To try and explain what happened in one post will never fully describe my experience. What do I include? What do I leave out? What’s really not relevant?
Six months ago I took a new position with an organization that supports the city. I would still be working with veterans and still be a social worker, but in forensics. The position was a huge change, increase in responsibility and… wrong from the start. A lot happened, but this isn’t a Glass Door review, and my organizational complaints weren’t the main issues.
I began getting migraines. I haven’t had migraines in years, but I just took medicine and ignored it.
I was exhausted daily- I would work and come home and sleep. I would sleep on my office floor during breaks. At first, I drank after work, but my doctor told me to stop drinking and changed my medication, but still. I slept.
I started becoming anxious. I was slightly paranoid. Then the olfactory hallucinations came.
They haven’t happened in five years. I just pushed through. Reality tested and kept moving.
I never spoke about what all was happening to any one person. It would be pieces here and there. I just had to keep working. Keep supporting. I had bills to pay. It never crossed my mind to speak to my husband about what was going on.
At this point, I was working on my clinical supervision hours on Saturdays, I was taking my first class in a post-grad certificate course, I was answering emails from home… basically, everything that I would tell someone not to do. At the time I was taking all of my medication, seeing my therapist, seeing a clinical supervisor— I thought I was doing everything correct. I was told multiple times I was handling my stress well, but since I didn’t share everything, my stress was manifesting in different ways. I just thought I had no choice. I couldn’t stop.
After a particularly awful day, something happened at work that for some reason reminded me of something that happened in the military. I spoke to the therapist from the vet center at length and he invited me to come for a session. He asked if I was suicidal. “I thought about it this week, but I don’t have a plan. I don’t have the means.” I’d said. The court I worked in reminded me of a Military Evaluation Board daily, but I don’t know what broke me.
Honestly, I was already broken.
I contacted my LCSW supervisor, we came up with a plan for the next day, I felt very calm, had happy hour with my husband for the first time in months and went home.
I can’t say why I saw this as a solution. I just know I felt trapped. I was confused. I felt like I was sentenced to these feelings. I wanted it to end. If the phrase, “A short term solution to a long term problem” ever fit.
Whenever I explain the actual feeling of a suicide attempt, the one thing I can describe is the point your body decides it needs to survive even if you aren’t sure. I called my cousin. She called my husband, who was in the house. I texted the Veterans Crisis Line when I couldn’t talk anymore. They called an ambulance. I was going in and out and losing feelings in my legs, face, everywhere. From there I remember vomiting in our street, being hoisted by two nurses on a toilet, them discussing how I vomit when I have to use the bathroom and to note it, having something sprayed in my eyes to make them open, a heart monitor, EKGs, Tegretol toxicity, removing my clothes, and the worried face of my husband which will never leave me.
Then I woke up.
When speaking to the psychiatrist about what would happen next, she felt I had been unraveling for at least a month. She also debated between me staying inpatient for five additional days, but weighed that against my sense of safety. She ultimately allowed me to go home, but welcomed me coming back.
I quit my job. I gave no notice. I saw my LCSW supervisor to decide my next move. Could I stay for two more weeks? Can I make a list of things to be accomplished? What were my thoughts about returning to work?
My answer said it all. Eric walked over and cleaned out my office.
That was almost three weeks ago. We are moving to Virginia so I can stop working for a while. I wish I can say I came out of that appreciating life and taking the bull by the horns, but I am depressed. The hallucinations stopped. The migraines stopped. But I am not living.
You can’t move away from your problems. I know that. But you can change your environment to really tackle them. It is going to take a while. I fell from high up and fell down hard.
But I have friends. I have family. I have health care. I have an excellent partner.
I’m bringing the blog back not to give advice about Bipolar Disorder Type I. I am bringing it back to talk about those times when you don’t feel growth. When you feel like you don’t have a voice. For those times of unraveling and times of success.
I am so thankful I have the supports many people do not. I have the family, friends and doctors.
I just need the heart.