I did not mean for almost a month to go by before posting again. My macbook charger went kaput and I ordered a new one online on a friend’s computer and the thing took three flipping weeks to get here! By that time, I’d gotten out of the swing of things and it’s taken me a bit to get back into it. Usually blog posts are done late at night, like now :-), while my kids are asleep or while they are busy playing or watching a movie during the day. Usually the former as I get far fewer interruptions, if any.
Tonight, as I pulled up my blog sight, my reader showed me the new posts from beautybeyondbones.com. To be honest, my life is so full of my three kids, that I feel guilty doing a whole lot of “following” but, that blog got my attention. I’ve read things off and on and since I decided to follow her blog, I have been reading her new posts as they come up, whenever I write on my blog. Tonight, I don’t know why, but I decided to start at the beginning of her posts and read it from “the bottom up” as she puts it.
You know, I’ve never had an eating disorder, but as I read through, I don’t know how many posts, it hit so close to home. So many parallels to my own journey with mental illness. Three hospital stays, nearly dying more than once, the “voices” in my head…the list could go on and on. Her posts are so real, so raw and so very true. I can so relate.
There was one particular post that just triggered the waterfall, aka, I cried–though that’s not all uncommon. I’m generally one who tears up easily. It just brought back a lot of memories, a lot of painful ones. Some people, when they deal with mental illness they don’t remember what happened later. I’ve never been that fortunate. My last hospital stay, a little over four years ago, after they got me stable enough to be semi-sane, I saw another woman, totally loosing it. They put her on a bed and strapped her to it. I got a glimpse of the screen at the desk of her in the room. I’d been in there too, but they hadn’t strapped me down. I knew how scared she most likely was. I’d watched her fight them as they took her in there. I remember saying something to one of the nurses who was standing nearby and making comments about things later and they were shocked that I understood her and remembered things from being in there myself. I always had, remembered I mean, so it didn’t seem all that special to me.
You know, people think that people with mental illnesses are possessed, choosing to be freaks, just plain weird, or psycho. And maybe some people with a mental illness are that way, but I would say that is by far the exception, not the rule. I was told two things before we found out what the real issue was: I was choosing to be possessed and I had a health problem.
A) I was not choosing to be possessed.
I did everything I could not to be and still got entrapped in it and couldn’t get out, until it released it’s hold on me, only to drag me down again a few months later. I remember at one time, the episodes, as I called them, came every three months. When one would end I would look at my calendar three months ahead and dread it like a visit to hell. I got to the point where I knew my warning signs, though I didn’t know to call them that, and I would panic because I knew I was going down and there was nothing I could do to stop it.
B) I had a lot of health problems.
Besides my mental illness issues, which I didn’t even know that’s what the deal was until 5 1/2 years into the bloody mess, I had gut issues, weight issues, allergies, loads of emotional issues (which dramatically effects your physical health I might add), the older I’ve gotten the more health issues I find. Sometimes it’s depressing. Blood sugar, thyroid, liver, gallbladder, stomach, intestines. I guess it could be worse, I could have had cancer, but if you ask me this was just as bad or worse. It was killing me, starting in my mind and heart. Though maybe I can’t compare because I’ve never had cancer.
There was one point where I thought I did have cancer, though. I had gut pain almost everyday for over a year. My innards just did not feel normal. I was too afraid to tell anyone what I was going through. If I ate certain things I knew I would have gut pain, like period cramps, like clockwork. But it was either eat or starve, so I ate what I could make myself, and dealt with the gut cramps later.
Toward the end of that year of gut cramps, I got pregnant with my third child. Within days of finding out I was pregnant with her I heading straight into one of the worst episodes I’d ever had, and that’s saying something, because I’d had some doozies. My mom was doing everything she knew how to take care of me at home, like she’d been able to do before. She was worried about my baby, and trying to do what was best for both of us. The doctors we usually used weren’t confidant on what to give me medication wise, so mom was doing supplements in the meantime.
I remember asking mom for medication more than once. I just wanted medication and the hospital, but mom was too afraid. My gut pain was so bad I could hardly move with out pain. I was barely sleeping, getting crazier by the day. My teeth and jaw hurt so badly, I could barely eat anything that required chewing.
Finally my mom gave up and my parents took me in. And just in the nick of time. Turns out I had dropped down to 98 lbs and the hospital staff were really worried about me. I spent 16 days there, nothing compared to Caralyn’s 90 days at R, but it was the longest stay I’d made at a psych ward before. The most I’d been in there was 8 days the two previous times.
Honestly, days kind of blurred together the first few days I was there. I remember them trying to give me drugs orally and I wouldn’t take them. I freaked out. Then they eventually gave me shots of a drug that, as far as I’m concerned, came straight from hell. Left me in so much pain. All my muscles were cramped and tight, I couldn’t even talk, my tongue was so cramped up, and I couldn’t open my mouth up to eat because my jaw was so tight, and I was so crazy, I couldn’t even communicate to the hospital staff what was going on with me. I was in a prison of my own body, surrounded by people with no way to communicate. My disease had left me more than crippled, I was no longer human. I was schizophrenic. Hallucinations followed me everywhere. I was in there somewhere but I couldn’t tell you where. I was so lost in the illness. Not even a remote memory of who I was remained.
I think I was the nightmare patient for a while. Those poor hospital staff. I remember throwing water on them. And trying to run away in a rolling chair. Like that was going to happen. The whole place was locked tight.
But, inspite of all the pain that came from being in a schizophrenic state, things did start to level out some, though I wasn’t completely back to myself yet by any means. A change in medication certainly helped. I began to connect with the other patients. It was huge to be surrounded by people that “got you”. Who knew what it was like to be going through what I was going through. Granted not all of our issues were identical, but they were similar enough that I felt understood, not like I walking disease that no one could stand to be around. I was loved and accepted in my most broken place by people who knew the same kind of brokenness. There was something so healing about that.
I made several friends and I wish I’d gotten their contact information because sometimes it would be so nice to just say hey, how ya doing? How’s life treatin’ you? You making out ok? I hope they are. Sometimes it’s so easy to feel so alone in our own brokenness, we don’t always realized that there are others out there who deal with the same things that we do. Sometimes it’s easy to believe the lie that we’re the only ones, that we’re alone in our suffering, in our affliction, in our disease. But we’re not. As Paul says:
1 Corinthians 10:13
“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”
The same goes for anything else besides temptation: illnesses, trials, brokenness, you name it. They are common to man. And just like Paul says, God is making a way to escape it, a way to bear it. Are you in need of that? I have been so many times I stopped counting.
God doesn’t always provide the way we want. Sometimes, as Beth Moore puts it, it’s more about getting to know the Healer than about the healing itself. It’s about the journey, not the destination. I know that’s a rather clique comment, and over used, but it’s so true. It’s about our walk with Jesus, about getting to know Him and getting to know ourselves. It’s about finding how strong He really is, and how our weakest places really become our strongest assets, if we turn it over to Him and let Him do His work in us.
I’ve been surprised too, how much God works through the little everyday things. The things that without eyes to see and ears to hear, without searching to find it, we would constantly miss. God’s not just in the big-mighty-Red-Sea-parting miracles. He’s in the everyday, happenstance, coincidence miracles too. Like that hug, or that brief heart to heart with someone new at the library bulletin board. Or that card that someone sent in the mail. Or that $20 bucks to fill your car up with gas. That picking up the crying baby while mom is taking care of her other child. That chance to just get outside without the kids clamoring all around you. There’s a million little miracles running through our lives every day that often go unnoticed and unappreciated. But God keeps sending them anyway, because He loves us. Because He’s good and He’s generous. He keeps lavishing the love, whether we realize it’s from Him or not. He doesn’t mind being anonymous. 🙂
I hope this post isn’t too raw. To be honest, as I read through Caralyn’s blog I was struck by how brave she was to share so much of her journey. I’ve wanted to share mine, too, many times, but so often my fears block my way. If you really knew me, who I am and what I’ve been through, the choices I’ve made, the struggles I’ve had and still have, would you still want me? Sometimes I feel like I’m ripping out my shredded bleeding heart and placing it on the table to be digested. How’s that for appetizing? Vomatrocious. I know. But it’s me. Take me or leave me. I am who I am. Past, present, future. The best gift I have to give is me. And maybe that will never be enough, but at least I can say I gave the best of what I had: myself. That’s the one thing I can give that’s irreplaceable.
Gotta go to bed. Write again soon!
(Written in the wee hours this morning 🙂 )
~Thoughts From A Mother’s Heart