NOTE: Heather asked me to type this in as an entry. She wrote this this morning and handed it to me today when I brought Leta in to have lunch.–Jon
The first thing I need to say is going to be very sappy and gross and some of you may be in danger of puking afterward, but here goes. For the past three days I have felt your support and good vibes and thoughts, and oh my god, your prayers. Here I am, a scrappy and disgruntled ex-Mormon cusser, thanking you for your prayers. I feel like a crazed kid at a concert who has, in a moment of sheer insanity, jumped off the stage in a grand, sweeping swan dive. And you people caught me. And here I am floating through the crowd on your hands and extended arms. Thank you for catching me, Internet.
The first night here was probably the worst night of my life. They didn’t have any beds in the unlocked unit of the facility so they stuck me in the least scary locked unit, the one whose occupants average over 82 years in age. Everyone referred to me as “kiddo” and that was very cute and endearing and all, but I was LOCKED INSIDE A MENTAL INSTITUTION. Everything smelled of urine including the plastic eating utensils.
The views out the windows of the facility are breathtakingly incredible. It sits at the curve of a small hill-mountain overlooking the entire Salt Lake valley. So if you look one direction you see sweeping hills and nooks and canyons dotted with green desert plants that look like dusty velvet.
In the other direction you see this open field of lights and streets that seems to extend for hundreds of miles, and it feels like you’re hovering over the whole scene. You can see the Mormon temple from up here, or at least the buildings in downtown that surround and protect it. I imagine that Brigham Young was standing in a place similar to this one when he looked over the valley and decided that “this was the place” to settle the Mormons. By saying that I am in no way implying that he was a crazed lunatic. Not at all. Nope.
Inside the facility, however, the lights are fluorescent and the food is plastic. Some of the food even JIGGLES. When I arrived here on Thursday afternoon I was in such a bad place that I couldn’t sit still to read a magazine, and the fluorescent glow in my room was flickering like a sequence in a horror film. All I could do was curl up in my bed and pull the covers over my head. I couldn’t believe I was here.
I had given my story to at least three different people — an intake social worker, a nurse and a doctor — so I thought that they understood that I have a severe and unbearable case of insomnia. I remember saying out loud three different times: “I DON’T SLEEP. EVER.” That night as I prepared to go to bed I asked someone at the front desk if they could give me something to sleep, and the guy on duty plopped down a pill that I have tried before, a pill that DOESN’T WORK. So I said, “This pill doesn’t work.” and he said, “this is the only thing I am allowed to give you.” Four hours later after trying and trying to go to sleep I wandered back out to the front desk and asked for something else, PLEASE GIVE ME SOMETHING ELSE. There was a new girl at the desk and she checked my chart and informed me, “It says here that I’m not allowed to give you anything else. Sorry.”
WHAT KIND OF THERAPY IS THIS?
So I didn’t sleep that night. Not a wink. And every time the girl from the front desk came to check on me — every 15 minutes, with a flashlight, in my face, because I’m a Crazie — I would sit up straight in bed and say, “HI! I’m STILL AWAKE!” By morning she was checking on me from the hallway and saying back, “Hi! You’re still awake. I get it.”
Friday morning I finally saw my official doctor, a kick-ass psychiatrist who has been treating people like me for longer than I have been alive. He had read my chart — imagine that! He had done some research! on me! his patient! and within the first five minutes of talking to me he determined why and how the meds I’m taking aren’t working. He had such a direct approach, almost like a bulldozer with a Ph.D. and I wanted to smother him with Internet love. I could tell that he wanted to see me get better and knowing that he cared, even just a little bit, made me feel SO MUCH BETTER.
I did my best to impress him, to make him believe that underneath the Crazie is a solid individual because I so desperately wanted to be unlocked. By the end of our session he had ordered me a transfer to the unlocked unit, a place where I could come and go without being followed by someone with a flashlight.
Here I am at the unlocked unit and things are hundreds of percents better. I would even call some things wonderful. I took a nap yesterday afternoon — a nap with dreams and slobbering drool on my pillow — and that is a sign of healing if there ever was one. A nap! Glory glory!
My new meds seem to be working in the sense that I haven’t had any horrifying side effects, and I’ve been able to sit down and read two whole Us Magazines. TWO! I now know more about the cast of the O.C. than I EVER WANTED TO KNOW. Mischa Barton has a big butt.
Jon has been visiting me at least twice a day and we’ve been having meals together. Yesterday he brought a runny-nosed and grumpy Leta to lunch and we fed her mushed croutons and refried beans. Sadly, Jon had to change the refried bean diaper this morning. I think he may have described it as UNPLEASANT.
Jon has been a Superhero throughout this whole thing and I am once again reminded that I scored the Best Husband In All the Land. He is so supportive and giving and so very, very hot. I miss him so much that I physically hurt, and when he visits I plunge my face into his neck so that I can smell the shaving cream he used earlier in the day. That is my favorite smell in the world, right up there with the smell of Leta’s head and the smell of bacon frying.
I’m coming home soon and then I will read your email and comments Jon has been telling me about. We cannot thank you enough for your support. I have found solace in the stories you have sent to me, comfort in knowing that I am not alone in this struggle. I may not be able to see your faces, but I can hear your voices.
When people say that they can’t believe I’m being so open about this I want to ask them WHY NOT? Why should there be any shame in getting help for a disease?
If there is a stigma to this, let there be one. At least I am alive. At least my baby still has her mother. At least I have a chance at a better life.