Its been awhile since I have written. I am still here, still working, still ill, but I am still here fighting the good fight, or at least trying to, faking my way along. I have been dealing with some mental illness issues around me and felt a need write about it.
Christmas 2014 has just passed and for me Christmas isn’t considered the best season, mainly because my depression started at about the same time 4 years ago and the two have manifested themselves together. This year I set my expectations to zero for Christmas fun especially where my extended family was concerned and they did not disappoint. As for my family, we had a wonderful time. Both kids are off to post secondary education so it was nice to have everyone home and we made the most of it. I am smiling as I write this, it was great.
The middle of December was awful. As many of you know I work for a high school, one of our students killed herself. We usually have certain students at risk on our radar, she wasn’t one of them. In the office you get a disconnect between the student and parents. I knew the girl, but didn’t realize I knew the parents till they walked into the office two days later. The father walked in and I just froze- we looked at each other for what seemed like a eternity, I walked over and took his hand, we said nothing to each other just looked into each others eyes as tears escaped. Forever and a day I will never forget that moment, those eyes, the silent communication we had, the depth of the emotion we shared. This wasn’t just some guy, he was a Muslin man, and I a Christian women we shared a moment. Two days later when he came back to collect the contents of his daughters locker, I told him that my family was praying for his family, he took my hand in both of his and thanked me for our prayers.
I cleaned out the locker. Inside I found her journal, I read part of it. It wasn’t that much different from my own journal from my darkest moments. She expressed her shock at writing the words she was writing, how much pain she felt, the depth of her hurt, and in the progression of her words I could see the line between life and death coming. I too have seen that line, she crossed it. It was almost too much to bear, yet oh so familiar, that was the frightening part. I thought about not giving it to family, but that was not my decision to make. I prayed there would be some comfort in their daughters last words.
In the meantime as I was dealing and processing that part of this tragedy, our crisis team showed up from the board at the school. These nearsighted, small minded, experts who are to be there to help, pat the hands of friends of the girls, and make up assumptions and blame who or what they could to make sense of a horrible death. They bumbled around me, as I sit in the middle of the office and my anxiety and anger burned as each passing moment went by that they were there. You can’t love cancer away, how did they think they could love mental illness away, thus why it is called an illness. There is no sense to make of it, death was a side effect of the illness the same way vomiting is a side effect of a medication.
The same week, we had a girl, who was known to be on, what the VP called “undiagnosed medication for mental illness”, get into an altercation with a male student. What happened I don’t know, I know the guy is not a nice guy, the girl was very upset by whatever this guy had done. The girl ends up in the VP’s office, the guy in another office. The girl is yelling because she is upset, the NPU officer and her partner come in. They were not called in, they just happened to be visiting which they do from time to time. They hear the yelling, they ask who the girl is, they are told, they know she suffers from depression they step into the situation. The girl gets more agitated as the police walk into the office. The police start with the ‘Hey do you want to go back to the hospital?’ They Girl ‘I am not going back there’ they restrain her, she freaks more. Hour and half of talking yelling and crying goes on. The Sargent gets called in, he isn’t putting up with anything from this girl he starts yelling at her. She continues to scream ‘ I am not going to the hospital, just leave me alone to calm down’ we are up to two and half hours, EMT get called, they sedate her because she knows what is going to happen now she loses it. They take her from the school in an ambulance as the school looks on. It’s been a month and a half, we haven’t seen her since. She is traumatized, I am traumatized from almost 3 hours of back and forth and all the time wondering if at some point I could have stepped in and just let her have her space. Meanwhile the Sargent, officers, and administration think they have dodged a bullet in having this girl taken to the hospital just in case she did something unmentionable to herself. ! ! Like she won’t do it now? Really! If they knew I suffered from major depression how long till I get carried away, I call my husband I tell him don’t let them take me away, my husband is now worried.
This just gives all the more reason to why we hide our illness. Why do we feel the need to deny our illness, hide our demons from anyone? Because people do not understand and they do not see it an illness, and sometime we get upset, and sometimes we need to kick something. I think this girl needed to be taken to the gym and kick a box around to work out her frustration and she would have been fine. or at least better. People can make us angry but because we are angry and someone who sees us and knows we have an illness like depression automatically thinks the person is unstable and incapable and being pissed off now becomes a breaking point and seen as a breakdown. The next thing you know you are sedated and on your way to the hospital, while everyone else is wringing their hands saying see I knew she couldn’t’ handle it.
So we hide it. We pretend we are ok, we admit to nothing. On the bad days people think we are bitchy or cold. You are just trying to hold it together. Some people take your coolness as dislike and in their minds manifest it into hatred. It makes you feel more like a freak. You take that pain and use it against yourself cause you are a freak now, in your own mind, you don’t eat, you cut yourself, you try to bury that pain deeper. The self-punishment takes that pain and puts it on the outside, that way you know it’s real and not a figment of your imagination. You have an illness that is as real as cancer, but society sees it as different and it’s the shame of it that pushes it down till you can’t take it. The pain, shame, ridicule that makes you go over the edge and you become forever branded as crazy, branded as different. Side effects of the disease.
A month goes by. Our VP’s sister-in-law kills herself. She bought a hand gun. She leaves behind two girls and husband, and a family who didn’t see it coming. The VP comes into the office I give my condolences, there is only he and I in his office and he begins to cry, I hug him. I have a 6 foot something man crying on my little 5 foot 3 shoulder asking me ’ what the hell was she thinking’. What do you say? I told him the love she had for her family couldn’t out weigh the hatred she had for herself. I told him my husband and I am praying for him and his family. I don’t think he heard anything I said but the soft tone of my voice.
During the past 4 years I think there was one time that sticks out that I realized I had gone crazy. I had asked my pastor for a meeting, I had to ask him some questions. I had a bible verse I needed to understand it. Understanding it was key, if I understood it all things would be better. I was manic.
I asked him if all things in his office were confidential, he said yes of course. I looked at the floor, I could see the line, literally I thought the line between life and death was on the floor, I had a piece of paper covered with the bible verse that was key to my survival, and sanity on it, all over the paper was scribbled my questions my thoughts my answers and more questions. As I looked at the paper, the line on the floor, I began to cry. I could not articulate a question, I didn’t know why I had come, and I saw for the first time what the paper had become. This crumbled, scribbled, messed up piece of incoherent rants. My pastor sat there quietly waiting, he was kind and let me deal with it. I am not sure if he understood the gravity of it, from my mind’s eye. I knew I needed more help, I went back to my doctor.
I called a psychologist this week. My heart won’t stop pounding; sometimes I can’t catch my breath, sometimes I don’t sleep. I have been taking my anxiety meds on a regular basis over the past week to keep my nerves calmer. I knew I was slipping before Christmas, now I know things are going astray. I go to my doctor on Wednesday. It’s been two years that I have been on an Anxiety Clinic’s wait list to go into group therapy as per my psychiatrist recommendations. It makes you wonder – why so long. How does one get off the list? If you are in the group do you die before you get off of it? Do you have to wait for someone to die so you can move up on the list? They called 6 months ago to ask if I wanted to remain on the waiting list. Really! They left a message on my answering machine, said if it was yes remain on the list, call this number leave your name and number and I would be left on the list.
And people ask what the hell was she thinking?
I feel I need to go to a ‘AA’ style meeting. You know ‘hi my name is_____ and I am crazy’ everyone says ‘Hi we are crazy too’ I know that was cynical, but surely you realized by now this rant is a mixture of truth, cynicism and humor. And the beat goes on.
Till another time…………..