I’m squatting in my best friends extra bedroom that she calls “my room”. I’ve been here for over five days yet it almost feels like a year. Unable to function as a “normal” person I’m not allowed to be alone right now. I didn’t try to hurt myself per say, I just tried to hold my breath until I passed out so I could sleep through this mental nightmare. My best friend told me I must have been doing a good job because my lips had started to turn blue, fortunately or unfortunately (I’m still not sure) our bodies are designed to survive and will override our brains if they’re not functioning properly, yay biology!
What I haven’t told you is that exactly a week ago today, my friend died.
Not my best friend, not even a super close friend, but a friend none the less. She was my work buddy. We sat across from one another every day at work and exchanged jokes and sighs and my favorite… loud sneezes heard across the office! When I was asked to describe her to someone who had never met her the best way I could think was “she is like sunshine”. And she was, everything about her radiated and made you feel safe. There’s very few people who have the capability to make anyone and everyone, and I mean everyone, feel safe when they are around. But what she was mostly for me? She was the embodiment of my hope in humanity. Day in and day out she helped me keep my faith in a species that I just wasn’t sure was worth it.
Last Sunday I got the call, she had passed during the night due to complications with her breathing. Now she’s had issues with breathing her whole life, but I was under the impression she was past that struggle in her life and she was on to live like never before. See she had had 20+ surgeries to help with her breathing, I wish I knew more but that was about the extent of it. What I did know is she was on her way to getting married in four short months, she had a bachelorette party being planned that she could not stop gushing about, and she was starting to really take care of herself and her health and just looking amazing! There were no warning signs that anything was wrong and so suddenly being hit by the reality that she just didn’t exist anymore sent me into a spin.
I wish I could say that was all I had going on in my life at that moment, but as life would have it for anyone, there was already about 20 other mountains I was climbing in the meantime. Did I let on that I was stressed? Maybe a little, but not to the full extent. Were there warning signs that I was headed down a bad path? Oh my dear, those things were blaring as loud as possible. Some people even picked up on them and tried to ask me if things were ok, but like the tough little soldier I decided to make myself into when I was 10 years old, I wasn’t allowed to let anyone know the real extent of what I was feeling.
You see I was the oldest child of two teenage parents. An unexpected child. And as hard as my parents tried in their own ways, they both had a hand in molding who I’d become. My father was an alcoholic / drug addict with narcissistic tendencies along with anxiety and depression who liked to smack me once in awhile. My mother was a bipolar, manic depressive, enabler of enablers. Together we created the anxiety ridden, depressed, traumatized, control freak that I am today. Don’t get me wrong, it’s really fun to go between having all the energy to get everything done and really feel like you’re winning at life, to reliving your traumatic childhood to grow into a better person, only for that trauma therapy opening a deep wound you had covered with enough debris to last a lifetime only to find your old friend depression waiting for you at the bottom of the well with open arms.
But enough about the past, let’s skip a few more traumatic years and talk about the present. Who am I today? That’s a loaded question, there’s many “me’s”. There’s work me, there’s public persona me, there’s safe with friends me, there’s family me, there’s me with men, and so many more that I can’t keep them straight half the time. But let’s make this simple, let’s talk about who I am right now in this very moment.
In this moment I am wrapped in the softest blanket I could find, in my tear and snot stained sweatshirt, sitting on the extra bed in my best friends basement, listening to her beautiful autistic son bang on the walls and floor cause he can. Some days I envy him. Please don’t get me wrong, I’ll never know what he truly feels but when I look at him I see someone who’s not afraid to say hey, guess what, I feel things that you might not like or want to deal with but I don’t care, because they’re mine and I get to do what I want with what’s mine. That type of freedom is what I envy.
I’m trying to be more like him, but with my words instead. After I had a mental breakdown in my office after being told by two mentors that they could no longer work with me because I had let them down too many times, I think my brain broke? Not to mention my youngest brother just relapsed after over a year of sobriety that I played a hand in helping him get to. This sounds so “braggy”, but again, I’m done apologizing or censoring how I feel. This is me, deal with it or leave, I’m good either way.
After being sent to the hospital I had so many sudden realizations about how lost I was and I, me the one living this life, didn’t even know it. I had been hospitalized for multiple panic attacks??? I had PTSD??? I had suicidal ideations???????? Who is this person, where did I go?
So I sit here, writing this out just so it’s out, I can’t carry anymore and I don’t want to carry anything. Maybe if I get it out here it’ll leave me alone for just a night, maybe then I can sleep.
As I said before, I’ve started just saying how I’m feeling over these last few days cause hiding it sure didn’t get me anywhere. Tonight my mom and I got into it. I wanted her here with me while I lost my mind. She wasn’t and couldn’t come because my brother relapsed the day before my breakdown and she didn’t know if she needed to go get him. It hurt, in that moment, I thought, my mentors gave up on me, my mom doesn’t have time to help me as long as my brother is in need, the rest of my family has died or I don’t speak with them. If I wasn’t sitting in this extra bedroom of my best friends, I think I’d be on my way down a pill bottle (good call docs). She’s coming next weekend but there’s a fracture in our relationship right now, fair or unfair, I feel it and it scares me.
Now I’m left with the choice of trying to fall asleep, which hasn’t come easily in months, or accepting the night and waiting until tomorrow when I walk into my employer to tell them I need a leave of absence. What I really want to say is you gave me a nervous breakdown and you are going to have more on your hands the more you expect robots from your human employees. A 28 year old girl died, three days of grief should be allowed. And while I know that my damaged brain is not comprehending the entire situation correctly nor do I have all the facts, it doesn’t stop me from wanting to scream these things at the top of my lungs into each any everyone one of their faces. The things I’ve experienced and seen in the business world are appalling at best, the only hope we have is the few making a stand against the injustice. But is that enough? Will that even cause change?