Continued from yesterday’s post:
“In crisis”. How does one decide if they are indeed “in crisis” Is it anger? Depression? Anxiety? Does one need to reach to point of being suicidal? Homicidal? Or might crisis simply be defined as the point at which one goes from being independently viable to needing help to function? The psychiatric group I was joining needed to know if I was in crisis, so they could assess whether I needed a psychiatric evaluation and possible intensive psychological care, or just a psychiatrist to monitor and prescribe meds. Perhaps I’m not as self-aware as I’ve prided myself on being. Perhaps I didn’t see the avalanche rolling down the snowy slope behind me, but at the time I thought I’d be fine, and told them I could wait three months to see a psychiatrist for upkeep, I was not, indeed, “in crisis”. Yet, over the next few weeks, my anxiety and depression continued to grow until I found myself behind a car that had cut me off, and the driver made a motion in his rear-view mirror at me – a finger twirling around his ear, the universal sign for ‘crazy’. On a normal day, I’d roll my eyes and and blow it off, move on, but on this day I got furious and started to shake. I had an acutely visceral reaction. Let me assure you, this is not a normal reaction from me, but apparently he had pushed the wrong button at the wrong time. And through the course of the day, I couldn’t shake it. I became more anxious, agitated and out-of control as the day progressed, and by early evening I had the realization that I was, indeed, in crisis. Didn’t know what it meant before, but I felt comfortable saying I was there now. I called the psychiatric group back, let them know, and they switched me to their Outpatient Program, who agreed to see me the following Monday. No three month wait for me.
One psych eval later, it was determined that I wasn’t a danger to myself or others, I was not deranged, I was not a psychopath or a sociopath, and did not need residential treatment. Although he said he’d like me there every day during the week, I wasn’t able to attend, as the kids were just getting out of school for the summer and I needed to be at home at least a few days a week. Th e doctor and I agreed that I would attend an intensive outpatient program, one step down from “Partial Care” (just below inpatient). I faced this with some trepidation, feeling that the cognitive work I’d been doing for years that had kept my head above the churning waters of my depression and anxiety were enough, but I agreed to go. After all, I had to agree that I was apparently in crisis.
I showed up to my first week excited about the prospect of getting some help, but rather nervous about surrounding myself with people who couldn’t possibly understand where I was or intellectually relate – after all, I *had* been working on myself for years, despite the rut in which I currently found myself. How bright and self-aware could ‘these people’ be?
I left the first day in a daze. The program offered an array of classes, on topics like self-esteem, relationships, trauma, boundaries, perfectionism, anxiety, body image, grief and loss, as well as CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) and DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy). They offered Yoga, art, and creative writing (something I hadn’t done in many years, that was an incredibly positive outlet for me in the past). And people who shared these classes with me not insane, not loony, not crazy, not wandering around aimlessly talking to themselves…but struggling, like I was. People who wanted to be well, and wanted help. Bright, lovely people. We were being given a chance at self-awareness beyond anything I’d dreamed possible in my life – and my mantra has *always* been to grow, change, and evolve.
Living in a small, tight-knit Judeo-Christian suburb had always made me feel different, alone, isolated. There were so few people to whom I could relate. I had finally found my peers. Was I going to take them all home with me, introduce them to my family? No, of course not. But I never felt judged. Not once. Not for my religion, not for my mental illness, not for my political viewpoints, not for the size of my ass. Outside of my family, I was experiencing real, relevant acceptance on a scale larger than I ever had.
I bought myself a decent 3-ring notebook and separators, and took notes furiously at class, highlighting handouts and taking in all I could. I found the depression was lightened significantly on the days I went, although I often found myself in an agitated, yet somehow positively anxious state (sounds like an oxymoron, but it felt more like mania. I am not, however, Manic-Depressive). I gained insights on my actions, and the lengths I’d find I’d had to reach to protect myself from past, untreated Post Traumatic Stress – some of which I’ve written about here in my blog previously.
I’m headed to class before too long now, but I wanted to finish this post before I left. I’m still here, in Wonderland, but I’m finding my way to the key which opens the door to a life which I can live productively. Of all the things of worth to me in my growing 3-ring binder are the pieces I’m writing in my creative writing class. I want to share the the following with you, I think it puts into perspective this experience for me. Our writing prompt was looking out the window and writing down what we saw:
Lush green arms extended
To envelop me
Pondering why I hide inside
Entombed in my temperature-controlled
My soul yearns to run to her
Inhale her earthly essence
And rest my head
On the bosom of creation
Slowing my heartbeat
To match hers
But fear locks my being
Inside man’s invention
The illusion of safety
Smothering me in blissful ignorance
I will listen for her
In the rustling of leaves
And the intoxicating smells
Of her fragrant flowers
And know that one day
I will lay safe in her arms