It's easy to tell when I'm not quite my pretend self. I am agitated and irritable. I feel 'prickly' and uncomfortable in my own skin. I want to run and hide but haven't yet figured out how to hide from myself. I want to keep busy to take my mind off of things, but don't have the energy to do anything. I'm exhausted and need to sleep. But I can't fall asleep. Misery loves company and Insomnia makes for a great companion.
Sadness sometimes arrives like an old friend. It joins me in my lounge and it's just the two of us. We catch up on old times and then it leaves. Other times it hits like a tsunami. Without warning, affecting everyone in its way, family, friends, work colleagues, no-one is safe from it. Fighting against the current I am left drained, emotionally and physically, and it takes a lot longer to find my way out of the blackness.
Days like these take me back to the clinic. I am reminded about my weaknesses and how, at my age, I still haven't been able to work out my place in the world. I get angry at the circumstances that lead me to such a vulnerable place and I find myself asking out loud "Why me?"
But every one's got their something and I always remember Andre. Andre had been in the clinic for months. He hadn't figured out a coping mechanism that could get him through everyday life and he had tried to commit suicide four or five times, unsuccessfully. We used to sit and laugh about his attempts (as only mental patients can do). Like once, he tried hanging himself from the rafters in his garage. Unfortunately termites were in residence and the rafter broke, bringing Andre down to earth with a bang...and a broken coccyx.He also tried gassing himself on two occasions, in the garage and in the kitchen. Neither worked. The last attempt was with an overdose of tablets, which made his stomach work and he woke up in a pool of poo. So Andre figured that it wasn't his time to go and he placed himself in the care of professionals.
The reason I often think about Andre is because as bad as I had it (or think I had it) he had it a lot worse. He was also my catalyst to share more of myself in group sessions. I figured if he had the guts to do it then so could I.
This is Andre's story. Andre was sexually abused by his mother. "Don't be silly" I hear you say, "Mothers don't do that to their children." Well Andre's mother did and recent research shows that with more and more survivors coming forward, the phenomenon is not as rare as once thought. In his teens, Andre and his brother witnessed his father shoot (and kill) his mother and then turn the gun on himself. One can only begin to imagine the scars this leaves on an impressionable soul. But there was still more to come. Andre and his brother went to go live with their uncle. Unfortunately he took it upon himself to molest Andre too. Andre deals with a lot on a daily basis. He has no idea of boundaries or of what is right and wrong, good or bad. The reason I always think of Andre on days like these is to remind me that things could have been worse. How worse I'm not sure. But in the greater scheme of things, unlike Andre, I am lucky.
Andre's time at the clinic was coming to an end. He begged and pleaded with them to let him stay, but his medical aid was running out and they needed space for new patients. Ones that could be helped. One of the therapists kindly arranged for Andre to go directly from the clinic to Tara, a place of safety for people on the edge. I visited him a few times and he seemed in good spirits. It seemed as though he was getting better. Little did I know. Andre was contemplating a life filled with sadness and guilt or facing the unknown. He realized that in his case dying was the easy part, the living, not so much.
After 6 weeks at Tara, Andre discharged himself. He went home to his apartment, got everything in order and dressed up super smart. He then took a large amount of sleeping tablets, placed a bag over his head and fell into a deep restful sleep. I remember Andre and his pain. I remember his laughter and his wry sense of humor...and I think to myself "Why not me?"