I’m over at Defying Shadows today. Let me tell you about the big chunk of my heart you’ll find over there…
Maybe you’ve read the post. The post about our responsibility as parents… as parents struggling with mental illness.
I didn’t seek the help I needed until there was something I found more valuable than my life on the line. The ugly truth rose up in my consciousness with a clanging that grew in intensity, demanding recognition before it destroyed everything I was still capable of holding dear.
I was responsible to respond to the alarm, and engage in the battle to push back my darkness to save others when I had no interest in saving myself.
Though I felt alone in the darkness, I wasn’t. Others fought for me. They spoke truth into my life even when I couldn’t hear it. They prayed for me. Two made the hard call when it was necessary, and they’d do it again.
God’s grace surrounded me even when I believed I was eternally cut off from it.
We need each other
Whether or not you suffer with severe depression, you shouldn’t take on the battles of life alone. We weren’t created to be solitary. On our own, our burdens are heavier, and our joys are smaller. Our treasures are worthless.
When we isolate in a mental health crisis, we are more of a danger to ourselves. And it’s more than our lives we put at risk. Our attitudes, behaviors, and choices affect others.
I’m grateful for the people in my life who love me despite seeing me at my worst.
When We’re a Danger to Ourselves… and Others
Sometimes we need others to make the call for us
The police officer was professionally detached. Not unkind. There was only so much he could accept from the individual in a mental health crisis he’d been called about.
Me. There was only so much he could accept from me, only so much he would allow me to do.
Me alone in a bathroom was unacceptable. His visit to my home was ending one of two ways. Either I would willingly go with my husband to the emergency room of our choice (the hospital where my psychiatrist worked); or, willingly or less-than, I would experience my first ride in the back of a police car, to wherever he saw fit.
How in the world did I get here?!?
I was upset my husband had called 911. I was frustrated that he’d misinterpreted my (admittedly out-of-character and, well… bizarre) behavior of the morning of my birthday, as getting worse. I was coming up out of the darkness. I was no longer actively suicidal.
But I couldn’t make myself talk. Unrolling toilet paper tubes my kids never seem to want to throw away, writing notes on them with a crayon I found on the bathroom floor, and pushing them out under the door… not normal.
He’d called a friend of mine. Out of the bathroom I felt cornered, frantic like an animal in a trap.
My husband got my keys away from me. So I ran.
They made the best decision they could. Really, the only good decision, but it was difficult for me to see it that way when I came back to the house, muddy and briar-scratched, went straight to the shower, and was interrupted by the police officer I hadn’t noticed.
My behavior was erratic. I thought I was rational, but I wasn’t.
Even if my intent was benign (I needed space to BREATHE, so I defaulted to my need to be near the water… it was an overcast April mid-morning, spitting snow; the beach would be EMPTY), it wasn’t safe for me to drive in that state. Not for myself, or for others on the road between me and my beach.
But keeping me from getting behind the wheel didn’t end the danger. My husband and friend knew I could be a hazard to people on the road, even on foot.
We live near a highway… where suicide-by-traffic has occurred.
I was offended that my husband could even think I would consider such a thing. My biggest dilemma when making plans to end my life was how to do it with as little mess, and as little collateral trauma as possible.
“I would never DO that to someone!” I argued when he told me.
He knew I wouldn’t, he responded, but, he reminded me, I wasn’t myself.
The call I made
I still wasn’t used to the fact that I had a psychiatrist (and still do; I’ll probably need one the rest of my life).
The darkness convinces me that the best choice, among a handful of choices that aren’t good, is to end my life. My brain convinces me my life is worse than worthless. It wasn’t the desire to save my life that convinced me to get help.
It was recognizing a logical conclusion of the belief that the world is a horrible, painful, dark place that kills all that is good – a logical conclusion of a parent’s belief that the world is a horrible, painful, dark place that kills all that is good.
READ THE REST OF WHEN WE’RE A DANGER TO OURSELVES… AND OTHERS ON DEFYING SHADOWS.
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