A group of seven EMTs showed up to my front door. Not again I thought to myself, feeling guilty as I saw my husband’s face saying the same thing.
My husband just got home from a long night shift and was shocked by what he came home to. His wife, the only caretaker for his children, is in a crisis. He was stressed because he knew he wasn’t going to get sleep that day and he wasn’t sure when I would be feeling stable again. He wasn’t used to being the sole caretaker of a 4 year old, a 3 year old, and a 6 month old.
Ideally, I would have loved to show my children how to use mindfulness, interpersonal skills, and distress tolerance but this was a crisis, which is defined by an event when skills aren’t working.
Now, let me clarify. I wasn’t preparing to do harm to myself or others. I had just had a medication change that was causing my anxiety to act up and I couldn’t articulate, much less execute, a plan to get my own needs met.
Before I dialed 911, my postpartum depression was really peeking its head out that morning. I was worried that the threat of me seeking help would make me seem inadequate to my family. But from experience I knew that if someone could nurture me back to health, I would be able to go back and nurture my family in return.
They checked my blood pressure and went over why I needed help. I felt insecure, like I shouldn’t have asked for help at all. When they looked appalled at the mess inside, I told myself they aren't in my shoes. Things got on top of me. It happens. I’m doing the right thing.
I was then taken by ambulance to the nearest hospital. There I received a long uninterrupted nap, a sandwich, and a cold glass of apple juice. They assessed me for inpatient care and was deemed not a threat. I badly wanted to go because my home life was unmanageable.
Then the strangest thing happened, the taste of cold apple juice on my tongue took me back to my grandmother’s house when she cared for me. She told me when I was little, before nap I’d always ask for apple juice. I forgot how sentimental the taste was until then.
My psychiatrist added a supporting medication and adjusted one of my others before discharge a few hours later. When I came home, I had family members helping around the house, my husband calling his boss to switch shifts, we hired a maid, and my sister in law came for emotional support.
Although DHS had to come out to assess the safety of my children, I was satisfied with my choice to call because it got me the help I needed and changed my life for the better. All this time, I thought my job as a parent was to sacrifice my own needs for the rest of my family but I realize now that it’s most important for me to take care of myself.
Day after crisis: I talked to my grandmother on the phone for 45 minutes while I was grocery shopping. When I got home from the store, I poured a glass of apple juice and savored it.
The house is back to a place I can manage; I’m relieved knowing that my husband is switching shifts. I have the right medications. Now I have support from my sister in law. Most importantly, I know that apple juice and a nap can nurture me in times of stress. (That last part is going in my tool box).
Emmy W. has is a mental health writer who is passionate about parenting, marriage, and spirituality in all its forms.