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To be free i only need to let go
3 months ago · 0 · Mental Illness, +9 · Explicit
So I don't really do this... I've never been accused of being a natural born sharer or socially relevant in any way. I've lived my life quietly, preferring privacy over being interesting. I rarely ever post anything besides fun memes and pictures of my kids being silly on social media sites. You know, the ones, crammed full of distant family members and old high school classmates who enjoy chronicling their lives in real time. I try to avoid serious topics like politics and war, and while I do have strong opinions on them, I choose to keep them to myself. I certainly never share anything about mental health because well, Lets face it, its kind of a downer of a subject, one that not everyone experiences or understands, and when it comes to crazy no one wants to be the elephant in the room. Frankly i think it makes people deeply uncomfortable, which i get, but today, for some reason, I woke up feeling that writing this is something i need to do, It feels important that I share my experiences with everyone who will listen. If helps in anyone at all even just a little bit I'd call it a win, because today I'm feeling the courage to be authentically me.....yuck and stand in my truth, fiercely clutching the courage that often abandons me when i need it the most....Even if it means that by sharing my personal struggles people would view me differently. Even if its hard or makes Me sad, it doesn't matter. If my words reach just one person who can benefit from them...it was well worth it. Everyone knows growth hurts, so does change & so does the truth. I believe that the universe sends us signs, and when it talks I do my best to listen....or maybe I'm just nuts and should start wearing a tinfoil hat. Regardless, sharing, for me, while uncomfortable, allows me room to grow, its freeing & after all in order to be free all one really needs is to let go. Please Enjoy my signature brand of humor free of charge.
Fun fact about me i have obsessive compulsive disorder.....and anxiety and depression and PTSD... because go big or go home right. I was diagnosed at 37 after a breathtaking stay in a hospital in Georgia where I landed on a voluntary psych hold after trying to unalive myself the date was January 29, 2021, my death day and also the day I learned the real value of my life albeit in an incredibly fucked up way. Now word on the street is either i got incredibly lucky that night or I'm a vampire, but ill let you make up your own mind on that subject. I survived a gunshot wound to the head thanks in equal parts to my dear husband, and my extremely limited knowledge of firearms. I'm sad for him that during our eleven years together he's had to save me so many times in so many ways and but I've proven quite useless when it comes to saving him, I never have, not once and that night was no different, he had to watch his wife put a bullet in her face, he will have to live with that forever...because of me. The bullet entered my forehead two inches above my right eyebrow, striking my skull and causing surface damage and micro fractures then took a sharp turn and exited out my right temple. Its here my recollection becomes a bit blurry, and I've had to rely on others recollection to fill in the gaps in the awful sequence of events that occurred immediately after. Some things I remember in vivid detail, while others either vaguely or not at all. I remember looking down the barrel of the .22 caliber handgun I had pointed at myself, and the flash as it went off about six inches from my face. I remember my ears ringing from the sound of the shot, and a sizzling sensation across my face from the burning powder. I remember the warm gush of blood as it poured down the front of me, and a horrible high pitched wail the likes of which I had never heard before and will now never be able to unhear as long as I live. At first i thought the sound might have come from me, but later I found out that it was Kurt, my poor husband. That terrible banshee howl that echoed off the bedroom walls was his reaction to what he and I both thought was my death. I can't remember if I hit the floor but I do recall his strong arms carrying me away from that awful gory scene. He dragged me outside to our car and sat me in the passenger seat, using his shirt to staunch the blood, as I slipped in and out of consciousness. Through the haze I heard him call 911 his words rushing out in a panic to get me some help. I grabbed at him pulling him close demanding that he take care of our 3 boys, and giving him permission to forget me and move on to someone who made him feel happy and loved. My decision to pull the trigger came on so fast i didn't even write a note which if had i planned this i would have absolutely done. I'm dramatic like that. I thought that was it. It was all over for me, but as It turns out It wasn't. I was not going to die, not that night anyway. I'd recover physically, I wouldn't even get a gnarly scar. All that's there now is a round white dimple that generally goes unnoticed by everyone but me. I see it everywhere in every mirror and reflective glass, a reminder of that one time i almost succeeded. So I know..... crazy right....shot in the head, no long term physical damage....I now know that am beyond lucky to have survived, but at the time I was so mad, I couldn't even kill myself right...with a gun.....seriously i couldn't believe I fucked it up. From the house, now being taped of as a crime scene, I was taken by ambulance directly, do not pass go do not collect 200 dollars, just across the South Carolina state line to Georgia where the closest hospital with the appropriate trauma level was expecting me. In the ambulance, the paramedic snipped off my clothes, and recorded my vitals before administering fentanyl and everything went black. I awoke sometime later in a bed at The University of Augusta Hospital, vaguely registering flashes of my hasty intake and initial battery of tests. A police officer stood in the corner looking stoic. A young nurse greeted him as she entered the room and upon realizing I was awake excitedly began showing me my the scans of my head including a fuzzy gray shadow that she identified as half of the copper jacket still lodged in my head, just chillin. As she blabbered on breathlessly about miracles, and guardian angels and divine intervention nonsense I studied the glossy pictures of my brain in detached silence. I traced my fingers over the shape of the copper shard that is snuggled up against my temporal bone. It hides there still, like a secret under a teardrop shaped bald spot.... So not cute. Within a few hours i was deemed well enough to be transferred to the psych ward to wait for my evaluation. I was off to an unlit cubicle for the next 2 days, courtesy of Augusta University hospital, thanks Georgia but no thanks, and seriously if wasnt mental before, that would have done me in. Inside they fed me all sorts psychiatric drugs, lexpro, prozac, ativan, and a large blue pill that was supposedly prescribed to prevent nightmares, but it really just gave me a stomachache. They meds kept me pretty sedated, head bandaged, dried blood caked in my hair, and everywhere, sleeping on a recliner with just a sheet. I was alone half conscious, in my cave surrounded by other psych patients in the throes of their own mental collapse. I woke frequently to the squeaking of the female nurses shoes on the polished linoleum or from a burst of inhuman shrieks from the woman in the paded cell across the hall. Not seeing or hearing from my husband for those two days were the lonliest i have ever experienced. I did however, on day 2, call my best friend Angela, my ride or die from the 2nd grade playground, she was understandably upset and really angry at me for not reaching out and I can't I blame her I was mad at me too.
From there I was transferred to a different psych facility on the hospital campus called East Central Regional for 3 more days. It was a huge imposing gray building that screamed psychiatric hospital. We the patients were all kept in one huge room, walls lined with yellowing colouring book pages rustling in the breeze of the air conditioning. Women were housed on one side, men the other, the beds, more brown leather recliners draped in crisp white linen the texture of stiff cardstock. They allowed me to shower for the first time since it happened where an exceptionally kind nurse helped me get the dried blood out of my hair, a task performed in the shower to contain the mess. I watched silently as a huge clump of my long black hair fell to the tile having finally been released by the stiff red clots. Everything smelled like copper it was gross but I was grateful. I was given navy sweats and plastic prison sandals with socks and underclothes, then shown to my chair with the expectation that I would sit or sleep all day under the watchful eye of the nurse/warden who sat parked at a battered wooden desk at the far end of the room. Instead of sleep, however I passed the hours playing cards with the only two other patients there, a young quiet black man with sad eyes and a blond woman who proudly showed me which artwork taped to the painted cinder block walls was hers. She was a regular here but also good company as they had to keep renewing my voluntary hold status until a more permanent bed became available. On my third night just after dinner i was transported by a special high security car service to Serenity, a residential facility that could hold me as long as they saw fit. As we drove I stared vacantly out the rain streaked window lost in thoughts of my husband and my kids and what i put them through. You see i knew better than anyone all the ways that suicide destroys families, I watched it destroy mine as a kid. I bit my lip and held back the tears threatening to spill down my face, shivering despite the car heater because they made me walk through the rain soaked lot in my socks as the shoes were just on loan. As we drove i realized we were in a maze of enormous buildings, a campus filled with ominous looking identical structures that housed the different specialties taught by the college of medicine. Once Inside Serenity the residential facility that agreed to take me. I was questioned and assessed by a team of whitecoats brandishing tablets loaded with questions and psycholgical tests. I choked out my answers while drowning in tears looking away and ducking my head in embarrassment at my answers. I remember my time there vividly and will talk in depth about it in another essay at a different time, but I'm currently still processing that part of my experience. After days of observation by a team of doctors they diagnosed me with four mental health conditions......FOUR!!!! Like one wasn't bad enough. In descending order according to severity it starts with the OCD, which by the way isn't just washing your hands a lot or flicking the lights on and off ten times to satisfy the compulsion like I ignorantly assumed. It can also manifest in the mind, which is simply referred to as obsessive thoughts/thinking. Following closely behind is anxiety which intensifies the OCD and to me feels like the worst of the bunch, but really its just because its much more visible to those around me, I pace and I appear panicked fearful and out of control. Finally bringing up the rear by bringing me all the way down into the depths of despair, is depression just a ....shitty and pointless neverending bad day. Add a dash of PTSD, which also comes with its own hefty list of abnormal behaviors and experiences, including my evil arch nemesis ....drumroll please.....violent and repetitive nightmares, I'llthat had been hijacking my mind as I slept since I was 14. Their claim to fame was ensuring that I never really got any rest, no REM sleep for me, my brain was There it was, I was a full blown hot mess express psychiatric edition.....not okay, I was not okay at all and seriously fuck my brain for its refusal to cut me some slack and just work right. I felt weak and pitiful. It took 37 years to get it straight but there it was all my baggage, my emotional damage, & my issues, and now they all had names and definitions and all owned property in my head. Hooray for psychiatry another medicated american in a nation filled with them. The only way I can describe how it feels to be me in my head to someone who doesn't struggle with mental illness, is like this. Imagine being on the carousel from hell stuck spinning in a circle of very intrusive and self destructive thoughts. They invade the mind like a virus. If those infected thoughts turn on you, becoming dark or frightening or suicidal like everybody's does from time to time during periods of high stress, it can be an extremely lonely and dangerous place to be. 0 out of 5 stars do not recommend, Things get so loud, everything is a distraction, making you startle at the slightest external stimuli ,because your mind won't stop playing horrible home movies on repeat. Only some of which are actual memories. Some of them are lies that we tell ourselves based in paranoia and shame These Dark Thoughts repeat over and over without ceasing and devoid of mercy. The body is wracked with anxiety making it nearly impossible to stop crying and shaking. This path leads swiftly down the spiral of depression The hiding from the world, the disinterest in life, sleeping all day and crying all night and why because the depression lies and thinks it has won despite your efforts to hold it at bay, your shoes fill with cement and life becomes a deep lake....thats how it feels. Living with all of it is seriously unbearable at times, I hate it, I resent it, but its my mine now and I refuse to let it make me bitter. Hindsight is a funny thing, it brings everything into focus. Looking back now with a much more evolved perception i accept that this didn't all just happen overnight. Ironically a certain senior English teacher who liked to grade essays anonymously, always wrote obsessive compulsive in the bottom corner of the last page of every paper I turned in. It seems now he was on to something, 17 years later here I am, unable to deny it, cursed to have to Lear to live with it. So there it all was, I sat, quiet, medicated, bandaged head bowed in defeat an eggplant colored shiner blossoming across my face, all these new little labels stuck to my ass feeling like a total failure at life. The one thing i swore i would never be was a crazy person. Yes it is a stupid thing to swear. Over time and with work, I now know that Its the echos of the past, you just have to know where to look, unhealed trauma, grief, loss, abuse in childhood, combined with recent griefs, traumas,outright betrayals and cruelty a lot of which I still struggle to accept or discuss.All these things were straws on the back of that camel. No one chooses to be mentally and crazy doesn't give a rats ass what you swore you wouldn't be when you grew up. I have first hand knowledge of this because I myself grew up with a mentally ill mom, it was sad to watch and experience, and sometimes it became frightening. it was a difficult life for her and our family, a seemingly endless march of meds and therapy and institutions and doctors until she began to feel better and of course as soon as she felt better...... she promptly stopped taking her medicine and in a fairly short amount of time we would be back to square one, catching the crazy train to god knows where. I didn't want that, there must be some mistake I didn't really want to die, not really, I just wanted to make the damned carousel stop, and now here I am with all my baggage at my feet. I was overwhelmed ashamed and filled with fear. What about my husband(who had actually already known for years that I was nuts.). He would absolutely abandon me now. Because of me he was suffering his own mental health crisis after seeing me shoot myself in the face and being left to clean up a crime scene alone, and my kids, would they even want to be around me? I mean I didn't want to be around me how could I expect them to. I had to try my absolute hardest to get better, for myself and for them. So i began to climb, meds, counseling, healing, education, patience, and time, so much time. Ive learned that getting well is not a sprint it's a marathon and now nearly two years later.....I can see i still have so far to go and so much more work left to do, but with the help of my tribe I'm doing it, every day. I have a lot of little brain boxes to unpack some of which are still rigged to explode in my face but i am better prepared to seek cover and of course, the carousel, she is still operational 24/7/365, and believe me sometimes it can suck beyond the telling of it, but I'm still here, still healing and still moving forward, I'm learning to be good with that.
So if I'm a fairly private person why did I share this little nugget of very personal information you might ask. Well as I said before authentic me and truth and all that is fact, but its also because talking about mental health helps remove the stigma around it, Let's face it we are all human we all have issues. if not well congratulations on your ample supply of the right chemicals in you brain for which I am thoroughly jealous but also happy for u glad you came. For the rest of us who struggle hard, sometimes being seen, heard, felt or understood can make a huge difference in our battle with the fear and isolation of being mentally ill. If you are struggling i urge you to reach out, its scary but being out of control is so much scarier I promise. If you know someone who is struggling, let them know you're there for them and want them to get well, don't give up on them. Lastly, be kind with reckless abandon its free and it really goes a long way, you never really know what people are going through. The way you treat someone can change their whole perspective, perhaps its the ray of hope they need to get through their storm. If my story helps even one person a tiny bit, my discomfort at exposing myself will have been worth it. Thank you for reading, if you made it to the end and if you didn't....I don't blame you I'm not that great of a write. ps take your meds.
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