Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Hospital = Hiatus

Hospital = Hiatus.

Put it this way: the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving were a disaster. IT rolled right over me, flattening me, making my life one-dimensional. Purging, skipping meals, running myself, literally, ragged, obsessing over cutting, tumbling down into the black well of despair. What else could Thanksgiving be but a complete unraveling, devoted as it is to food and family and, for me, forced fun? Wanting so desperately to “prove” I could manage a dinner party, that I could host houseguests for several days--all the while frantically, stealthily, guiltily looking for escape routes to purge, for any moment to avoid eating, and then contending with churning anxiety because I was terrified of being found out? And stupidly, at the end of the evening, exhausted from being “good,” believing I was due the liberating buzz, I snuck a few drinks.

I cannot drink. I know this. Drinking only takes me further into obsessive despair; it causes all the self-damning thoughts to erupt to the surface; it transforms me into an angry, defensive monster. And usually leads me right to cutting. Of course, Christopher discovered what I’d done—my intoxication spoke for itself. And rightly so, he was furious, issuing deserved ultimatums.

Bad decisions lead to wretched behaviors which always lead to isolation, feelings of guilt, a loss of integrity, insomnia, more intense impulses for cutting, mania and depression, and instability. Where does this cascade lead? Feelings of hopelessness, a loss of life-force, lunacy, and suicidal ideation. X marked the spot and I was dead center. No way to tunnel out of the earth that had collapsed on top of me.

But. I did not cut. I did not overdose. I did not drive my car into a tree. What I did was decide to save myself and stay alive. A few days later, when I went up to the hospital for my ECT treatment, I packed my overnight bag-- I decided to be honest with my psychiatrist who I have grown to trust: he cuts through the bullshit and believes that with the right approach (a mix of ECT, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and deliberately-focused hope) I can transform my life. In short, he inspires me.

“I’m not safe,” I said. “I’m so far in the well, I don’t think I can get myself out on my own, at home.”

He took one look at me, quickly assessing my fear and desolation and hopelessness, and checked me right into the hospital. A short, compressed stay: 5 days. Stepped up ECT treatments, my psychiatrist meeting with me each day to work through CBT, and the added assistance of an anti-depressant and a sleep aid. All of which have returned some believable stability. 5 days without purging, 5 days of consistent meals, 5 days of working on transforming the black, bleak thoughts into positive, future-leaning hope.

Today? Post-ECT, I felt good enough to decorate the Christmas tree with the kids, and string the lights and wrap the greens up the banister, and plan out a decadent double-layer chocolate cake I’ll bake tomorrow (yes! I can believe I’ll be here tomorrow) at my daughter’s request. Hiatus = Hospital = Hope.