Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Get Me Through December

There is just something about December. Since I started blogging, it has always been a bad month for me. It goes back so much further than that however. December has had a bittersweet tinge for me for the last 10 years. This year, after Thanksgiving, before the lighting of the tree in Rockafeller Center, was the tenth anniversary of my committing myself to a psych ward in New York City. It is something I have wanted to write about, but have been afraid to write about. Perhaps that is why I haven't been able to post much.

I am torn between a desire to remember what has to be the lowest point in my life, lower than even postpartum depression, lower than even perhaps my very first very broken heart, and a wish that it had never happened. It wasn't supposed to happen. I just want to forget.

My life had skyrocketed out of control. I had a career that no 22 year old should have, I had left behind my home, and a family unit wrought with trouble and dysfunction, and moved to two places where I knew few people. Then I had committed one of the cardinal sins of young adulthood and dated my boss while not controlling my depression. The breakup, the loneliness, it all added up and I cried out for help. What I needed was a break. I needed to walk away and find my center again. Except, I didn't know where to go. I ended up in a hospital emergency room, with the exboyfriend/boss, asking to get locked up. I was alone, and alone I didn't trust myself.

I didn't know it, but inpatient psych wards are for the really crazy people. The kind of person I was not. I heard no voices except the own inner monologue. I held down a good job, had the respect of my coworkers, and had already started to take the steps to improve my own mental health. I was just alone. What I needed was a friend, family, a break from the alone.

Once inside my life was not to be believed. The attending Shrink (hack) assigned to my case didn't want to let me out. She didn't think I was telling the truth about the job, the apartment, the cat, that were all waiting for me when I got out. It nearly made me crazy, for real.

Fortunately inside that terrifying place I found friends. An art therapist who saw what I really needed, a resident assigned to me who had spent time as an inpatient (as part of a school assignment) who knew what I was up against. They both advocated for me, called my mom (who my ex then flew out to help break me out), and put their necks on the line to help me get out without requiring a trip to see a judge about an involuntary committal.

The art therapist abandoned her internship because of how I was treated, and agreed to treat me after I got out. (I have yet to find a therapist I like as much as her) She gave me the tools I needed to prove my sanity. The resident encouraged me to talk to the other patients, to do my best to not isolate myself. He even suggested I had a way with the other patients (it takes one to know one) and that I should consider a career in psychiatry.

I try not to think about it much, but the whole thing left scars. There are days when I still question if maybe she wasn't right, that maybe I am crazy. Really crazy.

Ten years. Ten really wonderful and wild years. My life is nothing like what I would have ever thought it would be. It is so much better. Yet every December I am filled with doubt. Did I make the right choices, will I ever not feel like maybe I am just fooling everyone. Did I pass on the genetics that cause the chemical imbalance that screws with me every so often to my beautiful daughter.

I always make it through December. The darkest night comes and goes. The light returns.

A very special thanks to Natalie MacMaster and her song Get Me Through December. I'm pretty sure I listened to it on repeat for the rest of December that first year and for a few years after.

11 comments:

Boston Mamas said...

So brave of you to share... and sending lots of hugs. -Christine

darcie said...

Thanks for opening up even more of yourself to us -
Hugs as we close out this year and begin anew again -
xxoo

Elizabeth said...

Thank you for sharing. I'm sending good vibes your way for these last couple days of December.

Anonymous said...

The best part is that you've almost made it through another December and soon you will begin to feel better. We never know how our choices will affect the rest of our lives but from an outsider's point of view, I believe you did the right thing. Can you imagine your life without your dear husband and daughter? If not, then you did the right thing. You're a strong woman -- always remember that.

Celeste

amy turn sharp of doobleh-vay said...

January is right round the corner and you are passing on such GOODNESS to yr child. OMG. YOU! you? you are amazing and brilliant and gorgeous and creative and fabulous and so WONDERFUL. You are passing on strength and love and thanks for sharing more about yr life with us. You are one cool woman and I am glad yr in my life. xoxoxo

confused homemaker said...

Thank you for sharing this, it it really hard when you doubt yourself & your ability to make it through this world.

It took a lot of courage to put this out there.

May the New Year bring you more peace.

The Fritz Facts said...

Thank you for sharing this. It can be so hard to open yourself up like this, and I am proud of you for doing it!

andreaberg said...

That was really brave of you to share. And thank you for that. It was written beautifully and I hope that sharing it with everyone helps in ways you never imagined.

kristen said...

you are super awesome. remember that. :)

Rebecca said...

What a story - thanks for sharing, and my each December be better than the one before.

jen @ negative lane said...

I'll echo everyone's comment that this was a very brave thing to share. I think that you'll find the more you talk about it, the more power you'll gain over the memory, too.

Thank you for being open about your depression. When I first was going through it, back in my 20's too, it was something that no one really shared their own personal experiences with and so it still felt very shaming. I finally got help when a friend insisted that I go see my doctor and practically gave me a script of what to say, since I was so depressed I was too paralyzed to even put into words what I was feeling. I'm grateful to her every day.

There's a wide vein of mental illness in my family, so I know what you are feeling when you worry about passing it on to your daughter. I feel the same. However, I'm comforted by the knowledge that the world is a more open and understanding place and that I'll share what I've learned with my kids the way I've shared it with my younger sisters, to help them through anything that comes their way.