Sunday, January 12, 2014

Sometimes it takes a breakdown to put yourself together...

Last Tuesday I got up, and got on the phone with my local non-profit, trying to find a spot in an area shelter. My county has a horrible attitude when it comes to the poor, and they treat us like shit. I've been very vocal about it, and I no longer care who hears me complain. I did not wake up one day and decide that I just wanted to mess up my life, because welfare would be there to catch me. I remind these idiots down at the department of family services, that each of the people they deal with has a story. There was a series of events that led to their falling into poverty, and that each person deserves respect. The next person who says the slang word "babydaddy" to me will get slapped, I'm serious. I do not have a "babydaddy." My son has a father, yes I know who he is, and no, I did not need Maury Povich to find that out for me. I have this uncanny ability to keep track of my sexual partners. It's amazing.


The holidays were hell, as usual. My mother went off on her usual rant about how she saves the world 364 days a year, and she just can't do it at Christmas. I was lucky she put up the tree. She did it for my son, and I'm grateful for the tremendous effort she put forth to do so, because the kid was enchanted. So much so, that he didn't even touch the thing. He just stared at it. He got a little magic out of Christmas. He's still terrified of Santa, but he got to stare at a pretty tree and open his gifts. And I actually got to buy him some good ones this year, which made me feel really good. But the holidays sucked. They tend to when you have no family to spend them with. It's been that way for me for 17 years.

My mother stole my family from me with lies about how I was trying to sleep with her fusty old husband. Um, that man is 42 years my senior, and if he's still capable of having an orgasm, I'm sure only dust comes out. I can do better. Plus, when these rumors started, I was an innocent girl of 15, who had only had one kiss with one boy. So...dear aunts who believed all these horrid tales about was I supposed to be seducing him? Perhaps you were thinking back to your own sordid activities at that age. Whatever.

My mother and her pimp sat me down ten days before Christmas and told me I needed to leave. In the middle of winter. With a child. This was a complete 180 from the nonsense whispered in my ear by my mother earlier in the year about how my son and I could come and stay with them in their second house (of five). I never intended to go live with them, but I appreciated the sentiment. According to her, her husband didn't want me to go stay in a shelter. So imagine my shock when I hear this mess, and at Christmas, no less. Not only that, but I had to write my own eviction letter. My mother had convinced herself that if I had a special note, the county would just take me off her hands. I have a special loathing inside myself for this woman.

Add that, the nonsense with my soon-to-be ex-husband, and several weeks of an unending retail nightmare, complete with pop Christmas "hits" regurgitated into my ears for hours on end, and I was not in good shape during the holidays. I was relieved to wake up and find out it was finally New Years day. Thank goodness. I can start over. Only I can't seem to get in touch with the shelter people, and my "worker" (I don't know why they call her that, she doesn't do anything, much less think) at the county is just sending me form after form, while not really doing her job when it comes to me. No long-term work is lined up, and I'm terrified.

Tuesday rolls around, and I talk to the intake specialist for the shelter. She tells me that their shelter program is only 30 days, they require me to take ANY job, and they believe that I can fully support a child working at McDonald's. Um...that would only cover rent. She told me to take initiative, after she told me that the shelters were full down here in my area of the county, and that she would have to "ship me" out of county. I refuse to move, because my son has seen enough fluctuation in his few short years on this earth. Dealing with his father has had him moving on average once a year. I have endured my mother so that he could have one full year at the same school. The stability has worked wonders for him. At least in that area. The stress has been hard on me, and that has trickled down to him. And I'm so sorry for that.

After getting off the phone with the intake specialist at the shelter, I go and tell my mother that the shelter is full. The woman actually rolled her eyes at me. Like I was doing this to inconvenience her. Another knife to my heart. I took it in stride as best I could, and went upstairs to get ready to go grocery shopping. Only to find out that my SNAP hadn't renewed, because the County had dropped the ball. Again. They do this to me every year at renewal time. They honestly think that we have steak and lobster stockpiled somewhere. As I was sitting in the psych ward cussing them out, I told them that this was not the case.

Well, finding out that I only had $7 to buy food with pushed me over the edge. I went to 7-eleven to buy milk for my son, but I barely made it there. I remember sitting on the ground sobbing, thinking that it was barely ten degrees outside, and that my butt should be cold, but it wasn't. I had no idea what to do. People knew what I was going through, but no one seemed to be offering a place to stay (I'd pay for a room), or food, or anything. People knew. I'm one of those "facebook drama queens." Yes, I put my mess out there, because that's the only way I can reach my family, and many of the people I wonder if I should call my friends. People know. If they read my feed, they know.

I started feeling suicidal, which was nothing new. I've struggled with those feelings ever since I was 12. I started cutting at 12, and experimenting with drugs in my mother's medicine cabinet, because I wanted to escape my mother's beatings (she used to strip me naked and beat me whenever she needed a stress release). I hadn't even learned the words "depression" or "suicide" yet. I only knew I wanted the pain to stop. I wouldn't learn those words until two years later, and doing so would save my life. It would just take a long time, I guess.

By the time I got home I was half out of my mind. I was a mixture of angry, sad and hopeless. I fixed my son lunch and told my mother to call his father to come get him. I packed a bag and went to my local mental health clinic. I checked myself into their emergency facility and told them I needed to go to the hospital. It was the best choice I could have made, because I had enough cash left for some vodka and sleeping pills. And that had crossed my mind.

By the time I got checked into the hospital, I was calmer. I'm still pissed that my local hospital keeps labeling me as a drug seeker, due to my migraines. They were the ones who began the treatment regimen using narcotics. I show up every six weeks, and twice a year my migraines flare up so that I show up two or three times in one week. That does not make me an addict. One of the ER docs has been putting nasty notes in my file to the point where my attending psychiatrist put in a hand-written caveat making me promise I wouldn't take any narcotics or anti-anxiety meds while there. Luckily my panic attacks had stopped. I'm tired of this label. Even my PCP has written me off because of it. But I shall deal with that later.

The four-and-a-half days I spent in the psych ward were a much-needed thing. I wasn't sad; more than anything I was just tired. I didn't realize how much of a toll all the stress, the depression, stress, anxiety and lack of sleep had taken on me. I knew I was not my true self. I could see it in my son's eyes, and it hurt me. I could hear it in my tone of voice when I spoke to him. I could see it when he cowered in front of me. I am ashamed of that. That is not the mother I want to be, and that is not the mother that child deserves. I'm so glad he's coming home to a new person. It's because of my son that I went to the hospital. It's because of my son that I've remained alive all this time. I hope that one day I can tell him and show him just how much I love him. When he's an adult, I want to sit him down and tell him how he saved his mama's life, and how much he means to me.

I learned not to be ashamed of my mental illness while in the psych ward. I'm not even ashamed to say I was there. It is what it is. Depression is an affliction that does not discriminate. I saw grown men reduced to tears, people of all races, age groups and nationalities. And I saw something in the eyes of every person there who was fully cognizant: the desire to have a friend. I made a few. I intend to keep up with them. There was a lot of laughter in that ward, strangely enough. A lot of hugs (even though touching was forbidden). We encouraged each other, and wished each other well when each one left.

That breakdown was a long time coming, but sometimes you have to break a bone to reset it properly. I feel whole for the first time since I was a little girl. I feel like I want to live for the first time since I was a little girl. And it's not the meds.