Feeling Suicidal? Change the Channel.

Things have been going in a dismal spiral that has been threatening to turn into a full-blown tailspin.  For the last three days I have ruminated night and day about death: fervent wishes for a speedy natural death, and in the absence of that, turning to my old faithful suicide plan, painless, tidy, nothing to clean up and nobody’s trauma.

There is no good reason for this, if you discount the deep spell of depression.  Here I am in the Holy City of Jerusalem at the holiest time of year, and especially now that it’s sukkot:  the happiest time of the year for us Jews.  So what’s the deal?

OK, so I have had to move twice in two months because of the bedbug plague that is sweeping the city.  Bedbugs get me down.  They give me more than the creeps, little bastards sucking your blood all night and hiding out in your underwear drawer during the day!  Chutzpeh!

I had the second apartment exterminated three times, each time involving leaving for 10 hours, then scrubbing the floors and all the surfaces multiple times so as not to poison myself and my dog.  Nevertheless I have had a nasty headache for weeks, which has gone away after moving to the third apartment which so far (please G-d) does not have bedbugs like the first two.

Along with all the other bedbug mitigation work, I have to wash and dry everything over and over.  Right now everything I own is on the roof baking in the sun (they can’t stand heat and drying), which was fine until it rained the other night.  I have not had the strength or ambition to climb back up on the roof and undertake damage control.

So circumstances are getting me down, yes.  It’s an overlay on the bipolar depressive phase.  But it could be deadly, because just a few hours ago I was planning when and where.

And then I broke my policy of strict isolation (because when I’m like this I am such a zombie, flat affect, flat voice, no reactions) that it freaks people out and is very unpleasant for me.  And if they’re people I like, I might just burst out crying and that just makes things worse.  So isolation it is, and yeah, I know, it’s not good.

So this evening a very special event was planned in my congregation in honor of this day being the passing of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, in the year 1810, who was a revered spiritual leader, and is the guiding spirit of many members of our congregation.  I had to go.  I wanted to see everybody, hear what the rabbi had to say (even though I only understand about every third word of his Hebrew) and generally be with my peeps.  I did not set myself a time limit: if I got uncomfortable, I gave myself permission to leave at any time.

Not only that: since my Hebrew birthday falls out tomorrow, I booked myself a massage tonight.  Yeah.

When I got to the party I was feeling pretty low and didn’t know if I would be able to handle it.  But there was singing and someone was playing a djembe (African hand drum) badly, and I saw another djembe that didn’t have anyone playing it.  Now, I happen to have studied djembe for four or five years, and played with an African dance troupe.   I have stopped playing because of severe issues with my hands, but since I was planning to die I didn’t care if I fucked up my hands more so I picked up the free djembe and warmed up quietly, getting the feel, and then the old feeling came back and I popped right back into the common West African dance rhythm BADA bada BADA bam, working the bass and the slaps and tones and rim shots just like old times.  And for some reason, I didn’t break blood vessels in my hands or hurt my two bad wrists or any of that.  And feeling the groove of the people singing and getting underneath the inexperienced drummer and giving him a boost so he could ride my wave was intoxicating.

I forgot all about suicide.

Then I went and had a 90 minute massage.

Now I’ve taken my meds and am going to bed, with a lot to think about.

I’ll think about it in the morning.  At Tara.  Or maybe in the Old City.

Suicide

It’s Wednesday again.  It’s Suicide Prevention Week.  So instead of my customary Wednesday Breaking the Silence of Stigma/Voices of Mental Illness interview, I’m going to talk about suicide.

Of course talking about suicide may be triggering to some people, so if you’re triggered by it, stop reading now.

I’m not going to talk about statistics or any of that stuff; it’s all over the Internet right now and you can easily access it for yourself.  This is a personal essay about my own dance with suicide, or as I prefer to think about it, leaving the planet on my own recognizance.

Life is finite.  We all have our time to be born, to live, and to die.  King Solomon wrote about that in Ecclesiastes, and The Byrds wrote the song “Turn, Turn, Turn” based on King Solomon’s Book.  Those are the constants of life:  Birth, the changes of living on the Earth, and the change of leaving the earth, whether in a natural way like disease or old age, or an unnatural way such as a car accident or a tree falling or a tsunami or something like that.  Or murder.  Or suicide.

Is suicide a variety of murder?  Some would say yes.  In my spiritual tradition (I have renounced the term “religion” because I no longer relate to it in that way), the soul is virtually injected into the body, to be taken back to its source when its mission on earth is finished.  Therefore the body is a vessel for the soul, and the human who embodies that soul does not own it and therefore does not have the right to prematurely abort its mission, because it has been assigned its mission by the Higher Source.  I can buy that, and that is a philosophical barrier to my leaving the planet before I am taken.

I think about it all the time, though.  There is not a day when I do not fantasize about leaving the unpleasantness that is my life.  For some reason, I have been given a life filled with sickness, pain, loneliness, failure, and trouble after trouble after trouble.  If I attain a goal, sooner or later it will be taken away from me.  I am not just feeling sorry for myself.  These are simple facts that boggle the mind.

I do have one joy in my life, and I am afraid even to write this, because I fear that my joy will be snuffed out:  I have a son who is the one and only reason that I remain on the planet.  I pray that the Universe lets me keep him, not so much because I would instantly leave if he disappeared, but that he is truly my one and only source of joy.

That is one of two reasons that I have not yet left the planet.

The other one is that many years ago I knew someone who took his own life, right outside my house, using my own gun.  It was a horrifying experience, and I was thrown into jail on suspicion of murder until his suicide note was found, analyzed, and found to be authentic.

When I got out of jail I returned to the spot where he had shot himself, and sat myself down on a stump that happened to be right there.  I meditated on his energy field, and he appeared to me: not physically, or visually, but I felt his presence very near.

He said to me:  If you are thinking of doing this, do not do it.  We are sent into our bodies to accomplish certain tasks, of which we are unaware.  If we kill our bodies, then are not relieved from the tasks.  We still have to accomplish our missions, which are now revealed to us; but without bodies to carry out these tasks, it is even more difficult than it was in life.  No matter how much you think you are suffering now, without a body your suffering will still exist, yet even more so because you will lack a physical existence, a vessel to contain you and make it possible to do your mission without further pain.

And then he left me.  I sat weeping, because I did not want to be here.  I was seventeen years old.  Now, approaching the age of sixty at the end of this month, I still long for the release of death, to be relieved of the suffering of this world.

My spiritual tradition tells me that the difficulties I experience are all symptoms of carrying out valuable spiritual tasks, and that the more of them there are, the closer I approach the clearing of spiritual blockages, so that my path to the “world to come” will be bright and clear.  I certainly hope this is the case.  I am not the kind of martyr who welcomes catastrophe for its own sake.  I don’t like it.  I loathe it.  I just want peace and quiet, and, if it’s not too much to ask, even happiness, even reasonable prosperity from honest work, even a brain that functions and doesn’t betray me around every corner.  And freedom from vermin, both many-legged and two-legged.

My suicide plan is beautiful.  It involves no violence, no overdoses, no trauma.  I won’t tell you what it is, because some of you might be tempted, and that would indeed be murder.

But, for the reasons I have stated above, it must remain only a fantasy, to soothe me when my brain is eaten with fire, or when another of my dreams goes up in smoke.

I wish for you, that you would never have to live like this.  I wish you joy and peace and love, or whatever it is that makes your life pleasant and delightful.

depression comix #135 [tw: suicide]

Once again, Clay is reading my thoughts. How does he do that? Or is it really true that we are not alone in our passive suicidal death wishes? I don’t know about others, but I have had the exact same thoughts. The only differences are the thought of someone finding me (NO!), the thought of someone having to live the rest of their life having hit me with their (car, bus, train), and the horrible mess I would make on the sidewalk for someone to have to clean up, and bystanders to have to see. In other words, the thought of being the agent of someone else’s nightmares. So I guess I’m not there yet, right? Hope none of us ever are.

Depression Comix

depcom135

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The End of The End

I stood on the deck of the single-wide trailer, watching the repossessors hauling off my car (the one I leased for my now-defunct business) and my three-horse trailer with the full living quarters, self-contained.  That one hurt.  So many memories of the west desert of Utah, the High Uinta Mountains where I got stalked by a Basque shepherd, almost getting hit by a tornado while camping in a Navaho fairgrounds….it hurt.

My big diesel truck I had sold to my dad the day after I picked up the red letter.  I see it as a red letter, no matter what color it really was.  It was red to me.  Dad almost got in trouble for collusion, but I cooked up a story that Dad’s truck had “tore up,” as they say down here, and he needed a replacement, and I still had the little car at that time.  Thankfully nobody got in trouble for that, and the instant the whole mess was over he gave me back the truck.  I don’t remember what I drove in the meantime, after they hauled the car away.  Doesn’t matter.

The red letter started it all.  I got a notice in my mailbox that there was a registered letter at the post office for me.  I wasn’t feeling too great, being in the process of shutting down my pediatrics practice and all, so I just tossed it aside and forgot about it.

A few days later, there it was again in my mailbox.  Shoot, I thought.  Maybe Publisher’s Clearing House has finally caught up with me.  I’m a millionaire!  Or maybe Old Uncle Mordechai, whom I never met but heard many stories about his eccentricities, has finally come into my life bearing a will that he left as he passed out of his.

So I took the piece of paper and drove the truck, full of dogs, to the post office.  I handed the slip to the postmaster and he handed me an envelope that I had to sign for.  On the face of the envelope was a red spanch that said: REGISTERED MAIL.  My self-control lasted until I got to the car.  I tore it open.  It contained another envelope.  The return address was printed in that self-aggrandizing font that legal firms use.  “Winken, Blinken, Nod, & Assoc., Attorneys At Law.”  I tore that one open too.

Inside was a court order saying that I had been accused of stealing just short of $500,000, half a million, from St. Elsewhere’s Hospital in Armpit, Ohio.  I had indeed worked in a clinic affiliated with that hospital, but since I had never actually worked there, and certainly had never stolen a red cent from them or anybody else, I was mystified as well as stumped.

I rushed home and picked up the phone and dialed the number for the law firm.  Was there some mistake?  How could I be implicated in something of which I had no possibility of participating in?  They confirmed that yes, the summons was for me, and that I was accused of stealing half a million dollars from that hospital.

I had set foot in that hospital exactly once.  The Chief Financial Officer, whom I shall call Chuck, called me up one day at the clinic at which I was an employee.  Laura, he said, I need you to come and see me.  Now.

It was lunch break, so I was able to run over to the hospital, a block away, to see what Chuck needed to talk to me about so urgently.

When I found his office, he was looking mighty grim.  Laura, he says, I want you to look at this stack of papers.  It was a tall stack.  Laura, says Chuck, these papers are all invoices that came from your office.  You may or may not know, and it’s better for you not to know, that this hospital pays for all supplies ordered by your office.  This stack of invoices is just from this month, and it’s all billed to your account number.  I know, I know.  You didn’t know you had an account number.  But you do.  And billed to your account number are things like copier toner, staples, chart paper, coffee….mostly office supplies that have no connection with your practice, since you are a salaried staff member.  All of these invoices should be billed under the practice’s account number, not yours.  The total billings from your account number for this year are $97,000 and change.

When I could get my mouth to work again I said, Chuck, what do I do about this?  Isn’t this, like, illegal?

Chuck says yeah, it’s illegal as hell.  But you know what?  Your boss just sold a high-rise building in downtown Bombay, and even if we filed criminal charges against him, this town is so crooked you know what would happen.

Yeah, I knew what would happen.  I’d seen it happen before in that town.  The county prosecutor’s office was crooked as hell.  The right amount of palm-grease would get anybody off of anything.

So what do I do?  I ask Chuck.

I’d advise you to turn around, walk out of here, and find yourself another job.

Well, what do I do about the money it appears that I owe?

Don’t worry about that, says Chuck.  I’ll take care of that.

I didn’t get it in writing.

After getting the Red Letter, I did a lot of research.  It turned out that Dr. Crooked had continued to use my billing number for several years after I left his practice.

A few years after that, the hospital went T.U. (that’s Tits Up, a medical term) and was acquired by a huge “healthcare corporation,” whose team of lawyers set busily to work combing through the accounts looking for irregularities in the accounts receivables.  And they found the pile of invoices accredited to me, which by now had mounted to nearly half a million dollars.

Now what I have not told you yet is that at the time I got the Red Letter, I was suffering from a suicidal depression.  I had already been hospitalized once, and was barely able to get up out of my recliner to let the dogs out, and again to let them back in.  I just kept on losing weight, because I had no appetite and no one to feed me, so I just didn’t eat.  The combination of the depression, the malnutrition, and the wrong medication had me paralyzed.

So I had to rally myself around somehow to deal with the Red Letter.  I called the American Medical Association’s legal advice department.  They were used to advising people about malpractice, but this wasn’t malpractice.  They gave me the numbers of three lawyers who dealt with hospital law.  I called them all, and read each one the Red Letter.  Each one said the same thing: 1) you have no liability whatsoever in this case, i.e., it is bullshit;  2) you will without a doubt be acquitted, and then be able to sue them for falsely accusing you; 3) we require $20,000 as a retainer, plus travel fees, plus hourly fees of $275 per hour.

I was numb.  I had cashed out my retirement to build my pediatrics practice, which had been taken from me by Big Medicine and depression.  The remainder of my savings had gone to pay for my son’s residential treatment at a therapeutic boarding school.  I was living on disability.  I had nothing, and I was so depressed my brain could not even gather itself up to rise to the occasion.  I put the phone down and dissociated.

Finally it occurred to me that the only way to get out of this bind was to go and see a bankruptcy lawyer.  I did, and he said the case against me was dischargeable through bankruptcy.  I was too depressed to think of any other solution, so to bankruptcy court I went, and the case was discharged, and I lost everything I had that was not tied down.

After the tow trucks got done hauling off the vehicles, I stood there till it got dark.  Then I began to scream.  I screamed at God.  Why, God?  Why did you give me these talents and then take them away from me?  Why did you give me this brain and then make it sick?  Why, when all of my life I have never stolen as much as a piece of gum,  did you make someone accuse me of stealing some huge amount of money, and then take away the few things I had left that I worked so hard to earn?  Why, God?

It’s Not Easy Being Brilliant

Last night I had the strangest dream.  I was walking down alleys in some foreign country–it might have been Morocco, judging from what I saw in store windows.  I have never been to Morocco, but I went to the Moroccan restaurant in Disney World and had some fantastic food.  And a store that I frequent in Jerusalem, Rika’s, carries Moroccan stuff, everything from clothing to solid brass mortar and pestle sets, which I regret not getting when I moved to the States.  Never mind, I’ll get one when I move back 🙂

Anyway.  Back to the dream.  I was consumed by anxiety because I was supposed to meet with someone at a restaurant somewhere around there, and I couldn’t find it and my cell phone had turned into a wristwatch, courtesy of Dick Tracy I’m sure.  So I had no way to locate the place, or to tell the people I was going to meet with that I would be late.

In my growing state of panic, I turned out of the narrow lanes and found myself in a cityscape not unlike the South Side of Chicago, which is where I did my undergraduate work.  Dreams, right?  I decided to just let my intuition guide me, since I had no other guidance, and found myself in an underground mall full of fast food joints and cheap clothing stores.  I wandered through the passages in the mall until I found the restaurant: a shiny, upscale place full of chrome and stainless steel, very unlike the people I was going to meet.

And those people were:  my ex-husband, his wife, and my ex’s sister’s husband.  I joined them and apologized for being late, but they were very understanding.  We got right to the reason for the meeting, which was:  my ex was having a breakdown because of the guilt he suddenly felt for how he believed he had treated our son when our son was little.  I was shocked, because although they didn’t have a lot of contact for a few years, I didn’t think he had done anything more than most parents do in the way of mistakes, and he had already been forgiven for those.  But there he was, crying and begging me for forgiveness.  I didn’t know how to feel.  Ah, dreams.

In a few days we will celebrate our son’s 28th birthday.  In the Hebrew system of numerology, 28 is the number for “strength.”  I bless our son to have lots of strength, for now and for many, many healthy years to come.

He was not an easy child to raise.  The brilliant ones never are.  He always wanted more, and better, and faster; but at the same time he would get overloaded and have classic melt-downs, needing to be bear-hugged until he calmed down enough to go to his room and totally wreck it.  And he wasn’t so good with children his age.  In kindergarten he absolutely refused to participate.  I went to the child psychologist he had been seeing since age three, and together with the teachers we worked out a behavioral contract: for each five minutes that he cooperated and participated in class, he got to do whatever he wanted for fifteen minutes.  At first that was reading to himself in a loft they had in the room (he had taught himself to read when he was three).  Then he discovered the laminating machine in the office, and fell in love.  All of his out-of-class time was spent laminating things for the teachers and staff.  I joked that they should have paid him.

First grade was a wash-out.  It was a lovely Quaker school, and each morning the children had a meeting to cooperatively decide what they would learn today.  No dice: my son staunchly refused to participate, and stationed himself in a corner like a wooden Indian.  But somehow managed to get perfect grades on the tests.  Countless phone calls from the sweet young teacher later, I said to him, why don’t you just give him a job?  How about giving him a tape recorder and making him the class documentarian?  It worked.  He followed the class everywhere with his tape recorder.  That was his role.

Second grade was better because the new school had a pull-out Gifted Student program, and not only did he get one-on-one instruction, but he had peers with whom he could interact, that were on his wavelength.  They did stuff outside of school together too, like observing our goats having babies and speculating about how the babies got in there.  Then they observed our stallion in action, and that answered that question.

But then there was the constant bullying, because my son was weird.  Time after time he’d come home crying with a new bruise he’d acquired on the playground or the bus.  Countless phone calls to and meetings with the school principal bore no fruit, as they insisted that the incidents had to be witnessed by an adult, and of course the bullies were smarter than that.

So one day when we were at wit’s end, I said to him, look, the next time someone hits you, you hit ’em back!  And indeed the next day some kid whacked him upside the head while standing in line to get off the school bus, and my son turned around and decked the little bastard.  Oh, didn’t that precipitate an uproar!  The kid’s parents called the principal and threatened to call the police (on a seven-year-old?), and my son was suspended for two days.  But the bullying stopped.  That time, anyway.

After a few years of relative peace, we moved to another state, and there the bullying started anew, and my son stopped doing school.  He went, yes, but once again he stopped participating.   There was a dominant religion there, and the boys used to follow my son around yelling “You’re Jewish and you’re going to hell!”  One day my son turned around and said, “Fine, at least you won’t be there.”  Suspended again, two days.

Things progressed from bad to worse.  He was in seventh grade; I took him for educational testing and he turned out to be working at college sophomore level in reading, and college freshman level in math.  No wonder he wasn’t interested in seventh grade.

But he began to have behavioral issues similar to what he had had as a three year old: tantrums, but now with a simmering anger that frightened me, as he was literally twice my size.  His alternating angry outbursts and silent gloominess had me worried about depression.  We have a long family tradition of depression, and he certainly had both situational and genetic reasons to be depressed.

So I took him to a psychiatrist.  He would not say a word.  The psychiatrist recommended a psychologist, but the same thing happened:  arms crossed, staring at floor.  After five iterations of this, I gave up.  But then I found the suicidal note that “just happened” to slip out of his notebook.  Terrified, I got him into the car by means of screaming threats of calling the ambulance, and drove him to the emergency room, where I showed the note to the doctor and they sent for the psychiatrist on call, who read the letter and asked him if he felt suicidal now.  He shook his head.  Question repeated, response repeated.  Recommend follow-up with regular doctor in the morning.

Please, I pleaded, please just admit him for a 24 hour observation.  This note is really serious.  (As a pediatrician myself, I was trained that there are two kinds of suicide threats:  serious, and more serious.  And this one was more serious, because it specified a plan.)  They sent him home.

Then, it seemed moments later now, the Columbine school shooting happened.  Panic shot through every school in the country.  Some went on lockdown, some installed metal detectors.  Many started conducting regular routine locker searches.  Our school was one of those.

When they searched my son’s locker, they found it stuffed with papers.  Most of them were his homework papers that he never turned in: all done perfectly.  Some of the papers were more concerning: images of guns and missiles and ominous, dark poems about death and mayhem.  They called me in, showed me all the stuff, and threw him out.

It was at this point that I sent him to a wilderness therapy program, one that he couldn’t get out of until he started seriously dealing with his “shit.”  That is a whole ‘nother story, but it was the first of many outpatient and residential treatment programs.  He got into drugs, much more seriously than I had any idea of, as he told me later.  At the age of sixteen he had failed many programs and torn up the family, and his step-mother–I had sent him to live with his father because I couldn’t handle him anymore and thought that being with his dad might help–threw him out.  He went to live with a bunch of gangsters and sold drugs until they thew him out, and then he crashed where he could and ate cold pizza out of the dumpsters.  Somehow we got him into an adolescent psychiatric hospital, and they drugged him into a stupor, and there he lay on couches listlessly watching TV, until some kid started bullying him and he picked the kid up and threw him into a refrigerator, and they threw him out.  So he went to live in a homeless shelter, back to dealing drugs.

Then, serendipitously, he got busted for a small amount of pot.  I called the judge–I worked with the courts in that county a lot and knew all the judges–and begged him to remand my son to long-term residential therapy.  I knew that if I didn’t do something before he turned 18 that he would be lost, in jail, or dead.  The judge did me that favor, and I found a wonderful therapeutic boarding school that helped him find his way out of the hole he had fallen into and discover his wonderful talents.  He also got started on the right antidepressants, and thrived.

And now, bli ayin hara (a Jewish prayer against the Evil Eye, just ignore it), he is working on his Ph.D. in Medicinal Chemistry, doing things with the insides of cells that no one else has done before.  I am so proud of him!  He has taken charge of his mental health issues, working with a therapist and doing DBT.  He consciously cultivates hobbies that round out his life so that he’s not spending all his time in the lab, which he knows he would do if he didn’t do something on purpose to change it.

Looking back on this post, it’s amazing to see how many paragraphs of difficulty and heartbreak it took, to get to this last paragraph of triumph over desperation and despair.  And what I’ve told you is just the tip of the iceberg.  And he still has to work constantly to keep himself on an even keel, and living a healthy life.  But he’s doing it, thank God.  It isn’t easy being brilliant.

 

 

Stabbed In The Gut Again

“You wanna see a video?” she simpered.  “I don’t know, you might not want to see it.  Prietza.  She’s a prietza,” she repeated, for emphasis, directing this last to my father, who ignored it.  (“Prietza” is Yiddish for “whore,” although my mother thinks it means “princess” because that’s what her mother told her it meant, when her mother called her that.)

“I don’t know, what kind of video might I not want to see?” I was cautious, on edge.  “Some kind of porno flick?” I joked, trying to take the edge off of whatever was in the air.  I felt like a cleaver was about to come down from somewhere.  What kind of video might I not want to see?

She got her Kindle and fiddled with it, momentarily panicked as she couldn’t find what she sought.  Then she found it, and placed it under my nose triumphant.  I waited as the slow wireless cued up, and the video came to life.

It was a documentary on the success of a contemporary of mine, a daughter of one of the elite artist crowd my parents were part of when I was growing up, before I left, and everyone went their ways.  She was the one that everyone shook their heads about, muttered about her dubious I.Q. and her preoccupation with clothes and sewing.  Now she has followed in her father’s footsteps and is a fabulously successful artist.  I’m very glad for her.  Her parents would have been very proud to see her success, had they lived.

I knew why my mother made such a big deal about my possibly not wanting to see the video, although she was wrong:  I am very happy to see my old friend’s success, her happiness, her beautiful art.  She is someone to be spoken of with pride, a fifth generation artist, carrying on the tradition.

And I? I am nothing.  I am a failure.  I am grouped with the ones that ended up doing nothing, on the dole; and that is why I might not want to see a documentary film on my old friend, the one whom everyone clucked about, who didn’t show any creative promise, while I was busy racking up degree after degree, finally a doctor in the family.

This is why I might not want to see this documentary.

In truth, had the introduction been different:  “Oh, look what so-and-so sent me today!  Isn’t this fabulous?”  I would not be feeling suicidal right now.  In fact my present state of suicidality has absolutely nothing to do with my friend’s success.  I don’t compare myself with others.  I have been given what I have been given.  I had fantastic successes in my time, and now that time has passed; my successes must be different now: it’s just that I haven’t found them yet.

What stabs me in the gut is my mother’s blatant devaluation of my life, whatever it has been; and her assumption that I would not want to see the success of one of my contemporaries.  That is what triggers this intense desire to carry out my ultimate success.

During the darkest times, when I have had to put myself in the hospital to keep my hand from carrying it out, the ones in charge have always asked me if I have ever attempted suicide.  My response: I have not, and will never, attempt suicide.  If I decide to do it, it will not be an attempt.  I would not take the risk of failure of my exit strategy.  There will be no attempt.

PTSD and Depression: Strange Bedfellows

For the past few days I have been feeling progressively more jumpy, irritable, and triggered by “minor” things like slight changes in my mother’s tone of voice, or “minor” putdowns, expressions of devaluation, etc.  Concurrently, I have been sinking into an episode of major depression complete with suicidal thoughts and plans (don’t worry, I won’t do it: I have promised myself to stick it out, as long as I can).  The whole thing has been complicated by my mother’s birthday, which was yesterday, and the plethora of expectations that go along with that.

Last year was her 85th birthday.  I made her a surprise party, complete with a band and 200 people.  She was very satisfied with that.  Then, come to find out (I don’t know how), her birth date turns out to be wrong and she’s really 85 this year.  I told her, if you think I’m going to do that again for you, you’d better have another think, because I’m still tired from last year.

Last night we were supposed to go out to dinner, which is always stressful for me because I only eat kosher food and my parents always get upset if I don’t eat, even though it’s been that way for eight years already (there are no kosher restaurants in Western North Carolina).  Lucky for me, there was a pea-soup fog and no chance of driving anywhere, so I got off the hook and had a rain-check until tonight.

Meanwhile, my anxiety, depression, hypervigilance, and out-of-control anger was building.  I took my meds at 8:30 last night and was asleep by 9.  I took an extra 25 mg. of Seraquel, at my doctor’s suggestion, and it knocked me out.  I slept until 11:30 this morning, and woke up feeling as if I hadn’t slept at all.

I usually call my mother at 11 am to check in with her and see how my father’s night had gone (he often falls at night), but today I couldn’t muster the strength to do it until around 2.  She said she’d wondered what had happened to me (although it would never occur to her to call), and said something sarcastic, a cheap shot which I blotted out immediately, but it still put me into a blind rage that only subsided when I told her I wasn’t feeling well and she said, well in that case you should stay home tonight.

I really question my sanity (hah!) at coming back here from my beloved Israel to help my parents.  My therapist tells me over and over that it’s life-threateningly detrimental to my health to be here.  I’m sure she’s right, and yet I can’t bring myself to leave my dear old father, who gets more demented day by day.  The only way I keep myself even marginally right-side-up is by reminding myself that I have an unbreakable agreement with myself that as soon as he leaves this life I am back home in Israel, period, new paragraph.  My mother has a huge and very supportive social network that will gladly take care of her.

In the meantime I don’t quite know what to do with this awful perfect storm of PTSD and depression triggers.  I’m taking more meds.  I’m gaining weight because of the meds.  I feel shitty about that. I do need to exercise more: maybe that is the key.  I just have to find ways of staying alive, is all.