[Trigger warning for frank discussion of mental illness]
In the morning, I met with a doctor who shook my hand and asked, “How are you feeling this morning?”
His eyebrows rose. “Really?”
“I slept really well. I haven’t slept more than a few hours at a time for a couple of months.”
“How often are you having suicidal thoughts today?” he asked.
“Only about once every minute.”
“How often were you having them before?”
“Nonstop. I just hear voices over and over saying, Nobody likes you, you should kill yourself.”
“Do you know it’s voices in your head, or do you sometimes think it’s an actual voice you’re hearing?”
“I know it’s in my head, but sometimes it’s hard to tell.”
“You don’t have to keep smiling all the time,” he told me.
“I know. I do it so people will like me.”
We talked about my nightmares, and how it was sometimes hard for me to be sure I had woken up from them. He said, “First of all, you need something to help you sleep.”
“I’ve been using chardonnay for that.”
He laughed and asked how much I’d been drinking. Once I told him, he said, “I don’t think you’re an alcoholic yet, but you could go that way.” He wanted to double my Prozac, give me Trazadone for a sleeping pill, and Klonopin to help with anxiety. “And I think you should stay here for a little while,” he added.
“I thought maybe I would go home today,” I said. “Or tomorrow.”
“I know it feels weird to be here,” he said. “And you’ve got a really good game face. But given everything you’ve told us, I think you’re very close to a psychotic break.”
“I don’t know what that means.”
“Losing touch with reality,” he said. I thought this over, and concluded he was probably right.
“I’m afraid of getting fired,” I told him. I felt I was a complete pain in the ass to my husband, and my paycheck was the one thing of value I contributed.
He told me it would be illegal to fire me, and I felt relieved. My company didn’t do illegal things. “I guess I can stay here for a while.”