NOTE FROM ANGELA: I am so pleased to share Part 2 of Michelle’s Story of Hope (if you missed Part 1 you can read it here). Michelle gives us a raw look at what it’s really like to face mental illness head on. Her thoughts and feelings are honest, painful, and well worth the read.
Earlier that day he had been at our local hardware store. He told me that there was a conspiracy and that the voices were telling him to destroy the shelves of bug spray. More voices had him pushing over a 10 foot Christmas tree display in front of the store. The police were called and they let him go home with a written warning, bug spray for our new 10 foot Christmas tree, and a large black pocket knife. All I could do was cry.
“People are messing with me,” Tim explained, “See that blue car, they are messing with me.”
“Are you crazy? Do you even hear what you’re saying? No one is after you, and no one cares!” I cried frustrated.
“If this isn’t happening then I need to be locked up because I am crazy, I’m out of my mind. Iamoutofmymind. I. Am. Crazy. Crazy. Crazy. You can’t tell me you didn’t see the codes about bombs on that TV show…you can’t… Tellmeyoudidnotseethecodes!” Tim ranted waving his arms about the car.
Maybe it’s a brain tumor, I told myself, a brain tumor would be better than crazy. I prayed for a tumor as I sat in the ER, Tim pacing the room muttering non-stop about upside down electrical outlets and triangles, asking why the nurses were wearing blue.
“You’re messing with me! You are in on it!” He told me. “When are you going to stop bluffing Michelle?” Tim asked.
Oh dear God please let this be the tumor talking.
Tim spent three weeks in a psychiatric care center on a non-voluntary hold.
I told the doctors, I feared for my safety and I didn’t want him home.
I found it hard to reach out to family and friends. The label mental illness is shameful; I didn’t want anyone to know. I didn’t want them to know my husband was in a mental ward, that he had lost his mind and was preaching to the walls.
Breathe Michelle, breathe.
I’d try and tell myself I was overreacting, knowing this would get better, it had to get better.
“It gets worse before it gets better,” they tell you. “”Just take care of yourself,” they say. But all I can think is, Who are these Polly-Anna people and what do they know about taking care of “you” when there are so many other people to take care of!
Let’s be real here: Having a husband locked up in a mental hospital stinks. If my husband was in the hospital because he had cancer or was hit by a truck the whole world would be banging down my door bring meals, folding laundry, holding my hand, and praying with me. No one brings a casserole and starts a prayer chain for the family of the psycho in the funny farm.
This would not be Tim’s first stay in a hospital for his mental illness. The diagnosis of bipolar schizoaffective disorder would come later; his manic episodes would consume the family and have me in a constant state of anxiety. His madness would spin on for days, sending him out of our house and into the woods to find Jesus, the Holy Ghost, or Batman; he would come home wet and bruised.
I was suffocating from the panic and the daily crisis, finding Tim walking the streets at 3 am, finding the fires he had set in the back yard, finding checks for hundreds of dollars given to churches. Tim wouldn’t talk to me, and wouldn’t touch me. When confronted he would tell me he wasn’t doing anything wrong, wasn’t hurting anyone, I was the one that needed to take meds, I was the one with the problem.
I was scared, bitter, resentful, and thinking meds sounded really good. The kids were scared and calling their daddy crazy. I was talking through swarms of angry hornets again. I felt stuck, trapped and wanted to run, wanted out of this madness. I made plans to leave Tim. The idea of living with this man for another day or another hour was sucking me under like a rip tide, I could no longer subject the kids to his insanity.
It wasn’t until I hit my own breaking point that I reached out for support. I fell on my face and prayed…(Don’t miss the conclusion to the story on Wednesday!)
Are you at a breaking point today? You might not be facing the same circumstances but we all need support; from God, from one another, and many times from a professional. Don’t let shame and fear keep you in isolation!
Michelle Moore is a wife and mom of 4 active children. She is a volunteer speaker for NAMI of Clackamas County. She has a talent for being witty and loves using comic relief to make others smile, although her children would disagree. When she’s not sorting socks, she enjoys reading, writing, and walking her dogs. Michelle and her family live in Oregon. You can contact her firstname.lastname@example.org