Wrong door, Right Place

The following is a possible trigger for C-PTSD, major depressive disorder with recurrent severe w/o psychotic features, generalized anxiety with panic attacks, which also happens to be my diagnosis.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Call 1-800-273-8255 Available 24 hours everyday

Due to a lack of a psychiatrist, I was switched off one anti-depressant which kept me stable to another one at the lowest dose. Within a week of the switch, a couple months ago, my world came to a crashing halt.

I noticed that I wasn’t calling my friends as frequently but didn’t realize that isolation is one of my first go to’s. Then I stopped painting or writing and what I did write was short, tidy, and not up to my particular liking, but oh well, publish it anyway. I started wondering why I felt so sad all the time, but still, my alarm bells never rang.

By the time I was sleeping 16-18 hours a day, I realized I was in over my head. I felt like a complete failure to not have understood how far down I was going. It wasn’t very long when I started thinking, “What is the purpose of being alive? We’re going to die and within a couple years, nobody will remember me like they don’t my best friend Bean after she died a couple years back (in my house an hour after she told me she loved me and asked to sleep for one more hour that cost her life.)

I’d chat on the phone with whomever I needed to, but I couldn’t form the words asking for help. Strong women don’t do that, only weak women and I’m definitely NOT that. I had tears pouring out of my face washing oceans across my lap. And yet, as my vision faded to black, my therapist suggested I go to an outpatient program at a hospital because it would be more intensive than she could help me with. She saved my life.

I showed up first thing in the morning and parked in front of the main doors to the hospital. I started to cry. I was so raw, the gaze of the lady at the counter seared my muscle, sinew, and bones. I wanted to throw myself on the floor and beg for help, but instead, I choked back the sobbing wail and asked the receptionist to register for the day program. She asked me to have a seat.

A pleasant looking woman offered me a chair in the assessment room. I thought, “Oh great, quizzes about where I am on a scale of 1-10.” She asked why I was there to which I became suspicious of her question.

“I came to register for the day program because my therapist said it was a good idea.” I offered.

She asked me questions about my state of mind. This is going to sound obvious, but do not tell the lady in the assessment room: “Why are we even here? What’s the point in living? I wish I was dead.” You get the picture. It was gruesome in my head, but once I started I kept going.

She said something about thanks for being honest. She left the room for a bit. I started crying again, or maybe I hadn’t stopped. I don’t remember. I already had a two tissue deep finger cast I kept dabbing my eyes with as needed (frequently).

When she returned she sat down across from me and leaned over the desk. “I don’t think you’re safe right now. You have threatened your own life. We’re going to keep you for a few days so you can get back on your feet again.” I sobbed heavily.

I wanted to hate her. I wanted to blame her for my darkness because knowing my brain was attacking me, realizing that she was right and hating myself for my weakness, I signed a ream of paperwork. She allowed me to make a couple calls while she processed the paperwork.

I called my mom and my husband and told them what was happening. I arranged for my mom to get the car to Ben. I continued sobbing. I couldn’t breathe. I felt like a crumpled piece of fish soaked newspaper. She asked me to remove my jewelry. I begged to keep the necklace with Bean’s ashes in it to which they relented.

With just the clothes on my back, I started following the first person who said “Follow me.”

Locked door, hallway, locked door, hallway, etc.

The path unclear, I dragged behind as the realization of anxiety dripped through my body, causing me to flush sweat. I started sensory soothing by rubbing my fingertips together and lengthening my breath to settle my shoulders.

Locked door, hallway, locked door, hallway, etc.

There were people there dressed in shorts, bathrobes, jeans and t-shirts, while the staff seemed human, I was screaming weakly in my over-crowded brain. There were men and women sitting randomly on the floor having various volumes of phone conversations that I couldn’t understand as I tried to keep up with the quick walking leader.

Locked door, hallway, locked door, hallway, locked door.

As she opened the door she started explaining stuff about rules of my new temporary home. I couldn’t pay attention long enough to get half of what she said. My panic level kept rising as we approached the nurses station.

Over the course of the next few hours, I was poked, prodded, gauged, tagged, and hung upside down by my rear feet. That’s not true about the tagging and rear feet. I got all processed, given a room with a fresh made bed where I struggled to sleep against the every 15 minute life-check. At bedtime, I took whatever they gave me, and slept fitfully.

The schedule is rigid and filled with groups to help give tools to be used when we got released. The age span was varied across generations. The rise and fall of their humming with sparkles of laughter seemed alien. It had been so long since I wanted to smile.

Fast forward to Saturday when I “woke up”, looked around and wondered what the hell I did this time. Some things from the fog began arriving at light-speed with the resounding shuddering groan of burdened heart. I was feeling physically better with a sidekick of humor.

The people stationed with me in the prison of lost souls finding their way home again were unbelievably kind, introspective, wise, giving, and genuinely looking out for each other. We exchanged our journey through the mental health system like trading cards spread out in an emotional three-card monte.

It wasn’t as morbid as you may think. It was soothing to know that other people have experienced horrors like mine. They made me feel “normal” again. They helped me believe in the amputations that we endured in our psyches that couldn’t touch who we were really are. They gave me hope even when they didn’t have it themselves. I needed those battle-worn veterans mingling their stories with mine, conjuring solutions through our newly refreshed communication skills.

I got released on Tuesday afternoon on the condition that I’d arrive Wednesday morning at 8AM for Outpatient Therapy classes to which I agreed. My mom came to get me and bring me home. I made her a card in art class which she loved. She brought me a hot cup of coffee with hazelnut creamer in it. I practically chugged it down. “Ah, nectar of the Gods.” (Bless you Bapa). I felt relief, excitement, loving, and most of all I felt and feel grateful to be alive.

Wednesday morning arrives and I return to the same door I went in the last time. I ask the receptionist where I could find the day program.

“You go back out the doors you came in and drive down the side of the building where you’ll see the door to get in.” She directed. I thanked her while thinking thoughts of wonder.

Sure as tooting, I drove around, parking in the back lot where the door actually was. As I parked, my favorite Bible verse: Isaiah 43:1: “…Don’t fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine.” appeared in my mind’s eye. It brings me deep comfort because I imagine LOVE saying that to me. It fills me to the brim.

I am very blessed to have walked into that main door instead of the Day Program I was supposed to find. I AM strong. I am not my diagnosis. It is an issue with my chemistry being out of whack. I do believe I am a miracle. I’m feeling a thousand times better than I did a week ago when dying seemed like a great idea. It wasn’t. It isn’t. Call

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Call 1-800-273-8255 Available 24 hours everyday

Not Old Enough

Turbulent Life

I won’t mourn you while you’re still here making choices;

choices of where you’ll breathe last when the time comes

decisions that are yours, and only yours, to make. Always.

I will, however, laugh with you until you can’t any more.

I will support your choices, defending your life at its last.

You’re not old enough to go, but I know that’s not up to us.

I won’t mourn you while you’re here, but I will love you,

my friend, brother to my sister-in-heart, brother of my brother.

MX (EM ex) Mare Martell

I’m no longer going to title myself with Mrs. or Miss or Ms. I’m not even going to impose myself on my brothers at arms standing tall in the Mister world. I’m claiming Mx. I’m setting my feet firmly on the label.

It’s the most commonly used gender neutral moniker used; where the x represents a wildcard. It’s the key to a freedom that I’ve desired since thinking about my gender in the sixth grade and feeling like I needed to be a boy, but not understanding the rejection I felt from the one person I trusted to tell at that age.

I’m not a man caught in a woman’s body. I thought of that for quite a while as well. I have several people that I love dearly who are transitioning between the worlds. It awakened a questioning that I didn’t even realize was there. It made me consider whether I was just a human without gender or am I something that I’ve dreamed about? Am I a Dude? (In the Big Lebowski way, YES I am, because this Dude Abides!) Would I feel more like me or less like me if I were to present as a more neutral gender or more masculine? What would my husband think? Despite those very difficult questions and hours more, I realized I’m a woman that rarely thinks of being one or anything really. I’m human and that’s good enough for me.

I saw this:

Mx. Mare Martell

I had just had the conversation with my husband about me wanting to use Mr. instead of Mrs. or Ms. or Miss. I explained that I’d seen a Twitter meme where it pointed out that where a man’s title doesn’t change, the woman’s titles are only pointing to how they are related to the closes man in her life. I didn’t like the taste of that bitterness in my conscience which is where the entire thought process began.

May I give a special acknowledgement to Terran Gray who’s gentle support while I struggled to decide where I stand roiled around inside me. They never once made me feel as if I were weird or out of place any more than usual ( 🙂 ) Their kindness and compassion even when I was asking some pretty deep questions were nothing short of a blessed boone. I wish them nothing but the very best in any endeavor they choose. Someone that beautiful in this world is a rarity and I am grateful.

This is where I am in my life. No excuses. No guts. All the glory!

The Fragile Human

Be gentle with me,

for I am but a fragile human

whose eyes may not see

the expression of your sexuality

as a sign of repressed individuality

because I may be jaded by my misogyny.

Be gentle with me,

for I am but a fragile human

and I am terrified to be

the openhearted embracing destiny;

to stake my claim on my personal history

as one not bound by mainstream society.

Be gentle with me,

for I am but a fragile human

I am unafraid to be

every breadth and depth of clarity

a shining hope against disparity

standing human by human in equanimity

Be gentle with me,

for although a fragile human I be,

I have stepped outside of me

the one they knew can no longer be

because who I am, I was born to be

And I can no longer hide

I AM FREE!

Holy Water

pitcher

I have a Baptist church pitcher of holy water on my counter

I don’t know how many Sunday’s it witnessed

(Can I get an amen, brothers and sisters?!),

but I celebrate the holy water it gives and they gave me.

The preacher arrived bearing a coffee cup filled with good will

opening their church home to me with an invitation

I accepted.

I didn’t accept because they were giving me something

I did, wanting to find a church home, with loving heart

Sunday arrived as did the parishioner to cart me to redemption

There I sat in a church so big, cold, overly puritanical

The ceilings dripped chandeliers over the congregation

I sat through the service where the nice people smiled nicely

I sat through bible study which didn’t feel much like home

I hugged while exchanging pleasantries

with a half-promise to return and a Baptist pitcher in hand.

About a week later, the pastor, accompanied by a scary believer

showed up just in time to help unload my chicken coop.

We shared our views where we sent one another away in love.

But I think of them every Sunday when I nurture my plants

as well as every night when I set the coffee pot with holy water

The Curtained Room

In a room with one window,

colorful curtains against the dim

holiness was born anew

as a breathy release prayed again

suspended between tender bruises,

indulgent heart, and reflections mirrored

in cultured ceremony, societal grieving,

a confusion of emotional hymns

sung toneless to the dim, enraptured heart

refused warmth or comfort, only respite

in a room with one window.