Thursday, September 8, 2011


Last day in Western Psych. Last day where my napkins are inspected, my toilets are flushed for me, and my post-meal hours are monitored by ever-vigilant "melieu" therapists. Of course, I have one more inpatient ECT session tomorrow before Christopher picks me up, and then 2 outpatient ECT sessions next week that I need to get my ass down to Pittsburgh for--along with a student-stranger-chauffeur who Christopher has hired to drive me back to Meadville from Pittsburgh. The doctors don't recommend driving on a recently anesthetized, electrified brain.

To be honest, the crushing depression seems to have lifted, a least a few inches from my shoulders and soul. I no longer feel like swallowing all the bottles of prescriptions that are lined up, waiting for me, in the medicine cabinet at home. I no longer feel like taking a razor blade to my arms and hacking away at my anger and self-loathing. I feel like I am a tolerable person. I believe that I am needed on this earth--Sophia and Alexander keep demanding, on the phone every night, "when are YOU coming home? We need you. We miss you."

It feels like simple, expected, repeated mental collapse (just give in, Kerry, IT whispers to me every day. Just end all this mess. Free your family to move on, to find a momma more stable, more reliable, less bleak and grim. A momma without the hundreds of scars on her arms; a momma who can eat, without qualm, breakfast, lunch, and dinner; a momma who is sane enough to keep her Assistant Professor of English job, who can continue to contribute to the lifeblood of the family. Instead, who are they left with? A momma in and out of psych hospitals; a momma whose depression necessitates frequent zaps of electricity (yes, that bad); a momma who can no longer hold down a job, but who must rely on Disability payments and Social Security benefits.

A momma who is a failure.

No, Sophia and Alexander would argue, a momma we love; a momma whose love we need.

So after a Friday night alone with Christopher in Pittsburgh--trying to pretend like we can manage a "real" date--fancy restaurant, fancy dress and heels, and he'll have to bring along my razor so I can shave my legs before donning said dress and heels (the hospital doesn't allow anything so sharp on the premises, likely for good reason), then home to my kids and Christopher, and my insane dogs, and my own bed, and a long, hot shower, and sex--no, lovemaking (can I remember how to connect to my own body, to trust it to feel good again?)--and quadruple snuggling in our King sized bed--all four of us burrowing into each others' warmth, all toes and knees and legs mixed up in an all-family braid of bodies.

Can I attempt to explain the devastating loneliness I felt when I saw the picture of the kids' first day of school this week? Alexander off to kindergarten; Sophia to 4th grade. The two of them standing on our front porch, eager to get the walk up to school under way. Each of them looking official and fancy and lovely--Alexander in his plaid button-down shirt, his hair spiked to attention; Sophia in an adorbaly grown-up skirt, a long, flowy chiffon scarf tied loosely around her neck, proclaiming her absolute nineness.

I missed it. They were assembled on our front porch with Dad behind the camera. I was sealed inside the Psych Ward, all doors and windows locked, all movements tracked and recorded on the patient--every-fifteen--minute--check-up sheets.

But tomorrow, Christopher will pick me up, drive me away into the heart of Pittsburgh, to a fancy room at a bed-and-breakfast, to a fancy dinner at a trendy restaurant on the Strip--a dinner that maybe I can eat and enjoy and not feel pressured to restrict, to count off, to throw up afterwards. Then back to our B&B, for a leisurely roll and tumble in the bed. My body and his body a matched set

Then Saturday, home to Meadville, and the kids--who are waiting, waiting, waiting for me to walk through the door and swoop them in my arms and promise them that I will stay, I won't leave, certainly NOT for good in the way I had been planning before this latest hospitalization. What I need to remember is this small, wondrous fact: My life with my family is good, is necessary, is a magical force.