That’s not true. I didn’t have any choice in the breaking part, so it wasn’t exactly brave because it just happened. The brave part comes in right here: I’m telling you all about it. I’m learning a lot about it in the Intensive Outpatient program that I have stepped down into after my inpatient stay in a psych ward last week. Actually we talked about it there too: No one ever talks about this. We only see the shiny, pretty parts that people want to show.
Well, friends, here is the seedy, ugly underbelly. I had a mental breakdown. I’m not proud of it, that’s for damn sure. But it happened. (That’s called “Radical Acceptance” by the way—I’ve learned a lot of therapeutic lingo, haha!) Not only am I not proud, I’m pretty much downright ashamed. It still doesn’t change the fact that it happened.
If I had a nickel for every time that someone asked me, “What brought it on?” I’d have… well, exactly as many nickels as people that I’ve spoken with that know about it. That’s what people want to know. Why? Why did you have a mental breakdown, Becka? This is the part that is the most shameful.
Because of life. Yup, that’s it. Just life. I was trying to live and I was failing. Yes, you read that correctly, I officially failed at life. (We’re back to Radical Acceptance, aren’t you proud of how far I’ve come?) I can take it back to the cracks that started two full years ago when we took Yoshi off of his medication, but that’s no excuse. People do this every day. People do it every day and don’t have mental breakdowns.
I learned that I have the most incredible people in my life. I would love to tell you exactly who they are, but I can’t because I try to keep an iota of anonymity here. I can’t just list their names. They know who they are. We can start with my husband and sons though, because you kind of already know them. Their lives got turned upside down because—surprise! no Moma for a week! But they did it. They did great without complaint.
I’m pretty sure that driving your friends to the mental hospital isn’t in the handbook.
My friends swooped in. I called and simply said, “I need you. I need help and I need you to come to my house.” And they came. They came and they packed my stuff. They wrote my name in my underwear (did you know you have to do that?) and folded my laundry and washed my dishes. That part was because I hadn’t really gotten out of bed for three weeks so my house was a sty and they didn’t even care.
Between them, they made arrangements to get my kids to and from school. They worked out who was going to visit me when. One of them drove me to the hospital and sat with me the entire afternoon for the excruciating check in process while her family went without their mom and wife. They hadn’t all even met before that day. They stayed in constant contact the whole time I was inside and I had basically no contact with the outside.
They wrote my name in my underwear, ya’ll. They worried about my kids for a week while I couldn’t. And I knew that I didn’t have to. (My mom did that too. I haven’t named her yet, but she’s on this list of awesome support people too.)
I could list off the reasons that I had a mental breakdown. To me, they sound like excuses. Right now, in the thick of recovery, I’d rather focus on a few (more important) parts:
- It happened. It happens. Life isn’t coming up roses all over the place, people. My life (at least) isn’t an Instagram photo. Not even close. I don’t even have an Instagram account because I can’t even play that game. (Yes, I know I need one because I need to be putting my blog there or something…)
- I might very well get judged for sharing this with the world at large. Judgment is ugly and ruins relationships. I’m okay with that. I’ve learned that I don’t need those relationships in my life. Like me like this, or don’t like me at all.
- I. Am. Lucky. I have an amazing support network. Not everyone can boast about such a thing.
- Despite this horrible thing that happened, despite the fact that I completely broke, it was a good thing. I needed to hit the very (very) bottom so that I could start to climb back towards the top. I will be stronger at the end. I am getting help in an amazing program. I will be a better person because of this.
- It’s a great opportunity to tell someone else: It’s okay to struggle. Not everyone is living the Instagram life. It’s okay to get help. Trust me. I know because I went (even if I don’t have the tee shirt yet.)
I’m not saying you have to write anyone’s name in their underwear.
If you are living the Instagram life (I don’t believe you) and not the one who’s ready to lose their shit, be that guy. Be the support. You could save a life. Do you know what my friend said when she drove me to the hospital (as I apologized profusely for putting her in that situation)?
She said, “This is why I’m here.” I told her that wasn’t true. I’m pretty sure that driving your friends to the mental hospital isn’t in the handbook. She looked me dead in the eye and said, “Stop. Would you do it for me?” Of course. “Then, stop. This is why I’m here.”
Don’t just hand over the suicide prevention hotline number, offer to go out for coffee. Listen. Just be there. I’m not saying you have to write anyone’s name in their underwear. But don’t cast them aside if they confide you in you that they are breaking. Check on them (with a phone call then a text if they don’t answer) every day. Let them know that you care. Set an alarm on your phone to remind yourself. Care. But… You know… Just in case, here are some resources if you do need them.
National Alliance on Mental Illness 800-950-NAMI
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 800-273-8255
At this time, I will be a little slow to respond because I am still in the program and unavailable for large portions of time, but I still encourage anyone who is struggling to reach out to me via the Contact Me link on my page. I will respond.
Thank you, truly from the bottom of my heart, to my friends and family who have helped me for the past couple of weeks and continue to help me as I am recovering. I could not do this alone.
*I know this post was … less … about parenting a special child (or parenting at all) but I also know that parenting my special child played a significant role in my breakdown. Parenting played a significant role, but Yoshi in particular. It’s hard, ya’ll. That’s no excuse and I should have been able to handle it, but that’s the truth. Also, I’m really sorry if any of my wonderful therapists from the program are reading this… I know I just should all over myself. Should is still in my vocabulary. I SHOULD HAVE BEEN ABLE TO BE A PARENT TO MY OWN KIDS WITHOUT HAVING A MENTAL BREAKDOWN. (There. I said it. Please don’t tell my therapists. *conspiratorial wink)
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