The Third Floor
- This piece is meant to give an inside look at the challenges that come along with depression and/or mental health issues. All parties have read and approved this actual account, only names etc. have been changed or are exempt for privacy. Please be advised.
“I’m dying” she says. “No” I tell her, “you’re not”, but she is in a way.
She is mentally and spiritually almost completely gone. She has even added in physical break down factors that are as real as any broken bone. The mind is powerful. She’s actually shutting down key components to her body, through her brokenness. There is no cancer, parasite or internal physical factors that should be causing her body to cease. Her weight has fluctuated so severely, she looks weak and malnourished. She’s not even strong enough to refuse the wheelchair they offer her for the ride up. My friend, my dear, dear, friend. The word doesn’t do our relationship justice. A friend that is as close as any sister could ever be, the sister I never received. I’ve watched this progress. It’s terrible to see her in and out of the Dr’s offices and hospitals. Never has it been this bad before. Just when we thought things were looking up, she took a rapid decline.
There is depression and darkness in her mind, full of demons. I thought we were taking care of things. She’s been peeling her layers back, one at a time. Uncovering things that she didn’t even realize resided within her, but here we are. The Dr. decides it is not safe for her to be home. She needs to be watched and monitored while they’re attempting to try some new prescriptions. However, this type of medicine takes a good three to six weeks to fully be in someone’s system, to see if this one will have any impact at all we need to wait at least 24 hours. I can’t bear it, this is the toughest thing I’ve ever watched.
~You can’t love someone to health, no matter how hard you try.~
You can tell someone thousands of times how much you love them, how important and wonderful they are, but sometimes it’s still just not enough. Someone this sick with their depression needs the best of the best, and that is who is called in.
We step into the elevator, pressing the button to go up to the third floor. The breath is taken from me. Everyone knows what’s on the third-floor. The others on the elevator look at you with questions floating all about, you can see it written all over their faces. We are being escorted by a nurse and sadly also a guard. This is not like most hospital room stays. Her eyes are lost as if no one is even looking back at me, her soul is gone behind them. Holding back the tears, I write my name on the sheet under visitor next to the patient’s name. The screams and yelling escalates from the rooms beyond this point, the sounds of such chaos and confusion. There are some that quietly roam about, while a few sit and talk with each other over a board game. One poor soul is muttering wildly unimaginable things about the CIA coming to get him and that he is needed in Washington. Mental health is very understated in this country and many countries for that matter. It’s clear that no one wants to be here. The patients, nurses, doctors, visitors and even the clocks look as to be pulling themselves off the wall. Exposing the stark white floors and tables with simple four legged chairs, four chairs to a table. “This isn’t so bad”, I tell her, lying terribly through my teeth. “Yeah for a psych ward full of crazy people” she says. That’s the spirit, I think to myself, this is the most personality I’ve seen from her in days!! “That’s funny, you’re doing good” I tell her. The small hint of a smirk she managed to muster up is disappearing from her face. She’s gone again. Not physically, but for all human standards, it is just me at this table.
The clock is ticking slowly, the minutes crawl so painfully when your watching someone you love be in such a state of despair. I say a few prayers over her, yes with my hands on her head and all. I had never prayed over someone before, but at a time like this you do whatever you can. It will certainly take an act of God to bring her back. God and a good combination of stupid drugs that they can’t seem to get straight. One of the many challenges with mental health is finding the correct medication and dosage for each case. It’s hardly a one size fits all. There are so many components that go into play, including the extremely annoying fact that even when the right prescription is given to the correct person, the effectiveness can over time wear off due to other variables. It’s Darwin’s theory of evolution in the mind. What once worked great, can soon fall to the side in effectiveness. Until you have a proper fit for your body or should I say mind.
They have made great advancements in the medical field. They later used a company called Genesight which uses a cheek swab test for doctors nationwide to select personalized medication for depression, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, bipolar disease, schizophrenia or other behavioral health conditions. This type of testing is genetically proven to work best on each patient.
“I know this one is going to work, I just know it” I tell her. Of course, I don’t know anything, no one really does yet, but it has too. She has to come out of this, come back to her loving self. Just as real as the time standing still, I find myself hearing the nurses telling everyone that visiting hours are through for the evening. We may visit tomorrow again around noon. “I will be here on the dot”, I tell her lovingly. Her skinny body is still limp as we stand from the table. Embracing her in a hug as if to force some of my own spirit into her body. “I love you, keep fighting”, I tell her. “I’ll call you when I get home”. Both of our eyes fill again with tears, but they are so bloodshot you can barely tell.
The only thing worse than being in a psych ward with someone you love, is not being there. Having to go about business as usual as if that were even possible. I call as promised but by time I get home we only have a few minutes to talk before the lines will go dead she informs me. We sit as I find it hard to come up with things to say, that haven’t already been said, so I just say them again. You’re going to be great, I love you so much. We will look back at this one day and laugh. Yes, she says “the time I vacationed in a mental institute”. “But just think how great your next vacation will be seeing that the bar has been lowered so far now”! We laugh, both of us, again something I hadn’t heard her do in days. There are glimpses of her that fade in and out, it’s helpful in holding on to your own spirit, like God throwing you a bone. “That guy’s running around the halls again”, she tells me, “I hope they give him something strong so I can get some sleep tonight”. “Yes you need to rest and get your strength, try drinking one of those bottles of Ensure”. The meds are strong and the Dr. wants her to gain back a little more weight. She is so frail, all of her charts show she is technically physically fine but low counts of everything from all that her mind has created. “I love you”, I whisper again, “I’ll see you in” but the line goes out. Not a beep or a que of any kind, just a still dead line.
~I burst into tears.
Anything that I’ve had in me to hold them back, is gone.
I whale loudly, screams echo back off the walls to my ears, but this time they are my own.~
Finally I settle down and crash with exhaustion on to the bed.
The morning comes quick. I find myself in the same exact position that I passed out in the night before, I must not have moved a muscle. Tossing on a clean shirt and jeans, I run out the door in time to make it to the 7:30 am Mass. I don’t want to be alone right now and my own sparks of light are just barely that, sparks. You have to make sure you take care of yourself while helping others in their darkness. You have to because that stuff is contagious, just as contagious as any common cold. Upon leaving church Father stopped me and asked if everything was all right. As if I were being staged in some kind of movie, the wind blows in a flash of lightning and pouring rain. We were in the middle of a Tropical Storm, one that was being escalated to a full out hurricane. Of course we were, why wouldn’t we have a hurricane coming at a time like this. I barely noticed and apparently my big cover of everything being fine was blown in that one question. “No”, I manage to get out, and the tears begin all over again. Pouring down my face as fast as the rain fell on my head. We briskly walk back inside to a room where I lightly explain all that has occurred and he so bravely begins to pray. He prayed strongly over me and for my dear, sweet, beloved friend. Prayers that I wished so strongly would reach God’s ears. Finally a feeling of comfort came over me. One that gave me the real peace of mind that God indeed heard, and he sent the Holy Spirit to let me know. I was back with the strength I needed. Thanking Father graciously, both of them, here and above, I head to the car to finish up a few things I needed to take care of before our next visit.
12 O’clock couldn’t come fast enough, I was determined to share this brilliant light that I was given. Walking into the large room, I see her and our eyes connected at once. She is with it, I can tell in just our first glance she is coming back. The meds and the prayers are working. She even tells me how she feels some of her old self coming back. All while having moments of still going in and out to her sadder, darker side. The Dr.’s are pleased with her early phase results, this should only continue in the right direction. They hold her for another evening of monitoring and I happily pick her up the next day.
This fight is one that never truly goes away, it’s clinical depression . She continues to gain strength in her fight every day, but some days the battle seems to have the upper hand. She is currently surpassing life’s challenges, achieving greatness in everything she touches. It’s hard for someone like me who often finds the brighter side of things to really comprehend what she is fighting. On the surface she has everything one could hope for. A big family, friends, a good job, she is aesthetically very pleasing to the eye, beauty that could radiate on cover pages of top magazines. Yet she tries to fill an emptiness that she has always had. One she has fought most of her life, and has fought even harder to hide away from all the others around her. She takes her medicine and prayer life faithfully. The meds are not an option, even if she’s feeling good, she consistently takes them. She finds comfort in meditation and even peace when she puts in a little effort of physical exercise. A healthy outlet to heal her inside and out. She makes time for her psychologist and psychiatrist. Appointments she insists on not skipping in order to keep herself in check. The mind is very powerful and she is fully aware.
If you or someone you know is suffering with mental illness or depression, GET HELP. It is not as uncommon as one may think. Chances are you or someone you know could benefit from hearing about someone else’s story. You are only as alone as you make yourself.
- Genesight which uses a cheek swab test for doctors nationwide to select personalized medication for depression, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, bipolar disease, schizophrenia or other behavioral health conditions. This type of testing is genetically proven to work best on each patient.