I have been absent. Even in my writing, I have been absent. Not that it’s any of anyone’s damn business, but I’m going to explain, for me.
For three weeks in May, I experienced a highly violent mixed episode that turned my world upside down. I was cutting, violently and frequently. Daily. I required stitches over half a dozen times. My brain was constantly spinning unless I was cutting. I was angry with myself and ashamed of myself, but knew of no other coping strategy that was successful. I tried klonopin. I tried painting. I tried walking. But at the end of the day, I would cut. Then suddenly, one Monday in late May, my brain slowed down. I was calm. It was strange, yet welcome.
But it didn’t last. Quickly my mood deteriorated and I became depressed. So depressed that the psychiatrist tried Prozac, which resulted in a day of vivid suicidality full of intrusive thoughts and images. I had relief when I was pulled off of the Prozac, but my mood wasn’t done spiraling. The Prozac incident happened on a Wednesday. The next Tuesday I was en route to El Camino Hospital in Mountain View.
I stayed at El Camino for sixteen days. The psychiatrist named my underlying issue: it wasn’t depression, it was anxiety. And she insisted that my aftercare be residential. Which is where I am now: Santa Fe, New Mexico, Life Healing Center.
My stay is 28 days long. My agenda was to learn how to regulate (control, in my book) my emotions and learn how to express emotions not just verbally but with tears and tones of voice and facial expressions. So far, no cigar. Just a couple of cigarettes to take the edge off a trigger.
But what I have learned is how to empathize at a level I didn’t know I was capable of, and how hold someone’s story, someone’s pain, but not carry it inside of me for the rest of the day. Which is highly useful considering my desire to be a therapist. I’ve also learned to be okay with not being okay, and to open my mouth when I need help . . . before I’m suicidal or triggered to self-harm. And that often, when I’m upset about a situation, it’s because I can see myself in someone else’s misfortune. And nobody helped me, so I feel the need to help them. I’m learning to let go of that need. And being here has reinforced the importance of art in my life: pastels, acrylics, words—written and read, watercolor pencils . . .
I’m learning to breathe through the discomfort. I’m learning how I see God. I’m learning about crystals and energy and shamanic traditions and oriental medicine. And I love it. I don’t know how I’ll translate it into Theology courses at Western Seminary, but I’m not worried about it.
I’m not looking forward to the transition back home. Because it involves a lot of phone calls, a lot of monetary challenges, a school program I do not feel prepared to engage in . . . essentially it involves responsibility I have been blessed enough not to have had over the last twenty-four days. But, it is time.
Thank you for the prayers, the good juju, the energy, and the love,