Warning: This is a very long post. Please bear with me as I must tell these events in their entirety. It’s called therapy.
It seems like only a few weeks ago that I felt desperate (mentally and physically) and was asking my employers for a day off a week, but it’s been over five months. It honestly doesn’t feel possible, but the calendar on my desk tells me stubbornly that it is … and now my time is up and on Monday 2 July 2007 I returned to working full time.
I look back over the past five months and can see that I’ve changed inwardly and outwardly. And it’s because of this change I’m able to reflect on why I needed the time off and why I had a meltdown that caused me to become suicidal for about 6 weeks…and, six months later, write about these things.
As I said, I was desperate. That desperation set in about two to three weeks prior to Christmas. I was missing Barry so much and I had no idea how I would handle celebrating Christmas without him. As each day evaporated into the next, my mood darkened.
Then, at 7.30am on 14 December 2006, something happened that made me angry and changed everything. In fact, I was more than angry; I was livid. With one simple sentence, a person put me on the road to destruction. The day that followed was one that pushed me further and further down into a pit of despair, until finally…
I received a phone call and during the conversation the person I will call A made a statement that not only hurt me, it angered me. I quickly ended the phone call, because I knew I would say something I’d regret later. Half an hour later, I was sitting at my desk at work and feeling extremely vulnerable, but I struggled on.
By midday, my mood had softened a little and I attempted to sort things out with A, who seemed oblivious to the pain they had caused me. We made arrangements for after work. I would pick A up and take them to the doctors. A would be waiting for me.
But A wasn’t waiting for me. A didn’t return my phone calls. A was asleep inside and after knocking on the door, A opened the door and looked at me as if I was the one who had not turned up as arranged.
A and I went to the doctor’s surgery. The waiting room was packed tight. The wait would be long, but I had expected that as it’s not uncommon. We approached the desk and A asked to be put on the list to see the doctor. The receptionist asked for A’s medicare card and A (without a moment’s pause) said they didn’t have it. The receptionist told A that without it there would be no point putting their name on the list. A got angry and said the receptionist could phone through and get the number, and besides A had been to the clinic plenty of times and the required number was right there on her computer screen.
Meanwhile, I stood beside A…quietly fuming. Heat rushed through my body. My heart beat increased tenfold.
The receptionist, blank faced, said it didn’t matter she would only put the name on this list if a card could be produced.
And that’s when I lost it. Something snapped. The statement made to me that morning fuelled my actions. The death of my son assisted. The pain, anger and loss did the rest.
The receptionist, a young girl of about 20, sat smugly behind the desk. A stood yelling at her and I joined in, but I screamed at A and the girl. I screamed at the world in general. All the hate and anger bubbled up inside me and I let it all spew out. Well, I didn’t “let” it happen. I had no choice. I couldn’t make it stop.
I have no idea what A was saying. I do remember seeing the colour drain from the receptionist’s face as she shrank down in her seat. I know I didn’t care and kept screaming at her. I vaguely remember the moment A realised what I was doing. I know that A turned to look at me in shock and not another word crossed A’s lips from that point. I was vaguely aware of the dozens of pairs of eyes, the other patients, looking at me. I felt the urge building up inside me to reach over that desk and grab the receptionist and shove her face into the keyboard. Oh, how badly I wanted to do that. How satisfied I would have felt if I could do that one action. But some part of me tried to keep some hold on sanity…so I didn’t do it.
I can’t tell you the words I spoke. I can’t remember. I can remember the fear on her face and I can remember the feelings swirling angrily within me. I can also remember the look on A’s face – shock and fear.
Somehow I found myself at the door. Not satisfied I said one last nasty thing over my shoulder and then I let the door swing shut behind me, no doubt leaving dozens of people believing I had recently escaped from a mental asylum.
In the car. Driving home. The rage still not subsiding. No more than a five minute drive. I clearly remember the moment I thought to myself, “I want to die…right now…and I don’t care if I take A or anyone else with me.” I thought it and I felt it in every ounce of my being. I drove like a mad woman. I didn’t care. A was silent beside me.
I pulled into A’s drive and screamed, “Get your bloody card. We’re going back!” A scrambled from the car before yelling, “You’re crazy. I’m not going anywhere with you.” A turned and walked down the driveway. I screeched the car towards A. I could have killed A. I didn’t care.
I left the car and followed A. Inside, I threw my bag across the room and A grabbed a mobile and tried to push past me, desperate to get away from me. I blocked the door, forcing my words at A. Forcing A to hear what I had to say. Forcing A to know exactly how I felt.
In A’s bedroom. A standing behind the open door of the wardrobe. A trying to hide from me. Finally something snapped again, and that tiny speck of saneness started to fight and push the crazy me aside. Finally, a sane thought entered my brain and I knew, without question, that I had to make right what I had done. A’s comment at 7.30am that day was wrong and it should not have been said, but A didn’t deserve what I was giving in return. I was wrong and I had to put things right.
Every inch of my body was bathed in sweat. It literally rolled down my back, my arms, my legs, my face, my chest…
My mind was only partly my own. Still I screamed, but the words were mixed between letting out everything I had held inside for so many months to telling A how much love I felt for them. The sentences made no sense. The confusion was total. But I knew I could not allow A to leave before putting things right, so I babbled on and on.
A sitting on the bed, crying. Heat intense throughout my body. My brain finally switching over to become my own again. No longer yelling words. Now simply trying to say the right things in the wrong situation. Desperate to fix things.
Now I’m crying, but at least the words are right. I explain to A where I’m at and why I think I’ve lost control. I tell A repeatedly that my love for them is great and it’s because of this love that I’ve also gone a little crazy. I ask A if they believe me and feel relieved when there’s a little nod and a tiny voice says, “I love you too”.
Silence. At last.
A continues to sit. I stand, covered in sweat. No more words. Minutes pass. “I do love you and I am so sorry for everything that has happened today.” With that, I turn and leave. Tormented by my own actions and my own words, I walk away and hope that I haven’t killed a relationship that I cherish.
I go home and go straight to my bedroom. I throw myself on the bed and I sob and sob and sob…
Christmas comes and my family remembers Barry in little ways, which eases my heart a little. I then have two weeks forced break from work as the company closes down at this time. I keep telling myself that once Christmas is over, I’ll start to improve, but it doesn’t happen. Before I know it, the break is over and I’m back at work. Everyone is looking so relaxed, happy and refreshed. I feel like…
I’m not proud of myself. I know the part of me that came to light on 14 December 2006 is someone who has never been seen or felt before, but it doesn’t matter. I could have killed A and I can’t free myself of the shame and guilt of that. I don’t care about myself. I don’t matter, but A…
I’ve been at work for a mere seven working days and the pressure is so intense. I can’t stand it. What’s the point of it all anyway? Why do we put ourselves through the stress? Why do we bother? Is this the best life can offer? I put my foot to the floor. The car speeds up. It doesn’t matter this time, I’m alone. But what if someone else dies…instead of me? How will I live with that, on top of everything else? I slow down.
A day or so later I’m sitting at my desk at work. It’s the afternoon. I’ve cried on and off all day. The people I work with give me a wide berth. How do they approach a person who looks at them as if everything is their fault? What if they say something that starts her off again? They stay away and that’s fine with me. I don’t like them anyway. I don’t want to be here anyway. I want to go home. I never want to come back. I hate life and everything in it!
I stand up. I want to grab my bag and walk out. The feeling is as strong as that day when I looked at the receptionist and wanted to smash her face in. But I’m not crazy and the little voice in the back of my head tells me, pleads with me, to sit down and say and do nothing. I obey. But I want so badly to leave…everything.
Instead, I ask for a day off a week. Inwardly, I think a day off a week will do nothing, but it’s better than not having a job. Maybe something good will come from it. Hopefully.
I talk myself into believing having a middle of the week day off would be the best thing ever. I have already convinced myself that they will never give me a Monday or a Friday off, so I have to find the positives in having a day off in the middle of the week. I succeed. Then they tell me I will be having a Friday off. I remember clearly the feeling of hope that washed over me at that moment. They were allowing me to have a Friday off. This was better than anything I’d received at Christmas. This was the ultimate gift.
The first four Fridays were a complete waste. I could barely drag myself out of bed, let alone out of the house. I felt so down trodden, defeated and hopeless. But I didn’t think of death anymore. I did notice that. Then, one Friday morning, I woke up and saw the world in a new light for the first time in months. I suddenly wanted to experience that world again. I wanted to feel the sun on my face and the breeze in my hair. I wanted to touch the water and smell the flowers. I wanted to surround myself in beautiful, natural things. I wanted to live.
The following Friday we did just that. Every Friday after that we went somewhere peaceful and colourful. We walked amongst the living and it felt good. The darkness in my mind receded and I started enjoying my day off. I looked forward to it.
Now that day off is no more. But the gift will stay with me. I won a battle within my body and I’m grateful. As I said earlier, I am ashamed of the way I acted – especially on 14 December 2006 – but A forgave me, and maybe I will learn to forgive myself in time. When I began writing this post, I thought I would password protect it, but then I asked myself why I would want to do that. The answer is to protect myself. I haven’t been able to write about these events because I am embarrassed and I feel so much shame and guilt, but now I share them so that other people might understand how quickly someone can fall into a pit of despair…and how difficult it is to climb out. Nothing that anyone would have said to me, during this time, would have helped. This battle could only be fought by me and me alone. I discovered parts of me that I’m not proud of, but the rational side of me fought and won in the end.
On 14 December 2006, I would have been happy to die. I didn’t want to stay here and I didn’t want to suffer anymore. Now, I think of the possible niche with my name on it. Yes, it would have been right up there beside Barry’s (and one day it will be), but it doesn’t exist now and I must admit that I’m grateful. I fought the most evil battle of my life and won. Surely, that is something to be proud of.