I wished she had broken her leg or suffered from a heart attack. For I’m a nurse and I help people. We could have made a plan and implemented it, making adjustments as necessary.
But what was attacking her was insulating, insidious and invisible. “It” was mental illness. She started out as a nurse, a loving wife, a strong mother with educationally challenged children and a fabulous funny caring friend. But one day a straw in the camels back broke when her own mother died and she coped poorly for a time while she grieved. That lead to mild depression and a bit of time away from work to rebalance. Only mental health doesn’t respond the way a broken leg does to treatment. It starts snaking away and soon it is in control. Gone is the vibrant woman you knew and instead it is a shell with a mask that is donned for “company”. The thoughts mumbled and the panic attacks spiralling so that answering the phone or sending an email is almost impossible. And then the real worry sets in for you and her — Suicide.
Those of us on the outside looking in don’t understand what it is like in that well with dirt pouring in and how you can’t hear or feel the outside world. So time is spent inside hospital walls — meds adjusted and coping skills of being alone and away from those you need and that need you is mandatory.
Life slowly resumes but the once strong nurse can’t walk the halls and care for people — she is broken and learns slowly to manage the basics of life. Normal really is a setting on the dryer and every every every day is a challenge.
Today this friend of mine turns 55and I took her flowers. The face has aged, the smile isn’t as regular and the famously loud crazy laugh only happens sporadically but the hugs still rock your world. Her grace under fire is still there. She is the glue of her family and is revered by her twisted soul sister friends for having walked to hell and back.
There is a picture of birthday flowers with this post but the real “picture” is just a message to appreciate truly what each day brings to you and what you bring to the world.