Day 5: A time you considered ending your own life
I’d love to say that I’ve never come close to ending my life. I guess in reality, I haven’t. I’m grateful that even in my darkest days, I’ve never thought out such a plan. I’ve had moments though…moments where had I made any other split second decision, I might not be here today.
I’ve talked openly about my past struggles with anxiety. Of course, there have been times, really difficult times, where anxiety became OCD and PTSD. In the months after my son Benjamin’s birth, a lot happened. Nine days in, my husband Kenny had a grand mal seizure on the couch next to me as we napped. It was terrifying. I’d never experienced anything like that in my life. The run from the couch to the phone probably took all of four seconds, but in my memory it was minutes. I begged the dispatcher to hurry, over and over, because his lips were turning blue. His eyes were locked on mine while he seized, as I screamed for help. All in all it was probably a minute…it felt like forever. That was the day he was diagnosed with a brain tumor.
From there it was scans, doctor appointments, a stint in the hospital with kidney failure, and finally, after two months, a successful surgery (followed by a very difficult recovery). For nearly a week after his craniotomy, he couldn’t speak; and at first he couldn’t move his right arm. When we finally got him well enough to come home, he had another seizure from swelling (he was tapering off of steroids that were reducing the inflammation). Then Hurricane Sandy hit. We had no power and no cell service, and no way to reach anyone if he had another seizure, or if anything else went wrong. To say it was a rough month is an understatement. All the while I had a toddler and a baby. I was grateful we were staying with his family for the duration of things; being on our own, even with permanent visitors, would have been even more difficult. However, he insisted he wanted us to move home about three weeks after surgery. I tried to reason with him…what was another couple of weeks with help? But he felt he wanted life as “back to normal” as he could get it. Our home, our room, our space.
I understood, and considering all he’d been through I didn’t want to say “no” to anything he wanted. So home, we went…but in retrospect, I was not okay. I didn’t tell him that; I’m not even sure I took myself into consideration at all that minute. Plus, being the caregiver, complaining to the sick person about however you’re feeling isn’t a “thing.” I had zero time to process all that had happened. I couldn’t sleep, between a new baby who nursed every two hours through the night, and that I’d sit up straight in a cold, sweaty panic if he so much as moved his leg while he slept. It wasn’t pretty.
My angst only grew, even after things died down; I suppose that’s why they call it post traumatic stress. At Christmastime, when all the world was filled with joy, I was filled with dread. Fear, anxiety, anger. I hated everyone going about their normal lives, while it felt like I’d lost my “perfect” existence. I couldn’t turn it off. One night, I was driving on a local winding road, that has a utility pole right at the turn. I was beyond exhausted, and yet my mind just kept going. I saw that pole ahead, and for just a split second, I thought about how nice it would be to drive into it. Not because I wanted to die, I didn’t, not by a loooong shot. I just couldn’t handle feeling the way I did for one more second. I needed a break. I needed it to turn off. And I didn’t know how to make that happen.
I knew then that something had to change. That was the day that I began to change my own life, my own perspective. It didn’t happen overnight; in fact, practicing my thought process is something I still do, every single day. It’s become much more routine, much easier for me to do now that I know how. I’m glad to say I’ve never come close to that again; I like to think I scared myself enough. Every now and again I think about that night, and shudder. If I’d indulged that though for even another thirty seconds, who knows?…