream about a dark, underground bar. There's an old jukebox in the corner. I am dancing and laughing and spill a drink on Michael Keaton, who is also there for some reason. Then,... Read more →