Pain has a way of making you think it’s part of you

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Lost emotional baggage

I don’t get out much these days, so even though it’s literally freezing outside, I’m sitting here on the couch in leggings and a tank top (and a beanie for comfort). Agoraphobia is a weird issue to deal with. Not a lot of people understand. It’s like the world outside is so oppressive that most of the time I can’t even think about going out there. It’s terrifying. Xanax has been the only thing to jumpstart me to get out the door. I hate having to rely on something like that but at the same time, it works so I might as well accept that and just use it until my skills get better. Continue reading “Pain has a way of making you think it’s part of you”

Life, After

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One of the weirdest things about a serious suicide attempt is waking up. I wasn’t one of those people who jumped off of a bridge and regretted it on my way down. I was a person who woke up on the floor with a broken neck, agonizing pain, and instant disappointment more severe than anything I’ve ever experienced. I did not want to have survived and was beyond miserable. First there was the physical experience, which resulted in surgery and extensive therapy to recover. Then there were interpersonal issues. How do you interact with your loved ones after an event like this? There is an inherent concern in everything they do and say because, maybe, I come across as fragile. It’s like in the old cartoons when you’re hungry and everything looks like food. I feel like when people talk to me now the suicide attempt is all that they see. Continue reading “Life, After”

The Journal: My Days in the Psych Ward

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I spent several years going through some deep troubles including two miscarriages, a suicide attempt and several hospitalizations. This is a record of some of my time during that period.

[Some abbreviations used: 9 Garden North, 9GN, a psych unit; CO, constant or 1:1 observation; SHH, Silver Hill Hospital; NYPres is New York Presbyterian Hospitals; MHW, mental health worker; pdoc, psychiatrist]

10/25/15

Last night I dreamt, wildly. Dr. DeWitt was in my dream and other people from 9GN, where I find myself once again. Today we talked about Husband and how he’s probably withdrawing from school for the semester. I feel guilty about it even though he tells me not to. I can’t help it. All I want to do is cry and give up. I told them (Dr. D and Jodie) that I was feeling rather suicidal. I think it has to do with PMS but who knows. I feel massively dissociated. I can’t get in touch with myself. I’m not even sure I know what’s wrong or why I came back here. The ECT has destroyed my memory.

10/26/15

“We have art in order not to die from the truth.” – Nietzsche Continue reading “The Journal: My Days in the Psych Ward”

Bringing up Crazy

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My most intense memory is of the time that I was pinned down by a handful of fully grown adults and jabbed with a sedative-filled syringe while they thought I was having a psychotic episode. To be fair, I was flailing, inconsolable, and my eyes were rolling around my head. I’ll give them that one. This is followed closely by the time I was wrapped up in a pseudo-straight jacket and carried like a human burrito to a van that took me to a building with a large, supervised padded room where I was sequestered for god knows how many hours. In that padded room, I decided to sing to my neighbor who was also locked away for reasons unknown to me. I forget what I was singing, but I do remember being told to stop, refusing to stop, and maintaining, in my mind, that I was keeping up a peaceful protest against “the man” (or, in my case, the men in the white coats). Then there was the time that I kept scratching myself and I was forced to wear medical mittens that Velcro’ed to my hands and left me feeling inhuman.

This all happened when I was fourteen. Fast forward and I’m almost thirty, living on my own, and working on a post-grad degree at a prestigious university. To people who haven’t known me my whole life, I probably come off as a perfectly average, even sane and well-adjusted adult. That is mostly true, most of the time. But even if I’ve outgrown a lot of my crazy, I remember. These scenes, and dozens others like them, resurface unbidden at truly random moments. I can be riding the subway and a smell will remind me of a particular hospital stay, or I’ll be in an English class and talk about a troubled writer will jolt me into a vivid memory, or an Ambien ad will make my mouth taste like charcoal.

I’m always torn between wanting to divulge my whole story and wanting to shut it up tightly, keeping it locked safely in the recesses of time where it can no longer hurt me or anyone close to me. What I worry is that there is another person out there experiencing similar situations who could benefit from my untold stories. I know that I was always comforted reading Sylvia Plath or Kay Redfield Jamison or books like “Girl, Interrupted.” Knowing that you’re not alone in your experiences alleviates some of the psychic strain that they can inflict.  I am an avid devourer of memoirs by lady-writers—most recently Jenny Lawson, Carrie Fisher, Caitlin Moran, and Rachel Dratch—for precisely this reason, I think.

Even though this will be difficult, I’d like to follow in the footsteps of the ladies who’ve paved the way, in hopes that somewhere, sometime, someone scouring the Internet for a glimmer of hope, an echo of experience, will find my stories and know that they are not alone.