September marks the 3 1/2 year ‘anniversary’ of my first stay in a mental hospital. July 2013 will mark four years. Each September, as the kids start back to school I’m flooded with memories of the day I fell apart and went in that first time. I was obviously a complete mess, but I honestly didn’t know it at the time. It wasn’t until I was laying in my bed, sobbing and begging my friend to let me go to sleep and never wake up that I truly realized how much trouble I was in.
My memories of that time period, when I was so sick, are fuzzy at best. But that day is crystal clear, burned into my brain.
The day started like any other day. My husband took Violet to school and I muddled through the morning with Sarah and John. I didn’t get dressed. I may have dressed them, but it’s very likely that I declared the day a ‘pajama day’ as an excuse to not get anyone dressed.
I made the kids breakfast and then left them to play while I sat on the sofa. They dumped out a box of Quaker Oat Squares all over the floor and then broke my favorite pie dish — how they got to said dish I have no idea.
And that? Was it.
I broke. I lost it. I started crying and couldn’t stop.
I put them down for a early nap and contemplated all the meds I had at hand.
I looked at myself in the mirror and didn’t recognize the shattered woman staring back at me. She was unshowered, greasy, and red faced. Heavier than I remembered, with messy hair and sloped shoulders. Lines were etched around her mouth and eyes.
My eyes. How they haunt me. I study my reflection still, looking for any traces of those eyes.
By the grace of God, I decided to call my friend, Jen, instead of taking any pills. I crawled into bed and sobbed to her about the feeling of hopelessness, the feeling that nothing in life was good — and how that didn’t make sense. I had three beautiful children. A loving husband. How could I not feel happy?
But the truth was I hadn’t felt joy, happiness, anything, in months.
She talked me into calling my husband or perhaps she called him. This part I don’t remember. I do remember her staying on the phone with me until he got home. She told him what to do, where to take me.
And he did.
I spent three days in the hospital. I cried for a day in the half.
I faked my way through it, that stay.
And it didn’t take.
9 months later I’d be back.