What I learned from my boyfriend's trip in the psych ward

Picking my boyfriend up from the 1 East Psychiatric Wing of St. Joseph Mercy Hospital was more difficult than putting him in. Sure, he seemed to be in good spirits. Sure, the 49 cuts he put in his arm had healed, but during his weeklong stay, he was someone else’s problem. Now he was back in my life and I, finally, had to start dealing with my feelings.

I’d spent most of that week stoned, drunk, binge eating, fucking and enjoying every other vice I love. He’d spent it trying to get a handle on his head and reorient himself for a better future. So, while he was the one who sliced up his arm, tried to drown himself, shattered the phone I bought him and hurt me physically, I was the one feeling crazy.

I still do.

While he was locked up, I kept saying I didn’t know how I felt. What I meant was that I felt “off,” but had no words to describe it. There was no emotion there, just discomfort. Now that I’ve sobered up, took the random dicks outta my mouth and stopped eating like Kobayashi, the discomfort is starting to be more understandable: I’m fucking terrified.

There were a few moments between the cutting threats and when I left him in his emergency room where I knew what I was feeling was fear. Once he was gone, though, I did everything I could to numb myself long enough not to explode. It didn’t work.

Well, it kept me from the truth, but it definitely didn’t make the feelings go away.

Now that he’s back home and we’re trying to figure out what’s next, I’m finding myself needing to search through my feelings. In fact, me deciding to write for the first time since this all happened is part of me trying to pop the cork on this emotional bottle.

Right now, appropriately, I feel like I’m in that moment just before a champagne cork pops. I’m waiting for my emotions to come bubbling out. I know it’s going to happen, and definitely not at the exact moment I expect it will. Of course, I think I should push the cork just a little bit harder, but feelings are scary — and my fear of the disorder powerful emotions bring might as well be a phobia.

I wish I could just cry and move on with my life. Unfortunately, I’m on a bus heading to work. I don’t know how much U of M would pay me to be a slobbering, snotty mess on the phone, but it’s probably less than what I make now. Considering my partner’s been out of work for a week and rent got paid a couple days ago, I probably shouldn’t call off.

I have a lot of responsibilities on my shoulders. I juggle 4-6 jobs on any given week, and then there are friends, partners and everything else that commands my time. I definitely don’t have much time for myself. In the time I do have to myself, I’d prefer to put something in the air and sleep than deal with these feelings.

Luckily, panicking while the dentist works wrist-deep in my mouth really isn’t an option. So, when I felt the undercurrent of general fear start to make me panic earlier today, I had to get ahold of myself. I had to confront the feelings, because there was a long needle injecting lidocaine in my mouth and running might send that needle through my jaw.

Forcing myself into dealing with those feelings of fear made me remember that I’d been scared, and it hadn’t changed just because I acted like it didn’t. My flaccid dick, racing heart and increased irritability weren’t going anywhere until I stared the feelings straight in the eye.

Like most people, when bad things happen I often try to hide the truth from myself just to keep on living. In some ways this makes me/us very functional. In other ways we’re practically crippled and spending way too much money on weed and booze, among other things.

Not only does dealing with the emotions actually solve the problem, it makes your pockets a little heftier for investments in your overall happiness, not just your buzz.

Growing older, growing wiser and growing better able to live a happy life comes in small steps. Letting yourself feel your emotions is one many people never take, but it’s critical to leaving the past where it belongs.


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