Below is an excerpt from the chapter after “The Christmas Shark” (11/5/14 Post). Looks like a year has passed since I mentioned that we were close to a finished manuscript. Oh well. You know what they say about time ….
I’m not sure what it truly feels like to be suicidal, by definition. There’s a huge leap between stop this ferris wheel so I can get off and I’m going to ride it to the tippy-top and jump. But for months after my Christmas in Tuckers, the idea of checking out crossed my mind a time or two-hundred.
Dr. Buxton calls these passive thoughts of suicide. It’s junior level. Brownies to Girl Scouts. I didn’t want to miss the rest of my life. Not really. I just wanted to skip the sucky parts. And right then, it was all sucky.
Pat speaks of rage. I wince at first. Who me? But the shattered career; Charlotte’s innocent angst, the terror, the defiance, the helplessness all come to a rolling boil and I sit with it. Searing, angry, hateful, I am pissed. I know that anger solves nothing, but I am enraged at the damage inflicted. Tearful, furious, I look for something to punch. As if it would help. The tears purify, sweeping a hidden corner of my soul.
The undefined dread that shrouded my days and nights before Tuckers, became more opaque in the months to come, a gray fog that swirled into a ghostlike form, taunting me for no particular reason. It trailed clammy fingers down my spine, dotted my skin with goosebumps, sabotaged my sleep, reduced my breath to small desperate sips, and deadened my senses, determined to take me down.
Whenever I fantasized about ending my pain—which was hourly—my rational self repeated a silent prayer, reminding my overwhelmed self to get a grip: It would be tragic for Robert and Charlotte, if you took your life. Not to mention, Sam. Your parents and your brother would be crushed. Your friends would never let you hear the end of it. And might I add? Suicide would be a bummer for you, too, Lynda.
I’d meet Dr. Buxton in his office each week, presenting a brave face. My wiring needed to be reset, so I’d no longer be a stranger to myself. “This takes time,” he explained. “You must be vigilant about taking your meds, precisely as I prescribe. And continue your work with Pat.”
As the pendulum swung from anxious twinges to full-blown panic attacks, my mind spun into worst-case-scenario mode: Was Dr. Buxton even shooting straight with me, I wondered? What if I’ve hopelessly, irretrievably lost it? What if he just can’t bear to report the full extent of the damage?
I desperately wanted to get better, right on schedule. Put all this behind me. Check the box. Be a good patient. Make Dr. Buxton proud. I was determined to stay off of locked wards and keep my knitting needles, along with all my marbles. Still, it took an ocean of energy and a mountain of courage to make it to the end of each day.