"From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines, going where I list, my own master total and absolute, Listening to others, considering well what they say, Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me."
Walt Whitman (1819-92)
"When I look back now over my life and call to mind what I might have had simply for taking and did not take, my heart is like to break."
Akhenaton (d. c.1354 BC)
And now, the current weather, from some random person we pulled off the street:
Wednesday, May 04, 2005
Friday night, we all almost lost her.
My good friend, we'll call her Lisa even though that isn't her name, ran into a brick wall. And she almost took herself out in the process.
Sure, her life has had an abundant supply of turmoil for the past couple of months. But Lisa is a trooper, barreling her way to the next step even when it hurts. School issues caused stress, boyfriend issues caused stress, parent issues caused stress, child issues caused stress, almost everywhere she turned and everything she put her hand to was filled with frustration after frustration.
But she handled it. Sometimes more cheerfully than others, still she handled it. Which is an example to so many of us because she suffers from a chronic case of Bipolar Disorder, a chemical imbalance that causes massive mood swings from impossible highs to unfathomable lows.
Stress is very bad for Bipolar Disorder.
There is a process that they call "kindling" that happens in people with Bipolar. Basically what happens is that a minor stressor sets off a chemical chain reaction that ends up being a massive mood altering event. In a person with a mood illness like Bipolar, it can be devastating.
Friday night, sitting alone, the kindling started in Lisa.
Her mind told her that she was too tired to go on, that she would do anything for some relief from all the stress, which now seemed so overwhelming. So she grabbed her bottle of Ambien and started swallowing them, one after another.
I don't know how many she took, but it was well beyond the lethal limit.
Pretty quickly, she began to feel woozy, then more than woozy as the pills took effect. Left unchecked, they would eventually have shut her down, paralysed, like a snakebite, and she would die.
As I understand it, the reality of what she had done hit home at this point, and she told her mother, who wisely called the ambulance. They took her to the emergency room and by the time they arrived, I understand she was slipping in and out of a coma. They were able to get some activated charcoal down her to soak up the lethal mix inside her before she succumbed.
So, they saved her life. Problem was, it wasn't over yet.
You see, you can't just attempt suicide, say you are all better, and head home. No sir. There is a chain of events that takes place, events that can't be stopped.
The first event for Lisa was that they were going to have to transfer her to a psychiatric ward, which the small hospital were she was didn't have. The closest one was going to be many miles away.
When her transfer vehicle arrived, it was not an ambulance with paramedics.
It was a police car with officers.
Lisa's mother cried as they led her daughter off in handcuffs.
Not many nights are so dark as this.
Today, Lisa is fine. They are changing a bit of her meds and starting some intensive therapy. She is going to make it. She looked at me tonight talking about her plans for the future, and her eyes were just sparkling.
Could anyone have done anything to stop her Friday night? I don't think so. You see, the problem was that she didn't reach out for help when she was drowning, and nobody knew. She almost went down the last time, too.
There would have been a huge gaping Lisa shaped hole in the world then.
Now she knows, I hope. When it hurts too bad, go ahead and scream. Let somebody come to the rescue. Just don't let things kindle, or you may be consumed by a fire that never really existed.
Stress is an ignorant state. It believes that everything is an emergency. Nothing is that important. ---Natalie Goldberg, O Magazine, October 2002