Oxygen Mask On, Head Firmly In Sand

When I was a freshman in high school, I knew I didn’t want children. I was told by other girls, and many adult women, that I would change my mind. the one woman who supported my fourteen year-old declaration was my aunt Prindle. I remember a heart-to-heart we had on my grandparents’s front steps in which she told me what a wonderful young woman I was becoming, and to always stick to my guns. I wavered over the kid thing at times, especially when I thought I was in love. Mostly, I felt a sense of duty to have children, knowing I’d be one of the good parents. I still know this to be true, but given my health issues over the last decade plus, and my active alcoholism before that, I know the decision not to have children was the right one.

Today, I am reminding myself of this often considered selfish decision after a mental break down. Not because of my mental pop, but because I needed a reminder that I do make good decisions for myself, for what might be considered selfish reasons.

I am sticking my head firmly in the sand.

I lived that way for many years and it suited me well, until it didn’t. I came to a point several years ago when I wanted to know what was going on in the world, finally giving in to that sense of not only civic duty, but humanist duty. I didn’t always handle it gracefully, like after the Aurora movie theatre shooting when I left my friend a sobbing message because she lived in Colorado and how was I to know she wasn’t at the theatre, nor even in the state that day? After that, as if I flipped a switch to off, shootings no longer dropped me to my knees. A callous had finally grown on my heart like on a stringed instrument player’s fingers, and I still don’t know if that’s a good thing.

That callous may prevent me from a breakdown with every shooting, but I have yet to harden my heart against what is happening to my country. And today I broke. Out of the blue. No warning. I’ve worked hard on my mental health in recent years and thought I was pretty well adjusted. I just picked up and moved to a new state for pity’s sake, I can do anything! Ha, right. Not this. I can’t do this.

Do what exactly?

cope. Okay, I suppose I did have some warning that I was on the verge of a break, the other day when the travel bans happened and it was too awful to believe and I felt so powerless to do anything and I projected my fear and disgust onto Facebook and those who voted for that man and then felt terrible for it.

the day my friend decided to work on sitting for the bar even though her own mental health is in question, because she knows lawyers are going to be needed, the day all the pain from around the world was projected on social media, that day should have been my warning, when I felt a sense of powerlessness so strong as to drop me to my knees, my powerlessness to do anything for my fellow human being.

I can handle it, I told myself. I need to know what’s going on, I told myself. It’s my duty as an American. I can handle checking the Associated Press every day. I’ll just cut back on what I read on social media. I’ll cut back on feeling all the pain, because as a damned empath, I feel the pain of others in my core.

And today I broke. No warning. Snap. Too much pressure on the rubber band. I didn’t shatter a coffee maker or throw a cell phone, I just decided I didn’t give a fuck and didn’t want to see what’s coming. I didn’t want my life to end, but I didn’t really want it to go on, either. I googled whether you can call a suicide hotline if you aren’t actively suicidal, just in so much pain that you don’t want to see what’s coming, and found the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. I’ve retweeted that number countless times, never once imagining I’d be looking it up for myself. I still don’t know if I should call it.

I asked my friend Ricardo if he knew if one could call a suicide hotline even if they didn’t have a gun to their head, explaining that I didn’t want to keep the line busy in case someone who did have a gun to their head needed the line. Ricardo said my selflessness never ceases to amaze him. And here I berate myself daily for being self centered.

So I fed my dog and quietly told David I was taking my laptop to the bedroom to process some things emotionally and probably to break down so he might want to keep his son out of the room. I really didn’t mean for him to come inn, I just didn’t want his son to see me lose it. David came in after I closed the door and found me sobbing on the bed. He held me for awhile and as my tears soaked his fleece, I thought about all those couples the day JFK was assassinated. Is the sense of despair the same?

After my tears slowed and David got some Gatorade in me, I told him I thought I’d write a blog post and share my pain. Not to burden anyone with it, but because I know I’m not a lone. I know there are millions of us out there feeling the exact same way, and maybe there’s someone out there right now contemplating the gun in the closet or the liquor store up the street. For right now, I’m choosing my sober life. I hope you will, too. If you’re protecting sobriety that is. Hey, if you’re a normal drinker, will you drink one or twelve for me? thanks. and if you’re contemplating ending it all, please click that link above. I haven’t ruled out calling it myself, though I feel a little better after all this writing.

There’s a ten year-old playing his video game out there in the living room, as well as all those other children in this country and the world who need us adults to keep them as happy and safe as we can. In order for me to be there for him, I need to put the oxygen mask on myself first, and for right now, that means putting my head in the sand. Well, except when the ACLU emails me. I can avoid social media, but not email. I just wish I could do more for them than donate the money I don’t have. I’m a disabled woman. I’m one of the one’s they’re fighting for, I suppose. then my survivor’s guilt slips in. You don’t need fighting for. You’re blind, you have MS, and you’re white. You aren’t going to lose benefits (hopefully). Nothing is going to happen to you. I am a woman though, and it’s always been scary being a woman. So much more so now. Ugh.

I tried to find my usual cheery conclusion, but there isn’t one. Not today. This too shall pass. In four years.


Filed under mental health, politics, sobriety, spoons, twitter me this

9 Responses to Oxygen Mask On, Head Firmly In Sand

  1. *hugs* I love you! Think about all of us who love you! If you ever need someone to talk to, pick up the phone and give me a call. I’ll drop everything to give you an ear, promise.

  2. I am so sorry to read this 🙁 please do take are of yourself. Is there even an email service for the hotline you could email in case you don’t want to hold up the line? This is why i turn off when i read anything about what is happening. I know i would end up a wrec. Our mental health has to come first. I am thinking of you and hoping you can find someone to talk to even though you’re not at that scary point yet. Hugs xx
    Torie recently posted..2016 In ReviewMy Profile

  3. Ro

    I called the number today. Long story short, I was basically triaged and given a number for my local mental health agency to start intake. So I called that and discovered a problem with my insurance and I went through hell with that insurance after my move so I threw my hands up and sobbed in the kitchen and will try again tomorrow.
    Ro recently posted..Oxygen Mask On, Head Firmly In SandMy Profile

  4. Aw honey! This to shall pass! Just keep your chin up and you’ll get the insurance straightened out!

  5. I don’t know anything about local crisis lines, but I worked on one, and we didn’t take all suicide calls. I wonder if there’s one like that in your area…because crisis doesn’t happen only within office hours, and crisis doesn’t always have to mean “I want to kill myself and I have a plan.” Believe me, you’re not the only one feeling helpless. You are definitely not alone. I’ve had to somewhat hide my head in a thin layer of sand, but I keep sticking the periscope out to see what I see *smile*. I am seeing some folks step up to smack Trump around a fair bit, so this gives me hope…but maybe that hope only becomes because I’m at a sort of safe distance…ish…from the flames. You can always message me…I may not respond instantly, but that phone’s ding tends to cut through the din. You are not alone.

  6. Ro

    They were glad I called before I had a plan, so that’s good. I have a number I can call any time. Now I’ve just got to find providers here who take Medicare. Unfortunately I don’t get to get into a system where a phone call gets me an intake.

  7. Yeah a phone call doesn’t get an intake up here either. Our mental health system isn’t all that awesome either. I hope you can find something. One step at a time. I hear a certain voice saying “It’s like eating an elephant! You can’t eat the elephant all at once. You have to break little pieces off.” When I wasn’t going “Who on earth would want to eat an elephant?” I realize she has a point.
    Carin recently posted..No, I didn’t forget the Christmas Wrap-Up. Here It IsMy Profile

  8. Ro

    Here, if I hadn’t been on Medicare, a phone call would ahve gotten me an intake. I was this close to getting an intake last week, but since I’m on permanent disability with medicare, I have to do all the footwork myself. Doesn’t make sense to me, but at least I have a starting point.

    It’s just that when you’re in a depression, making a sandwich is too much. Phone calls? I have tO GEAR UP TO DO IT.

  9. Oh yeah I totally know that. Thanks goodness it’s been a while since I’ve felt that down…but yeah. Depression is a life-sapping beast.
    Carin recently posted..No, I didn’t forget the Christmas Wrap-Up. Here It IsMy Profile

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