August 7, 2013
Although I have shared the bulk of this post via my previous blog dated 3/25/2013, I could not resist the urge to look at its contents from a healthier perspective. And by healthier I mean humorous. And by humorous I mean I may be the only one who thinks I am funny.
One year ago this past March, I had a nervous breakdown. Nope, nothing funny about that. So, let me just preface today’s post with a caveat or caveat emptor, if you will. Mental illness sucks. “Oh sure,” you think, “It’s fashionable and everybody’s doing it. Maybe I should try that.” But don’t.
Okay dear Readers, that was my public service announcement. But seriously, I’ve re-hashed and re-examined my [in]sanity and my [in]stability from so many angles, that humor is all I’ve got left. Be assured, writing this is no small task. To have lived through it was an even greater task. Fortunately, I am now a better person for having lived through it. And when I say I lived through it, it is with no exaggeration; there was a point when that just didn’t seem possible.
To be clear, I looked up the definition of a nervous breakdown on a reputable psychology website: a bout of mental illness that is so severe that it directly impacts the ability to function in everyday life. The mental illness can include, but is not limited to depression, anxiety and/or bipolar disorder. Well, dear readers, I hit the trifecta. I write about this not to garner sympathy, but to let others know that it is possible to have your whole life spin out of control and then regain your footing. And yes, to garner sympathy.
Imagine waking up in a hospital bed having no knowledge of how you arrived there.
“Wow, I’m pretty sure I didn’t drive myself here. So how in the heck -”
“Your brother’s here,” the ER nurse interrupts my thoughts. “Do you still want me to give him your car keys?”
Ah hell, I did drive myself. Quick, check to see if you’re handcuffed to the bed. No? Whew, luc-ky! Although it is kind of sad when the only thing you have going for you is that you haven’t been arrested…yet.
So, why now, why the breakdown? Let’s line up the usual suspects…
I divorced in 1997 and never remarried. Having no Boo to distract me, I was able to focus all (most) of my energy on my kids. Boy, lucky them, right? Being a single parent is a tough gig. I had put so much of myself into my children’s lives that when they were all grown and gone, the empty nest syndrome hit me severely. Thus, the depression.
My anxiety stemmed from the fact that, well, I was a single parent. That, and the fact that I had worked at a boys’ prison for the past 5 years culminated into an unbelievably high stress level. My job was, I suppose, no different than any other high stress job, so I am baffled as to why I suffered a breakdown while others do not. I saw it as a weakness. And truth be told, sometimes I still do. But whatever I thought about myself, paled in comparison to what others thought about me.
“She’s unstable and weak.” and “What a loser. You’re not allowed around my children.” Harsh but true. And I needed to hear these things. So what if it came from family? They love me, really, they do Family, I’m not mad at them. However, it will remain an eternal mystery as to why, when I needed my family the most, most of them found they didn’t need me. I guess that’s the tough love we read about.
Yea, tough love, it worked!
Seriously, dear Readers, I struggled daily to just open my eyes and breathe. It was a chore. But life stops for no one, least of all those of us unwilling to work at grabbing ahold of the reins. It took some serious work to regain what I had lost. And certainly I did not do it alone. My mom, my sister and my brother-in-law were instrumental in my recovery. Their love and support never wavered. Other family members were key in helping me regain myself and others have bowed out of my life. I cannot change my past, but I can make amends to those I hurt. I must forgive others because there is much in which I need forgiveness. Although I believe that I could have done things differently, I do not believe that I could have stopped the train wreck I had become. However, I do and I did take full responsibility for my recovery.
During my aforementioned hospital stay, I was known as “Nervous Breakdown.” Because mental patients have such gallows humor, everyone gets a nickname. But really, we used nicknames because sometimes even knowing just the first name of your fellow compatriots is too invasive So I was christened Nervous Breakdown. Some of the other names were Depression (I tried to call him Depress Mode but no one got the joke), Cutter (“Shredder” behind her back), and Bi-Polar Bear. May I never see any of them for as long as I live. Nervous breakdown? I’m never doing that again! Peace, ~v.