Sunday, February 19, 2012

Entering my "new" normal

Author Carol Kent entered her "new" normal when her only son was arrested for murder.  Her new normal continues as her son is now in prison with a "toe tag" sentence:  life with no parole.

She must have dark days, yet she chooses to live her new normal openly through her books and lectures:  inviting her readership to live in and work through their own new normals.

Her books have been an invaluable resource to me as I stumble and bumble through my own new normal.

During 2011, as a result of severe, on-going stress, within a certain situation, I finally broke down.  I could no longer go on.  Could no longer go into this situation unless serious changes were made to ensure my safety.  I was on the verge of suicide.  Depressed.  Unable to talk well, I stammered and stuttered continually.  Unable to think or focus.  My cognitive skills, once superb, became almost non-existent.

I went through every hoop put before me.  I went to the crisis clinic and was assessed by a mental health nurse.  Her assessment:  because I had strong support with my family, my suicidal ideation being passive at that point rather than active, and because although I was seriously angry over the situation and those who had caused it, I had no intention of following through with any action, I was not deemed a threat to myself or anyone else, I was sent home and given support through a short-term, out-patient program.

Another hoop: a psychiatrist who, though he misdiagnosed me with bi-polar and mixed personality disorder, also concurred that I needed time away from the stress to regroup and to heal.

Returning a month later to the same stressful situation, very fragile, I lasted seven days.  My situation deteriorated rapidly to the point where I was virtually totally unable to function.  All sense of self eliminated.  All hope and self worth extinguished.  All energy gone.  Cognitive skills destroyed.  Barely able to speak.  Unable to focus.  Unable to concentrate.  Unable to read and comprehend directions such as crochet patterns or recipes.  Barely able to get up in the morning and stay up.  Often if I accomplished one thing, I would end up spending the rest of the day in bed.  This became my new normal.  A world of hurt.  A daily struggle.  A struggle for meaning in my life.  Also a world of confusion as to why this was happening to me.  What did I do to deserve it?

If I had to gauge my suicidal ideation at that time, I would make a narrow, u-shaped line drawing with the left side being passive and the tip of the "u" being the pinnacle where the active started.  I would put my suicidal tendency just a millimeter shy of the tip of the "u" going from passive to active.  I was in dire straights.  My family was afraid for me.  Not afraid of me.  Their fear was for me.

We entered this new reality, this new normal, suddenly and unwillingly.  No warning.  There are no diagrams, no instructions, on how to walk through this.  With severe depression, it's each man - or woman - for himself.  Each person walks his own unique path.  No two paths are the same.  No two answers are the same. No two support systems are the same.

I felt isolated and alone.  My former life where I was productive, earning a paycheck, well-liked, valued even had completely disintegrated.  It no longer existed.  I felt there was nothing left of the former Mama Bear except an empty shell.

Again I was granted a medical reprieve from the stressful situation, but in my heart of hearts I knew that if I wanted to live, if I wanted any chance at recovery, I would have to cut my losses and run.  It was time to go.  To extricate myself permanently from this situation.  To focus on getting better.  To focus on those who loved and supported me.  To find out who I really am.  Not who others think I am.  But who I am.

It was time to quit trying to resolve an unresolvable situation.  To quit spending precious energy on a futile endeavour.  It was time to focus my energy on the life ahead of me.

So I did.

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