On St. Patrick’s Day 2016, I had my first suicidal thoughts. I now know it to be called suicidal ideation. I was in work, in my boss’ office. He was on sick leave, which he would sadly die from at the end of that year. I was thinking of him that day, and missing him. He was a great boss, a great person, and enjoyable to be around. I was staring out his window at nothing. It was snowing outside, and the thought popped into my head that I’d like to jump out the window. I was on the 17th floor. Of course windows that high do not easily break, and I didn’t actually want to do it. I had to leave the office to stop the thoughts. They still lingered, but not as strongly since the visual wasn’t there.
On the way home, on the train platform, I kept looking at the tracks. Thoughts of jumping in front of a train kept coming into my head. Once again, I did not plan to act, or want to exactly, but the thoughts were intrusive. I was so troubled I had to step right back away from the edge of the platform. I talked to my psychiatrist, Dr. D, who changed my meds. This helped a bit, but I still had some intermittent bouts of S.I. They were not as bad as that first day.
On Christmas Day, 2016, I went for a drive. I couldn’t handle the hubbub of the day. For the first time ever on Christmas, I didn’t cook dinner. I was very anxious and depressed. My husband has since told me I spent most of the day in bed, popping Xanax. On the drive, the thought of driving off a bridge, came to me. This time I had the urge to carry it out. For the first time, I genuinely thought it probable that I would kill myself in the near future. Dr. D four days later on December 29th. He wanted to bring me into hospital, but I was scared and didn’t want to go. Who wants to be on a psych ward? When you have never been, it’s an extremely daunting prospect. That evening, as my husband, kids, and I, were walking back from Starbucks, my husband and I decided I really needed to check in. I packed a bag, and my husband drove me down to Northwestern. I remember being scared, but also so depressed, that I really didn’t give a shit either. My outside psychiatrist, Dr. D, happened to be my inpatient one too. This helped me find my feet somewhat.
Groups on the ward are split into high-functioning and low-functioning people. We do crafts, coping skills, group therapy, medication education, and so on. There were about twenty high-functioning people: those with depression; bi-polar; and anxiety that was somewhat under control. The low-functioning group had very poorly controlled mental illnesses, and were generally difficult to interact with. I was there for nearly four weeks. I have forgotten a lot of what happened. Severe depression reeks havoc on your memory. I was severely depressed, but made great friendships, and had a lot of fun. Being with people with similar issues really helps, and you have much brighter moments than if you were on the outside. You’re not allowed have outside food on the ward. I had my husband smuggle in a big Dairy Milk, and a pack of Jujy Fruits. We had such a good time that night, hiding in one of the day rooms, splitting up the candy like kids. I have stayed in touch with many of my fellow inmates since then, over a year later.
At sometime during that stay, I cut up a bedsheet in four lengths and tied them together. I left the room trying to calm myself down. There is a ‘Comfort Room’ with soothing lights, nature DVDs, aromatherapy, and weighted blankets. I went in there, trying to bring myself down. Nothing worked. I ended up pacing and freaking out. I came out to the day room, and one of the counselors, D, approached me. She asked me what was wrong. She could see I was in a state. Eventually, I confessed that I wanted to kill myself, and I had the means to do it. She shouted for my nurse, who retrieved the sheets from my room. I was put on C.V.O. (Constant Visual Observation). It’s exactly as it sounds. A staff member has to have their eyes on you at all times. When I slept, someone sat in my room and watched me. When I went to the bathroom I was watched going. When I showered, the curtain had to be open, and the staff member literally watched me the whole time. I can’t remember how long I was on C.V.O. I had by Fitbit with be and walked all day long. My sitter had to walk with me. I got on great with almost all the staff, so we walked and talked the whole time. When Dr. D found out he said they were there for safety, not friendship. From then on they walked a few steps behind me. That sucked.
After nearly four weeks, I left and went to Rush Hospital’s PHP (Partial Hospitalization Program). It didn’t seem to help much, and five weeks later, at the very end of February, I was back on the ward. My mom visited for the month of February, and to this day I cannot remember it. A few months later, she referred to her visit, and I honestly had no idea what she was talking about. I did eventually remember one day when we had a family meeting at Rush, but that was it.
This time I was on the ward for eight long weeks, most of which I don’t remember. I had ECT (Electro Convulsive Treatment) during that time. Twenty rounds of it. It is not as bad as people think. You are under anesthetic. A blood pressure cuff is wrapped around your ankle, then you are given a paralytic. This stops the paralytic reaching the foot. When electrical current is passed through your head, you have a seizure, but only the foot shakes. Then you wake up. Some people experience headaches, others nausea, and others no side-effects at all. ECT supposedly has an efficacy of 90%. I was in the 10% group. At some point during this hospitalization, and EKG showed an abnormality. I was transferred to cardiology for a week. In the cath lab they discover I had coronary artery disease. I have a 99% blockage of the distal L.A.D. (the widow maker), and a 40% blockage of the O.M. Thankfully the L.A.D. blockage was all the way at the end, and so didn’t kill me. At another point during this stage, I had severe diarrhea, and shit the bed. My poor nurse, who is literally the nicest man on the planet, had to clean it up. Because of how weak I was, I also fainted in the bathroom and hit my head. I needed a head CT, especially because I’m on blood thinners. It’s too risky to hope I’m not bleeding in my brain after a fall. At some point after that, the resident on my team changed. I still don’t remember the first one who I’d apparently had for 5-6 weeks. Anyway, I had a teenage crush on the new resident, who was christened Dr. Sexy. It helped that he was one of the best, if not the best listener there. The attending taking care of me, Dr. A, was amazing too. She was compassionate, and I felt I could tell her anything.
I think it was during this visit I half-heartedly tried to kill myself. I knew I’d probably get caught, because they made me leave my door open 24-7, because I had been so suicidal. I had just started and my nurse burst in.
When I was finally released, I was sent back to Rush’s PHP program. I lasted two weeks there this time, and then was back to Northwestern, Dr. A, and Dr. Sexy, for two weeks. It was decided I needed residential care. I started in Insight on May 16th. On the 21st I absconded. This was the start of an extremely impulsive faze. Impulsivity is one of the hallmarks of Borderline Personality Disorder. I have been impulsive all my life, but this took it to a new level. I tried to get tattoos, but I was too honest and told them I was on blood thinners, so they wouldn’t do it. I bought a knife in Target. I had self-harmed before, but never with anything dangerous. Then I broke seventeen months of sobriety in D4 – a bar downtown.
I drank five Old Fashioneds, then went to the bathroom and cut up my arms. Many people seem to cut to feel physical pain, and block out their mental pain. I think that is why I cut, but the visual that night proved much more powerful than the pain. Watching my skin open up, seeing the tissue underneath, and the blood flowing down my arms calmed me instantly. I went back out into the bar, and they called 911. Four police officers and two Fire Department EMTs came. One of the police officers took my knife from me. I argued with him, asserting that it was my property. He let me know it was a weapon, and that I would not getting it back. I felt one of the EMTs was being condescending, when asking me why I had done what I did. Of course I was indignant, and argued again. I called him “the mean one“, because he didn’t understand depression. His colleague told him to knock it off, which I took as further notice that I was right. It spurred me on to challenge the mean one even more. The other one, I named “the nice one.” The hospital is only a few blocks away, but I spent the ride there, and them checking me in to the Emergency Department, reminding them who was the mean one, and who was the nice one. Nice one didn’t seem to mind. Mean one was pissed.
I needed 30-40 stitches. Psychiatrists don’t see patients until their B.A.C. (blood alcohol content) is zero. It was the next morning before I saw him. Lucky me. It turned out that Dr. D was working the E.D. that morning. He was so angry with me, when I told him I had felt a sense of freedom, when he asked my what I was thinking when I was walking around Chicago with a knife in my bag. He scoffed at the thought, explaining that I was captive to the knife, my illness, and the alcohol. He did not want to admit me, and called Insight to see would they take me back immediately. They requested that I be stabilized in the hospital for a few days first. After three uneventful days in the ward, I went back to Insight.
I met some really awesome people at Insight, who I’m still in touch with nine months later. They have mentally ill patients, and those with binge eating disorders. I gained a totally new insight (no pun intended) into those who binge eat. It really opened my eyes, and heart to those suffering from obesity (some morbidly). Just like my depression, anxiety, and borderline personality disorder make it extremely difficult for me not to drink, cut, and have suicidal thoughts, their eating disorder makes it just as difficult not to binge. When I am wound up, I drink and cut. When they are, they eat. I met a couple of my favorite people ever in that group of people.
After six weeks in residential treatment, I moved down in level of care, first to PHP and then I.O.P. (Intensive Outpatient Program) at Insight. My time there was uneventful until the end. On a Saturday morning, on the way to programming, I bought a knife. I had a meeting with my counselor that day, at which I told her I had a knife, and that I wasn’t sure if I would use it or not later that day. She called 911, and I was shipped off to Northwestern again. It’s not such a great experience, being wheeled into an ambulance on Michigan Avenue, in the middle of summer. Let just say I felt like a sidewalk attraction. They didn’t have a bed on the psych ward, so I was shipped out to Chicago LakeShore Hospital.
I spent the first two days knocked out on phenobarbital, to wean me off benzodiazepines (Xanax and Klonopin). Firstly, combining benzos and alcohol is extremely dangerous, leading to suppression of the nervous system. Also, and I’m not fully clear on this, the mechanism in which alcohol and benzos work in the brain is similar which can cause relapse, and/or benzo addiction instead. Stopping benzos cold turkey, can cause seizures. When using barbiturates this does not happen. They stopped all of my meds, including my cardiac meds, which screwed up my I.N.R. (international normalized ratio). I.N.R. is a measure of how thin your blood is. My blood needs to be thinned because I have two mechanical heart valves. If the blood is not thinned, blood can clot on the artificial valves, and cause a stroke.
There were six of us with mental illness, and about twenty who were there for alcohol and drug detox: the majority for heroin. I am still in touch with one of my mental health friends, and one of my detox buddies goes to the same A.A. club as I do. I don’t remember exactly how long I was there. I missed my youngest daughter’s first day of kindergarten. I felt so guilty, and really upset. I know I was there for the first Tuesday of September, because the monthly tornado siren test went off. I also remember being there for September 11th, for obvious reasons. They held my blood thinner one more time when I begged them not to. I knew it would make my blood too thick. I guess the patient’s always wrong!
When I got out, I went straight downtown to get my I.N.R. checked in Northwestern. My husband was bringing the kids to a doctor’s appointment. They were so happy to see me, as I was them. My little five year old looked so cute in her school uniform, with her big backpack. The five of us were on the train headed home when I got a call from Northwestern. My cardiologist wanted me to come in to go on a Heparin drip, because my I.N.R. was so low. I was so pissed LakeShore had screwed up my meds, and that I had to go back to another hospital without having even been home. My kids were devastated. I had hardly said hello and I was leaving again. I was there for a few days.
At some point in September, I ended up in St. Joseph’s psych ward. I don’t remember why – just alcohol I think. Thankfully, I was only there for a few days. I liked the shrink – and I saw him every day. There was minimal programming, and the days really dragged. My roommate was nice enough, but she was manic the whole time I was there and didn’t shut up. Now those who know me, know I’d talk the hind leg off a donkey, so me not being able to get a word in edgewise is really saying something. I was glad to walk out of there, on a Friday evening, into lovely 90F weather. Remember the heat last September?
At some point in September I did a week at Positive Sobriety Institute (P.S.I.). I think I relapsed, and that might have been the St. Joe’s stay. That short P.S.I. stint ended with me being short of breath and being walked by one of the counselors to Northwestern E.D. No psych stay this time, just a cardiac one. Yippee. I had a bit of fluid on the lungs, so after a few days, some diuretics, and some monitoring I was released. Also around then (might also have been the St. Joe’s stay), I went to the Lakefront and cut myself, but couldn’t cut deeply. I remember being really frustrated, but still couldn’t cut enough. I talked to Dr. D twice. It was around 3 am – that man has some patience I tell you. The first time he tried to get me to tell him where I was, presumably so he could call 911. I wouldn’t tell him. The second time I told him I would. I called 911 on myself. When they came, I thought that one of the EMTs was the mean one from May. I kept asserting that he was the mean one, except he was really nice, so I must have been wrong.
On September 30th, I drank a bottle and a half of wine, and went downtown. I had stopped halfway there to buy a knife. I drank four more drinks in Streeter’s Tavern on Chicago Avenue, and then walked to the Lakefront. Once again, on my own, in the middle of the night. I had wanted to go to Ohio Street beach, but the gates to the underpass were locked. I settled on a bench by the Lakefront path. The same bench I had been at the previous time. I remember it being a beautifully warm night for late September – probably 90F at 3 am. It was raining really hard the whole time I was there. The rain falling down my face, soaking my hair and clothes, felt beautiful in the heat. This time I had no problem cutting deeply, the deepest I have ever cut. I felt so calmed by it. Watching the blood mix with the rain was fascinating. It spurred me to cut much more and deeper than before. I kept purposefully dropping my phone in the puddle at my feet. I remember I kind of wanted it to break so I wouldn’t be able to call for help. I remember thinking that I wasn’t trying to kill myself, but that if I did die I was okay with it. Dying was a real possibility, because of how deep I cut, and given that I was on blood thinners. I know I called Dr. D a few times again. Eventually I decided to walk to the E.D. I didn’t want to deal with the Fire Department.
I threw the knife in a flowerbed right outside the hospital, and walked inside. I had blood pouring down my arms. Several staff member ran to me, and put me in a wheelchair. They grabbed gauze and put pressure on my arms, then wheeled me straight to a room. I needed seventy nine stitches. I was admitted initially to a medical floor, where I stayed for five days. After a few days, the bleeding hadn’t stopped, and my hemoglobin was still dropping. I required a blood transfusion. I was transferred to psych, where I stayed another eleven days. I had my favorite attending, Dr. A, as my doctor. Dr. Sexy, was no longer her resident though. No eye candy for me this time. They decided I needed to be in residential care again, but nowhere would take me because of my physical health problems. It turned out Dr. Sexy was the covering resident one of the weekends I was there. He was really harried though, because weekend covering docs have to see all twenty-nine patients on the ward. The attending with him was a dick. Funnily enough we, the patients, christened him Dr. Penis Head. He had a bald shiny dome head, and was an asshole. We felt the name was very fitting. Anyway, Penis Head was useless. I mentioned some feelings I was having, and he brushed me off saying I’d figure it out outpatient.
I believe this is when I started the Compass P.H.P. However, on October thirtieth, I drank wine at home. I was determined to go downtown to drink more. My husband physically stopped me from leaving the house. He told me to call the police if I didn’t like it. I did call the police, and they came to the house. This is the thing I am most ashamed of. He had stuck with me through thick and thin, always trying to help me, and I called the police on him. When they came, I explained that my husband would not let me leave the house. He countered that I always ended up hurting myself when I did. In fairness, he was right. One of the officers asked if I was going to hurt myself, to which I, of course, responded no. They told my husband that he had to let me go, although I could see they sided with him, but could not do anything about it. I was a complete dick. I headed down to Streeters again, but did not buy a knife on the way down. I drank four more drinks with some random foreigners, and went to Walgreens on the corner of Michigan and Chicago, in the hopes they sold knives. They sell everything else for God’s sake. Anyway, they don’t sell knives. I called Dr. D again at some ungodly hour to let him know what was going on. Of course he wanted me to go to the E.D, and so I walked the two or three blocks there. I was dried out until the next morning, only to discover they had no beds.
I was transferred out to Norwegian American Hospital. Oh God. Never. Go. There. Ever. Even if you’re dying. People were flashing gang signs, and threatening each other. Another guy was smacking his head off the wall, with the gang banger taunting him to get him to do it again. The food was dreadful. We had no programming. I saw the psychiatrist the first day I was there, and never again. Nobody asked if I was suicidal or felt like self-harming. I stayed for five days and was not checked by any person from the first day on. I honestly don’t know how they choose to release people or not. Maybe they just pick a random number of days and then release you. Oh. My roommate was withdrawing from Heroin, so slept for 23 hours per day. She didn’t flush or wash her hands when she got up to use our bathroom. She smelled like dirty vagina (sorry – but try being me), and it got worse day by day. Eventually I went to the front desk and screamed that my room smelled like vag! They moved me to my own room, thank God. It turns out the woman was quite nice. Once she came around and showered, she was perfectly pleasant. I just wasn’t willing to wait around for the change. My husband was understandably mad at me. Each time I called his cell, he would pass it straight to one of the kids without a word.
I was back in Compass after that. I met an awesome girl there, J. She’s a gorgeous, amazing, funny woman (happy now J?). We went to Mod Pizza all the time, mocking the High School kids from Lane Tech. We’re probably jealous of their youth (the little shits). I finished up in Compass on December 28th. That was one day shy of the anniversary of my first admission. That stirred up some tough emotions for me. That coupled with me finishing Compass, led me to go downhill again. I had talked to Dr. D about it, and he was concerned too, with the anniversary, and the lack of structure. He advised I do some volunteering, which I did, and said that he wanted me to have a job by March. Nothing like an intimidating shrink to get your arse into gear!
On January 7th, 2018, I relapsed again. This time I took a bottle of wine, and skipped my meds that night. The next morning I took that night’s pills and all my pills for that day. That was the longest I had stayed sober since May the previous year: seventy one days. My husband said I was very combative the night before, when drunk. Our nanny drove me to the E.D. I was kept on the medical floor for a week, and spent two days in psych. I wasn’t really having any psych symptoms by then, which is why I was released so soon. Compass took me back, but I was let go immediately because I drank the two days following my release from Northwestern.
Everyone: Compass; Dr. D; and my therapist; felt I needed a primarily substance abuse program at this point. I started back in P.S.I, where I had been in September, on January 23rd. I was surprised they took me back. I had to do a breathalyzer check twice daily at home, which sent the results to them, and random urine drops. I was there for six weeks, and I did find it helpful. While there I had an assignment to write: “How It Was.” It was essentially my life story until that point, with an emphasis on trauma, mental health, things that led to and worsened my alcohol intake, and brought me to that point: an admitted alcoholic. I learned a lot there, and made some lasting friendships. There was a real bond among the group. I had severe sleep issues at this point. There were nights of one hour, thirty minutes, and no sleep at all. The P.S.I. psychiatrist, Dr. J switched my meds several times. Nothing was working. I started having hallucinations. The final straw was when I was sitting in an addiction lecture Dr. J was giving, and hallucinating him with a bright red woman’s wig on. It looked hilarious though, on this short, cute, bald Indian man, who had a goatee! I stormed into his office afterwards, shouting “Unless you’ve suddenly turn into a transvestite, you need to fix my meds.” We both had a chuckle about it, but then he laid out a plan. Thank God in a few days I was sleeping again.
On the morning of March 7th, I brought my evening meds from the night before, and my morning and evening meds for that day to P.S.I. I went to the bathroom before programming began. My anxiety was sky-high. I didn’t know what to do: to take them; or not take them, to reach out to Dr. J or not. I knew the most sane option was not to take them and to tell the psychiatrist. I kept going back and forth. In the end, before I could stop myself, I once again shoved them in my mouth and swallowed them. I immediately regretted it, and felt stupid. I went to the doctor’s office and left a note on his desk, stating that I needed to talk to him urgently. Then I went to group. I was sitting beside my closest P.S.I. friend, who was trying to get people to sign-up for weekly tasks. No one was volunteering and I was getting more and more frustrated. At the same time, two and a half times my normal dose of sleeping meds was quickly kicking in, so I was barely conscious. I started shouting at people to hurry the fuck up and volunteer. My friend asked if I could do something, and I said I wouldn’t be here anymore, that I’d be kicked out.
At the end of group, my friend stayed behind with me, and asked what was going on. I told her, and she suggested we tell a counselor. I didn’t want to, but when I tried to walk I nearly fell over, so we did. We went to Dr. J’s office, and waited for him there. They took my vitals which were still okay at this point. Once Dr. J came and talked to me, he called 911. The E.M.T.s said Northwestern was on bypass, so we’d be going somewhere else. I freaked out and wanted to refuse the services of the Fire Department E.M.T.s. I was begging Dr. J to let me go. I had been to three other psych wards at this stage, one worse than the next. They agreed to take me to Northwestern, and once there, they said, they can’t refuse you. I slept most of that day, and was transferred to the medical floor that evening. I saw the psych docs on the following two days, and was then released. The condition of my released was that I return to P.S.I. I had been told in the hospital that P.S.I. welcomed me back under the condition that I attended a weekly D.B.T. (dialectical behavioral therapy) group. D.B.T. gives people tools to cope with anxieties, thoughts, behaviors, and feelings. It doesn’t aim to get rid of these feelings.
I was feeling pretty good leaving the hospital. It was a Friday afternoon, and glad not to be there for the weekend. The minute I left the hospital, before I got off the campus grounds, I had very strong urges to take pills. I was a bit nervous, but went to A.A. anyway. During the meeting, my urges for alcohol sky-rocketed. I was worried I would relapse again that night. When I left A.A. I had a voicemail from P.S.I. saying that I was not welcome back. This sent me into a tailspin. Also, I was extremely pissed that they told me over voicemail. I sent a message via computer to Dr. D letting him know what had happened. I expressed my concern about urges for wine and pills, and the message from P.S.I, going into the weekend.
That evening P.S.I. called to check in on me. I found it very difficult to talk to them, because I was still very angry. No one seemed to know where the miscommunication occurred. They recommended a few other programs to me. I explained how I thought it was shitty that they had left a voicemail dumping me, and that I never would have been released from the hospital if P.S.I. had not been in place.
I looked into SunCloud, one of the places they recommended. SunCloud treats mental illness, addiction, and eating disorders. I filled out a form online to have someone contact me. At nine o’clock that night someone from SunCloud called me. They arranged for me to have an intake interview on Monday morning. I didn’t feel magically better, but my mood lifted slightly. Just then I noticed two missed calls, a voicemail, and an e-mail. Dr. D wanted me to come back into the hospital for admission to psych. I could not stand the thought, and felt I was in a somewhat better mindset to not be admitted. In his message, he said P.S.I. had contacted him expressing concern, and between that and my message to him, it was enough for him to want me in. I sent him another message, telling him I would be okay. I was pretty sure he wouldn’t be too happy, but he left it like that.
The weekend was rough, but each day was a tiny bit easier. On Monday I had my intake interview, and started in SunCloud on Tuesday. I saw Dr. D on Tuesday evening. He mentioned that he would have liked me in the hospital that past weekend, but that he was glad I had started a new program. We discussed what had happened when I’d taken the pills, and I agreed again to reach out for help when needed. He has been brilliant over the years, taking many calls from me, including at 2 or 3 a.m.
On Wednesday I went to SunCloud. As the day wore on, I became more and more agitated. I was suffering from treatment fatigue, but also something I couldn’t put my finger on. At the end of the day, I heard someone mentioning that they were going to my A.A. meeting near downtown. We were in Northbrook, twenty miles from downtown. I offered her a ride, and before I knew it I had agreed to give five women a ride to Lincoln Park. It took us over an hour to get there. On the way there, all I could think about was me having to give them a ride every day. I started obsessing about this, and the thought that it was tornado season. I have a phobia of tornadoes. Whenever there is the slightest chance of a severe storm, I panic all day, and check the forecast compulsively. If I think a storm is becoming severe, I’m likely to want to pull over and go inside somewhere. What would I do with all these women in the car?
By the time I got to A.A. I was very uncomfortable, and during the meeting the alcohol cravings kicked in. I bought a bottle of wine on the home way home, without a thought of reaching out. I just wanted to calm the anxiety. My husband knew the minute I got home, something was up, so I confessed to buying the wine.
Once the kids were in bed, I drank the wine. My husband and I were flirty that evening. He had long given up trying to stop me drinking. I tried to convince him to give me the meds for the following day. He knew better with my track record of overdosing, the last having been only one week before. I did manage to convince him to leave them on the dresser in his bedroom, in case he’d forget before leaving for work the next day, and I would have no meds. I was already scheming how to get to them. He went to bed, and I decided to go up twenty minutes later to take the meds, hoping he would be asleep. After fifteen minutes however, he came back downstairs. I initiated sex to put him off guard. I was genuine when flirting with him, put played him then. Afterwards I said I would check on the kids. By the time I had the pills in my mouth, I could hear him on the stairs, having realized too late what I was up to. Like the other times, I have no idea why I did it. I did not intend to kill myself. I don’t think I was looking for attention. I think the act calms me down, just like cutting did. We got me a Lyft to take me to Northwestern.
Once you mention O.D. you’re brought straight back, and security come to watch you, as they do for every psych case. They have you remove all your clothes in front of two security guards, and change into a gown. I don’t remember much after that, because the large amount of sleeping pills I had taken were kicking in. I was moved to the I.C.U, where I was kept on suicide watch, which means someone is in the room with you at all times, including going to the bathroom. They remove all cords, plastic bags, hand sanitizer, soap etc. On Friday, a psychiatrist removed the sitter. That afternoon I was moved to a regular medical floor.
On Saturday my anxiety was rising all day. In the end, I got into my clothes, and walked out. I went down to the E.D, where they keep your valuables in a safe. I needed my train card, money, etc. to get home. The E.D. was packed full of idiots (says an idiot) wearing green and puking in the hallways. They were swamped. Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I waited for fifteen minutes, and no one came to help me, so I called it quits. I went to Starbucks, and got a coffee. I was so anxious. I felt like an idiot. Such a teenager. Impulsive as always. I didn’t know what to do. Well I guess I knew what I should do – go back upstairs and face the music. Do the responsible thing. My anxiety, however, was telling me to bolt.
I went back upstairs, with my tail between my legs. When I got outside my room, I saw that my bed had been stripped, and my stash of food tossed. That was quick. I took it as a sign, and turned to leave. When I turned around, I came face-to-face with the charge nurse. She asked if I was the patient in 1650, and I acknowledged I was. She said they had called security, but she had given them an inaccurate description, because she didn’t know me. They must not have given my name either. A huge number of security guards know me by name. Not something I should be proud of in all fairness. The E.D. had been swamped by them, because of the day that was in it. Back in the room, my anxiety had soared throughout the drama, and was now at a peak. The tears quickly followed. In floods. Unstoppable. I think it was a mix of anxiety, what had just happened, why I was there in the first place, feeling completely helpless, and it being the first day of my period, which always has me in pieces. I got settled, and for the rest of the day I bawled on and off. Mostly in gut-wrenching sobs. God love my nurse. He was completely freaked out by what had transpired, and we hardly spoke for the rest of his shift.
I was given a sitter again, but for elopement, not S.I. This wasn’t as bad, because you can shower and use the washroom with the door closed. I was able to keep my phone, my charger, and my earbuds. I was also given real silverware instead of plastic!
The next six days were fairly uneventful. I saw the psychiatrist daily, and it was made clear that this time I would not avoid an inpatient psych hospitalization. On Friday, March 23rd, after nine days in the hospital, I was transferred to psych. As usual I saw all the familiar faces of the staff, and that caused my heart to sink. Here we go again. Back to this shit. Earlier that day I had texted a friend I had met in the psych ward the previous year. We ended up on the ward at the same time three times previously. We stayed in touch outside, and met up for lunch and breakfast a few times. As I walked to my room, I noticed her name was on a door! Awesome. I might stay sane this trip to the ward after all – well as sane as a psych patient can be! I saw her that night and we had a huge hug, laughing and screaming. Physical contact is a complete no-no on the ward. Screw ’em. It was so nice to see a familiar face that wasn’t staff.
On Friday night, I became anxious again and wanted to scrape my arms with my nails. I told my nurse, in the interest of honesty. I didn’t want to self-harm, but it was very hard not to.
I had a doctor I had in January for this stay. She’s nice enough, and her resident is too. The covering doctor was Dr. D over the weekend. I saw him both days. He was completely pissed at me for not reaching out. He has told me over and over again to call him when I was about to to drink, cut, take pills, or even think about buying alcohol or a knife. He asked me over and over why I had taken the pills, telling me he knew, that I knew, I wasn’t taking a lethal dose. I had already acknowledged that. I wasn’t trying to kill myself. Every time I suggested a possible reason, he rebuked it. In the end, I think it has probably become my replacement for cutting. The act itself brings down my anxiety. I realize that sounds quite idiotic for someone who doesn’t suffer from similar mental health issues.
Sunday was a rough day, probably the worst in terms of depression in months. I lay in bed most of the day. The idea of getting out of bed to do anything seemed like a mammoth task. I managed to have breakfast two hours late. I had a couple of bites for lunch, and I ate dinner alone, when I would usual sit with others. That night I wished to be dead. No intent, just the feeling. This is a frequent thought for me, but it was a little stronger than usual. Once again, I told my nurse. We agreed that I would stay out of my room until bedtime, not so I wouldn’t do anything dangerous, but so that I would have less time to ruminate. I somehow managed to do laundry, although I didn’t manage to pick them up until late the next day, when a nurse handed them to me, already in my bag. On Monday, I felt much better, but still a bit down – one of my key symptoms of depression. I saw my doctor, and they wanted me to do residential again. On Tuesday (today), I saw them again. I explained that I knew I would drink when I left, and I was worried that I might do something stupid after that. That is generally how my pattern is. Once I start drinking all bets are off. I don’t think my husband would try to stop me given the Chicago P.D. incident. Once again they recommended residential, especially since I confessed about the likelihood of drinking immediately upon discharge. I don’t want to drink, but given my alcohol cravings, it is probably wise to do residential. SunCloud are not willing to take me back, so we’ll see what options my social worker comes up with.
Over the last year, I have missed two Paddy’s Days, my two daughters’ fifth and eleventh birthdays, the family trip to Wisconsin, the U2 Joshua Tree concert (which was supposed to be amazing), a Ricardo Arjona concert, my daughter’s first day of Kindergarten, and Halloween. For all the events the kids were involved in, they were devastated. I made sure I called often, almost every day, and talked about the event, and how amazing it was, and that I’d be home soon. I felt incredibly guilty, and sad that I missed so much. A lot of it was my fault through stupidity, a lot was purely how sick I was. I hope things continue to improve, and my days of missing out on life are over, or at least more and more rare. When I’m in the hospital, we tell the kids that mommy’s in the hospital to fix her meds. So far they haven’t asked too many questions. About my A.A. meetings, we say mommy goes to meetings, that other people with the same illness as mommy has attend, to help each other feel better. When I go to P.H.P. and I.O.P, I call them mommy’s classes. This way I feel I’m not lying to them, because each thing is true, just not overtly descriptive. In time I will have to tell them about my depression, and alcoholism. Sadly both illnesses have a large genetic component, so they will have to know. Depression sucks!
Update: It’s Thursday afternoon of the same week. I was released a couple of hours ago. My next psych appointment isn’t for two weeks, which seems really far away. My anxiety soared immediately, and again when I walked out of the hospital. I just have to reach out to Dr. D if I’m not holding up. On the train on the way home, it stopped between stops without word of why. Immediately my phobic mind kicked in, and my anxiety shot up again. I got upset with myself immediately, and then started ruminating again.
I am sitting in Starbucks. Hospital coffee is truly awful. Once again no residential programs would take me. They are all scared of my crappy heart. I guess you’re not allowed to have mental and physical health issues. If I’d known that I wouldn’t have opted to have heart disease – silly me. I have an intake interview tomorrow at Hazelden Betty Ford for P.H.P. It should be just a formality. These things usually just involve questions so they can meet your needs, and paperwork.
I’m off to A.A. in a couple of hours. Seeing familiar faces there will hopefully help. Then I get to see my kiddos when I get home. I’m so excited and I know they will be too. I’ve got to make this work.
Update 2: It’s Friday and I had my Hazelden interview this morning. They don’t think I’m a good fit. They think I need a dual diagnosis program – they are probably right. They recommended another program who I’ve already emailed. This is not a good start to my first days out of hospital. I sent Dr. D a message letting him know. Hopefully the other program, Millennium Counselors will work out.