Slightly Insane Mom

"All mothers are slightly insane." –J.D. Salinger
February 8th, 2017

Welcome to the Psych Ward: Bend and Spread ‘Em

Congratulations! You just tried to kill yourself! You’ve won a one-way ticket to the inpatient ward of Shady Pines Hospital. Oh, don’t worry! You won’t be here forever. Only until your hospital-appointed psychiatrist whom you’ve never met decides you’re well enough to leave. But enough talking! Step right this way…

This is our conference room. First, let’s go over some paperwork. This one is where you sign waiving your right to leave of your own accord. Next, you’ll waive your right to sue us should anything go awry in your treatment. Oh, and here is where you sign your consent to let us restrain or sedate you if necessary. Lastly, this is where you sign to waive your Second Amendment right to ever again purchase or own a gun. We understand you never owned or wanted one anyway, but one can never be too careful, can one?

Louise Fletcher and Jack Nicholson in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”

Now that that’s out of the way, it’s time to kiss your loved one goodbye. You’ll see him again in a few days during visitors hours. Alright, now just step through these doors. I know the door seems heavy and the locking mechanism is rather loud, but it’s all for your protection, we promise. We wouldn’t want you trying to leave now, would we?

Next, we’ll have you turn in those hoodies you packed so we can cut the strings out, and all the long socks, and all of your makeup and personal hygiene products. Maybe we’ll give you some of those back. We’ll see. We don’t want you hanging yourself by your crew socks, of course!

If you could just step right into this room over here, take off all your clothes, and put on this hospital gown… Now, we’ll need you to open your mouth and stick out your tongue. Now squat and cough. Next, bend over and spread your buttocks while we shine this flashlight on you. And please, try not to feel violated. It is for your safety, after all.

Here you go, into your new room! No, there’s no bathroom door, just a foam-and-vinyl flap that sometimes stays shut. But don’t worry, the men and women who stay in this hallway try not to pay attention to what happens in the bathrooms. And here is your roommate, Angie! She talks to herself and snores like a chainsaw, but other than that, she’s quite nice.

Since you’re new here, you won’t be allowed to leave the ward for meal times. But it’s turkey dinner night! We know it’s not optimal, but it really is for your safety.

Here are the phones. If you want a handset, you need to ask at the front desk. After all, you could strangle someone with the cord or beat someone to death with the handset. So, for your safety, you’ll have to ask for permission to use the phone.

Well, that’s about it! Enjoy your stay, try not to make Angie angry (she’s a little temperamental!), and of course, here are your meds. Welcome to the psych ward!

January 4th, 2017

All the Things I Couldn’t Say

You’re probably familiar with the movie Finding Nemo. There’s a scene where Nemo’s dad Marlon brings Nemo to his first day of school. All the other fish dads are there at drop-off, and when they see Marlon, they say “Hey, a clownfish! You must be really funny! Tell us a joke, clownfish!” But Marlon can’t, because he’s got his own problems to deal with at the moment.

That’s how the past couple years have been. I recognize that I am funny, and I have a particular voice, but I’ve been through some things over the past two years that I’ve been unable to put into words using a comedic slant. This post is about those things. It’s just a short list, with more details to (hopefully) come on some of the items.

Maybe, or maybe not, I will someday tell you about:

  1. That time when I lost 125 pounds in nine months, and lost my sense of self in the process. The feeling of not recognizing the person looking back at me in the mirror. The sense of being scared of what I have become. What happens when moving around in the world no longer feels the same when all the padding has been stripped away. How differently I got treated once I lost weight, and my inability to reconcile that with what I know of both strangers and familiars.
  2. Moving to a new town. Being flat-out broke in a wealthy town, like Slums of Beverly Hills. Relocating three kids. Panic attacks galore. The difficulty of making new friends. Moving to a new town, hoping to put past friendship pitfalls aside, and discovering I carried them with me anyway.

    Natasha Lyonne in Slums of Beverly Hills. Approximately what I looked like on moving day.

  3. That time I had myself admitted to the psych ward, making this possibly the most prophetic blog name in history. The things they took away from me. The door that locked behind me. The rights I signed away. The people I met, with their cuts and their bruises and their scars, outside and in. The surprising feeling of belonging and the regret to leave.
  4. A diagnosis that changed my life, changed who I am, how I see myself, and yet, made everything make sense. History falling into place. The friends I lost because of my mental health, both the ones I pushed away, and the ones who dropped me when it all got to be too much. Medications. Brain changes. Life disrupted. Having to put everything on hold, including caring for my own children, to care for myself for a change. Realizing just how fucked up I am. That time I wondered how many Tylenol it takes to kill a 145-pound woman. See aforementioned psych ward admittance.
  5. That time my son sustained such a bad concussion in gym class it made his brain bleed, and he was hospitalized for two days for observation. How amazing his gym coach was through the experience. How his principal didn’t bother to call. What it’s like to realize your son doesn’t recognize you. Misplaced, illogical guilt that is the burden of all mothers.
  6. Realizing my second son, Mr. Mischief, is a Special Snowflake like his brother. See aforementioned motherhood guilt.
  7. Random medical crap. Fucked up thyroid. Fucked up headaches. Bloodwork and ultrasounds and biopsies galore.
  8. Losing my last two grandparents in the span of less than two months. Gaining a long lost cousin. Family memories, and the heartbreak of realizing all that I’ve lost.

So that’s my short list. 2016 sucked. I’m glad it’s over. But maybe I’ll get my act together with blogging this year so I can tell you more about some of these things, and possibly get back to my old clownfish self again.