Never pay the Reaper with love only


Two weeks ago, I was very depressed suicidal.  I had the means, plan, opportunity.  I told him and my mother.  Now, I’m fully aware that my mother has washed her hands of me; there is only one star to the show here and if it’s not her, it’s not a show she’s going to watch.  But I live in her house.  You’d think finding your daughter’s bloated and clammy body would inadvertently make you the star of the show…  Oh no, that role would be played by the grieving 35-year-old widower.  Damn, she misses out again.  Rats.

I don’t think my husband gets it yet.  By “it,” I’m referring to my illness.  We had a long conversation after I was coming out of my suicidal state and I was able to distance myself from the severe depression that was tying me to those thoughts.  He didn’t seem – and still doesn’t – to understand how the mind, how biology, can fight so hard to keep us alive as a species yet the mind can turn on itself.  One thought becomes a fixation that can lead to total destruction of oneself.  Here was this woman he’s known for 25 years – since childhood – and he never saw her pain then (I studied to be an actress – I was good at hiding most things), just a normal kid like him.  Fast forward two decades and all that’s written on my face when the curtains are closed and the doors are locked is pain and fear.

I told him I know where his guns are and despite being a pacifist, I know how to load and fire them.  I just didn’t want to leave a mess for him and my mother – it’s a new carpet.  I didn’t want to get found by the dog and have her eating me – she’d need to be put down.

I know the nearest access to the local river – our property is 1 mile away from a cliff that plunges straight down to it.  I was warned about it as a child and I found the passage there a month ago.

I have access to my roof.  I can tie a noose.  Cut “down the road, not across the street.”  These are the pathetic and desperate methods you teach yourself and you learn along the way when the pain seems too much to handle.  And some days it is; I’m not going to sit here and say “hold on, it’ll get better!” because some days are worse than others.  But guess what?

I’m still here.  Clearly.

Why?  I honestly don’t have a great answer.  I’d love to say it’s 100% because of my husband, but it’s not.  That’s a shitty way of staying motivated – to have my entire life swing in the balance of someone else’s.  How much pressure does that put on him, do you think?  Every drive to work would be a nightmare for him: “Stay away from me – if I get a scratch on me, my wife will kill herself!  She has nothing else to life for!

Fuck no.  I’d say 45% is him.  The rest has to be something else…

A-Ha!  I got it!  I’m a movie buff!  I love comedies, rom-coms, cartoons, psychological thrillers, docu-dramas… anyway – I love a good ending.  I usually Wikipedia that shit because I can’t wait 2 hours to find out what happens; I am not a patient person (I am diagnosed with ADHD as well).  If I die, that’s it.  No Wikipedia.  No Reader’s Digest.  No Cliff’s Notes.  No nothing.  I’ll never know if Mom gets remarried.  If my sister ever finds happiness.  If I ever have kids.  If Savage Garden will ever get back together.  How does this story end?

A number of passing acquaintances

Have you ever been kidnapped?  I mean, it’s a weird question – not one you’d walk up to a stranger and ask. But I’m asking anyway. 

I was driving today and out of the corner of my eye, this asshole in a black Dodge Charger pulls up to me and runs me off the road.  I didn’t see the bastard coming at all.  I’ve seen this car before – it follows me to work, from home, through the car wash – everywhere. This was the first time in years it got close enough to me to run me clear off the road and into the nearest culvert. 

As I came to, I realized I was bound and gagged – now a passenger of the offending vehicle. I screamed as loud as I could, writhing around in a futile attempt to loosen the rope on my ankles and wrists. I looked through the window, only to see a version of me sitting behind the wheel of my car, driving as though nothing had happened.  I kept screaming at “me” until we reach the next stop light.  I saw the most profound sadness in my eyes; it’s not until then I realized I’ve been stolen again. I’ve been kidnapped again.  I stopped screaming and allowed the driver to carry me away until it was time to find myself again.  

I wish what I’d just written was a dream, but it’s not. I was in traffic today and out of nowhere I did feel this overwhelming depression steal what little of myself I felt I had left.  For the first time in years, I thought of suicide.  Will I act on it? No, I know it’s not what I want. But the thoughts frightened the hell out of me, enough to start writing in here again.  

One day at a time. Thy will, not mine. 

Stille Nächte

Since I was a kid, I’ve hated the holidays. I have no idea why, really. I remember Thanksgiving as a real clusterfuck of a holiday. Food was great, but the family structure was not what my mother (and in turn, I) had signed up for.

I don’t remember a Thanksgiving dinner with my father. My parents were married for 12 years – I don’t remember him being there for ONE. Hmm.

My grandparents were always there with us – Grandpa watching his westerns or “war pictures” and Grandma helping my mother cook and clean. I stayed in my room, watching Nick At Nite marathons, complaining that Christmahanukwanzaa was around the corner and we’d have to put on the “happy holiday family” façade again. Yay.

And we did, this time my father would make an appearance on Christmas Day. He’d always play with my newly unwrapped presents before I’d been given a chance to, adding a layer of sourness to my morning.

“I’ll be done in a minute, Alice!”

When that minute was up, my father would leave. It would be weeks before we’d see him again. My mother and I would get dressed and go to my grandparents house, where Santa had also made a visit; I now believe this extra Santa’s visit was to ease the blow of the real missing piece from my holiday celebrations.

I’d get everything and more than I asked for; I would leave my toys and clothes under the tree, lock myself in my room, and watch Nick At Nite until dinnertime. My depression and sadness raged on, not soothed by Santa’s elves.

Now that I’m married, I’m not able to disappear into the mists of Nickelodeon’s nighttime programming during holidays. My in-laws come over and I find myself still wanting to crawl into a ball in my bed and hide until dinner and disappear when it’s over. My grandparents are no longer here, making me wish I’d stayed out of my room as a child and enjoyed their company while they were alive. G-d, I miss them so very much. (Notice my regret to have spent more time with my grandparents is not akin to spending more time with my in-laws. Nope nope nope.)

So what are my plans today? Stay in my room for as long as I can get away with it at my age and knit. Or sleep. Do my laundry. Meditate. Pray. Anything but prepare food and socialize. I’ve found that I don’t talk much unless I’m manic or at work.

We all fall down

A patient of mine died.

A part of me keeps thinking I could have done more; followed up on calls sooner, tried harder to engage them. Then I remember I wasn’t the first counselor they had. I didn’t think I’d be the last.

The system makes it so difficult for patients to make lasting connections with clinicians: few clinicians + high caseload + low pay = burnout and increased turnover rate. This leads to job dissatisfaction, shitty performance, and a turnstile instead of a counselor’s chair.

Maybe they got tired of the rigmarole. Maybe they were sicker than anyone knew, themselves included.

Maybe I could “maybe” myself to ends of the earth and back and never get an answer. What I do know is that I can’t save anyone; contrary to popular belief, that’s not in my job description. I can’t save anyone as much as I may want to or try to. I’m finding that I sometimes work harder at my patients’ wellness than they do.

And that’s when I stop. That’s when I wake up and realize I’m using my reserves for others instead of myself. So as much as this patient needed treatment, no one could force it. I could have tried every trick in the book to help them; there would have been no guarantee they would have lived.

I wish things were different. I wish they saw – all my patients could see – what they have to offer this world.

But I can only save myself.