I’m still here.
I’ve been on an involuntary hiatus from this blog, and I’m about to explain why. I would suggest that if you haven’t done so already, please read the “About” page for me (see the tab up top there) and hang on, ’cause there’s some serious oversharing about to happen.
Don’t say you weren’t warned.
Okay, back in February, I decided to see a psychiatrist. I had been seeing counselors and taking anti-depressant meds on-and-off since I was twenty, but I’d never seen a psychiatrist. I was interested in the diagnosis a mental health doctor would have for me. So, I went to see someone who took my insurance.
Diagnosis: Bipolar disorder. Oooooookay. I guess. Why not?
With this diagnosis, the doctor introduced me to a whole new class of drugs called anti-psychotics. (Don’t think I didn’t become a little alarmed that the word ‘psychotic’ had now been added to my treatment vocabulary.) I also became intimate friends with Klonopin and Ativan. Dear god, what a cliche – a suburban housewife with a fistful of pills – all I needed was a martini glass and a smart housedress to be one of those snarky, kitchy cocktail napkins they make mocking the 1950’s.
The anti-psychotics were for stabilizing my moods, but pretty much all they did was set my brain on fire. It’s hard to describe exactly the way I felt, but you know that fear-filled adrenaline that fills you when someone scares the shit out of you unexpectedly? It was like that in my head, all the time. A 24/7 panic party goin’ on between my ears all day, every day.
I lost count of how many times I called my shrink, sobbing, begging her to put me on some different medications. She was very responsive to my requests, but no changes she made had a positive effect. I cried all the time, not just on the phone with my psychiatrist . A list of other sob-worthy moments included (but was not limited to) waiting in carpool, walking on the street, at the dinner table, folding laundry, in the grocery store, responding to anyone who innocently asked how I was doing, or, I was really in it deep, curled in the fetal position on a chair while staring out the window. I also had my first panic attack, during a concert I was partially directing. I felt a ball of anxiety in the pit of stomach so big that I practically stopped eating. A wide-eyed look of panic became the new ‘normal’ setting for my face. I couldn’t stop or sit still, I could only roam around the house, trying to escape the wild fear I felt consuming me.
This dragged on through March, April and May, until I switched doctors. One glance at my chart, and my new shrink said, “I see no evidence of bipolar. I’m glad I don’t know your old doctor.” She put me back on some good old-fashioned anti-depressants, and with some adjusting here and there, we seem to have found a good balance to keep me healthy and functioning well.
That brings us to today. For the first time in months, I’m sitting down and composing a blog post. This is a miracle to me, because three months ago, I couldn’t even look at a computer.
In dark times in our lives, we discover some amazing things, in spite of the suffering. I learned the there is an unbreakable safety net of love and support that will catch me when I fall. This safety net is made up of neighbors who let me cry on their shoulders; friends who willingly took the kids for days on end so I could try to focus on getting better; my mother, who for ten days left her jobs in Pennsylvania and helped me as I struggled to function; my sister and brother-in-law, who looked after my father while my mom was gone; my father, for sending his love and support through the phone lines in powerful ways; my husband, for never giving up on me; those long-distance friends who listened to me on the phone and read my emails and checked in with me to make sure I was alright; my doctor, who nursed me back to normalcy; the unexpected hugs or words of encouragement that would appear out of nowhere when I needed them.
I was desperate, I was fearful, I was hopeless, I was broken. But I was never alone. There are angels in our midst, and I was held by them as I traveled this horrible path.
You know who you are. Thank you.