This last week has been brutal. I’ve been on edge and struggling to participate in the here and now. I’m in conflict over how much time and attention I should pay to my memories of this time last year. Those memories, are causing serious mayhem. Long ago nightmares are a routine occurrence, yet I struggle to fall asleep even with pharmaceutical assistance. When I feel out of control I restrict and binge on food, either not eating enough or over indulging. My out of whack emotions are running the show and driving my life. I cried at work twice this week. While the people around me go about their normal every day lives, I’m almost obsessing about how AMAZING things are now with regards to the health and wellness of my older son. The only way I can deem them as amazing is because of what I am comparing them to in my mind…
This time last year, as the leaves fell from the trees and the air turned crisp, a few weeks into the school year I experienced the most terrifying moments I’ve ever had as a mother. It was Monday afternoon and I sent P a text that said “Are you dead?” It was a play on the phrase from Smurfs when Gargamel asks Azreal, “Azreal, are you dead?” It was a meaningless joke. I got the strangest text in return. Two words that showed me in such a short instance that your entire reality can spin on it’s axis. He text said, “Not yet.” What? I couldn’t make sense of his reply. Did someone hijack his phone? Was he trying to be funny? The reply I was expecting was that he had made it to the lobby of the building and he was waiting for me to be done working like he did every afternoon previous. I remember asking him, “What? Where are you?” His reply. “In a tree.” Me. “What tree?” Him. “In a tree by the ER.” Me. “What? Are you joking? Who is this texting? Him. ” It’s me, Preston.” Me. ” If it really is you, Preston call me!” Never have I more desperately wanted the phone to ring. I was in a sheer panic at that point. Confused and not yet comprehending how serious things were. The phone rang and when I answered it all I heard was anguish and pain and horror in Preston’s crying. As I started to make sense of the explanation about where he was, I ran out of the clinic and around the hospital complex to get to the emergency room entrance area. I don’t know specifically what words I said but I know “I’m coming, I’m on my way, I’ll be there, I’ll help you,” were all included. When I got to the area of the ER entrance, I realized how many trees there were. And that I could NOT see the branches or trunk of a single one because they are huge evergreens. I stayed on the phone every moment with Preston. I asked him to help me find him. My heart fell out of my chest and splintered into a hundred pieces and blew away in the wind. I could hardly breathe and my hands went numb from the panic. While it felt like 50 years, after a few minutes, he was able to direct me to the tree he was in. The tree he was 25 feet up in. That he would not come down from. I see every moment as if it were yesterday, not a year ago. It makes me nauseated to think of that afternoon. Of the pain that he lived with that I missed. People asked me about changes in his behavior, I hadn’t recognized any. Teachers and administrators hadn’t either. We all nearly failed him. Even in his darkest and most dangerous moment, my beautiful son knew that he could count on me to save him. But I didn’t save him. I helped him save himself.
There is much more to this story but I need a break for tears and a few moments of escapism TV and an attempt at a good night’s sleep.
Some of you may be wondering why am I writing this down and sharing it so publicly. I have to let these memories out and use them for good. To lessen their power and malignancy and their toxicity. My wish is that they will provide hope for someone else. To show fight the stigma against anxiety and depression and show that our normal family was rocked to our core and WE won. We wake up grateful everyday that God called us by name and WE listened.
Love and hugs, Rebecca