(This is an FX Memory, from before I knew I was a carrier, read Part one here: A migraine saved my life.)
After my intake evaluation it was a relief to finally be told that they wanted to admit me. My parents were totally shell shocked by how badly I was doing, I am very good at hiding this sort of thing and I come by it honestly. At one point I remember justifying why I had not been able to reach out for help by relating this story.
My grandfather has broken his leg twice in his lifetime. The second time he broke it he walked around on it for 3 days before he decided to see a doctor, can you imagine? Anyway, the doctor put a cast on his leg that ended just above his knee. My grandfather wore the cast for two DAYS and then cut it off himself. He said that he’d walked on it for 3 days without a cast and he didn’t see any reason why he couldn’t continue to do so. A few years later my mother broke a bone in her foot. She hobbled around for 3 days before she went to see a doctor. When she told her father the story his reply was “That’s my girl!”
This is just one example of how my family deals with pain and this lesson was passed along in many other ways as well. It was really ingrained into me from an early age that we should all just buck up. It’s not to say that my family is cold, we’re just your average Yankees. Stoicism is a virtue, until it almost kills you and then everyone will tell you what a dolt you were to hide your pain in the first place. They’ll still proudly tell the story of how you got along up until that point though!
My first few days in the hospital were remarkably unhelpful. I was tired and I was cranky, to put it mildly. Spending days in a locked ward with mandatory group therapy did not agree with me and I saw no reason to hide that fact. I refused to participate in therapy and I still wasn’t eating since I still didn’t think I deserved to eat. I woke up just around 11 PM on my 3rd night feeling very dizzy. My heart rate was erratic. I tried to get out the door to get help and I collapsed. I hit my chin on the door handle, I still have the scar.
I’m not sure how long I was there but it couldn’t have been very long, they did room checks every 10-15 minutes and they would have found me blocking the door, but it felt like a lifetime. Eventually, I was able to stand upright and get the door open. I started down the long hall to the nurses station, I had to lean against the wall to walk. Then everything went black. I’ve passed out before, from stage fright and fevers and it had always been a gradual event but not this time. This time it was just lights out.
The nurses were alerted to my problem when they heard my head hit the floor from some 30 feet away. I only remember bits and pieces of what happened. I heard one of the nurses give my blood pressure reading and it was really low (something over 40), I heard another one say “Girly, you’ve got to EAT!” and that’s about all I remember until they put the IV in my arm in the ER. That woke me up but good. I had quite a long time to sit and listen to the nurses fuss at me. They got into a lot of trouble over all this too, I still feel badly about that.
After I went back to the unit they gave me one more day to sleep and be grouchy and then they started to really push me. They turned me into a pet project of sorts. There are lots of people who cycle in and out of the psych unit there and I’m sure it’s the same at every hospital. There are some people who for, whatever reason, can’t come back from their mental illness and they didn’t want to see me become one of them. There was no need of it in my particular case, it would have been pure stubbornness on my part if I didn’t get better. Medications and therapy could make me better but I had to at least make some effort.
Ultimately, I was able to take advantage of the tools they were offering me. I was diagnosed with Major Depression – Single Episode. With drug therapy and counseling everyone thought I’d stabilize and be able to come off the medications completely. When I was discharged, after a week of inpatient treatment and six weeks of outpatient treatment I felt healed. I continued private therapy for 6 more months and then weaned off my medication.
I did great from that point until my son was diagnosed with Fragile X years later.
To be continued…