My Time at OPK

So this article was shared on a Military Wives debate page I frequent on Facebook:

http://atwar.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04/25/war-wives-and-a-near-suicide/

The blog referenced in the article can be found here . (It can totally be triggering. Seriously if you’re having a rough day pass it by and keep on going. Actually pass this entry as well.)

It brought back to mind when I spent about 4-5 days receiving inpatient treatment at OPK (Orange Park Medical Center). It was a really dark time. The house buying thing had completely gone to shit and I felt…lost. I couldn’t get along with my husband long enough to communicate how I felt and that made me feel worse. We couldn’t afford the month to month on our apartment and we weren’t sure the sale was going to go through on the house. On top of that due to some shotty emailing practices we got an email not intended for us that basically accused us of lying. Because our rent going up $300 when things were already tight is JUST what we WANTED to happen.

I hit the wall. I wasn’t talking to my husband, I was trying to pack up the apartment by myself and I was just done. I hadn’t gotten decent sleep in over a month and…I was just DONE. I parked my car in a Target parking lot and drank a 40 oz of Smirnoff. I was going to go for a drive after that but something snapped and I couldn’t do it. I walked to the base and then walked from the front gate to the hospital. (All of this is like…2 am. I took my time drinking and just listening to music in my car. In the parking lot.) I get there and this point I’m just blank and I know I need to get ahold of my husband. The hospital ER gets crap signal so I finally get ahold of him and he comes in. By that time they’ve given me Xanax and arranged for my transport to the behavioral health unit at Orange Park Medical. DH was devastated. Heartbroken. We needed to be together to communicate about the house, he wasn’t sure where we were going to sleep and on top of all of that, he’d almost lost his wife for good just to find out he was going to lose her when he really needed her. On top of all of that, he felt like a failure. He’d missed the fact that the woman he loved was in crisis.

They took me in an ambulance and he followed me until he had to turn to go back to the apartment to finish clearing out. He was sobbing his eyes out. It was like someone had run his puppy over and then lit his car on fire. I have no ideal how he drove himself home safely. None at all. He came up later to drop off some clothing and some toiletries and was completely distraught. He begged the nurse to take care of me because I was the best thing that ever happened to him. He kept talking about how he didn’t get why I was here because I was the strong one. I wasn’t sobbing even though I was going to be stuck there. I was reassuring him that I was gonna be ok and he was gonna be ok and he kept saying how that was proof I was so strong. And then he left.

There’s regular visiting hours and he came for the ones that occurred during my stay. There’s two phones in the common room that everyone got to use. Except me. I couldn’t call my husband or my mom. This part of my stay is what I thought of when I read the blog. Both my husband and I still have VA cell phone numbers and no land line (It would have been cut off anyway since we were moving out of our apartment.) and my mom still lives in VA so obviously, she has a VA number. You can’t call long distance from the community phones. In order to call long distance I had to call from the nurses’ station and that was IF they let me. It’s generally not allowed and when you give one patient privileges, for whatever reason, it can cause issues. So therapy would bring something up or I’d think of something and not be able to call anyone. That was really hard considering why I went in.

The woman who wrote the blog talked about not having the support of her husband like everyone else did. And I instantly remembered sitting in my jammies anxiously waiting to see a digi blue blouse slightly rocking from side to side pass the doorway of the community room. Or listening for the squeak of a roughed up pair of boots on the linoleum floor of the hallway. I remember wondering if something would happen with work and he wouldn’t be able to come to visit me. If he was super busy and didn’t get a chance to call I wouldn’t be able to call him so he’d have an excuse to take a break and let me know what’s going on. I didn’t remember the shop number to ask where my husband was. All I could do was wait. Wait and hope that my support system would walk through the door. I’d talk about him all the time and just wait and hope and pray that he’d be able to make it. And then he’d come in the door, normally in uniform since he’d be rushing to make visiting hours, and all the nurses would say “You must be Mr. G. She’s been waiting for you!” And it would be like Christmas. I’d just sit there and hold him. I’d be hanging on his arm like a monkey or a cub or something. We played cards once. Most of the time we just sat and chit chatted and I introduced him to people and they’d tell him about something funny I’d said or something nice I did. I’d enjoy his smell and his presence and just…be.

It didn’t feel right complaining about not being able to call my husband or my mom because beyond that the care that I received was really good. The nurses were sweet and the food was great. The rooms were clean and the program was really easy to get into. Participation wasn’t required but encouraged and you had access to group and individual therapy. It was nice. But reading the story of this woman’s experience and seeing how isolated she felt and how that made things worse instead of better….I wonder how many women like me left not feeling quite ready. Or how many spouses felt isolated and ignored how that made their issue worse and just buried it.

Sometimes silence isn’t golden. Sometimes it tarnishes things.

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