Monday, September 10, 2018

I CARE - A Blog Hop to Benefit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

I am so very excited to be participating in the first I Care Blog Hope to benefit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on World Suicide Prevention Day 2018!!

Joanne Soukup, of Perky Penny Paper Arts©, in collaboration with Simon Says Stamp©, organized this blog hop to raise money and awareness for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and World Suicide Prevention Day.  When she contacted me, I knew right away that I wanted to join in!

  It seems a day does not go by that we don't hear the name of a friend, relative, celebrity, or acquaintance that hasn't been directly affected by suicide. The only fortunate thing to come from the prevalence of information is that it's now being talked about more than ever before. However painful it may be, it's a serious conversation that everyone needs to be having.

The part of the conversation I want to take part in is the part where people say, "I don't understand how someone's life can be so bad that they made the decision to leave their family and friends. How can they make such a hard decision without thinking of what they're doing to everyone else."

Back in 1998, my family and I were living in Missouri. I had 2 very small daughters, aged 3 and 1, and I had a great job (up for a big promotion) and a loving husband who had a good job and because we worked different shifts, we didn't need childcare for our kids. We lived in a nice little duplex, drove a clean car and I had many friends. At some point, I started feeling awful. I just wanted to sleep. All the time. It's all I could think about. I was cold, had no interest in anything and things that typically would roll off my back, irritated me to anger very quickly.

When it got to the point that I was sleeping so much, to the point of not caring if my kids were fed, I made an appointment to see a psych clinic. My work in a local hospital had benefits that provided me with 4 free psych appointments per calendar year, not subject to copay or deductible through my medical coverage. It was free. Sign me up. Something is wrong.

I had my first appointment and I liked the doctor. I explained everything that was concerning, let him know of the very large part of my family tree that had diagnosed mental illness, and how alone I felt. I was scared to death of what was happening to me and I felt like I was drowning in mid air. The doctor prescribed me some medication and I walked out the door optimistic that in a few days I'd start to feel better.

Well, the medication was AWFUL. I was laid up in bed for 6 days before I could move without throwing up. My body felt as if a semi-truck had dragged it through the gravel at a drag race. I called the doctor who said to come in and we'll try another medication. I went in, we talked, he gave me a new script. Again, days and days of being in bed. Missing work. My boss wasn't happy. I quit that medication and, as per doctor prescription, tried a third medication. I was able to take it! For two days. Then the awfulness.

By this time, a couple months had passed. I was sleeping even more. I developed tremors. I felt as if my brain was made of felt. Fuzzy and scratchy at the same time. It hurt when people looked at me. My friends didn't know what to think. My husband just wanted his wife back. My doctor, exasperated by my inability to tolerate all the meds he was giving me, basically told me to move back home (to Pennsylvania) to be with my family. Maybe the could be the suppor,t that I so desperately needed, that I didn't have where I was living.

The next morning, feeling groggy, angry and exhausted, I laid in bed listening to the alarm blaring in my ear. I could hear my daughter crying in her room. Where I lay, I could see directly in to my bathroom and I could see the bottles of medication all lined up on my vanity. This thought entered my head with the ease of a white fluffy feather: If I take all those pills in those little brown bottles, I won't have to go to work today. My husband and his family won't look at me like I'm an awful person any longer and I'll be freed of being a burden to my boss and co-workers. That thought carried the same weight in my head as the knowledge that I had to brush my teeth every morning. The same ease of knowing that after I shampoo my hair, I use conditioner. It wasn't the thought that I wanted to die. I didn't plan on the actual death. I just wanted done. I wanted to depart.

I got up from my bed, went into the bathroom, and poured all those ineffective medications into a pretty bowl that belonged to my grandma. The clinking of the pills sounded like candy as they danced around the porcelain. I put my glass under the faucet and watched as the water rose, getting ready to wash away my world.

I stood and looked in the mirror, picked up a few pieces of candy and I felt a tug on my night shirt. My daughter, Emily, was hungry. She'd just woken up and she and Barney wanted a waffle. She pointed towards the kitchen, blankie and Barney in hand, and her blonde hair bounced as she took off towards melted butter and syrup she knew I'd get her.

I looked in the mirror and that blank looking face told me to go after her. I shoved the bowl in a drawer and I went to make waffles. I never thought of eating that candy ever again. It was a fleeting moment. I ended up just pitching the pills when I found them in the drawer a couple days later.

I wonder what I could have done if Emily hadn't come to find her mama, who made the best waffles ever. My thought process had never entered the realm of suicide. It was years later that I would even admit I had contemplated it. After all, suicide is a hard decision to make. Isn't it? And that decision, that day, that moment, that second, felt as it was....the answer. It wasn't death. It was finishing.

So when I hear someone speak of someone's suicide and say, "How could they DO such a thing? How could they be so selfish? How could they do that to their family?' My answer in my head is always....VERY EASILY.

Let's fast forward 20 years later...

I took the doctor's advise and moved back to Pennsylvania to be with family. My mental illness issues were obviously not getting better. I found a job at a hospital, a mental health facility nonetheless, in Pittsburgh and started working in the ER. The tremors worsened and I felt like I was falling all the time. After being at the new job 90 days, I was able to get medical benefits and I had to pick a PCP to facilitate my care. Upon my initial office visit with my new doctor, I immediately started hyperventilating when she walked into the room. She stared at me, probably thinking what the heck is wrong with this chick?, and as she widened her eyes, I asked her to just kill me. I'm done.

After I settled down and explained the last year to her in the span of 3.45 minutes, she put her hands on her hips and paused. She finally asked, "What did your blood work show?"

"What blood work?"

"The blood work they took when you started seeing the doctor", she said.


She literally raced out of the exam room and grabbed the phlebotomist. She looked at me while she ordered the tests and bet me her year's salary that my thyroid was whacked. (Her exact words). "You're 28 years old and you have no reason to be depressed. I'm betting your thyroid has stopped working and it was very negligible that your mental health provider never tested you."

The next day she called me herself. "Your thyroid is not working at all. Your B-12 levels are completely gone. You're not insane."

  I wept.

30 days later, on the exact day I needed refills for my new thyroid medication, I was me again. The fog lifted and I liked myself again.

I'd like to say that the depression stayed away for good. But it did not. In the last 7 or so years, I've battled with it. Sometimes winning, sometimes close to losing. Last year I found a doctor that believed me when I told him that the depression medications I tried in the past were toxic to me. Other doctors said I was wrong. He listened and tried another medication and I've felt wonderful. Due to side effects, I've just weaned off this wonderful medication and am now off. I'm scared. But so far, so good. It's a day by day thing.

It's something I don't share with many people. You just don't. No one wants to hear you are struggling, hear your complaining, your misery. So you suffer alone. It's why it's so shocking when people actually do commit suicide. It happens a lot to people you'd never guess were dealing with the head demons. I'm here to tell you, it happens to anyone. Even the person in the mirror.

I'm hoping that this blog hop brings awareness to issues that bring people to the brink of finishing. I hope if someone ever looks at you, calls you or texts you and says they haven't felt good for awhile, that you don't say "just cheer up, think of the positive, there are people that have it so much worse than you."

Because our brains are telling us the exact opposite. Our brains lie to us and tell us it's much easier to finish than to race. Be the friend or family member that listens more closely, because our thoughts and struggles are silent. Because of waffles, I'm here. I'm better.

Thank you to Joanne for allowing me to be a participant in this blog hop. The most important one I've ever been a part of. The I Care stamp set is a very versatile one and will probably be the most important one in your collection. If you purchase the set, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Awareness is vitally important and we all need to be part of the conversation.

Here is my card and I hope you enjoy looking at all the creations from all the other crafters in the hop. Please think about purchasing this set and know that the contributions are going to a cause that is near and dear to my heart.

Much Junkie Love, Marci

For information on the blog hop, the I Care Stamp set, and the wonderful ways you can help, read her post here.

Joanne has all of the links on her blog, so please visit her blog to see everyone’s amazing creations, read their personal stories, and donate by ordering the I Care Stamps set from Simon Says Stamp©.“