Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Cracking the Shell

Exactly one year ago yesterday, my husband took me to the emergency room, because I hadn't gotten out of bed in two weeks and because I shared with him that I had comforting fantasies about falling down the stairs or off a building.

I recall sitting there in the emergency waiting room, along with the broken arm, seizure, and heart attack cases thinking that I was just taking up precious hospital time when they had other patients to care for that were far worse than I. Never mind the fact that I had been considering permanently removing myself to get out of everyone's way.

I remember looking around the room at all the faces, the people with trauma, the pregnant women in labor, the families concerned about loved ones...it all seemed surreal at that point. I was hollow on the inside and I was using up most of my energy just to sit slumped in a vinyl-padded chair.

When the check-in nurse called my name, I drifted across the room like a ghost. She looked up at me and asked, "Are you thinking of hurting anyone? Are you thinking of hurting yourself?" To the former, of course not! I'd never hurt anyone else. In fact, I didn't trust myself on a Metro platform because I didn't want to risk mentally scarring or hurting the Metrorail driver if ever I...fell. And hurt myself? The adverb "now" seemed implied, so I replied "No". Had she added "recently" or "lately" or "will you in the next 24 hours", I'd have to say "yes".

When they finally called me back, I remember just being embarrassed. Like I had no right to take up bed space. I felt ashamed that I couldn't just get off my ass and get on with life.

Finally the doctor came in. He was one of the kindest doctors I've ever met. He gently asked, "How are you doing?" Putting his hand on my shoulder, he sat down on the bed next to me. That simple gesture of compassion cracked my emotionless shell. With a lump in my throat, I proceeded to share my story.

Bottom line, I was referred to the Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) at the hospital's Behavioral Health Services. And thus began my journey back to me.

Fast forward to today. I am feeling down again - not nearly like I was that fateful day, but down. I was even beginning to wonder if the medication is not working; however, the truth is, I am well overall. I now have the tools to get myself up again; and that's just what I'm gonna do.

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