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I've got a pill for that...
Therapy appointment, Tuesday, 3:15pm
I wanted to be happy. I wanted to feel like myself again.... It was incredible what a couple of direct hits from large scale catastrophies (9/11 and Hurricane Sandy) and a half a dozen very close friends dropping dead along with the death of a child who had left your home that night with your daughter and another one of the girls without getting (the one and only time) my warmest hug and "I love you" before saying goodbye, only to be woken up by the medical helicopter at 3 something in the morning and getting woken up again around 6am by the only 2 girls that came back - out of their minds with worry that she never 'checked back in with them when she got home".
It's been 13 years since 9/11 and I've only recenty been diagnosed with the permanent damage that I acquired from spending too many months after the event breathing the "clean air" which happened to consist of a little concrete, glass and God knows what else. I've always been registered with the World Trade Center Health Registry but for the first time in 13 years my health took a severe downward spiral and I took my first trip to Bellvue Hospital - my first of many to come...
Directly after surviving the attack, I couldn't close my eyes. Four days had gone by without a wink of sleep for fear of reliving every moment I witnessed, every detail. It was 4 days later and I couldn't get the chill out of my bones and the sounds out of my head so out of immediate concern from my family, I unwillingly went to my doctor who "had a pill for that"!
Zanex. The wonder sleeping pilll that I could take before bed and make all the bad things go away and actually get some sleep and function the next day the way I needed to.
The zanex along with a lot of therapy seemed to be working... After a year or two of that I was actually begin to feel a little less edgy. All I had to do then was completely avoid a calendar or a television every anniversay of the event for the next 10 years to stay sane.
But, of course, life doesn't ever seem to stay that simple. Throw a bunch of the above into the mix over these past 13 years along with a marriage without the best communication, a child diagnosed with an extremely difficult and deadly disease, and a disabled baby (child now), etc. etc... I found myself going back to the doctor many more times and before I knew it, I find myself walking around like a mobile pharmacy.
Me: Doctor, I'm feeling anxious and a little crazy.
Doctor 1: I have a pill for that...
Doctor 2: I have a pill for that...
Doctor 3: I have a pill for that...
I get it. I'm getting older. The "Big M" (menapause for those who are stoppping a minute to think about that one) is moving in and apparently it didn't take much more than another one of my "kids" (friends of my own kids who would come over a lot) who had just become an actual policeman to go into the basement of his parents home one night to blow his brains out for reasons unknown, to send me spiriling over the edge.
Everything in my mind, body and soul went dark. I turned to my husband for help who (as usual) just left me to fend for my own sanity and everything became a really strange dream. I left the house in my CLS 550 and went to a friends house for respite only to fall down harder and take anything I had in my bag and do anything else I could get my hands on, take my final night pills and crash on her couch only to wake up surprisingly in my own bed a couple days later with a whole lot of personal damage, a totalled Mercedes and a DWI.
Was I drunk? Not so much. Did I actually go to sleep? Yes. Do I have ANY recolection of what happened? None. Did I want to die? Maybe...
The only answer that began to bother me was the last one.
The car? Fully insured. The DWI? Not afraid to do the time if indeed I did the crime.
Again, the only answer that continued to bother me was that last one from before...
THAT was the scariest thing I've ever encountered. The reality of the fact that I'm not a suicidal person whatsoever, the reality of exactly how unhappy I really was, the reality that I had no idea who I was anymore or who this person is that I have become. Going back to the doctor was no longer an option. I had enough pills for that.
I immediately began surfing the internet for a hint, a clue... an answer... some hope.
Not only did I discover that some of the pills I was on had suicidal side effects but on a better note I also discovered a down to the earth detox and yoga retreat in the Philippines that I booked that day with my only hopes was that it was far enough away from everything I knew and that maybe I still had a chance. What I knew was going to be my last chance for whatever hope I had left in my soul of saving myself from whatever this person was that I had become.
The day after I booked the journey I was on a plane with my passport in hand without a clue of where I was going (as I have never gone to the Philippines before) or what it would be like when I got there. All I knew was that I had the next 35 hours to think about it before I actually got there.
The gates were painted red with bicycle parts attached to it with the reception not far away. It was just barely 7am and I was not even checked in when I was greeted with the biggest smiles, a fresh coconut with a straw in it and a yoga class starting as I just got the coconut water to touch my dehydrated mouth.
The last fresh air I had in this 36 hour period was the cold wintery air I had left behind in New Jersey, so needless to say the 80 degrees it had already reached by 7am in the Philippines put quite a heaviness on my chest but I sucked down as much coconut water as I possibly could, ripped my travel sweats off (thankfully wearing yoga shorts and a tank underneath it all), grabbed a mat and took my first step into what became the best thing I have ever done in my life.
The first and second day was a little rough going. I stopped all the pills immediately and threw up for about a day, feverish with the general "FU*% what did I do" thoughts that pillaged my mind and body. It wasn't until I surrendered my mind, body and spirit to the commitment I made (as painful as it seemed) until I was able to start healing.
It was nothing short of a miracle. After the first day I was already starting to feel better. Who knew that greasy cheesburgers, pizza and candy wasn't a healthy diet? Raw food? Never heard of it... Vegetables? never, just never.
The diet change alone was incredibly difficult for me but I was in it to win it and let me tell you, when you are starving, it's surprising what you will eat - like it or not -. But this place was not just education about raw foods and healthy living, it was a place for emotional and spiritual healing with a family of people who genuinely care. People who never judged anyone for anything. People who were able to take all the pain away and cravings for anything unhealthy and replace that with nothing but knowledge, love, health and happiness.
I spent 7 days in my own treehouse meeting local villagers, making new friends, sharing new experiences, showering not so much ha ha ha and finding Jennifer McKinley (Peter) Moore again. The girl once lost had finally been found! No doctors, NO PILLS just the miracle of things that were all around me the whole time. God, the earth itself and everything it has to offer and the healing powers of unconditional trust and love in and for one another.
The best part of this most hardest lesson learned was the benefit of what I learned that I brought home to my family. My once asshole of a husband is smiling, seemingly happy and trying to learn what I have learned and he is actually trying to reverse the things that once tore us apart which we are both taking one day at a time. My children are happier and regaining the hope, strength and love that we used to have before the pills took me away from them and I think the dog is even peeing in the house a little less than he was which I assume is just that he is happy I am home period :)
I am finally alive in the brightest most brilliant ways. I am finally happy. I can finally accept the things I cannot change.
Finally, I am now.
Note to reader: If you or a friend or family member is struggling with issues and taking medications that this wonderful country of the United States so eagerly supplies, PLEASE READ ALL SIDE EFFECTS. Please take a moment and find someone who will give you a place physically or virtually to talk about anything in a safe, non-judgmental place and remember you are amazing and sometimes having a "pill for that" is not necessarily the answer even though it's seemingly always the easy one.
Please feel free to message me or leave comments if you find your safe place to talk is here. I have nothing but love to give and I would NEVER judge anyone who takes the first step to reach out and talk about it. I will do my best to help.