~ ~ ~
MY GOAL WAS TO WRITE A BLOG to help people who are hurting the way I have hurt. I wanted to share my experience, strength, and hope with other sufferers of mental illness, particularly those with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (my current diagnosis).
I knew I wasn’t 100% cured of all my psychological issues. But after coming so far in my healing journey — I haven’t been considered schizophrenic since 1969, my bipolar 2 diagnosis was declared a mis-diagnosis in 2003, and although I’m probably still an alcoholic, I haven’t had a drink of alcohol since January 14, 1990 — with all of the above under my belt, I thought I had a lot of positive things to share about “Healing from Crazy.”
In addition to my long-term sobriety and recovery from “incurable” psychosis, I have been happily married to my best friend for almost eleven years now. After multiple failed relationships in both our histories, that alone is almost a miracle.
~ ~ ~
~ ~ ~
But then…. starting a little over one year ago…. some things happened. Really big things, like my husband being in a motorcycle accident and almost losing his leg. He spent thirteen days in the hospital on IV antibiotics, then several weeks in our little travel trailer (because we had relatives living in our house), while a visiting nurse came by our camper several times a week to check and clean his wounds.
Then we had a serious problem with the relatives who had been living rent-free in our home for ten months, while my big-guy husband, our eighty pound dog, and non-petite me were crammed together in the 24′ camper in our back yard. (Apparently it’s true what they say about people not appreciating something when it’s free!)
The uncomfortable situation with our relatives blew up like a bomb going off — which was the last thing we needed, with me still reeling from the shock of how close I had come to losing my husband, and my husband suffering from an apparent head trauma caused by his bike accident, along with intense physical pain and the destabilizing side effects he was having from his powerful pain medications.
The problems with our relatives became so extreme that the police were involved. Then a judge was involved. Finally, sheriff’s deputies came and moved them out of our house. It was…. beyond heartbreaking.
In the middle of all this, with my husband still wearing a cast on his broken right hand and arm and walking with a painful limp, we drove over 1,300 miles round trip to attend his granddaughter’s high school graduation. It was a nice diversion, but also stressful for several reasons — not the least of which was my husband unknowingly booking us into a motel less than half a mile from the house where I had lived when I was twelve and my mom tried to gas us all to death. (Small world, right?)
My old childhood home was vacant and for sale. I walked around the yard one day while we were there, looking in the windows and remembering. We also took a day and drove to the site in Nevada, Missouri, where the state insane asylum used to be, before it was closed and torn down in the 1990s. I spent two of my teenage years incarcerated there — the longest two years of my life. It was intensely emotional for me to revisit these places, both healing and wounding at the same time.
Within days after we returned home, I went to be with my daughter while she had surgery. Soon after that, she had a cancer scare, actually four cancer scares in a row. One doctor told her that he had been practicing medicine long enough to be sure she had cancer — then he was shocked and very apologetic when her biopsy results were benign! Meanwhile, my daughter’s life was turned upside-down in just about every way imaginable. As a mom, I would far rather have terrible things happen to me than to any of my kids. It makes no difference how old they are! I am still losing sleep over the ongoing troubles in my daughter’s life.
Then our dog died. If you’ve never been deeply attached to a pet, I’m sure you won’t understand this next part. I had never been super close to an animal before. In fact, I used to think that people who loved their pets “too much” were weird. I thought this way until we got Lady, an Australian Cattle Dog we adopted from a no-kill rescue organization in 2007. We were warned that Lady had a lot of behavioral issues which had caused her to be adopted and then taken back “many, many times” over the previous six months.
But it was love at first lick, so we took her home. Right away we realized that Lady had PTSD — just like my husband and me. She was the perfect pet for us and we were the perfect humans for her. We understood and instinctively knew how to handle her “issues.” Soon Lady was helping us cope with our PTSD issues at least as much as we helped her.
~ ~ ~
~ ~ ~
Lady lived in our home for eight years. She was here, at our side, almost constantly. She ate with us. She traveled with us. She slept on the bed at our feet. She was smart, loving, and funny. She became like our child. In many of her pictures she is smiling. Yes, really, truly smiling. I think she smiled so much because she knew she was finally loved.
When Lady died unexpectedly in my arms one terrible morning while my husband was away…. something inside of me seemed to die, too. Oh how I miss her.
I became so depressed that I almost stopped functioning. I shut down my blogs, making them private only to me. I told myself, and others, that I was doing it so I could concentrate on writing my memoir. But day after day went by and no writing got done. I wanted to write, but I couldn’t. I was in too much pain.
~ ~ ~
~ ~ ~
Broken. That’s how I felt when Lady died. My heart and soul were broken. Her sudden death especially hurt because it brought home the reality that we are all going to die some day. Every living creature, every person, everyone I care about, everyone I love…. all of us, sooner or later, in one way or another, will lie down like Lady did and take our last breath.
Of course, I already knew this. I have lived a long time…more than sixty years. I have lost many friends and family members in my lifetime, many of whom were younger than I am now when they died. Dear, wonderful, one-of-a-kind, precious, irreplaceable loved ones. And I still miss them all.
I have also come close to dying myself on several occasions. Last December I was so sick with two bacterial infections that I thought I would not live to see 2015. So I already knew the reality. We are born, we live, then we die. And what comes after we die we can only hope, pray, and wonder about. Lord, I believe…. help my unbelief.
~ ~ ~
~ ~ ~
Most days, I can push these morbid thoughts out of my mind and carry on with the daily business of living. But when I was holding our precious fur-baby in my arms, sobbing my heart out, feeling utterly helpless as she struggled with all her waning strength to breathe…. until she could not breathe anymore…. oh. OH! How it HURT.
So now I know: I Am Not the Poster Woman for “Healing from Crazy.” On the contrary, I am embarrassed at how little it took to make me crumble.
And yet, I’m back. Writing my memoir again and blogging again. I don’t even know why. Maybe I just don’t know when to give up and shut up?
About twenty years ago when I was living in Pennsylvania, a young girl named Jillian was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Then Kit, the minister of our church, was also diagnosed with end-stage cancer. One day Kit told Jillian that having cancer made him want to hide in his room and never go anywhere or see anyone or do anything ever again.
Then Jillian said: “Well, that’s just silly. While you’re alive, LIVE!”
~ ~ ~
~ ~ ~
ABOUT COMMENTS: I have disabled comments to focus on writing my memoir. In the meantime, you may contact me on Twitter via @LadyQuixote.
~ ~ ~