My doctor told Chris that if there ever came a time when I didn’t feel safe or he didn’t feel safe, he needed to take me to the Emergency Room. They would do an evaluation to determine whether or not I needed help.
I couldn’t stop crying; crying was the only thing that felt comforting. On my 29th birthday, we took Grace to my mom’s and Chris took me to the ER.
I cried and cried and cried and cried. A psychiatrist came into my room and asked lists full of questions. I cried and cried and cried and cried. They gave me a warm blanket to cover with because I couldn’t stop shivering.
After a few hours, they decided to admit me into the psychiatric unit.
I cried for my reputation, for my daughter’s self-esteem, for Chris’ abandonment, for my parent’s disappointment, for my sister’s lost baby. I had a reason to cry about anything and everything.
When Chris left, I thought I would die. I laid down on top of the bed covers and let the pillow begin catching my tears. I knew they would be making rounds for dinner and I didn’t want to eat. I closed my eyes to pretend I was asleep. I heard one nurse walk in and then another. I heard them whisper to each other, “She’s sleeping, we need to let her sleep.” As soon as they left, my eyes popped open. How was I supposed to survive this?
The psychiatric unit had never had a nursing mother in their care before. They provided my own room until they didn’t have room. I needed privacy for pumping and wasn’t allowed to have an electric pump, so I had to manually pump my milk in the bathroom. I usually ended up with about four ounces. They allowed Chris to bring Grace for one extra visit per day which I used to nurse her. If I took any medication with side effects I had to pump and dump my milk. Chris had to supplement some with formula but I knew I was contributing and doing the best I could so I wasn’t as upset as I was at the prospect of quitting nursing all together.
My family was allowed to visit in the evening. Everyone joined together to help Chris. He boldly took on the tasks of parenting as a single parent.
I was assigned a counselor and a psychiatrist. I knew I had issues with depression in the past, but this felt different than that. We were all hoping that what was happening to me was the result of hormonal imbalance and once my hormones leveled out, I would be back to normal. The scary things was, we didn’t know what it would take for my hormones to “level” out. Some people thought time, some thought medication, some thought sleep and food. We didn’t have any more answers in the hospital than we did out of the hospital.
At the end of the day we were required to share with each other a summary of one happy thing and one sad thing about our day. I wanted seeing Grace to be my highlight and I knew it was what everyone expected of me, so it is what I used as my highlight, every day.
After a week in the hospital, they deemed me well enough to go home. They were fairly certain I was no longer a threat to myself or anyone else. They had me commit to seeing a counselor at least once a week and I was to stay in contact with my psychiatrist to monitor my medication.
I still didn’t feel like I fit in anywhere. I didn’t feel like I was ready to go home, but had no indication of how long it would be until I did feel ready? We couldn’t afford for me to stay and it didn’t seem like there was anything they could do in the hospital that we couldn’t do at home.
I kept hoping the next pill I took was going to be the solution. Most of the medications made me even more anxious, some of them made me nauseous.
Chris’ mom came to stay with us for a week. I was grateful for her help, but it was also stressful to go crazy in front of other people. Judy had a beautifully calming way of reading scriptures out loud to me; scriptures that assured me God would not leave me during this crisis. I wanted to believe the words, almost as much as I wanted to be better. Judy offered to watch Grace while Chris and I went out to our first dinner together alone.
I had weird separation anxiety surrounding Grace. When I was with her, I couldn’t stand it, but when I was away from her, I couldn’t stand it. My past-self thought this was the perfect opportunity to give her two cents.
“Look at you, pretending to be normal. Pretending you can have dinner like you used to. But you can’t. Nothing can ever be that simple again. If you’re not with her, you’ll always be missing her. Look at all these people. They get to continue with their lives, no problem. They don’t know her and they can’t miss her. Not you. You will never be okay. You will never not miss her. You really should just end it all now. Why keep suffering? Why try to continue this way when you know all it can bring is misery? You’ll have to say good-bye someday, why not now?”
It was that familiar feeling again of pleading with my eyes and not being able to speak. I looked at Chris, “We have to go,” I said.
“Um, okay. Can we wait until we get our food?” he asked.
I thought maybe I could last that long. As soon as the waiter brought out our food, we asked for boxes.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” I kept saying.
Chris never once acted condescending or judgmental. As soon as we got out of the restaurant, I started to feel like I could breathe again. Chris and I went to a nearby store and walked the aisles. It seemed if I could keep my past self’s focus off all the changes and just focused on the moment, my sickness eventually passed.
Unfortunately, things got worse instead of better. My anxiety was through the roof. I couldn’t sit still, I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat. My mom came over to help take care of Grace while I lay on the couch dry heaving and Chris was on the phone with my psychiatrist. I was on yet another new medication that I insisted wasn’t working before anyone could know for sure.
Chris was on the phone with my psychiatrist and he told Chris to give me enough anti-anxiety medication to knock me out. He insisted the medication needed a chance to start working and it seemed the only chance I would be able to give it was a sedated chance.
Chris was at the pharmacy as soon as it opened to pick up the prescription my psychiatrist called in. He rushed home and gave me two or three. It took a short bit, but suddenly, it was as if someone turned the electricity off in my body. My chills turned into warm liquid and my mind stopped talking. I went to sleep in one of the best slumbers I’d had in weeks.