Broken

I feared this day would come. The proverbial chickens have come home to roost, so to speak. My heart is in pieces right now.

I’ve often posted about my children and how they are thriving. I considered myself lucky to have them. As young expecting parents, we, like countless expectant parents always responded to queries about what we wanted for a baby always responded “happy and healthy.” As they grew, we never pushed them towards what we wanted but instead helped them find their own way. And despite the tumultuous, often hostile environment my wife and I subjected them to (real proud in that arena) they all turned out to be exactly what I had hoped for. Happy, healthy good people with kind hearts and good values. I really thought that we had dodged a bullet, I had always feared that their parents’ failures made a lasting, damaging impression.
My fears have been confirmed, my youngest is not doing well at all. My baby is sick.

It started with erratic behavior. The once sweet, kind-hearted girl had been acting out in public. Being loud and disrespectful, smoking a ton of weed, arguing with her mother about silly things, being sexually promiscuous, dressing provocatively, poor hygiene. She was getting in trouble at work. Her manager wanted to know what happened to the sweet girl she hired. She was disciplined several times. I spoke with her the best I could as often as I could but with COVID I was limited to how much I could see her and I had to rely on her mother for most of my information. Yes, the woman who is famous for histrionics, exaggeration, mood swings and her ability to make absolutely any fucking thing EVER worse, was my source of information. As it turns out, she wasn’t off by that much. My baby really is mentally ill.

We talked at length on the phone after I realized that it wasn’t a phase and that I needed to get involved. She confirmed that she was struggling. Body dysmorphia, self-esteem issues and her relationship with her mother (bad doesn’t begin to cover it) has resulted in Anorexia.

I saw her in person yesterday for the first time in months. It was very up in the air if she was going to attend Thanksgiving at her older sister’s house at all. Her mother has COVID and my daughter had been exposed. She high-tailed it to her girlfriend’s house (apparently she’s gay now) once she found out and stayed away. This of course was a major problem for her mother who doesn’t believe in the vaccine. In short, she refuses to get it because she doesn’t think it works yet where my vaccinated daughter is concerned, she feels that her being vaccinated will protect her. Fucking hypocrite. Knowing how differently it affects people, it is incredibly irresponsible to expose her because my ex wants to be cared for. It is a lonely disease for everyone, deal with it. So anyway, my girl was tested and was negative so she came.

I knew it was going to be awkward for her. She had recently had a bad argument with my oldest daughter, our host for the holiday and things were said. In short, my oldest told her that nobody recognizes her anymore and it’s like she doesn’t have a sister anymore. This cut my youngest deep and to make it worse her sister was unapologetic. She was also very anxious about everyone’s reaction to her weight and worried about the pending comments. She is horrifyingly thin and any mention of her weight is very damaging to her. Of course, several people commented and it was hard for her. She wanted to leave. I excused myself from the table and took her outside.

We had the most honest conversation we have ever had. But the things that I heard have rocked my very soul to its core. I think she told me more than she has revealed to anyone. She is so broken, so conflicted, so in need of help that I truly do not know what to do. She claims she is doing better emotionally. Maybe she does seem a little happier but she’s not her own self by a longshot. To put it in perspective, happier for her means she doesn’t want to kill herself right now. Her body image and food issues are killing her. She showed me a video she took in the bathroom. She merely looked in the mirror and began crying uncontrollably. I will never, as long as I shall live, get over seeing that. I was up most of the night. The only bright side I can find is that she is starting therapy next month and she really wants to get better.

At my darkest moment of my life this girl’s face appeared to me and gave me the courage and strength to face the life that was beating me down. I hope and pray that my unconditional love and support for this poor damaged soul has the same effect on her. I love all of my children to the moon and back but with her, it’s a little different. Maybe because the others were always so strong and independent that they needed me less and she always needed, and asked for, my attention. Our relationship is just unique and very special to me. I would do anything, and I mean absolutely anything to make her better. I would gladly exchange my life for her happiness. But it ultimately will fall on her to get better. I have never felt so helpless.

And powerless…I find myself again just wishing for happy and healthy

Perception

My recent hospital visit really played into the narrative I have recently opened; that is to say that it did little to dissuade myself that I am indeed a FUS (a fucked up shithead). It may be difficult to do so, but please don’t argue with me on this. I know what it is and the key to my functioning is to be completely honest with myself.
A myriad of emotions are bustling within me. For starters, I’m embarrassed and concerned about the long-term ramifications of my recent hospital stay. Will future doctors treat me differently based on the nature of my last stay? Will I be taken seriously in my quest for treatment of whatever malady(ies) are next for me?
Why is that my initial assumption would be that people will think less of me, especially if they are part of my circle? Am I wrong in my assumption that people just look at you differently once they hear the words “psych ward”? Why would I think that those closest to me wouldn’t understand and support me? After all, most people that I have spoken to, doctors mostly, thought very little of the details of the situation and focused instead on immediately trying to get me into a better place.
I have told more people in my blog about the details of my last hospital than I have in my circle. My closest friends know all of the details, amazingly my family does not. My and oldest daughter is my health care proxy and she and my mother made the decision not to tell my other 3 children. They know that I was in, they just don’t know the details. I suppose I will tell them when I am ready but for now I will maintain my strict policy of not making people worry about me.
To the best of my analytical ability, and I am surprisingly adept in that area, I believe that is my biggest problem and the root of many of my issues. I am not honest with people when they ask me how I am and therefore it always turns about to be a little worse than expected when I do fall.

I’ve always been a believer in the old adage “when someone asks you how you are say fine, at the end of the day they don’t give a shit”. It’s harsh but there’s a grain of truth to it. Greetings are formalities and should be treated as such. I have always taken it a bit farther when it comes to admitting that I am not doing well, I smiled and acted fine. So when I did break down it was always worse than everyone thought.
Lately, fine was not happening. I was sick and my resolve to deny that dialysis was kicking the shit out of me was gone. I reached out to my doctor’s and they didn’t respond to my liking. So I tried to force their hands to treat me medically under threat of force.

I’m not crazy, I just fucked up. But this time I hurt the ones around me. Not only do I have to carry that around with me, but the pain is still there. The insomnia is still there. The memories of the outrageous, uncharacteristic and very dangerous thoughts that ran through my mind in which I vividly imagined every conceivable scenario in which I would end my life are still there. Now compounded by an unimaginable and insurmountably heavy sense of guilt for forgetting that there are people in my life that care for me, people who would miss me if I were to commit such an act.
Maybe that guilt would be less intimidating if I finally admitted that I am not doing as great as my fake smile and false assurances would suggest. Do they even want to know what it takes for me to get out of bed in the morning?

I hope I shake this darkness and never fall down this rabbit-hole again.


The aftermath

“I don’t belong here”, I said. As I spoke I scanned the group assembled at the long table. Looks like 2 Head Shrinkers and an intern. They looked like reasonable people. I could work with them.
“Sir, won’t you agree that most everyone here would say that?” said the Benjamin Bratt lookalike, young and sharp Psychiatrist.
“Maybe. And with no disrespect to those who are here, this is different.”
“How?”, the very cute Intern chimed in.
“Because I tried to force my Doctor’s hand and they called my bluff.”
“Could you give us a little more?”
I explained to them that I was struggling with my dialysis treatments. I was having itching and cramping and spasms that made being in a chair unbearable. That I couldn’t get relief day or night and the insomnia was beating me down. When I couldn’t take it anymore I demanded that my Dr. admit me to find out what was going on. That I was going to hurt myself if I couldn’t find relief.
“That was a mistake that I regret deeply,” I said.

I explained that I wasn’t aware of the steps they would take after my threat. The room without sharp objects that I spent almost a full day. That I would be roomed with a bunch of twitchy, clearly disturbed people. God love them but I’m not one of them. That it just wasn’t what I wanted to accomplish. I was very clear to apologize for wasting their time. But I was clear…I am here for medical care because nothing has been resolved yet.

The next 20 minutes was a back and forth about the seriousness of threats and the callousness of ignoring them, taking an opportunity to partake in some group therapy, digging down to see if I really wanted to harm myself. I had to think about that one long and hard with chin in hand.
I had had some dark-ass thoughts while in the booby -hatch room. Cold, alone, sleep-deprived and ravaged by the lack of dialysis treatments is not a good combination for me. I fought thoughts of slashing my wrists and watching myself bleed out. I imagined putting my .38 Special against my temple, or should I put it to my chest to make a better open-casket? I fantasized about swilling a bottle of Ambien and floating off to peace at last.
“And your children?” I came out of my fog.
“What about my children”? I asked.
“Says here you have 4 children. Are you concerned about how they would feel if you harmed yourself?”
Hell of a question. Should be filed under “no-brainer” but it had to be asked. My children would be fucking crushed if I did that. My children and I have an amazing relationship that I cherish. They have been the biggest reason for me to fight all along. “Yes, I’m very concerned. That realization did come to me. I have a great support network all around…friends, family, my Mason brothers. What made me clear my head between my admission 2 days ago and now is one recurring and terrifying thought.” I paused to sip my coffee. “What if there is a hell and my penance is to watch my children grieve for me, to struggle in life and I’m forced to scratch and scream at a window but they can’t hear me?”
“That’s a rather specific scenario…” Benjamin Bratt said.
“It’s happened before in my dreams…”