Suicidal Ideation, the Psychiatric Hospital, and Finding the Bottom: Part One

So this post is either a little late or very, very late depending on how you look at things.

A year ago this month, I was admitted to a psychiatric hospital because of my PTSD and depression. I went in May 13th and was released on the 16th.

I say this post is a little late because I was going to post last week as a yearly/anniversary/resurrection project thing, but I figured jumping back into the blogging pool was more important. I say it is very late because the plan was to post it, like, June of last year, but clearly that never happened.

So, without further ado, here is part one of my story:

One hundred and twenty-six Xanax. I had exactly one hundred and twenty-six Xanax. Knowing that is enough to land you in the ER, if you’ve got friends keeping an eye on you.

My psychiatrist, Dr. Larsen, likened it to a sonic boom.

A sonic boom happens when an object is moving so fast that it begins moving at the same speed as the sound waves it creates. Instead of all of the sounds being heard as waves, separate from each other, all of the sound builds up and is heard at one time as a sonic boom.

It’s not that anything going on in my life right now is overwhelming in itself, but I’ve been trying to move so fast that I outrun the things behind me, and that finally caught up with me — boom.

So. One hundred and twenty-six Xanax. I didn’t take any — I just counted them. Over and over and over. One to one hundred and twenty-six. I cried as a counted, or I stared angrily, or I laughed. I eventually got to the point where counting was no longer satisfying the urge. I should’ve recognized that an urge to count medication was a problem in and of itself, but I didn’t phone a friend until all of my energy was being expelled in convincing myself not to take the pills.

“Julie, I’m really not doing well,” the text message read.

Julie knows me well enough to know that if I say something like that, we’ve reached the red line. The fact that I sent a similar message earlier in the week was probably also an indicator that things were rough. She didn’t make me go to the hospital that time, but I thought this time may be different. It was coming down to a battle of wills, and mine was being expelled in other ways than convincing Julie that I didn’t need to go the the hospital.

She came to get me and found me in my truck, crying, looking tired, and clutching a prescription bottle.

“I’m so tired, Julie.”

“I know. I think we should go to the hospital.”

“I don’t want to. I’m not one of those people. I was never going to be one of those people.”

I didn’t move. Julie began to try to move me, but that only made me cry more.

“We don’t have to go to the hospital. Let’s just go drive. Come on.”

I wasn’t stupid. I knew we were still going to the hospital. With some convincing, I removed myself from my truck and got in the passenger seat of Julie’s car. I left the pills behind, bringing nothing with me.

We drove in silence for a few minutes, taking a roundabout way toward the hospital. I later learned that this circuitous path was not intentional, but just Julie getting turned around on the way.

As we drove through traffic-light lit streets, I let out a fresh sob, a new realization of the state of things.

“I’ve never felt the need to say goodbye to anyone until this time.”

Julie didn’t say anything. She just nodded.

After a few minutes of seemingly-intentional-unintentional-aimless driving, I decided to give Julie a break.

“If you’re trying to get to the hospital, turn left at the next stop sign.”

Again, she didn’t say anything. She just gave me a defiant yet defeated look.

She turned at the next stop sign.

We parked in one of the closest spots to the Emergency Department doors. The night felt calm and quiet. You could hear yourself breathe in the stillness of the air.

“I don’t want to do this, Julie.”

“I know. But I think you need to.”

“I don’t want to.”

“What if I go and ask what would happen if you were to go in? Like, what if I gave them a hypothetical situation?”

I sat staring out the windshield at the watching trees in the distance, too tired to fight her on it anymore.

“Okay.”

She went inside for several minutes while I sat without moving, tears sliding down my face at irregular intervals.

I didn’t move when Julie opened the door, the overhead light flashing on. She sat back in the driver’s seat, ready to explain and convince.

“I think you should go in.”

“Why, Julie?”

We talked about it for a long time. I got more tired with every word, realizing that no matter which way things went, it would feel like losing the battle.

“I can’t go in without my insurance information. I didn’t bring anything.”

“We’ll go and come back.”

“Okay. But this doesn’t mean I’m for sure going in, it just means I have the option.”

As we left the parking lot, Julie was driving on the wrong side of the road and almost drove into the median.

“Jules, you need to be over there.”

She swerved to the other side of the road, pretending she’d been there the whole time.

I directed Julie in a more direct path on the way back to the hospital. There was no reason to wind our way there this time.

We parked in the same spot in a déjà vu-filled moment.

“Chels, do you want to say a prayer?”

“Sure.”

“Do you want me to say it?”

“Yeah.”

Julie spoke from the heart, spoke to God with love and care for my well-being.

I felt the final surrender that I would be walking into that hospital to face whatever was there for me. I had a moment of near hysterical laugher at the acceptance of this moment as a part of my life.

We said amen and sat in brief silence.

“I can’t do this, Julie.”

“I know.”

I’ll continue next week with what happened next. Hope you’ll keep following along. Thanks for reading.

Here’s a picture of a cat for some levity:

 

 

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