Four years…

I deserve better blank

My eyes are so swollen from crying for two days

CN: frank discussion of suicidal thoughts

My heart felt like it had stopped. I couldn’t breathe. This wasn’t happening. Lenny had broken up with me and I felt like I’d lost the last support I had. I’d been plummeting into depression for months; all that kept me going was the promise of moving to England and making a fresh start with Lenny. It was going to be my biggest adventure and then it was gone with no way of getting it back.

Four years ago today, the day after my break up, I sat down at my computer desk and wrote a suicide note. I didn’t bill it as such, in fact I lied and said I had no plans of killing myself. That wasn’t true. I had a plan and now I had my note. I also had the courage or desperation to climb over the railing and jump. The only thing holding me back was the fear it wasn’t high enough. What if I didn’t die? What if I ended up as a quadriplegic, unable to try again. Meanwhile I pictured jumping over and over; the flight, the wind, and then nothing. I didn’t think of the people I’d leave behind except fleetingly, assuming they’d quickly get over me. Goodness knows I wasn’t worth caring about.

Then my sister called and asked if she could take me to the hospital. It wasn’t like I had anything pressing to do other than dying so I told her I would. She coached me while in the car to exaggerate a little so they’d take me seriously. I didn’t think that would be an issue.

Going to the hospital for mental health issues takes so long. There’s the initial waiting room and then triage and then the nurses station and then the waiting room. Then, after an hour or so, there’s a trip to the back part of the ER and a meeting with a doctor. Then it’s back to the waiting room for another hour or two… or three before finally meeting the psychiatrist. It’s almost a day long event; it’s worth packing snacks and a book (if you can concentrate).

Finally we sat in a quiet room with a couch, a couple of chairs, and dim lamps. I sat on the couch silently crying while my Mom perched uncomfortably on a chair. My sister had long since needed to go home to get her kids from school. The psychiatrist explained that I could be admitted but, if I was serious about suicide I could always find a way. There was no guarantee I’d be safe. Or I could go home with my Mom. I ended up staying almost two weeks with my parents before going home again and, over the course of the next few years, got admitted around four times. I had my first admission that June and got blocked by Lenny the morning after I got home. I haven’t heard from him since. I have no idea how he’s doing but I wish him well. He was struggling with his own demons.

My life has changed so much since then. I’m no longer able to work so groups took over as a way to interact with people (at least until covid-19 struck). I’m on a handful of meds a day, carefully balanced to keep me balanced. I adopted two kittens to go with the three senior cats I already had and they keep me busy and loved. No matter what’s going on in the world, they need me and that matters. I got involved with the Canadian Mental Health Association and I got a subsidized apartment. This is the first time I’ve lived on my own and the first time I’ve lived outside of Oshawa and Whitby (two cities just outside Toronto).

If you are suicidal I want you to know that you have value and meaning. You are worthwhile no matter how you feel (or how you’ve been made to feel). And life changes. What’s happening now is no indication of what your life is going to be like in a year or four. My resources page has a bunch of phone numbers and websites for help and I can be reached on my blog’s Facebook page or email address (both are on my about page). You are not alone.


Where are the stars?

picture 2First came Kate Spade. I knew about her vaguely  because she brought out a purse shaped piggy bank titled “Kate saved” and I’d debated on buying it for Kait for her birthday. My Mom pointed out it was a play on words with the designer’s name, which I’d never heard before. I didn’t hear about her again until I found out she’d strangled herself to death with her red scarf.

Then came Anthony Bourdain. I don’t even know anything about him, just that he was 61 years old and had been fighting depression and substance abuse.

And then came the Facebook posts saying that he didn’t die too soon. He’d struggled for years and had lived a lifetime. That he’d had 30 more years than someone who’d died at thirty-one and the poster would have given anything for those thirty extra years.

I’m a hell of a lot closer to 61 than I am 30 and I can tell you right now that it isn’t enough. I want the chance to see my grandchild grow up. I want to see him finish high school, to fall in love. He’d only be 13 if I died then.

And I sit here in the sunshine and wonder where’s the light. It’s supposedly darkest before the dawn but I’m staring into the east and there’s no sun rising there.

They say that in the darkness there’s stars but the depths are inky black and no pinpricks of light are shining back at me.

I told my psychiatrist that those two were rich, with all the amenities that affords. The best therapists. The best counselling. I’m, well, not rich. I worry about falling through the cracks to land seven stories below. I guess technically eight because there’s a slope under my apartment.

My psychiatrist is worried about me.

When is going to the hospital the best choice to make and when is it running away from my problems? I’m already avoiding both balconies. My mind spools like an old film projector, showing reel after reel of me jumping. But, at the same time, I need to get the letters from our office for Revenue Canada. I need to deliver my new prescription to the pharmacy. And my cats would miss me.

And I look to the sky and hope, in vain, to see the stars.

hardest thing

Finding the shape of my days…

CN: suicidal thoughts

It was Friday, February 10th and my mental health worker had just arrived. I was… in not good shape. I’d gone to cut my pills the night before and found myself mere millimeters away from slashing the hell out of my arm with a ceramic knife. I managed not to but it was close and I wasn’t in a good mindset.

The worker asked how I was doing, I told her the truth and she called 911. Within minutes the police and paramedics were here. The paramedics left just as quickly as I didn’t need medical attention and the police promised to drive me in to emergency. Did you know they don’t have seat belts in the back seat of their cars? Also, being escorted in by a police officer garners a lot of attention.

Everything else was the same as the last two times. ER doctor, crisis nurse, and psychiatrist… all with copious amounts of waiting in between. Then the psychiatrist asked me if I wanted to go home or stay. If I stayed, I’d end up in the ER all weekend because there weren’t any beds. She left me alone to make up my mind and I burst into tears and called myself names. Then she came back in and walked me to the ER. I was upstairs in the psychiatric ward by 10pm.

The first thing I realized was that my intense homesickness last time was nothing of the sort. It was the same severe anxiety I always have. The second thing I realized was that anxiety faded away with Clonazepam.

I quickly found a routine for myself. A nap after breakfast, walking around the halls to get my 10,000 steps on my Fitbit, chatting with the other patients, a second nap after lunch, reading, more chatting, and cards after dinner. Ironically enough the game of choice was Crazy Eights.

Mood wise I’m doing a lot better. I’m on a handful of drugs now. Effexor, Abilify, Clonazepam, and Lithium. The lot act like tiny balloons, lifting up my feelings. Tiny sedating balloons. Right now I’m groggy from the Clonazepam but I’ve been assured that will lessen over the coming month.

I got released on Thursday and find myself struggling to fill the shape of my days. The hospital had a set routine and I’m finding I need something similar at home. A pattern… a routine.

My alarm is set for 8am daily and I’m going to walk at the local walking track every morning (starting tomorrow). Otherwise I haven’t come up with anything. I’m sure it won’t take me too long to fill in my days.


Me on my hospital bed

Life doesn’t get easier, just messier…

I walked out of my bedroom clutching a little bag of everything I thought I might need for the hospital. A bottle of water. Chapstick. My phone. Kleenex. My health card. I had to inch past the pile of Jeremy’s laundry in the hallway then around zir boxes of stuff outside the closet. I didn’t want to see the living room, even though Jeremy was thrilled about something.

“Look what I bought!” zie proudly proclaimed as I walked into the room.

A large shelving unit, complete with glass doors, sat in front of me. It blocked most of the entrance to the kitchen and a good chunk of the front hall. The rest of the hall was blocked by an old side table, the kind with a separate shelf for a corded phone.

“They’ll help me clean up,” Jeremy added.

I looked past zir to the bins of tangled wires, tumbles of computer parts on the couch, and piles of plant pots, loose screws, and other odd bits strewn across the kitchen table. I hadn’t been able to sweep the floor since Easter. At least I’d washed the dishes the day before so the counter was clean. I’d had to wash them, we had no clean dishes. Jeremy was supposed to wash them while I was at work but zie was sleeping through my whole shift and doing them after work interfered in zir computer time. Besides, it wasn’t fair in zir eyes that zie did the dishes while I sat. Work didn’t factor into zir equation because zie didn’t see me work so, in zir mind, it didn’t exist. It certainly existed in my mind. I came home almost too tired to eat. Dishes were beyond my ability.

I couldn’t help zir clean either because I “didn’t do it right”. And cleaning it for zir meant months of zir ranting that I’d messed everything up, put it all in the wrong place, and broke zir things by throwing them into the closet. This comment was usually followed by zir raging and throwing zir things into the closet. Zie’s never seen the irony in this. Plus, if zie couldn’t find something, it was guaranteed zie’d need to search for it long and loudly at 3am… knowing I needed to be up at four.

There wasn’t any time for me to clean at this point. Karen was waiting for me downstairs and I didn’t care much if I ever came back. From there I went to my parents’ house and Jeremy assured everyone that zie would clean up and adamantly refused my Mom’s help. My Mom was upset that I said to let Jeremy handle it. Meanwhile I didn’t want to put her in a situation where she’d driven her 70 year old self over to have Jeremy put a chain lock on the door and threaten to call the police on her. Jeremy has a great love for zir collection of assorted components and wires, apparently more so than for the flesh and blood people in zir life.

And zie did clean. Not completely but a decent amount. Meanwhile I collected all eight loads of zir laundry to wash, dry, and fold then came home briefly to wash a week’s worth of dishes from zir. And then, finally, I came home.

The next day Jeremy angrily informed me zie couldn’t see why zie should care about me being suicidal. After all when zie was suicidal and crying because zie didn’t want to wash the dishes since there were sharp knives and Jeremy was scared zie’d kill zirself with them. Apparently I told zir to suck it up and wash them anyways.

To be fair, I did tell zir exactly that except Jeremy never said zie was suicidal and wanting to self-harm. I knew zie was depressed, got zir help, and regularly touched base with zir… asking Jeremy to tell me if zie ever had a plan or specific thought on how to kill zirself. Jeremy never did.  I knew zie was scared of sharp knives, zie has been for years, but Jeremy also knows that zie doesn’t have to wash them. They aren’t even put in the sink.

My issue with the dishes was that zie wasn’t doing them. Every day brought a different excuse. Too tired… too hungry… too stressed from school… sad from school… why wasn’t it my turn… but zie’d washed a load two days ago. Then I’d spend my day off tackling Mount Dishes. So when zie’d complain (again) that zie was crying because zie was stressed while I was sitting on a crowded bus after an 8 hour shift, I wasn’t exactly sympathetic.

I watch Jeremy as zie cracks jokes, plays Minecraft with zir younger cousin, and cuddles with the cat and then I watch the other Jeremy who threatens to destroy my computer if I throw out any of zir broken stuff and wakes me up (while I have a stomach bug no less) to rant about Anita Sarkeesian’s speaking fees. I’d never heard of her but apparently she charges $20 thousand per engagement. Good for her.

And then I have to deal with the external judgments. I just never taught zir to clean. I must have done it all for zir… or never cleaned at all. I must cave in to zir all the time and never taught zir the word no. Zie’s been hearing “no” zir whole life. I know zie acts like it’s a newly discovered word each time but that doesn’t mean it’s new. Depression isn’t known as a time of positive thinking so every round of criticism occurs on top of the self-criticism I’m already heaping onto myself.

The hardest part is I know Jeremy’s depressed. I know zir medication isn’t working. I know zie needs help. I know zie’s having mood swings. Our family doctor is out of his depth and he knows it. He’s a general practitioner, not a psychiatrist, and he doesn’t feel comfortable prescribing anything further. Which is why he sent a referral to a psychiatrist. And then said referral got lost (on top of apparently having the wrong number). At this point I have no idea what’s going on with Jeremy’s referral.

If I was a better mother, I’d take my anxious, depressed ass and start phoning people and networking and get zir help. But I’m not. I have no idea where to start or who to call. I don’t have some magical insight into the mental health field, let alone a file of numbers to call. I know suicide hot lines but that’s it. And, ironically, I couldn’t even call a hotline for myself because that meant picking up a phone and dialing.

I have an appointment on Tuesday with someone who says she’ll be my case manager, whatever that is. Hopefully she’ll be able to help.