I am thinking of a year ago. I was in the hospital, was pretty miserable and Christmas Eve was spent playing stupid games, coloring (I hate coloring but it keeps my hands busy), wondering what the menu meant by "holiday cocktail". I was also terrified. I had no idea how life was going to work. I was very aware and frustrated by my cognitive issues. I knew my bipolar was worse than ever before. I was scared to death because I knew I'd see Dr. Brain the next day and I didn't know if she would be angry when she read my suicide note (that I hadn't realized it was) and knew that I hadn't gotten help like I was supposed to. I had gotten to the point where I was willing to admit that I couldn't work but had no idea what to do with that or what would happen next. I knew I was very, very sick but not really what that meant. I knew that I would be kept in the hospital until I was deemed no danger to myself and that this could take a while. I remember someone telling us that we should remember this and know that next year Christmas Eve would very likely be better. For a room of suicidal people that's a pretty big thing to believe but I do remember thinking there was validity.
I am doing this now instead of the traditional New Year's, by the way.
The year in list form looks like a really sad, really hard year. It was. And for much of it I thought I would not stop regretting telling about my suicidal impulses. There is so much I don't remember and that probably makes it harder because some positive things are forgotten. I do know the year included the day that I got my last short-term disability check and denial of long-term disability. There was frantic applications for food stamps, Medicaid and SSDI. I was so sick but I got a crash course in SSDI regardless. There was the day I resigned from my job. There was the day I had to go clean out my desk, a day so painful that Dr. Mind made me call him twice and I wasn't allowed in any store that sold tylenol because I wanted so badly to overdose. There were the tearful, sobbing conversations with him on the phone from the hospital, conversations where I had to confess that I'd broken the only promise I'd ever made to him. Later there was the in person conversation where I told him how ashamed of my choices and that I hadn't kept that promise. That day he was nothing but kind and was so spontaneous and unguarded in what he said that I knew he meant it when he said that I was ok. There were the days that I had to accept money from my mom, many times. I had to give up my insurance and go through the emotional discomfort of applying for program after program to assist with medical costs, including seeing Dr. Mind for only the agency charge. There was the weirdness of using food stamps the first time. There was the mixed joy/deep sadness that accompanied my SSDI approval through the computer identifying me as a 100% going to get it case. That's a point of pride: even the computer said I worked as long as I could. There's the frustration of repeatedly being required to file for Medicaid when I'm not eligible unless I spend 95% of my income in a month on out of pocket medical expenses. There was the locked up. There was humiliation then just frustration with a complicated routine of giving me access to limited amounts of my meds. There was the fear that I would never go a year without wanting to hurt myself and would always have to deal with my meds being And then there was PTSD therapy and months of pushing and being pushed to face head-on exactly what happened. And while I never did succeed at showing emotion or expressing it about much of this I am not haunted by it so much. Nightmares are rare. There was finding out that I was the one person who shouldn't use Mirena because of hormones despite the miniscule amounts. There was the decision to have the hysterectomy and the difficult discussions with my surgeon and her nurse about bad experiences from my first gyn surgery as well as the cognitive impairments that came after the surgery. This resulted in the best care I could have imagined and also got an anesthesiologist who is a huge expert of MAOIs so they could be as careful as possible. After a seemingly eternal wait in which I scoured my entire house out of nerves I finally had the surgery. Recovery was 100% different and I know now that when we say people's pain should be controlled it really should. I didn't expect the surgery to be as difficult as it was and so I had 2 months of living at my mom's, followed by the painful decision that in another year and a bit I will be moving here. I don't know where I"ll live just yet but I can't afford a mortgage, utilities, etc. and I need to be near someone. Yet giving up my home........one of the things I never thought would happen. There was the death of our dog and our barely making it back to say goobye---and a rough last day.
Yet just like that Christmas Eve they said would show how much better all following ones would be, this year that until about June I thought would have few good spots, it has had them. Even though this is a year my life has hung in the balance much longer that that hospitalization and I have lost things that were so important to me that I no longer know who I am, there are good moments. There are many, many memories of time with my niece and the wonder that is observing a baby become a toddler become a child. There has been the knowledge that no matter what that little girl loves me, sick, post-surgical, tired, whatever. I got to see what it is like for a little girl to grow up loved like crazy during the time I was reliving the opposite experience myself. I found the gift my grandma left me in the diaries, the gift of a story clear enough although not explicit of what happened when I told on my grandfather and what my grandmother's role was, and the horrible hurt she felt. Finding that was one of the most healing things I experienced this year. There was the learning to cry, if nothing else, about what happened to me as a little girl. I remember a day that Dr. Mind was demonstrating what emotion sounded like with my words and I was crying which I had been avoiding for a while and he quietly asked if I wanted to cry and I nodded so he went deeper into it and it felt sooooooooooo good to know that he got it. It's been a year of tears, but that's a good thing compared to when I can't cry. Mostly I have to have Dr. Mind to cry, but I do it. It's been the year that I finally learned to enjoy music and relax to it. It's another year I got with my elderly, renal failure, getting less strong cat. It's when I learned that Dr. brain is not going to greet worsening symptoms of my illness with anger but she will hold me while I cry. I learned why we have assistance programs and was humbled as I used them, knowing that anyone can ultimately wind up unable to live as we plan. I moved past wanting to die and started trying to figure out living. It's been a year of working from reading children's books to adult books, even though I often read the adult books 3 times before I truly get it. It's a year of finding what the minimums are and living there. And there is benefit in seeing life that way. There are good things that come from asking for help. It was a year that Dr. Mind spent extra time with me along with seeing me twice a week for most of the year and yet without earning anything for it. It's the year I found out that I'm the longest term patient at the counseling center as well as the longest term patient Dr. Mind has treated. It's a year that I've learned a great deal about the kindness of other people. It was a year with a trip to the beach and a chance to see the ocean angry and completely different than I've seen before.
It's been quite a year. But I am so glad that it isn't a totally bad year. I doubt that I'll remember this year fondly but it is certainly been a learning experience that I've come out of better than I went into it.
Sure beats last Christmas Eve when I battled insomnia and got nowhere.