I could no longer handle the emotional pain. The swells of sadness, agitation, anxiety threatened to take me away. I had to pick up that phone and ask for help. I knew exactly who to call. I knew the exact number to dial. Yet, I didn’t make a move. I sat paralyzed on my couch with a soaked pajama shirt stained from tears. The outpatient program I have attended several times following a hospitalization has always maintained and open door policy for me. I have never been the one to call to ask for help. I have never been able to halt the episodes off at the pass. Here is my opportunity, why am I not calling?
I choked back more tears as I left a message. I explained I needed more structure. I was falling apart. I was impulsive and scared. I could barely utter the words, not functioning since the suicide of my friend. I was spirally pretty quick and knew it. I could no longer do this alone.
The reason I was “alone” at this point was because I had a return to work date. I was set free from outpatient to get my affairs in order and attend groups in the evening. These would be the same groups available to me while working. I did pretty well the first week. I got up at the same time as if I was working with the plan to workout. So I got up about 5:30. I was keeping pace with the things I wanted to get accomplished. I would schedule my day with activities but not overload myself. I was fairly successful. But, by the second week I was getting up so my husband would see, but then immediately go back to bed once he left for work, and typically sleep til noon. I was no longer keeping the house clean. I wasn’t really showering. The working out also fell off.
When I received the text message about my friend I had a hard time believing it. The person who texted me was also in the Depression in Sobriety group with us. He and I were good friends, til we weren’t. I think I lost him in a manic episode. So, it was sent to me as news. There was no discussion. I had to sit with this information by myself. I really had no one to call. My husband didn’t know the man. But, in reality, I didn’t know how to talk about it anyway. What could I say other than, I can’t fucking believe it! It took about 2 days before it really knocked the wind out of my sails.
On this day, the day I pick up the heaviest phone to call for help I was having intrusive thoughts of harming myself. I gave into these notions the previous night. I put myself in a dangerous position. I was so overwhelmed with emotion it was like I didn’t know any other way to contain myself. The drive to end the pain was so high I couldn’t control it. The same feeling crashed into me as I sat with the phone. Once I finally spoke my truth and asked if I could return to the safe haven, I was able to channel my energy into working out. I don’t know how. I just know I did. While doing so, a message was left for me saying of course I could come back. She also added she was so glad I reached out.
The following day I walked down the hallowed hall I had walked down only weeks prior. I admitted I felt like I was on a slippery slope. I was already sinking, but the news of my friend took me under. I was the one who made the decision to end my participation in the depression in sobriety group, knowing it could mean the group would fall apart. Not because I am so important, but because a meeting can hardly survive on 4 people, much less 3. I somehow think its my fault. Perhaps if I had stayed the course, stayed in the meeting for others, wasn’t so selfish he would still be with us. He always said how safe he felt at our meeting. It was the only place he could really be himself without judgement. I think the meeting provided that for all of us. However, I was growing less comfortable. I could feel myself not wanting to attend. It has always been the philosophy of AA that there are many meetings, so if you don’t like one you can certainly find another. Maybe it was just time for me to go. It happens all the time. But why, oh why, did it have to happen this way.
As the day progressed I became increasingly depressed. I was feeling quite suicidal. I felt broken beyond repair. Bipolar disorder had really thrown me around this time. Between the psychosis for nearly 2 months, 3 med changes, depression, my friend’s suicide I was feeling done. I was hearing voices that whispered, it should be you. I was having nightmares in the midnight hour and hallucinations by day. I no longer had any strength or desire to carry on. I didn’t disagree with the voices. I am terribly disappointed in myself that I did not reach out to my friend once I left that meeting. What kind of friend does that make me? I knew his struggle. I walked his walk. Yet, I just sorta dropped out. Out of sight out of mind. I was so lost in myself I didn’t make time for others. This is not the person I want to be. This is not the person I used to be.
Sitting at my kitchen table I felt myself to be in a precarious mindset. Husband not home. No one would know for quite some time if I just took one too many pills. If I made a quick drive and a quick jump off the bridge. So many thoughts swirling in my mind. Feeling alone. Feeling desperate. Feeling tired. I don’t remember picking up the phone. I do remember saying something into the receiver. I do remember breaking down as I spoke. I hung up the phone knowing I left a message, not knowing if I would get a return call or if I wanted one.
The return call came about 20 minutes later. I could not answer it. I just stared at my phone as it rang. I didn’t think I could talk. I didn’t know what to say. I love the therapist I chose to call. He is so kind and calm and caring. I have known him for several years as he runs the outpatient program. His words to me were, please call me back I really want to talk to you. I did not call him back. But an hour later he called me again. This time I answered. He was very concerned about me and the level of suicidal thinking I was displaying. I don’t remember much of the conversation, but I remember saying how complicated everything felt. Here I am completely torn up about my friend and the pain it was causing me, his suicide was eating me up. In response I am thinking about suicide because I can’t handle the pain. What about my husband? Exactly! I would never want to hurt him or cause him pain, but I can’t endure the pain I am feeling. “Its so fucking complicated!” I yelled into the phone. He softly answered, I know. He told me I was really riding the edge and he was inclined to call 911. I told him I had plans in just a little while for the rest of the evening with my husband. I promised to follow through. He reluctantly agreed and said, alright. I will see you bright and early Monday morning.
Just when I think I can’t go on. Just when the voices draw me in enough I listen. I do somehow find some strength to carry on. I pick up the 500lb phone and make an important call to save my life. I did that. This journey is full of ups and downs for anyone. Just by virtue of being alive its challenging. Folks with mental illness face mountains and cliffs sometimes. I know I do. The will to stay tends to be greater than the will to leave, despite the recent loss of my friend. I just have to surrender and believe. We have to believe we are worth it.