A mixture of lavender and over cooked corn tortilla shells was the scent I remember from that day. I can’t remember my thoughts before, the color of my shirt, the location of where I even found the pills, but I can remember the smell that filled the air. It’s ironic isn’t it. Lavender. The calming, stress reducing, essential oil. That’s what I smelt, yet there was no ounce of calm in my body the moment my mouth touched that orange pill bottle.
Reading my text messages from earlier that day nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Complaining to my boyfriend about what a stressful day I was having at work wasn’t off kilter seeing how everyday this year had been intensely overwhelming. I ate lunch with my usual lunch group, talked our usual talks, did my normal work routine. Yet my world went black at some point.
There are a number of things I told the doctors, but nothing after the fact that I can say was the true blue reason of why. I remember taking my father to the behavioral health center after a drug induced psychosis. One of the questions was, “why are you here?” My dad explained he felt like he was trapped in OZ like Dorothy and he needed help finding his way back. There are things that happen in your life that might not hit you right there in that moment. It might be days, weeks, even years later before you finally feel what you should have felt then. But sooner or later the pain you’ve pushed down catches up to you. I finally understood what my father meant by that. I’d clicked my heels a million times, but still couldn’t escape the confines of my own personal OZ.
“What triggered your breakdown?” I was asked. It could have been a number of things, but I do recall before leaving work a coworker stopped and told me that we would be losing our health insurance. Because our job has decided that we are not and I quote “their problem”. How lovely and compassionate. Before kaiser I had medi-cal. My kaiser OB reviewed my charts from my first pregnancy and came to the conclusion that it was indeed a viable pregnancy. Yet my medi-cal doctors didn’t have the time or education to figure out what was going on with my body causing me the pain. They just decided that the pregnancy needed to be terminated. So hearing that I might have to go back to these doctors broke me. I still hadn’t really dealt with the trauma of losing my angels. I just stuffed it deep down hoping it would disappear just ask quickly as they did. Driving home my mind started spinning, calling people to get comfort and understanding, but no one really knows how to comfort you when you cant explain to them what is making you feel the way you do. I have a tendency to have every bad thing that’s ever happened to me crash down upon me when I’m stressed out. It’s like I’m going through it all a new. No words were going to make me feel better. In that moment I had never felt more isolated and alone. I was sad, extremely tired of being this sad, and I just wanted it to stop.
Depression is an evil thing to live with. Most people don’t understand it or even try to grasp how you are feeling. In a room full of people you still can feel so alone. You can’t call into work on your weakest days with the reason being you are depressed without some snarky retort. It’s not an acceptable reason in their eyes. You can’t cancel plans with friends or family because you can’t stop crying without a cure all remark of “can’t you just be happy”. As if it were that easy.
Depression had consumed my souls once again and this time I was ready to let it have me.
I don’t remember much after that. I remember going upstairs to work on some shirts for a friend and that is about it. Bits and pieces of a heated conversation between my boyfriend and I. Then the blackness.
I don’t remember what happened after my world went dark, but I do remember coming too and calling my best friend to take me to the hospital. In that moment I knew I made a mistake. My heart began to race. Not from the pills, but from the thought of making a permanent solution to a temporary problem. My boyfriend tried to talk to me but I can’t recall a word he said. My mind was else where I thought of how if I were to die by my own hand that I wouldn’t go to heaven and see my babies I so desperately longed for every second of every day. I thought of my little rebellious ones and who was going to look after and fight for them if I wasn’t around. I thought of my best friends and how they would wonder why I didn’t talk to them more about the sadness in my soul. But most of all I thought of my Papa and how his heart couldn’t take another loss.
Regret set in around the same time as the nausea and foggy bits. They escorted me to a room with a guard where I waited to purge the poison I had ingested. With every heave I cried. Once again alone with my thoughts. For hours I tried to sleep but my nightmares consumed me.
I was given the option of inpatient or an outpatient program. I could do out patient if my friends agreed to sign saying they would ensure I wouldn’t hurt myself again. With the burden of my life being on my friends I knew I had to focus on getting my heart healthy. Over a month in a program called IOP and I was feeling better and ready to go back to work and be around the world again with all their harsh judgment and criticism. I had two more classes when I received a text saying I would be changing classrooms when I returned to work. Inside I was shattered. This would be the second time my job had decided to retaliate against me during a hard time in my life. But I just replied with excitement. Change is something people going through things can’t really handle. Those two more classes turned into another month in therapy.
Tip toeing through conversations. Every choice word well planned and thought out. I felt equipped to handle the world around me with my tool belt full of new knowledge and understanding of my emotional experiences with the stress of my job, the loss of my babies, and the broken ness of my family. “It is what it is” was my mind set returning to the real world. You can’t change people or situations…..but you can accept them and change the way you allow it to effect you. Catty remarks of “how nice of you to come back” were a great welcoming from a few. If they only could experience half the things I’ve had to maybe they would have a heart and not be so callous. But an overwhelming amount of love and support was also showered upon me from several people as well. For those people I am grateful. You never know what someone is going through so why not just be kind?
Life after a breakdown doesn’t feel like life at all. I feel as if I’m floating, just making it through everyday like a dream. I didn’t know how to quit interact with others. “What were they thinking of me?” “Do they think I’m weak?” So many thoughts creeping through my mind.
During these challenging times I’ve learned that I need to ask for help when I need it. My job is just that, a job. It’s not my whole life. If I need to take a day, a week, a month off to gain mental clarity then I need to do just that. Some people are cruel and I just avoid those people. Not everyone is going to understand what you are going through, but some are willing to try. I still look through my therapy notebook on trying days. I’m not fine, but I’m getting better. Stress management is definitely something I am working on. After the loss of my babies I was told often how strong I was. I didn’t feel very strong. I felt weak and bruised. With tears in my eyes and pain in my heart I urge you to hug your “strong friends”, Show people who seem distant a little more compassion then usual. You never really know what anyone is going through in life. The people with the biggest smiles and deepest laughs can be the ones hiding the most pain in their hearts.