It’s blue skies here today in Corner Brook as we head into the long May 2-4 weekend.
Zack’s alarm woke me up at 5am, and I grumbled my complaints as I heard him down the hallway, quietly trying (but obviously failing) to keep Miesha from eating another roll of toilet paper.
Of course, my anti-depressants were still coursing through my veins and my foggy brain lured me back into that hazy state of trying to sleep but slowly waking up.
When I finally woke up again, I could feel the warm red light burning through my eyelids and all I could think was, “Well, shit. I slept in ’till noon, again!”
But to my surprise it was only ten o’clock.
Sure, that’s still late compared to some of you morning goers, but for me, that was the first time I woke up before noon in almost two months. Because of my three month, downhill slip, I have been fighting just to hold on for another day.
But a few weeks ago, after crying into my supper at the dinner table, I finally looked and Zack and said, “I can’t do this anymore.”
I knew I needed to get in contact with my doctor again, but for a full week, I struggled to pick up that phone and call to make the appointment. Why? All I had to say was, “Hello. This is Amanda Wilson calling. I need to book an appointment with Dr.G.”
It’s just a phone call, right? How hard could it be to pick up the phone?
Because when your mental illness cripples your self-confidence, it also cripples your ability to reach out to those who provided help and care. If I can’t even look in the mirror and look myself in the eye, how could I face my doctor?
But after a week of of suffering through my self-inflicted, anxiety-driven turmoil, Zack snapped at me and said, “If you don’t make the call, I will.”
Of course I was miffed for the rest of the day, but I am thankful for the days when he pushes me, because I get spiteful. And when I get spiteful, I feel the fire burn in the pit of my stomach, that flick of lightening that says, “Goddamnit, I’m a fighter.” So my spite turns into courage and I build up the backbone I realize I am lacking.
So I picked up the phone and dialled the number.
“Hi! This is Amanda Wilson calling. I need to make an appointment with Dr. G.”
“Sure. What’s the reason?”
“Well…um…you see. I need to talk…well it’s about…you know…”
After several minutes of rambling, my palms shaking and my heart slamming into my rib cage, I finally blurted. “My PTSD is bad again. I don’t know what to do.”
“Ok, sure thing, honey. Can you come in next Wednesday at 3:10?”
“Yes, yes, yes! See you then.”
Sometimes picking up the phone and making that call is one of the hardest things for me to do.
So, in my typical anxiety-included brain fashion, I mulled over the speech I would prepare to say to Dr. G when I saw him the following week. Because even though I can write about my illness, I sometimes fail to speak the words out loud.
But Wednesday rolled around and I sat in that small office space, my knee shaking nervously. I flicked through some pamphlet on the desk, coming across one that read: Are you in an abusive environment? Answer these three questions. Instantly, that fleeting memory of my father screaming at my mother flashed across my eyes and I slammed the pamphlet back down on the counter.
“Irony or coincidence?”
The minute Dr. G walked into the office space and closed the door, I bent my head down, unable to make eye contact with him. I cursed myself slightly, because I knew this was an automatic reflex for when I was afraid.
He noticed right away.
“It’s about your PTSD, right Amanda? What can I do?” he said, leaning forward slightly, trying to get me to look at him.
“What can I do?”
And after all these years, after the many ups and downs I have faced, the struggles, the tears, the fights, the relapses; even though I have come so far from where I was before. Even after being to hell and back, I was afraid.
I was afraid to say those three little words.
And I felt ashamed.
But as my PTSD gripped my shoulders tightly, whispering in my ear, “You’re not worth it,” I felt that tiny, little flutter in my stomach and looked up at my doctor and smiled sadly.
“I need help.”
Because it’s ok to say those three little words. Even though they can be loaded, those three words are the difference between suffering in silence and getting the help you need.
The help you deserve.
Because you matter. Your life matters. Your mental health matters.
“I need help.”
And now I’m one more step closer to getting better. On a slow, but hopeful journey. After everything I’ve been through, I know the road ahead is going to be filled with bumps and detours, tears and anger. But I’m prepared. I’m ready to face this journey again.
Because I know the difference now. Back then, when I was still so unsure of my illness, and it felt like there was no end in sight, I thought I wouldn’t make it. And now, five years later, I know I will never completely hit rock bottom again. I won’t sink myself into that all-consuming darkness before it’s too late. I know the difference.
I know when to say, “Enough is enough.”
I know when to say those three little, but powerful, words.
“I need help.”
Let me say it again,
“I need help.”
I’m not ashamed anymore. And you don’t have to be either. It’s ok to admit you need help.
It’s ok to say, “I need help.”
And as always,
Fight the good fight.