Thursday, May 25, 2006

Getting Help

This is going to be a hard post, but I think it is important to do it. It will also explain my absence for the past two weeks.

I have been stressed - who hasn't been? I guess I didn't realize the extent of it until recently.

On Tuesday the 9th, I went shopping at Wal-Mart. I had my list in my hand, the typical items I needed to get. I drove to the store, walked in, and looked at my list. Suddenly, I couldn't read English. I remember looking over the words and not comprehending what they meant.

The next thing I remember, I am at the checkout with a full basket and receiving my receipt.

As anyone would do, I panicked. How in the world could I not remember an entire shopping trip? What was going on? What's the matter with me?

I walked to my car and called my Mom, who then called Lindi. Lindi came and picked me up and took me home. I took one of my anxiety pills and laid down. I remember thinking that my mattress was the only safe place in the world, and if I stepped off of it, someone would be hurt. I stayed in bed the rest of the night.

My family wanted to take me to the hospital. I refused. "I don't want to be locked up in the psych ward!" I knew that's what would happen based on my recent temperament and the thoughts I'd been having for the last year or so.

I have been on an anti-depressant for the last couple of years, in one form or another. A lot of women have to do so as they get older and their chemicals and hormones shift. I was on such a low dose, it never really bothered me. When I left the U to work for eBay, I was without my meds for 3 months, and when I started taking them again, they didn't seem to be working anymore. I figured, hey, I would call a doctor, get some counseling and it would all work out.

The day after my shopping episode, I got up, got dressed and went to work. I arrived, sat at my computer and then broke down crying. My good friend Dawn saw me and took me into HR. She knew I needed to get some help and I needed to get my job squared away before I could. HR was amazing. They told me that I should get myself taken care of, and handed me a phone number. My instructions? Call this number, then leave and seek help. The phone number was to a confidential third party company who administers all of eBay's FMLA and medical leave. Since I haven't worked here a year yet, I knew I didn't qualify for FMLA, but eBay also has a separate Medical Leave for those who do not qualify for FMLA, that works the same and also pays out 80% of your pay while on approved leave. I literally made one phone call, left work, drove home, packed a bag and went up to the University Neuropsychiatric Institute - UNI for short.

There is where the adventure started.

I met with an intake nurse who evaluated my symptoms and admitted me into the hospital. I was escorted to the North Ward, which is for acute patients. Lindi was amazing, and so strong. She said goodbye to me, not really even knowing what was going on, but loving me enough to help me seek treatment.

North was comprised of extremely suicidal patients, sociopathic patients and schizophrenic patients - basically "acute" patients. It was rather scary. I knew I wasn't as outwardly sick as some of the others in the ward, but I needed help just as much.

In North, everything was controlled. We were searched, our bags were gone through, our necklaces and shoelaces were removed (not necessarily for our protection, but for everyone). Our smoke breaks were monitored and controlled - even our caffeine consumption as well.

I checked in at 2pm and didn't see a Dr until the next morning, Thursday. I actually had a full treatment team comprised of a Psychiatrist, a Social Worker/Counselor and a Med Student. The Dr changed some mediation around for me and gave me cafeteria priviledges so I could choose my own food and didn't have to eat what was brought to the ward, thank Gawd.

The therapy in North was, well, rather decompressing. Art therapy (which I learned a great love for pastel chalking), Music Therapy, Pet Therapy (you all know how I love animals) and the like. I wrote poetry, did Art, yoga stretching and reading. No real counseling, but it was good to bring me back down a bit.

On Friday afternoon, I was transferred to the Open Adult Ward, where I could come and go as I pleased, only having to check in every 30 minutes with the staff. There were much more counseling type therapies available to me, and I met some amazing women who also shared a history of depression. We clicked immediately.

Lindi visited me almost everyday, which was a welcome distraction from all the pain and emotion I was dealing with. I could call whenever I needed to, which helped. I reached out to very few people, so I apologize if you were not one of those who I called. Mental Health has such a stigma, that it was truly difficult for me to tell people until I got it under control.

My father came to visit me and brought me treats, including a box of twinkies, with has special significance for he and I. My parents visited two more times, once on Mother's Day and then the day after, bringing me my own art supplies, flowers and comforting items. They were so wonderful. My parents had seen my depression escalating for years and knew my voluntary hospitalization was a step in the right direction.

I was released on Wednesday the 17th and came home, and stayed home for another week, easing myself back into the world again. I was allowed to return to work yesterday.

Lucky for me, I was approved for Short-Term Disability/Medical Leave for eBay, so it was like I was never gone. Everyone was so happy to have me back, and I am happy to be back. I made cupcakes for everyone at work to show them my appreciation for their well wishes.

I am glad I got treatment, even though I am not at 100%. I am tired, drained and holding on as best as I can, but I am hopeful. I will succeed!


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home