I Can’t Forgive Those Who Abandoned Me During 7 Hospitalizations

 

TW/Trigger Warning: brief mention of suicide

Today’s post consists of my non-politically correct, extremely angry feelings which were stirred up last night. That’s when, sweaty from a 45-minute-long elliptical workout, I found out a family friend is being hospitalized for alcoholism-related illness. 

My hard-won endorphins didn’t assuage my rage or my trauma. 

I knew the compassionate, laudable thing to do would be to visit her, but after mulling it over during the wee hours of the morning, I realized I can’t do it.

Due to post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from multiple hospitalizations, I’m unable to enter a hospital unless it’s to visit an immediate family member or close friend.

I feel guilty about my inability to “get over” my hospital aversion. But it’s not simply an aversion. PTSD is real. My PTSD was even verified by a PTSD expert. I know in my heart that if this was my child who felt the way I do, I’d lovingly reassure her that she has the right to make her own choice about the hospital visit situation without any guilt.

The family friend I mention didn’t contact me during my seven hospitalizations, so why the hell am I feeling guilty? She has family support literally by her side in her hospital room- that’s a helluva a lot more than I did. So fuck it. Fuck my Jewish guilt that I’ve had festering since I was in utero. I’m sick of it.

Whenever I think of my hospitalizations, the same script plays in my head.

Here’s some of how it goes:

“To my relatives/friends who didn’t visit me, call/leave a message with the front desk staff, or send a card during my seven hospitalizations, I want nothing to do with you.

That’s right.

Nothing. Buh-bye.

Dyane”

For those who suggest, due to these non-politically correct thoughts I’m revealing, that I change my meds, step up the therapy, call my psychiatrist, start meditating, do yoga, CBT, DBT, chant, use medical marijuana, etc. to overcome such “unhealthy/abnormal” anger I have this to say:

It’s best that you stay out of my life. 

Unless you’ve been through my Hell – unless you almost hung yourself with your bathrobe belt with your baby and toddler in the house – unless you spent weeks and weeks and even more endless weeks of your life locked up with fellow crazies – just stay the fuck away from me, okay? 

You might be thinking,

Dyane, shouldn’t you be able to forgive all these people by now?  Shouldn’t you release your anger, especially if you’re “stable” and a “mental health advocate”?

You know, my honest answer is that I wish I could forgive these people, but I can’t.

Not yet.

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Anger

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Yep, gonna lose some followers.  I wish them well, and I completely understand if my foul mouth isn’t their cup of tea.  To be honest, “fuck this shit” is a phrase I have said many times, and cursing is a big part of who I am.  I swear like a sailor when the kids aren’t around; well most of the time I make sure they aren’t around.  Unsavory language has gotten me through numerous dicey moments, and it has prevented me from exhibiting dangerous road rage. There have even been impressive studies conducted showing the benefits of swearing! (I’m too lazy to cite them, however, but I believe it!;)

Some of you will be familiar with the famous poem “Children Learn What They Live“.  I grew up with a poster of that poem on the wall in our house.  Over the years I’ve found that Children Learn What They Live  is truer than true.  Both my parents cursed openly, and they were my primary teachers when it came to cussology.  

Last year I listened to a cassette tape that recorded my father playing his violin.  My Dad was a brilliant violinist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic/Fulbright Award Winner/Juilliard graduate.  While listening to the beginning of the tape I heard him tune up before playing a magnificent composition.  Imagine my reaction when I heard him muttering “Testing, 123, fuck you! Testing, 123, fuck you!” just before launching into a complex masterpiece on his Stradivarius.  Talk about a contrast from one sound to another!

Dad would have definitely liked the profane image of the serene guy flipping the bird gracing the top of this post.  The photo certainly made me laugh.  It felt good to chuckle, and I hope you giggle a bit over it too.  Life is serious enough as it is, and it’s healthy to make light of certain things now and then.

And now, moving right along, I’d like to write a bit about ANGER.

If you’re familiar with my writing, I’m sure you’ve noticed that many of my posts have been fueled by my intense anger. I was brought up by a rage-a-holic and an alcoholic.  Ever since I was a baby, I was around physical violence (which I observed; I was not physically abused, thank God.) and I grew up with verbal abuse.  

It makes sense that I too became a rager, and I was verbally abusive to people I loved, although I’ve come a long way in that area.  I’ve rarely been physically violent; the only time I can remember hitting someone happened when I was manic.  I’m surprised I haven’t been more violent considering all the fights I witnessed.  No wonder I have an anxiety problem! 

Anyway, despite some people thinking I’m “so nice”, I’m a very angry person and my anger grew much worse after I was diagnosed with bipolar one disorder in 2007.  Writing about my anger helps me.  

The addition of my Lucy puppy has been so good for me – she helps me to diffuse my anger in her magical canine way.  She mellows me out.  My daily workouts on my elliptical, in which I sweat so much I create a giant “butterfly” pattern of sweat on my ratty tank tops, levels out my anger too, but exercise is a temporary solution to a deep-seated problem.  

I’ve examined  my anger with my therapist Tara, but to quote Karen Carpenter, “We’ve only just begun!”  I need to discuss anger more with Tara because it continues to be a dominant part of my personality and I hate it!  (That’s a kind of oxymoron, I know!)

I realize that anger is a normal and healthy part of one’s makeup.  I can’t expect to eradicate anger from my brain.  I just need to bring this rage down a few notches…most likely even more than a few.

When I was young I learned that anger can be a positive trait in one of my all-time favorite books: Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle In Time.  The protagonist Meg Murry is one very angry teenager.  Her scientist father has mysteriously disappeared and there is “talk” in her village about him.  She’s unattractive compared to her stunner of a genius mom.  To add to the mix, Meg’s little brother won’t talk in school and he’s bullied by a bunch of his classmates.  

While on a search to find her father in another galaxy, Meg is instructed by three pivotal characters to use her anger as a “gift” when she faces the evil IT on the planet of Camazotz. Interestingly, Meg utilizes her anger in a unique, powerful way to overcome evil. 

I wish I could be more Meg-like when it comes to anger management!

What am I so angry about? you may be wondering at this point.  I have a hell of a lot to be grateful for, starting with you, my faithful reader.  I have my health, my family, a roof over my head, ice cream in the freezer.  (A lot of ice cream!)  Since I have all these fantastic blessings, why all the damn anger?

It’s a good question.  

When a person is diagnosed with bipolar disorder, she sometimes feels anger at God for “giving” her the illness, and/or anger at a parent for passing along the genetic predisposition.  I went through a phase in which I was angry at God, but I no longer feel that way.  I believe the reason I relinquished that particular anger is because I’ve reached the beginnings of my recovery over the past year. 

But despite my blessings, the anger still festers.  

It’s based on the fact that most of my family members and friends totally bailed out on me when I relapsed with bipolar depression exactly one year ago.  There’s a lot more to it than that single sentence, of course.  But that’s the gist of it.

In July, 2013, I was hospitalized forty minutes away from home for almost three weeks.  I had slowly, methodically tapered off my bipolar medications for over twelve months prior to my relapse.  At first I was manic, and then I became depressed/suicidal, hence my admission to the hospital’s mental unit.  It was euphemistically named the “Garden Pavilion”.  (Ha!  There was no garden to be seen there – not even a single nice plant or window overlooking a garden!)

In that hospital, I was forgotten.

The thing is…I needed visitors at that hellhole more than anything.  I was the only patient who didn’t have visitors apart from my husband and children.  My sibling, who lives just minutes away from me, didn’t visit me.  My mother didn’t visit me.  My husband’s family didn’t visit me.  My closest friends didn’t visit me.  I didn’t receive any cards, plants, flowers, chocolate, books, phone calls you-name-it.  

I can’t tell you how much this unit sucked. To top things off, I was never taken out into daylight the entire time I was there.  That in itself is enough to make any sane person a little batshit crazy.

Now, some in my circle will totally disagree with me about my perspective about what happened last summer.  In part, I blame our society for its lack of mental health education for people staying the hell away from me.  But I remain baffled about what took place last July.  If I had cancer you can bet your ass I would have had visitors.  

So you can see I’m still really pissed off – my counselor believes I have PTSD from that ordeal – she doesn’t use that term lightly, and I totally agree with her on that point!

The first word that comes to my mind in this moment is “forgiveness”.  

I have to let it go (dammit, “Frozen” ruined that phrase for me!) and forgive my family and friends, but it’s reallllllly hard to let that all go.  I am hoping that time serves as a panacea to this dilemma.

If you were in a loony bin for three weeks and no one visited you or called/sent you a card except your partner, how would you feel?

 

 

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