Down the Rabbit Hole: In and Out of Sanity

If you feel upset reading this feel free to stop. It is my journey, not yours…

Saturday October 18 2014

tears 2 I had tried it all – psychotherapy, grief therapy, grief groups, alternative therapies…the list goes on and on ad nausium. I knew I was in trouble. I needed help. I saw my therapist that day. I probably didn’t articulate what I thought because my mind was muddled. She drew me pictures of life as we would like it to be: line from bottom to right going gradually up. Then reality: twists turns and circles as you climb up, sometimes a dip down along the way. I’d seen it before. I knew this. But I knew something wasn’t clicking. What I didn’t realize then is that somewhere inside the twists and turns I had been spiraling rapidly downward – down the rabbit hole.

I analyzed;  looked for triggers. Knowing the pain of grief would come unexpectedly, expecting it to abate eventually. Sometimes I think I am ok. Other times I know I’m not. I had been spiraling downward into the vortex of what I believed to be grief, but it was so much more than that.

That night the pain was unbearable. I couldn’t see the light. I could end the pain but if I was gone who would look after the cats? Sounds crazy, I know. I have family and friends but this kind of pain takes away all rational thought. You just want it to end. But the cats were with me, looking at me. I haven’t had them for long. We had just started to bond. In fact, in less than a year everything that lived and breathed in my house was gone. I couldn’t think of getting more living creatures. The story began March 1, 2013. That was the day we had to put one of our cats down.

*****
I was trying everything I could do to keep him alive. I knew he was suffering. We can IMG_0012put animals out of their suffering. We do everything in our power to prolong the suffering of people. The irony isn’t lost on me. But cat number one was very, very sick. And though I try to ease his pain and hide his rapid decline, Bob saw what was happening and said that it was time. He was right. I was beside myself with loss already.

We took him to the vet. He was a beautiful cat, so loving, and so happy until he became so sick. I held him in my arms; wrapped in one of my daughter’s old but still soft baby blankets. They asked if I was ready. Who is ever ready for this? I swallowed hard and nodded, buried my face into his fur and whispered in his ear “I am here. I love you. You will be oknow. You won’t suffer anymore.” He took a deep sigh as the injection went into his veins and he was gone.

I cried long and hard. This is not my first loss, but it the first in less than 12 months of three great losses. That same month Bob got sick – March 11, 2013. Our journey is chronicled here in my blog. On June 8, 2013 he was in critical care where he died – gone, forever.

Cat number two couldn’t seem to cope. His world that has been rocked beyond anything familiar. On February 14, 2014, Valentine’s Day (the irony isn’t lost on me), I must do it again. A friend comes with me. I go through the exact same thing like the first cat, except for the most important thing, Bob isn’t with me. I wrap the little guy in the blanket and whisper that I love him in his ear, then he is gone.

I feel alright after my friend and I part. I go home, then break down, laying on the ground kicking and screaming and crying, “What did I do that made me so bad that nothing that breathed the same air that I did was no longer with me? Why? Why? Why? But no answers come. I pick myself up and think I’ll go on with life, but life isn’t what I want it to be.

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Down the Rabbit hole

Someone has to take care of the cats. I posted it on Facebook. I was counting pills. I knew others would be sad but my muddled mind said “They will get through it. They will go on with their lives. God knows I’ve tried but I can’t keep doing this. It’s been 16 months and I hate being alone, lonely.” The wine heightens my depression. I have hit the bottom of the rabbit hole.

IMG_0573My post, intending to find someone to look after the cats, becomes a cry for help. From Montreal to Winnipeg to to my hometown, people call each other, then call me. I try to ignore it but eventually a good friend calls and I answer. I am crying and incoherent. I scream for people to leave me alone. She hangs up and calls someone closer to where I live. He comes over and calls another friend who arrives. Each time someone walks in I tell them I’m o.k. and scream “please go!” But they tell me they can’t; that they care too much. Texting, phone calls, social media goes into action. Friends leave as family arrives.

Then my daughter walks in the door after driving from out of town. Tears in her eyes, she hugs me and I cry. More family arrives. I am told they won’t leave me, that they are here to help me. My daughter leads me up the stairs and helps me pack a bag, speaking gently. An ambulance arrives. I am more coherent. I answer their questions but keep saying “Please don’t make me go.”

What I don’t realize is that help has come. What I needed is there. And if I just reach out my hands I will get what I need; what I have been looking for as I spiral down the rabbit hole. A new chapter in my journey has begun…

10 comments
  1. Oh, Suzanne. I am weeping as I write this. I remember that pain and confusion, and grief and anger. And despair. But also the love and support of family and friends. I wish I lived closer and could have been there for you in more than just words from afar. But I also think that you are one of the bravest, strongest women I’ve ever known, and I’m proud of you for having such courage even in the chaos of grief. And I know you’re going to come through this hard time and find peace again. Much love to you from a fellow wayfarer.

    • Thank you Jodi. Of course you understand. I wish it didn’t bring feelings of sadness to you though. It‘s my journey. Not necessarily my choice. And what happened was a combination of grief and loss along with medication that was no longer working for my diagnosed depression. I will talk about it in another post. But thank you for your support. It means a great deal to me. Hugs and Love.

  2. Your courage in telling your story over the past many months is actually an inspiration despite the sombre topic. That you reached out through your writing and got the support, love and help that you needed is a testament to the person you are. Your cats need you.

    • Thank you Ceci. For me it’s natural to write about it. It helps me process what’s going on. And then I want to tell my story. I’m not sure why but it feels like I should and so I do. It give me some reprieve. Thank you for your kind words. I really don’t feel strong, and that was definitely one of my weakest moments. Hugs.

  3. Oh Suzanne

    There are no words. It is your journey. I know that spot. I sat on a riverbank and wanted desperately to just walk in and let it take me away. But I couldn’t put the burden of my children on my already overburdened family. I never told them of that awful day. It was my bottom. Perhaps the tears buoyed me up above my reality. I like to think Brad took my hand and talked me down.

    Never forget that Bob is rooting for you. He wants you to be happy, to have the best life you can. He has left you signs. He has made sure that people are there for you. There is love and life to be had. Sorrow will not last forever. I wish I could see the future and find our future happiness, but that magic eight ball doesn’t give those answers.

    As much as it is heartbreaking and just plain sucks, keep on. You are strong enough. You know it. You have helpers who want to see you through the other side. They are your angels. Let them steady your path until the light begins to shine once more.

    <3

    • Thank you Katherine. I know you’ve been there too. I didn’t know that particular story. You have wonderful daughters. They are so lucky to have you as their mom. We can never know why our loved ones are taken away but we all know this will be our destiny. Still, Brad was far too young. I am glad that you have gotten through the most difficult of times. Hugs.

  4. Keep talking Suzanne we are listening. What helped this time that could help again. Tell us please so we will know better the next time we hear a cry for help from you or other spiralling friends. We love you Suzanne, you are not alone.

    • Thank you Veronica. I don’t think I’ll be going there anymore. I got the help I was desperately seeking, though I didn’t know what it was I was seeking at the time. It turned out to be more complex than just grief. I will blog about it next time. Thank you for sending your love and caring. It’s easy to forget that when you are in a dark place. Hugs.

  5. Suzanne, I continue to admire how you are able to share your difficult journey with the world. I know this is the making of a very powerful book that will help a multitude of people. You have found your calling, my friend.

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