Another Moment

I began my day by getting ready for work. I did not dread the day as I used to, especially considering it was a Monday. This day seemed a little more tolerable. Maybe the new medications were helping me after all. Today was a big day for me though, because today was the day I would meet my therapist. I took my doctor’s advice and sought out a therapist for counseling. Finding a therapist within my insurance company’s network was quite a tedious process. First, you must call a counseling hotline number provided by the company. A “counselor” chats with you and probes you to see what type of counseling you will require. After several days of playing phone tag with the counseling service, they finally provide you with a therapist in your area. My therapist was only a five-minute drive from my office, so that seemed very convenient. My boss warned me about attending a therapy session during a work day with intentions on returning to work. She was worried I might be too shaken up to come back. I assured her I would be able to handle it. I’ve been through the worst, right? Piece of cake.

My Therapist

I can’t find the place, damn it. The directions were quite clear, but I still wound up sitting in the wrong office. I texted my therapist to let her know I was here in the waiting room, and she responded with, “You’re in the wrong building…”, crap. I finally make it to her office. Her office is a tiny house right behind the office I was originally in. It is an older home, complete with a therapy dog named Maddie. My therapist is seasoned. I am not opposed to seeing an older counselor, I mean, she’s been around for a while and has probably seen a lot. Her experience may hold the knowledge I need to help me through this hard time. “Have a seat”, she says as she places her hearing aids into her ears. Well, this looks promising.

The Session

The session began as I expected it would. My therapist asked me general questions about myself, my family, my job, etc. She then asked me why I was there. I explained to her that my doctor referred me due to my depressive state and my mania. When I used the word mania,she rolled her eyes and asked me why I would use that word. I told her that I could not think of a better word to describe the way I feel. She then began to ask me to give her a few situations that have me feeling depressed. Oh, where to begin. I began with my heavy alcohol abuse and reckless lifestyle, including a heartbreaking and unfortunate affair, then I added my career suicide to the mix. I began telling her the story about wanting to drive my car into the trees and she stopped me. “My dear,” she says, “You do not need counseling right now, you need serious help.” She then begins to tell me that she wants to admit me into the hospital to help stabilize my crazy. Okay, she did not use those exact words, but she may as well have. She insinuated that I was subconsciously committing suicide by starving myself…. the nerve of her! I told her I would go, with no intentions on following through with it, and she called my bluff immediately. She encouraged me to go see my doctor since I refused to go to the hospital. That, I will do. I am so panicked at this point and I would say anything to get out of this woman’s house. As I am leaving, she informs me that she will be contacting my doctor to let him know the right course of treatment for me. My Lord, this woman is trying to have me committed!

Sanctuary

I got to my doctor’s office and signed in. I called my hubby right when I left my therapy session and he packed up his stuff at the office so he could meet me at the doctor’s office. He is always so worried about me, that loving man of mine. I did not even try to stop him. I needed him. Why would my therapist scare me like that? What if she is right? What if I am starving myself subconsciously to end my life? So much confusion and paranoia right now! Wes, my hubby, showed up before I was called back from the waiting room. He sat there with me as I attempted to whisper the full details of what happened into his ear. He was confused as well. “Mrs. Daniels”, the nurse calls out. Thank the Lord. There is nothing worse than being trapped in a waiting room, full of people, while you are crying about something extremely personal. “What brings you in today?”, she asks me. I respond with, “My therapist told me to come see my doctor so that I can be admitted into the hospital”. My doctor came right in and said I wasn’t going anywhere, not unless I truly felt like I might hurt myself. My weight has dropped down to 113 pounds (I am 5ft 7in, so 113lbs is extremely underweight for me) and my blood pressure was high, just as it has been over the last few visits. I am falling apart. My doctor probes me for details regarding my visit with my therapist. I told him everything.
“You overwhelmed her. You are a very overwhelming individual.”
My doctor understands me, so he knows that I unleashed my twisted life onto that woman. No wonder she wanted to admit me into the hospital. You would think a seasoned counselor, like the woman I met with, would be better equipped to handle overwhelming individuals. I mean, she has been around for a long time and must have worked with all kinds of different personalities. What kind of therapist can only handle simple situations? Why would a less complex individual even need therapy? I guess these are questions I will never know the answers to. 

Meds and Chill

My medications have been changed again. My doctor explained to me that we are still going through the process of identifying the right medications to balance out my chemical levels. He increased the dosage of my antipsychotic, he insisted I keep using the muscle relaxer, and then he added an anti-depressant and a nerve pill. I have never been on so many pills before. I have been prescribed numerous medications in the past, but my stubbornness never allowed me to follow through with treatment. None of this seems natural to me, and I have never been a fan of “big pharma”. My doctor also recommended I use a psychiatrist as opposed to a psychologist or licensed counselor. With the types and dosages of medications he has me on, a psychiatrist is now completely necessary for treatment. I have always been so hard-headed when it comes to therapy because I have always felt like it was more of an endless money pit than productive treatment. I give in though, because I cannot keep going down the road I have been on. I do fear that one day I will sink into that dark hole and never come out again. I love my family too much to ever hurt them that way. So, today I will take my meds and chill…. and again tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day….. Will I ever feel normal? I do not think so. What is normal anyway? Life has the potential to be so beautiful. So here I am, living it one day at a time. I will say this, I feel better today than I did yesterday. As my doctor would say, “That is a small win, and I’ll take it”.

Dreams vs Reality

The Prophecy

Everyone has desires, goals, and dreams. As kids, we draw out big plans for our lives with our dreams. I was no exception. I wanted to be a storm chaser (yes, I was a kid when Twister came out), a famous country singer, a paleontologist…. the list goes on and on. I never realized I would wind up in the industry that my mother always told me I would be in. Ever since I can remember, my mother has told me that I would be a dentist. She had a dream about it one night when I was a toddler and the prophecy was then passed on to me. As a kid, I did not see myself growing up to be a dentist or working in any kind of medical field. I wanted the glamorous life and that did not include wearing scrubs and working with patients. Dentistry it was though. How did she know? I have always been aware of my mother’s strong intuition, but this was just uncanny. I love telling that story to my patients when they ask me how I wound up in dentistry. I, however, am not a dentist. I am a dental assistant.

The Career

I fell into dentistry during an erratic time in my life. I was 20 years old and no stranger to the night life. I was waitressing at a saloon and was staying out late, every night, partying with my coworkers. To say I was making poor decisions would be a massive understatement. The party was always on when I was around. Unfortunately, this also meant being exposed to a ridiculous number of drugs and alcohol. One day I woke up, after crashing for three solid days to sleep off one of the parties, and I realized I was spiraling out of control. I decided to make a big change and I was officially on a mission to take better care of myself. I took a chance on a local dental practice and got the job. Everything was perfect with my new position. I made decent money and only worked Monday through Thursday. I felt like my life was finally shaping up. The timing was perfect too, because what I did not realize when I left the “party scene” was…. I was pregnant.
My first couple of years as a dental assistant were amazing. I had a knack for working with patients and I began to fall in love with the art of dentistry. By the third year though, something changed. I lost the desire to be there. I cannot remember the exact moment I began looking for an escape, but it happened by my fourth year with the practice. I found myself skipping work to sit at home and do nothing. I had an easy excuse at that point, because I just had my second baby. Nobody questioned me, they just assumed I was being sincere when I called in sick or when I blamed it on my kids. I finally exhausted this method and concocted a plan to escape. I made the decision to quit my job and go back to college. It was the worst plan for anyone in my situation because I was separated from my first husband and we were going through the notions of divorce. I did not let that influence my decision at all though…. I quit my job.

Just Passing Through

Eventually, I went back to work as a dental assistant. My time at the next practice was so short-lived, it is not even worth listing on my resume. I was pregnant with my third baby during that time and I did not want to be there. I never got the chance to come up with a reason to quit because my son gave me a reason the moment he was born. My son was born early, resulting in many complications with his respiratory system. Due to the scary conditions of his birth and the long road of recovery ahead of him, it was necessary to stay at home with him because he was not healthy enough to go anywhere until he was bigger and better equipped to handle an illness. I happily obliged.
Once my son was cleared to go to daycare, I went back to work. The next dental practice I joined was one of my favorites. I meshed so well with the doctor. She was laid back and easy to work with. My first year at her practice was amazing and I even considered enrolling in hygiene school so I could become a hygienist at her practice. Hygiene school was not something I ever desired. The idea of working in such a repetitious manner never appealed to me. I preferred the excitement of emergencies and the unknown. My interest in that route peaked though and I was excited about my dental career. Something happened during my second year of working at her practice though. I lost it. I cannot recall the moment I faded away, but it happened…. again. I began calling in sick all the time and even racked up a few medical bills just to prove I was sick. I did not want to be there. But why? I had such a cozy spot and I loved my job. Why was I so unhappy? During this time of despair, I came up with a new plan of escape. I was going to go back to school with the purpose of going to dental school. I was going to fulfill the prophecy. I mustered up the courage to push the plan onto my fiancé, and he was nothing but supportive. This man has been the biggest supporter of my life since we got together in 2011. Oh, how I love him. Anyway, a month before my college classes began, before I could even turn in a notice at work, I was involved in a car accident. I sustained significant injuries to my back and was immediately pulled out of work. My fiancé gave me the opportunity to do what most mothers only get to dream of doing. He offered me a chance to be a stay-at-home-mom so that I could recover and heal. I was so excited and grateful. My wish came true! Was I happy that a car accident bailed me out of something I was so desperately trying to get out of? Yes, I was. I never said that out loud, but it crossed my mind often. What is wrong with me? Why would anyone be grateful for an accident that really hurt them, just to get out of work? I am not okay.

Big Fish

My first couple of years staying at home with the kids was everything I hoped it would be. By the third year, after my parents moved several states away, I began abusing alcohol again. After witnessing me sink into the lowest low I had ever been in, my husband gave me an ultimatum. I could either check myself into rehab, go back to work, or lose my family. My reckless behavior had taken an enormous toll on my family and I knew I had to make a change. I decided to go back to work. I joined a practice with a new doctor who was just getting started out there in the world. The first couple of weeks were tough as I adjusted back to working again. I can remember sitting in the parking lot crying on the phone to my husband because I did not want to be there. Something did not feel right. I stuck it out though, with my husband constantly encouraging me to overcome my anxiety and doubt. Before long, I was back on top of the world again. I worked so well with my new doctor and he recognized my skills and abilities to be valuable, so he promoted me to be the manager of his practice. I was ecstatic! I felt like all my hard work was finally being appreciated. I thrived in my new role. My boss then took on a second practice and eventually merged it with a third practice. I felt like I was unstoppable during those days. The work was endless, and I was drowning in every bit of it, but I did not care. I was on fire!

One of the practices I managed. Look at that intense smile on my face. Other faces are hidden for privacy!

The Fall

One can only be on fire for so long before they burn out. I was no exception. During my second, and final, year managing the practices, I lost it. I became easily frustrated over anything that came my way. I began to resent so many things about my job and even the people involved with it. I cared about those practices and my position in them so much, but I was not doing well handling the stress of it all. I was paid very well to cover the excessive work I endured, but I have never been one to be swooned by money, so I began to rebel against it all. I started looking for reasons to skip work, again. I began abusing alcohol and spiraled out of control…. again. I turned in my notice a couple of times, never leaving because my boss needed me, and I was naïve enough to think he could not handle it without me. The third notice was the final notice though, and I walked away with no regrets.
I say I have no regrets, but I am lying to myself.

End Game

So here I am.

A 33-year-old, part-time, dental assistant. Exhausted and burnt out beyond repair. I went back to my favorite practice when I left the big, multi-practice nightmare. I knew my husband would not be okay with my desire to drop everything and stay at home again, so I thought this might be my way out. I embraced this change, even though it was a big step down along with a massive pay cut. I considered it to be a break for myself. What I did not foresee was my inability to come out of the funk I was in. I did everything I could think of to make myself happy again, but it did not matter. What I thought would be a good solution now appears to be more of a band-aid that was placed on something broken. A band-aid will cover up the break, hide it for a while to make it look okay, but true healing will never happen until the break is reset. My life is being held together by band-aids right now. How do you reset what has been broken? How do you move on when you cannot make sense of why you gave up in the first place? I have asked myself these questions recently because I am realizing that I am far from being in a good place. I wear many masks though, so I have it covered. For now.

You only see what I want you to see. Living behind a mask.

The Other Side of Me


If you ever enter my mind
Stay there, you’ll live
To fend it off and fool them all
Stay there

– Chevelle


Wake Me Up

What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I just be okay with my life? I have a beautiful life. Beautiful family. Fun hobbies. Interesting job. Exciting goals. So why do I feel unhappy? Why do I keep doing things that hurt the ones I love the most? These are questions I often ask myself.

Yesterday changed my life.

My alarm goes off. I cringe. I have not slept a full night in so long. As I debate on whether I will get up to wash my hair or just hit snooze to rest a few more minutes and resort to a messy up-do again, I realize it is pointless to attempt to fall asleep. I still do not get up. I tell myself that today is going to be a better day than yesterday. I’ve always been the type who believes in the power of positivity. My faith in that is diminishing these days though.
I roll over and look at my husband. My Wes. Oh, how I love him, but oh the anger I feel towards him. Why do I resent him so much? I truly believe this man is my soulmate. Why do I hurt him the way I do?
I slump out of bed. Damn dogs. I wanted these dogs more than anything. We went through a few family pets before we found the perfect fit for our family. A German Shepherd named Shelby and a black Labrador named Winnie. They have been the bane of my existence for years though. I cannot even walk a few steps from my bed to the bathroom without tripping over the lab and being trampled over by the shepherd. Beasts.
I quickly throw my scrubs on and attempt to do something decent with my hair. I have not worn makeup in over 5 months, so that is beneficial when I barely have time to breath. I am a dental assistant. A 33-year-old, part-time, dental assistant. After 10 years of working in the dental industry, from assisting to managing multi-practices, this is where life has placed me. Back at square one. I cry. Why? Why can I not just be grateful for the job I have? I love what I do. I am good at what I do. So why is it never enough? Why did I walk away from a position I considered to be so big? I say I have no regrets. Why can I not stop obsessing over it though? Ugh! No time for unpleasant thoughts. My family needs to wake up and get ready. They will be rushed now because I wasted so much time fretting over my job in the bathroom. Again. Bleh.
I make my hubby’s coffee and I begin the weekday task of waking the kids up for school. The TV seems to be acting up again. No volume came on when I turned on the news. It is going to be one of those days, again. As everyone begins getting ready, I slip into go-mode and life is a blur until we get ready to walk out the front door. My husband works from home most of the time and was dressed to go in to the office today. I did not realize he was working at the office today. He had already planned to work from home today so our daughter could stay after school for her tech team meeting. Why does he stress me out like this? Oh, he says he did not forget and is coming home after lunch today? Why can he not just stay at home altogether to reduce the risk messing up? Why does he insist on driving an hour into Birmingham just to turn around 3 hours later to come back home? I just cannot let this go.
What nonsense! At this point, my patience is gone, and my anger level is outrageously high. I get in my SUV, kids all buckled in and smiling, and I back up into our flooded front yard. Before I speed off, kicking up mounds of saturated turf, I make sure my husband is watching because I want him to see just how angry I am.

But why?

I made it to the stop sign at the end of my street. What did I just do? Have I lost my mind? What grown ass woman tears up her own front yard in a fit of rage that was triggered by almost nothing? I am losing it. I feel it. I have hit rock bottom. It is raining a good bit and the kids are being so good and quiet. I begin to imagine driving my car into the trees alongside the highway. WAIT! This is madness. I do not have thoughts like this. Look at my beautiful babies. Why would I ever think a thing like that?
I drop my kids off at school. If traffic is decent, I might actually make it to work on time. Work. Another trigger for me right now. Why can I not seem to shake the negative thoughts that keep taking over my mind?
Anyway, if I just hit that tree hard enough, it will all be over. No more worries, anxieties, insecurities, pain, suffering, fear….no more hurting my family. But wait, that would hurt my family the most. Maybe if I just ran away. Where is that damn reset button? Life has that…right?
I’m losing it.
I called my husband. “I cannot do this anymore”. “Come meet me”, he says. I am floored that he actually stopped at our morning meeting spot, even after I peeled out of our yard like a psycho. I needed him though and I was so relieved to hear that he was still hanging on. I do not remember the drive to that gas station. Life has become such a blur lately.
Wes tells me that he cannot help me, but he wants me to get help. I know it is time. I have cracked, again. I drive to Urgent Care to see if my doctor is there. He is because he is amazing like that. After 2 hours of taking my doctor on a roller coaster ride from hell with me, he makes a recommendation. He asks me if I would be willing to experiment with something. He wants to put me on an anti-psychotic.
I am not a stranger to mood enhancers. Unfortunately, I have gone through many phases in my life when others would push me to get help. During those times, I was always placed on the newest drug to help “bring more balance” to my life, whether I was higher than any mountain or in the lowest of the lows. I never gave any of those medications a true chance because I always felt I knew better. I always believed that pharmaceuticals were more of a racket than a blessing. Of course, the doctor wants to put me on a medication that will require frequent visits to his office to “check in”. Of course, it is necessary for me to see my doctor every month, because that is normal…. right? Not! To me, this story is as old as time. Another intelligent individual using their skills and position to trap others in a place where they become dependent on something. I have always believed I was stronger than that and that I could overcome any struggle if I really tried.
Again, my faith in what I use to believe has been fading away these days.

I surrendered.

I did not question my doctor too much about our little “experiment” and he probably did not have any more time to spend with me considering I came in unexpectedly and cried to him for 2 hours. Bless that man. I nod and throw in the towel. I am desperate for help and will try anything at this point. I pick up my prescriptions and drive home. I look at the medication cocktail he wants me to try and I am somewhat floored. One is a nerve pill, one that we have been trying for a couple of months and found that it actually helps me. The other is one I have not heard of before. I do a little research on it. It is mainly used to treat Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, and Autism in adolescents. What? Why would my doctor put me on something like that? Why was he really asking me all those questions earlier? He asked me a few questions that did not appear to be relevant at the time. Or were they relevant?

Epiphany

When I think back to the many doctors, counselors, and nurses I have cried to throughout my life, I wonder…Were they all suggesting the same thing? I have been on this roller coaster of mania for as long as I can remember. I am aware that I am an exhausting woman. I have been told this by anyone who has ever loved me. I often wonder how anyone can truly love someone like me. I try so hard to keep the peace and to bring stability to my life, but I am the one who also destroys it all. Why do I bring so much destruction to my life and to others? I love my family so much, but why do I hurt them so?

What if I have been battling against something I am not capable of battling alone? What if life does not have to be this way? Is there really hope for me? What if I slip into the darkness again and never come back out? Will I ever be okay?
Questions I have asked myself before, but now I am asking them with a new perspective.
I am beyond ready to get better. I pray for recovery and stability. I pray for strength for those who love me and choose to suffer with me. Above all, I pray for forgiveness, every day, for the life I have recklessly lived.

“Yet, no matter how deeply I go down into myself, my God is dark, and like a webbing made of a hundred roots that drink in silence.”
Rainer Maria Rilke, The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke