Friday, July 10, 2009
The temptation to decompensate
As I continued to take my meds and talk to Bill with little to no effect I began to feel more and more hopeless. I also began to feel angry. I was doing everything I was supposed to be doing, I was quite literally sacrificing my body in an attempt to heal my mind (my liver has still not recovered from the drugs I've been on) and things were not getting better. And nobody seemed particularly bothered by that fact. That's when I started thinking seriously about hurting myself, both as a way to express my anger and as a potential way out. I mentioned this to a psychiatrist that I was seeing in NYC between college semesters. He took notice. Keep in mind I had never (and have still never) actually tried to end my life. At the time I had not even hurt myself (since then I have done so once). He suggested a partial hospitalization program in addition to the medication I was taking. And I applaud him for that. His name was Sander Marks and he took me seriously without panicking and overreacting. Partial, as it is called, consisted of meeting with your doctor and attending two groups daily. Unfortunately, the groups were a lot of diffuse talking about how much everyone wasn't enjoying their lives with little discernible goal. Still, it was getting me out of the house, and out of my own thoughts and that was something. I could only go for three weeks before I had to return to school but I figured at least I had a consistent place to go during breaks and summer. I was wrong. When I later tried to return I was informed that this would be impossible. That I had had my chance and it was "someone else's turn". And I became aware of another theme in mental health care, which is that if you dare to try and function like a normal human being; if you want to go away to college, or even hold down a day job you just don't need help badly enough. I was not willing to put my life on hold and sever all the relationships I had with people at school and therefore I had to resign myself to care that was way more fragmented than it had to be. I ran into the same theme again over and over with different agencies who referred me to therapy groups that were "just perfect for me" but which met smack in the middle of the work day without exception. The message I got was that if I wanted help, I had to give up everything else. Ironically it was those relationships at school, that prospect of finally being a real nurse, the hope of moving out of my mom's house and getting a permanent job that made me want help, that made me want to stay alive. I was clinging so desperately to the little I got out of life that I couldn't let it go for the possibility that something might work eventually if I just gave it unlimited time. Part of me though, began to wish I could. If I could just stop hoping, stop fighting, that part thought, maybe I could get some help. The question is, would there have been anything left to help?