Hey, again. It’s been over a week since I posted last. This was not my intention.
As a budding blogger who dreams of making it big, I understand posting often is a huge component to my success. However, as life happens, I was needed elsewhere these past 10 days.
I thought to ignore the situation all together and just keep posting as usual, as if nothing happened.
But then I changed my mind for two reasons.
First off, life isn’t always cupcakes, cookies, homemade ice cream, and adorable cats and dogs! Though that would be a seriously awesome world, it isn’t the reality we live in. People are often inundated with highlight reels of others people’s lives through social media rather than being reminded that we are all human, we all have struggles and bad days. So, my first reason for posting this blog is to keep it real.
Mental Illness is rarely talked about in the open and though it is 2018, there is still a larger than life stigma surrounding mental illness. My second reason for posting is to open up the conversation and be the change I want to see in the world.
Ahhh… Okay, I’m nearly in tears over here – trembling with each word I type…
Ten days ago, a good friend of ours experienced a psychotic break. From what I’ve researched, it is not so much a “break” as an episode. There are typically symptoms leading up to a break that simply go undetected. Throughout the process of trying to get our friend the right help, we realized this too was the case for him. There were many signs we ignored along the way, as they never seemed significant until now.
Our friend was extremely suspicious at his breaking point ten days ago. He did not trust anyone but my Ben and his own wife. Everyone else was out to get him, someway – somehow. While Ben and his wife tried to reason with him day in and day out, I went to work in the background.
I spent hours researching what to do in a situation like this and where to go for help. I called behavioral health services provided by the state and the county. I spoke with several psychiatric centers along the way trying to piece the treatment process together. I reached out to my Aunt whom is a nurse in the Seattle area to see what she would recommend.
It was extremely difficult. No one ever talks about mental illness, so when it happens, you don’t know where to turn to, what to do, or who to call.
When someone is physically injured, you head to urgent care, the ER, or make a doctor’s appointment. When someone is mentally injured, there are far more questions asked.
Are they on drugs? Do they have a history of mental illness? Do they have a history of violence? Do they own guns? What are the current stressors in their life? What are the symptoms they are exhibiting? Do you think they are a danger to themselves? To society? What is their take on the situation?
On top of answering the never ending questions, how do you convince the person who is mentally ill and believes everyone is out to get them that they need help? How do you get help for someone who doesn’t want it but truly, desperately needs it?
As our friend’s symptoms continued to get worse and go without professional help, the days simply continued to get longer and longer, each day more agonizing than the next. Ben, our friend's wife, and I were exhausted, agitated, frustrated, and feeling helpless. No matter how many people I reached out to or how many clinics we called (all requesting referrals or appointments), it didn’t matter.
Our friend was no longer there, he wasn’t the same person he was a week or two ago. You could no longer have a conversation with him or reason with him, he was gone.
It was absolutely terrifying to see first hand how quickly your own brain can turn on you. How quickly it can flip a switch. Each night Ben and I held each other closer, cried a little harder, and our hearts broke even more for our friend and his incredible wife.
We finally got our friend the help he needed but it wasn’t easy and it didn’t come quickly. His wife had miraculously got him to an ER and over a 13-hour period had him involuntarily committed. Ben and I were with her the entire time, never leaving her side. I cannot imagine the pain and agony she was going through and would have done anything to take it away.
In the midst of this unimaginable situation, I turned 30!
Now it may seem like this post is going from terrifying, depressing, life altering, mind blowing, makes you stop and think kind of conversation to happy, elated, ecstatic, hilarious, and full of love type of talk super fast and that’s BECAUSE IT IS.
Because that is how quickly life changes. Because Ben and I went from being the support system for our friend and his wife in a really, really shitty situation to having our house FULL, seriously packed full with friends and family within 24 hrs.
It felt like we were drowning in a situation that had no desirable long-term outcome, one that you hope and pray never happens to you. And then in the blink of an eye, we were at the grandest party the world has ever seen, party bus and all. It was beyond bizarre.
For my 30th, all I wanted was to be surrounded by friends who were basically family and family who were always considered friends. I wanted to be surrounded by love, laughter, and good food. And I did just that!
My two best friends from college flew out from DC and NYC to spend four days with us and my best friend from high school drove out from the Tri-Cities for the festivities. I baked cookies, a cake, ice cream cookie sandwiches, and cheesy bacon bites; I made dips, vegetable platters, and so much more.
My girlfriends put together the most gorgeous charcuterie platter you have ever seen and my mom brought over Garlic-Parmesan Popcorn and Salmon Dip. Everyone pitched in with wine, beer, cider, and liquor. It was magical.
We started off the night with an epic house party and then hopped on a party bus! We worked our way through bars in Seattle, singing and dancing our asses off!! I won the ring toss at Macleod’s on the third try and the bar went wild (if you have ever been there, you know how hard this is)!! We also visited Olaf’s to walk through their one and only Vagina Hallway – we filled it with the most amazing, strong, beautiful women I know and took a picture that captured the essence of the entire night!!
When we finally got back to our house, we continued to munch on the insane spread from earlier while we sat by a bonfire and talked about our crazy adventures just hours before.
I am not sure I have ever been so happy in my life :)
And here I am today, almost a week after the festivities, in an empty house after four glorious days of guests. It is quiet, leaving wide-open space for deep thought. Experiencing such saddening lows and incredibly vivid highs all in ten days time has been very emotional for us. Ben and I are trying to get our life back to “normal”, whatever that means.
I’ve started reaching out to my recipe testers today as well as editors apologizing for the radio silence. I’ve rescheduled phone calls and the like. I have also had to reschedule the photo shoot for the cookbook, as Ben’s kitchen will not be ready in time given the current circumstances.
Ben is reorganizing his schedule as well, trying to piece together a new timeline for the house. He also goes to visiting hours every night at the hospital to see our friend. We are trying to do everything in our power to make this new reality easier for them as a family.
Life is crazy. Surreal. Unreal. Unimaginable. It changes in the blink of an eye for good or for bad. It is a never-ending roller coaster, sometimes with the lows so close to the highs that you don’t even have time to think.
As I finally have a moment to sit in silence, to think, and to record my thoughts and feelings, I find I have so many mixed emotions. Far too many to put into one blog post, however, I hope you take away the following:
Mental Illness is real and part of our everyday lives, whether you know it or not. After this week, I can attest to the fact that it can affect anyone at anytime without a moments notice and it is nobody’s fault. We are all human and we all deserve to be treated like so. Be understanding, be tolerant, and show sympathy for others.
Life is unpredictable; cherish every single moment you have.
Spread the love, we all could use a little more.
Lick the Bowl - You Only Live Once,