“I want to sing my own song that's all, cried the bird and flew into a wall. There must be some way out, he cried, and his desperation echoed down the hall.” T. Sheaffer, Bird in a House, 2002
Then there was the day with the kitchen knives. Having barely kept it together for 48 hours without a major panic attack, I was starting to think that maybe the good days would keep coming. My Wellbutrin seemed to be working a little, even though I really couldn’t tell. I was still so foggy-headed that I didn’t want to drive, so the days passed in a blur of trying to sleep, trying to get Bryce to sleep, and trying to sleep some more. To this day, there are relaxation apps that, if I were to hear them, bring me immediately back to my semi-lit bedroom, tossing, turning, counting, and praying. Unfortunately, no amount of zen chanting or waves crashing on the beach was going to help me sleep, and medication for that particular purpose was proving to be its own challenge.
In the span of under a month, I had been prescribed and tried almost 10 different medications, plus some other, less-traditional methods. Klonopin, Lorazepam, even straight-up Ambien did not work. I worried right through them and into the night. Truth be told, sometimes I scared myself out of taking any of it, because I was convinced that all the side effects would come upon me at once, just like they did with the Zoloft. My medicine cabinet was becoming a junkie’s dream, and I had no dreams left to speak of. Eventually, and after many trips back to the doctor, I was prescribed a souped up version of Benadryl, which I think helped me because I didn't think of it as a sleeping pill. I was so traumatized by my current situation that even my medicine had to be "sanity" friendly. No crazy people's drugs here, it's just a strong antihistamine. With a firm reminder that this prescription would not be renewed, I finally put an end to weeks of insomnia.
But that was yet to come. Today, it was another beautiful family scene. Bryce was happily tucked into his swing, while Chris made his daily French Toast and bacon breakfast for me. One day, I assured him, I would be able to eat it. I walked into the kitchen to scrape my plate, and my eyes caught the set of kitchen knives on the counter. Without warning, my mind went somewhere new, and down a very slippery slope.
You know what those knives can do, right?
Well, of course I do.
Stop looking. Leave the room, Amanda. Get out. Go.
The room had gotten dark. It was just me, and some well-hidden part of my psyche, battling it out on a gorgeous July morning. After surviving the continual onslaught of panic attacks and still pretty much convinced that I’d never again be the same, much less get to work and school, or even the grocery store by myself, this new twist came at an especially difficult time. It would be almost a year before I could look at my own kitchen knives without a cloud of shame surrounding me, at first for the visions they brought to my mind, and then, for not having the courage to talk about what I was experiencing.
Maybe not every time, but most often as I would walk by them, my mind flashed with visions of scarred wrists, and pain. Me, the girl who couldn't watch commercials for scary movies. The girl who was heavy on comedies with a side of documentary. It was the last thing I could have imagined happening. I’d be washing a dish, and in my peripheral vision would see those knives, and I’d get clammy imagining what someone else could do to themselves with that knife. It was disturbingly realistic, but I had never in my life had thoughts of suicide, and I wasn’t having them now. I was, though, highly aware of the potential of those knives, my medications, and even the glassware in my house. Potential for hurt. A spotlight would shine on those objects around my house that could cause problems, as I wanted to think of it. The bathtub. The stairs. I couldn’t get away from it, and to this day I’m sad to say I could never bring myself to tell Chris or anyone else what I was thinking. The closest I came was in a counseling session some weeks later, but I wasn’t completely honest with myself, or anyone else. I came close to getting it all out there, and backpedaled. As if I had anything to hide at that point - I had pretty much hit bottom and stayed for a little while. But it was fear -if I was so out of control emotionally, what might happen to manifest that in a physical sense, if not saying it out loud? Add that to the list of things I didn’t know.
Understanding that I would have done anything to get better, I knew in my heart that I would never have taken all my sleeping pills at once. I was afraid to take them at all. And I started a very solid relationship with dry shampoo to sometimes avoid taking a shower, and therefore knew I couldn’t drown in the bathtub. What I didn’t know, is where those ideas came from in the first place, or if they would ever leave me alone. They did, and soon, but I will forever understand those whose visions don’t leave them, and take them to the breaking point.