Sunday, May 18, 2008

Lights In My Darkness- (for Wendy, who gave me the courage to tell this story)

When you try your best, but you don't succeed
When you get what you want, but not what you need
When you feel so tired, but you can't sleep
Stuck in reverse

And the tears come streaming down your face
When you lose something you can't replace
When you love someone, but it goes to waste
Could it be worse?

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you

For all of the beacons out there, currently lighting my path, as I take baby-steps back into the life I used to know, I am forever in your debt. Your love and support is a true testimony to the generosity of the human spirit, and my family and I are in awe, everyday, to witness this amazing outpouring of kindness.

Five weeks ago today I called my neighbor Donna for help, feeling so dizzy that I could no longer stand or continue my general motherhood duties. For days afterward, I continued to spiral downward, experiencing panic attacks I never could have imagined, along with uncontrollable vomiting, headaches and depression. A drug I had been prescribed, in order to give me a "boost", so to speak, had, after just two weeks in my body, caused debilitating side effects, then, once removed from it, the withdrawal became, for me, a nearly life-ending experience. Four trips to the ER and I was admitted to the detox unit of a local hospital, where I spent nine days. While my hours were passed with drunks and crack addicts, I met some of the most amazing beings- people who, though imperfect in their coping mechanisms, have survived traumas beyond human comprehension. There were times that I would sit amidst these souls and feel blown away by their courage- the woman who could barely speak, due to the ravages of a stroke, but wrote on a "wipe-off" board, so eloquently, about being abandoned by her mother as a child and the emptiness in her heart; the mentally challenged man who smiled all day long and told us all we'd be okay- he knew we were "going places"- who wept with appreciation when my husband brought in clothes to replace what were his own- tattered and a couple of sizes too small. The gay man who made me laugh continuously with his antics, the grandmother who kept assuring me that I was a good mother even when I could find no evidence to that fact, toward the end; and my roommate who, while suffering greatly herself, took care of me every single day, like a big sister, doing my hair and lauding my worth to anyone who was listening.

Then I came home- and the world was suddenly a scary place- paralyzing fear of what lay ahead- would the symptoms all return? Would I be able to parent my children again, whom I loved more than life itself but who could not sustain me when the worst of the withdrawal plagued my body. Would I again feel what it was like to no longer wish to live- to no longer want to be in my own skin? Three weeks later and I cannot say that the road has been smooth....but as the drug continues to be released from my body, and as I make small strides proving to myself that I am alive and coming back into being, I am feeling more hopeful and able to face my days.

My community of friends and neighbors- our heroes- have not allowed a day to go by where my family (including my wonderful parents who've been holding down the fort this whole time) did not have a warm meal to nourish them. My husband has remained with me, since my discharge, and while it has meant the lack of pay, has never questioned my need for his presence or my ability to get past this seemingly insurmountable hurdle. He has been my rock and his love for me is indescribable and awesome. He will return to work tomorrow, as I continue to heal in a part-time hospital program close-by, working on small goals and finding my true self again.

While I would never choose to relive the horror of the past month, I believe, now, in my heart, that the purpose behind this nightmare will be revealed in time as are all of our sufferings.


kirsten said...

oh my goodness, judy!!

where in the world have i been?!

i'm so sorry to hear what you've been through; it sounds both awful & frightening. i'm so thankful you had others to call on & depend upon who could support you on your path to wellness.

my heart was in my throat as i read this. i'm so, so glad you're OK. i hope & pray you continue to get well.


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Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
Forty-three year-old, mother and staunch advocate of four young children, passionate warrior of truth and self, finding the soul in each day, sharing my struggles and triumphs as I live them. Mostly I do this for me, so my thoughts don't race as much at night as they used to. But I also give this to those of you who need to know, in any or every way, that you are not alone.

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