I know I have a few faithful readers, and I'll let you all in on some Blondie secrets. It's about to get personal, y'all, and I'll throw out a trigger warning for anyone suffering in their own brain.
The past two years have not been kind to me. I had a car accident that left me bedridden for six months, in and out of the hospital. Lost my diner job, started a new one.
I got engaged. I got un-engaged - on my favorite holiday, my own birthday. My brother got married, and I'm coming up on my best friend's wedding. (happy occasions, but stressful all the same.)
I recently read an article about a woman taking a mental health day and her CEO telling her that she could have as long as she needed, and we should all feel free to talk about what's going on in our heads. I had to quit the corporate place, for my health. I was diagnosed with stress, anxiety, and depression. It felt good to have a name for what was afflicting me, but it wrecked me even more knowing that I was so sick for so long without knowing, and letting my mind and body go to waste because of ignorance or pride.
I mean, I obviously knew there was something wrong in some part of my consciousness, but it wasn't until I was admitted into the mental health unit of my local hospital at 84 pounds, kicking and screaming, that I realized my physical health was severely at risk, and I was killing myself with no idea why. They told me another week or so of isolating myself, literally and metaphorically, would have surely led to my heart stopping. As in, you don't wake up. I think I had gone 8 days without eating, but I had no conception of time, much less appetite. I slept in fits and dozes and pretended I couldn't hear my phone.
I made some surely life-long friends in my two weeks at the hospital, as much as I struggled to stay afloat. Imagine any teen-drama movie set in a mental health ward, and the sad little girl on suicide watch. I fought them every step of the way. They threw pills at me, appetite stimulants and horrible protein-packed supplements. They paraded me through a string of doctors asking the same questions, but I didn't feel heard. I still don't, not for lack of trying, but I'm still detangling. I met late-stage alcoholics, opiate addicts, and people having conversations with the voices in their head. Girls who lost their kids due to heroin addiction, men whose wives took their kids and left because the home got toxic.
The nurses, I'm not sure if that's the correct term, so someone tell me if I'm using the wrong nomenclature, were the real MVPs. They saw a tiny bird with clipped wings. The tough-as-nails battleaxe working the day shift would turn her ear to my door as she did rounds, so she could knock if I was crying. The two gentlemen who worked the night shift let me watch TV after hours when I couldn't sleep, and kept everyone out of my room when I finally conked out. They talked to me about books and movies, and always made sure I had the heated blankets fresh from the machine because I was always cold.
I'm fighting with my insurance right now, because I know I desperately need to adjust the meds given to me, or I'll end up inpatient again. In light of the recent celebrity suicide (Chester from Linkin Park), I'm driven to share my story. It gets easier every time I tell it, and so extremely to the point of bafflingly accepted and understood, I feel a Jenga piece lifting from my shoulders when I tell a family member, or a friend, "I'm not okay."