Published on Monday, 14 May 2012 19:43
Written by Jules
I walk into the room in the downstairs apartment of my Mother-in-law's town home. My husband is sitting, reading an Edward Abby book while drinking a beer. Barely looking up from his ecoterrorism idol trash, he says to me in a monotone voice, “You need to get help.”
Me: “Why? Because anyone who would leave you must be crazy?”
Him: “No, because you are out of control.”
Me: “That's a lie; I'm making decisions based on your history of shitty behavior- toward me, toward my family and even towards your own daughter. All of the things you have done to put me into a deep depression.”
Him: “Bullshit”, and then he spit a sunflower shell onto his dirty jean leg. My man was classy.
Me: “That's a really productive answer. How does that help me understand your behavior?”
I walk away; I go upstairs to the living room to play with my two year old daughter. I had not seen Kelsey in a few days. The last time I saw her we were sitting on the floor in the living room of our home, we were sorting out linens and cleaning out the linen closet. I was packing items that were of value to me, I was packing and trying to secretly get away from that house, from that marriage, from that life. As she played on my lap, helping me fold, my husband barged in, tore her from me, and turned and walked out the door without a word. I tried to follow, but he had thought ahead and ripped a part out of my old Honda Accord.
Now I am here.
I am playing with my baby at my Mother-in-Law’s house. My mind is scrambling, thinking of how to fix this. What can I do to make things work again? If they ever worked in the first place. I know I cannot leave Kelsey with the two of them, they start drinking Scotch at “It’s five o’clock somewhere” and just keep going until they can’t see. This maneuver of making their alcoholism more "ok" than me being bipolar is not going to fly. I am not going to give in now. I am not going to allow two drunks to take away the one good thing in my life, my child, by using my mental illness against me.
I needed a plan. How was I really going to get away from them? If I could get into that nearby apartment I had put a deposit on, if I could manage to afford the rent every month and take care of Kelsey, I would have a chance. I think I was thinking too much about Kent when I picked that place out, so I tried too hard to spare his feelings. That's probably how I got caught. The apartment was too close, I wanted Kelsey to be near her father. I tried not to use too much money, I didn't want it noticed. I took my time to keep it all cool and under the radar, keeping him cool. Of course I kept him happy, but now he was destroying me. But, I wondered just how miserable was he going to make my life? I think he showed me just how with his opening salvo: kidnap the kid.
I need to regroup. I think I need to call the troops back in, and I need a good strategy. I pick up the baby and go downstairs.
There is my husband, looking nothing
like the man I married barely two years ago. He has a dirty beard, a belly and he smells. My husband smells like every beer and scotch he swallows, and refuses to use a deodorant soap because Dr. Bronners is just so fun and hippie. This is a man who would rather live with being told each night, "if you want to get in this bed, you have to take a shower. If you won't take the shower, you are on the couch."
. He looks at me and I think, "he just has given up on the world."
I try a different tactic with him. I say in a voice that is angry and pinched, “I would like to do something about my depression.”
If he is surprised by my anger, he doesn't show it.
“Really now? Like what?”, he says.
“I think I need to go to the hospital.”
He stops dead, he turns to look at me, this time for real. He looks at my face. “What do you mean the hospital?”
“There is a nice hospital that I think our insurance will cover. Take me there and I will stay until they say I am stable. Let’s get a professional’s opinion on my stability. And I will do this on one condition.”
Now he cocks his head. He looks at me a little suspicious. I continue.
“I will check into a psychiatric facility and be evaluated and cared for and work on getting well if you quit drinking. Then when I get out, we try again.”
He looks away.
I take Kelsey upstairs, and I wait. When he comes up the stairs, he doesn't look any different. He doesn't look like he had made any major decision, and that should have been my warning. But, I was young and and I must on some level have trusted him. Also, what he did right then didn't matter, I was playing a long game.
“Ok, when do you want to do this?”
“Let’s do it now.”
I smile and hesitate, but the I go home and get some things, get something to eat, and try to pull myself together.
I try not to cry.
I need to call some girlfriends, there is no way
I am leaving him alone with her for the duration of however long this is going to last. “Gwen, this is Julianna. Can you stay at my house for a bit? I am going to be in the hospital, I am not sure how long but I know Kent can’t deal with Kelsey alone, he has never really done it before.”
Now we are on our way. Stop One:
San Luis Rey: I am sorry we don’t take your insurance. Try this place
. Stop Two
: This place
turns out to be a half-way house. People from all different institutions are here. Rehabs, prisons, psych facilities. I would be living in a residential facility and living like a roommate. Cleaning and cooking.
“No, this won’t do, I need an doctor to fix my meds. I need nurses to monitor my care. This is not what we were looking for, thanks, okay, bye.” Stop Three:
This is where I apparently have to stay under my insurance.
Only problem is I have to "be suicidal" to be let in. I say flatly, "I want to kill myself."
Have you ever been searched for sharp objects?
Have you ever had the most mundane items in the world taken away from you so that you cannot kill yourself? Have you ever lived in a room where the pipes on the bathroom sink are wrapped in foam? Because THAT is not humiliating.
They take my clothes off me.
They put me in a gown.
They make me sit in a wheelchair.
And, then they take me to a private room.
And this is where the waterworks start. This is where I realize my dire circumstance, and the trust I am placing in a man who totally hates me. He could do so much to me while I am in here. I could come out to nothing, he could vanish, he could do anything. I could check out of this place and find an empty house.
“Find out about visiting hours, and visit me all the time, every day.” I plead through my tears.
“Don’t worry; it’s going to be ok.”
I am not so sure. I feel I have made a big mistake. I feel THIS IS WRONG.
“I can leave when I want, right?” I ask him, then the nurse.
“Well, technically, yes. You are a self-admit.” the nurse says.
“You should stick it out awhile.” he says looking past me.
Looking back from where I sit today, I can see that I was, of course, the sanest one in that hospital. Or at least I was the one that could hide my shit better. I am pretty sure that the true definition of sanity is the ability to hide our shit from everyone else. They put me on the unlocked ward and I stuck it out. I did all the right things.
I was alone in a 45 bed facility, and to see people I had to go through a buzzer door and hang out in a very strange place.
I met people in group, especially one guy I bonded with in particular. He got moved over to the unlocked side with me, but he quickly left and went home. I had to stay longer and I felt abandoned.
This was not a new feeling.
I made phone calls. I tried to call a friend on the east coast who had recently disappeared from my life, just up and flew out on a red eye never to be seen again. I discovered from his family that he too was in a psychiatric facility. Interesting.
My husband visited sometimes, and so did my friends. My friends brought me contraband chocolate and news of my daughter. My husband brought me that old drunk smell. He was clearly not keeping his end of the bargain.
My meds were being adjusted and I was giving me test after test after test. Sleep deprivation EEG’s and other weird whatevers. All the while, they kept on boosting my lithium. The booted it and boosted it and boosted it. Once I arrived at what was considered a "therapeutic dose" I was declared "safe to discharge." The problem was that they should have kept me longer and they should have verified that the lithium dose was tolerable for me on the outside world. What felt good at the hospital three days before, most decidedly did NOT feel very good three days when I was home.
The nurses were great. The nurses would laugh with me and help me with so many things. Sometimes they sat with me while I cried for my baby: cried for the part of my life I just shared in group, cried because I was turning into a lithium zombie and I could feel myself becoming less and less responsive to life.
Then it was time to go home.
But now, guess what? I didn’t want to go.
I was afraid. I was afraid to leave a place that fed me, held me in their accepting and medicating arms, and took care of me. I didn't want to go back to a place that I didn't even remember and had forgotten how to live in.
But, I had to leave.
The first thing I noticed when I got home was that the house was weird. Time away made me realize that my whole life was centered around covering up his mess, cleaning up after him, and trying to keep my silver and lace away from his tye die and sage bundles. Now, being back and seeing his mess, I was nauseated at my first step in the door.
To make matters worse, my husband had clearly not held on to his end of the bargain. I had known he was drunk each night that he had visited me at the hospital, but you would think he could have made some sort of effort to hide it. Some sort of attempt to clean up his beer cans. No, instead it looked like a frat party had gone on for however long I was gone.
How long was I gone? I really don't even know.
I tried to go back to work, but my body was a little messed up. There was something going on where the left side of my body would no longer keep up with the right. It was dragging. If I had a hunchback, it would be PERFECT!
Now I was being watched like a hawk. Every move I made was questioned.
My Mother-in-Law came over every day and just stayed with me and my daughter, as if to say that I could not be trusted to care for her on my own. I noticed was that she was writing down the time and duration of my phone calls. She wrote down pretty much everything I did.
I couldn't even leave the house. Lithium Toxicity: that is not fun. That is what I had. I lost my job and a couple months of my life to Lithium Toxicity.
But, once we figured that out and got me balanced and cleaned out from that mess, my life started coming back. And that is when I told my Mother-in-Law that her services were no longer needed. That is when I asserted dominance in my own home again. That is when I told everyone that I was back. That is when my new plan started.
End of Part 1
Part 2: From, Lithium Toxicity to Vice President.