I’m sitting in the eye doctor office waiting for my oldest daughter to finish her appointment. People walk past me. Patients sit across from me. But they would never know.
I’m tired. No, nix that. I’m depleted. I pulled my hair up in a presentable bun. Threw on some “good enough” clothes of jeans and a short sleeve black sweater. Tossed on my sensible flats even though nothing in my life seems all that sensible.
My husband stayed home. Thank God. I couldn’t have survived this day if he didn’t.
We both tried to resume some sense of normalcy. I ran to the store this morning to get donuts. Maybe copious amounts of sugar will make this day less awkward.
No, not really.
Yesterday my middle child sent me a text at 7pm telling me how she should’ve tried harder. The text was sent 7 minutes before. I instantly knew what that meant but was I too late? Just moments before I heard the water in the shower running. I didn’t know what I’d see on the other side of the door. I wiggled the handle but it was locked. I pushed on it as hard as I could and it popped open. My daughter was in the bathtub full of water, fully clothed with cuts up and down her arm. They were mostly shallow cuts.
My body started shaking. I could only express anger. “What the hell??” I managed to yell at her. She sat there sobbing.
The next hours were spent contemplating hospitalization or something else. We talked to her psychiatrist who said we didn’t need to hospitalize her unless she was unsafe. She wasn’t. We have done this 2 other times, once in a hospital. We knew to hide everything and to watch her like a hawk.
She was angry but wouldn’t say why. I knew that once her anger subsided, we’d be better off but sometimes her anger didn’t go away until the next day. So she treated her dad and I like monsters and then fell asleep. Usually we have approached this with lots of empathy, patience, and coddling but last night, I was done with that. I told her exactly how all of this made her dad and I feel and what would happen to us if she succeeded. She needed to hear it. And I figured all the empathy and egg shell walking hadn’t prevented a thing.
It seemed as if we had jumped back in time to a year ago. Nothing had seemed to improve despite all the damn therapy, drugs, hospitalizations, and doctor visits. We have gone broke trying to make her happy. And I’m sorry if I’m insensitive, but no one gives a fuck about the people who have to deal with this day in and day out. Everyone is concerned for her which they should be! But no one seems to care about the toll it takes on me, on her siblings, or on her dad. No one understands the cloud of shame, the anxiety from being on high alert, the inability to share what really hurts (because who can understand this?), the level of secrecy her siblings must have, and the days where we just don’t function that well. It’s like being in a war zone, all the time. Every counselor we speak to, every social worker, doctor, nurse, or psychiatrist is paid to help her. I’m glad they try. But who is there to help the rest of us?
Our time and energy is spent keeping her alive. We maneuver our lives so she can’t possibly end hers. We deplete ourselves trying to make her happy, but we become miserable. Her pain and agony become ours. There is no individual pain when it comes to mental health. Behind every depressed, suffering person is a family of people who suffer with them. Or die trying.
And yet through all of it, we are told things like we can’t give up hope, we have to fight, we can’t detach, we have to have empathy and show concern, we need to be rocks and never waiver.
Who can do all that, honestly? Who can lose hours of sleep, their own sense of sanity, and not turn bitter, angry, and depressed themselves?
Of course, I keep fighting (for someone who won’t fight for themselves) and trying (even though giving up sounds less painful). But I’m also angry and ridiculously fed up with this game. It’s becoming rather predictable. The ending, I still fear, because that part is always a mystery. I can’t know whether her cries for help are feigned suicide attempts or not. To guess wrong might end up in terrible regret. So I’m a puppet on her string, being pulled this way and that, tossed in a box and pulled back out for the show. This is my reality. It’s how I feel.
And the show must go on. But I don’t know how long I can keep going. It’s nothing but pure emotional torture and I’m exhausted. Sometimes I think a cancer diagnosis would be a relief. Life is hard when you feel like you are not in control of your own life anymore.
My life has become a series of power plays and coercive manipulation. How do I get my life back? How do I do it without causing great harm? That is my cunundrum.
There are no easy answers. I keep looking though.
She is in better spirits today. I sigh. This is the temporary relief in the raging storm of depression. I don’t know if it’s game, but I’m so tired of playing.