I have managed, mismanaged, and unmanaged my mental health for as long as I can remember. I read an article the other day that said a huge red flag that might indicate that a child will one day be plagued with depression is that they worry too much. I was a worrier. I can remember having anxiety attacks when I went to bed at night because I thought the house would burn down while I slept. I worried about everything. My son is a worrier.
If I am going to be honest and unafraid, I need to write down what I did last month. I hate that I feel the need to tell you how “normal” I am. I have a family, a job, three dogs, and an unnatural fascination with fiction set in Tudor England. I am personable. I am funny. I am engaging. I can light up a fucking room. People were stunned to find out I had a depression “incident.” They kept saying that I always look so happy. I don’t fall into a depression because I’m sad, I fall into a depression because the wires in my brain tend to get tangled. I was always envious of the people who were so organized that they had those fancy zip ties to keep their unruly power cords in check. I need zip ties for my brain.
It didn’t seem tragic at the time. In fact, it seemed like the most productive thing I had done in a while. My plan was simple. I was going to hurt myself. I needed a visual representation of the pain I was feeling on the inside. I was depressed. Deeply. At the time I didn’t know it was a misdiagnosis and a cocktail of the wrong drugs that was making me feel like this. At that moment I felt more calm than I had in a long time. I needed to injure myself enough so that others would understand that I was in pain.The clarity of the idea was breathtaking. I decided to slice my upper leg in an accident of some kind. This whole episode took 3 hours from conception to the psych ward.
I didn’t want this to look like a cry for help. I was eloquent and communicated well. I had no problem telling those around me that I felt so very unwell. They just couldn’t judge the severity of it and my mind was quickly becoming unsound. I needed it to look like an accident. The plan revolved around a pomegranate. We had bought two pomegranates for new year’s eve. They were said to be good luck. This is the only time I have had pomegranates in the house. Side note: the pomegranate people need to get a better PR person, because the are absolutely delightful. Very under appreciated fruit.
We ate one of them on New Year’s. The kids and I picked the beautiful little gems out one by one. I also recalled that it was a bastard to open. It needed to be cored and then scored in four different places. Once that was done, it could be pulled apart. It was completely feasible and reasonable for a knife slip to easily happen during this process. There would be few questions because of the baffling pomegranate misinformation that goes on in this country.
I set out a cutting board. I took out the big knife from the knife block. It was dull. I checked all the knifes and they were all dull. In my mind, this cut was going to be surgical and painless, but that wouldn’t be possible with these ragged knifes. Had I had a tetanus shot lately? I went back to the big knife. We had a sharpener somewhere. It was obviously not used very often. I checked the back of the drawer that contained all the kitchen tools. It was a haphazard mess, but I made a point to remember where I had taken it from so I could put it back in exactly the same place. I sharpened the fuck out of that knife. I then carefully replaced the sharpener. I had the cutting board and my surgically sharpened knife.
It then occurred to me that I would have to cut through the dress I was wearing. I really liked the dress I was wearing. It was purple. It was too short to wear to work, but just perfect for wearing around the house. I had four different sweaters that went with it. I just couldn’t bring myself to bloody it. I changed into a dress my mom had given me that was too big and made my tits look saggy. I applauded myself for being so practical. All dressed and ready to go, I headed back to the kitchen. I brushed my fingers across the knife to ensure its sharpness. I paused for just a second to wonder if I could really do this. Could I slice through my skin. I then thought that if I couldn’t, the illness inside me would take over. I needed the ER, a few stitches, and a legitimate reason for my husband to just let me stay in bed for a few more days. I just wanted to check out of everything for a little while and a flesh wound seemed like a small sacrifice for a little peace. I can not stress what perfect sense this all made at the time. I was on autopilot.
I hadn’t been this focused on a task in months. I felt completely sane and in control. I took a deep breath and grabbed the knife. I turned to get the pomegranate out of the fruit bowl. THE FUCKING POMEGRANATE WASN’T THERE! I dug through the oranges as if they could hide the bright red fruit. I looked everywhere. I even checked the top of the fridge. I have never known pomegranates to congregate on top of the fridge, but my calm was quickly turning to a manic frenzy. I exhausted myself looking for this stupid piece of fruit. It was nowhere.
I finally went to bed and cried. I cried and gasped and cried some more. Reality slowly overcame me. Holy fuck!! I was crazy! At each visit to my psychiatrist, he would ask me if I had feelings of wanting to hurt or kill myself. I would tilt my head, look him in the eye, and say, “of course not.” I was telling the truth. I realized then that I was pretty darn certain that what I was doing fell under the category of wanting to hurt myself. Without knowing, I had made a very significant leap from depressed to batshit motherfucking crazy. I had jumped the metaphorical shark.
The clarity vanished and the confusion set in. It would take weeks for this confusion to lift. I texted my husband. PLEASE COME HOME 🙂 Yep, I added the smiley face. His only reply was, ON MY WAY. He then called and simply asked if I was hurt. I said no. I guess my anguish wasn’t really just my secret after all. He returned home to a sobbing wife. I did my best to tell him what had happened. He stood there helpless. We both just occupied the room and tried to silently navigate a situation that was beyond us.
I looked at him and said, “If you came across me and didn’t know me, what would be the next thing you would do.” He told me to pack a bag. He was taking me to the hospital. At that point I turned into a zombie. I had blown a fuse and was happy to let others take over. I was incapable of talking, thinking, or recognizing any kind of communication.
By the way, I later found out that my son had eaten the pomegranate the day before.