This post is dedicated to Forrest, Aros, Tammy, Mike, and all the others who opened my eyes. Also, this post is dedicated to the staff of Rollin Hills, especially the nurses who so patiently cared for us in more ways than we can ever imagine.
Not many people know this as I was so ashamed of what happened to me that I didn’t want to shed light on the fact that I became someone I no longer knew. I became a person dependent on drugs. Not in a recreational way, but because of my autoimmune diseases. I was prescribed benzos and ssri’s so that I could function. Well, I thought I was functioning, but I wasn’t. Truth be told, I was a walking zombie, numb to the world around me, oblivious to anything that mattered- with depression and anxiety lingering at my door every single day. The drugs I thought I was taking was supposed to help with the depression and anxiety but now that I am awake again to the world they were doing nothing for me but making me sicker in body and mind.
I caught a glimpse of heaven by accident as I had taken a medication that put me in anaphylactic shock. Oh it was the most peaceful, beautiful thing I had ever seen in my life and I wanted nothing more but to stay there…but it wasn’t my time yet. It wasn’t time for me to go home yet but I wanted so badly to go back. After this happened to me it stayed in my mind for weeks. I couldn’t forget the peace and feeling of pure unconditional love I felt.
Things started going wrong for me after that and everything I touched or did backfired or fell apart. The depression set in harder and blacker than ever before. I caught the flu, then shingles, lost my job and we had to sell it all to begin our move to Florida. In those weeks before our move, we had back to back yard sales where I watched people buying my hard-earned things for nothing. I watched my memories of my mother go out the door. All her beautiful things she gave to me, nearly everything of hers was going out my door. It was all I could do to choke back the sob that was at the back of my throat as people paid for my things.
During this time I had not gone to get my “happy pill” filled. The lovely Paxil that I had been taking for over a year to keep me from wanting to slit my wrists. I literally forgot to go get them for 4 days. 4 days of going “cold turkey” off of an anti-depressant and I didn’t recognize that I was going through withdrawals until the 5th day. That day was my birthday and I was feeling the withdrawal from the drug in a way I can’t really describe. All I thought about that day was death. I was no longer pondering suicide as I often did but I decided that I was done and I decided I was going back to the peace and love I felt before. I took a shower, got out, looked at myself in the mirror and smiled through the tears. I knew I would not turn back this time. I looked at myself as I was downing every pill I could get my hands on. I watched myself in the mirror the entire time but didn’t recognize the person in that mirror.
Once I had taken everything that I had in my arsenal, I went outside sat down, lit a cigarette and smiled as I thought…”This is my last cigarette”. I was happy about that..thrilled actually. I was crazy as hell and didn’t care. It was liberating. I knew I was going to die and I had called the shots on how. I didn’t care how others would feel. I had “dropped my basket”. My husband came outside and ask me if I needed him to go get my medicine. I just smiled insanely and replied..”Nope, I’m good, don’t need them.” He asked me if I was okay and I remember thinking..”Careful, he is going to figure out what’s going on”. I made up an excuse that I was tired and going to lie down.
I went to bed, plugged my headphones into my favorite music..Don Henley ” In A New York Minute” was the last song I remember listening to before I fell off to sleep.
I hung on for 3 hours they said. I thought, “Holy shit, no way could I have been alive even an hour with all that I had taken. Unbelievable!” I don’t remember much of my hospital stay. I saw the pain and stress I caused my family and I felt so guilty and selfish. I wasn’t brought up in a bad home, never hurt in terrible ways, and really I had no reason to do what I did to my family. I know now that it was the Paxil withdrawals but that doesn’t make up for what I did. What I did was inexcusable, but as I write this I know that it could happen again. I still battle depression but now it’s without drugs which I am not sure if that’s good or bad but I will be damned if Paxil will ever go into my mouth again.
After 4 days in ICU, I was transferred to Rollin Hills rehab center. I was told that it was a place I could go to talk to a real shrink. It was made out to be a place of tranquility, where you could go and talk with counselors and the like and rest your mind and relax. Oh my God, that was a huge lie. You got 10 minutes max with your shrink a day..that’s it!
My first night was terrifying as I was put in a detox unit, which I had no idea why I was put there because I had already detoxed. I was scared to death because I was in isolation with people who were going through hardcore detox. I mean these people were coming off heavy stuff..cold turkey. Their withdrawals were terrifying to watch and I cried for them. Their pain was unbearable but they chose to be there and stayed to tough it out because they wanted to live without drugs. I was there on that side of the unit for a day only and in that one day I was humbled and inspired. They were amazing, strong people. Yeah on the outside world they were druggies and alcoholics, but they chose to get help. Inspiring…
The rest of my stay was spent in another area to take classes on how to cope with depression but those folks were all going through withdrawals of some sort or were there like me for attempted suicide. The program itself was okay but 5 days won’t fix anyone and it’s not long enough to get the help we needed.
I met some amazingly, talented people in this side of the unit. These people weren’t crazy, they were abused, molested, raped, beaten, PTSD, and addicted to druggs or alcoholics. They had troubled pasts and all of them felt emotions deeply. They all had so much to give to the world and they didn’t see their purpose. I did. I saw what they could do and all of them be successful. I was in awe and I was humbled. Hearing their stories, their pain was too much to bear. I had no right to do what I did but these people did have a right. They had been through hell their whole lives and they were still alive and trying to get better.
These people keep me going. Everytime I start to feel sorry for myself or depressed, I remember them. I remember Forest beautiful singing voice as he played the guitar with ease. I remember Aros beautiful writings and poems and art. I remember Tammy and how she was so isolated when she first got there and when she came out to group with us just to talk and get to know us, great wisdom flowed from her mouth. I remember Lori my nurse who loved us like we were her children and babied us but treated us with respect. Oh and sweet Mike who has battled alcoholism and drugs for too long. Who let me talk to him about trying God when he got out because nothing else was working and before I left he hugged me and thanked me for introducing him to God when no one else had before. I WILL remember them all for the rest of my days because they saved my life.
My hope and prayers are for them every single day because they aren’t drug addicts or alcoholics in my mind. They are people who inspired me to want to keep going and keep living. I will never be able to thank them enough but I know that one day we will all meet again but only in God’s time.