Making Memories in the Strangest of Places

“Tell me about Nash.”

Those words echoed in my brain for what seemed like hours. How do I even begin to answer that question? How do you explain someone that changed your life forever? How do you explain that amount of perfection, or that amount of love…I am convinced it cannot be done. I have written well over 100 blog entries, and still feel I haven’t fully captured or conveyed the amount of love I felt and still feel for him.

I kept trying to swallow the giant lump in my throat so I could answer. I stared out the window as I explained my perfect baby boy, his life, and everything after. I finally looked at the psychiatrists and said, “So you can see I handled his death in the healthiest of ways. There is no way this is postpartum.”

The intern quickly answered, “We don’t think this is from Nash but from your miscarriage.” I was puzzled. I didn’t realize you could have postpartum depression after a miscarriage. I explained how little the miscarriage affected me. Don’t get me wrong…it was extremely hard, but after all Todd and I have been through it seemed…small in comparison. We were more upset about our ill misfortune. We knew the baby was not healthy and we accepted that with some relief. He went on to explain that postpartum is a chemical imbalance. That whether we are sad or feel sad does not matter. That our body will react differently because of this. I was skeptical to say the least.

I tried to be open, but the head psychiatrist seemed to be able to read my mind. He commended me on how we dealt with our grief. He complimented Todd and me for having the insight to do this in the middle of such heartache. He continued, saying, “This destroys marriages and it apparently brought the two of you closer together.” He then said something that made more sense to me then almost anything else I have heard regarding my health issues. He said, “Some people are mentally strong, such as yourself. You’re resilient…but your mind cannot continue to compensate for your body after long periods of stress. This is your body saying it’s done, that it needs a break.”

This made some sense to me. I laughed and replied, “I feel embarrassed that, after everything I’ve been through, dizziness is what broke me.”

He replied, “Don’t be embarrassed. You were going to break with whatever that next stress was. It just so happens it was this.”

They dismissed me and said they would start me on medication the next day. The next day?! Ugh, I was hoping I was leaving. I got back to my room and my roommate was packing. She was just short of prancing around the room as she excitedly told me she was going home the next day. All I could think is that they must really think I need some help if this chick hearing voices that came from the hospital can go home after a day and I’m not leaving anytime soon.

Her phone rang. I could only hear her side of the conversation. “Hello?” After a long pause she said, “I don’t know who this is,” and hung up. A minute later, another call. She answered “Hello?” Another pause, and she replied, “Who is this?” Another pause, and she replied, “I don’t have a husband,” and hung up.

Now her phone was blowing up. We both started laughing when we realized we had each other’s phone. The first person who called her was my friend Shawn, who called Todd worried that I didn’t know who she was. So Todd called. I died laughing thinking about Todd when she said she didn’t know who he was, and when he said this is your husband she told him she didn’t have a husband. Todd and Shawn were minutes away from breaking me out of the hospital on some sort of rescue mission. Seriously, when I think about this, I still laugh.

The next group was Anger Management. I didn’t think I needed it, but it was on my list and I wanted out of here. I sat by Steve and Derek and listened without talking the entire group. Jozlyn came in the night before. I could hear her screaming in the hallway that she was going to kick someone’s ass if they continued to not let her use her phone after hours. Let’s just say I was not surprised to see her in anger management. There was also a woman who I am almost positive was transgender–her name was Kennie. She was an introvert in every way. She spoke no higher than a whisper and not often. She nervously played with her hands if someone asked a question or made eye contact.

The counselor asked us all if we had ever felt our anger was out of control. Jozlyn damn near stood up, raising her hand, screaming, “I’m pissed off right now by that kid looking at me every two seconds!” She then pointed to the hall monitor who has to check on every one of us every ten minutes. even in the night. His head pops in every ten minutes to make sure we aren’t hanging by our shoelaces or something.

The counselor replied, “That is his job. Do you feel like your anger is maybe higher than normal in this situation?”

She sat stiff, arms crossed, and red faced as she answered, “I don’t care if it’s higher than normal or not–someone needs to teach that fucker to be a little more discreet. He’s making me fucking nervous.” Two seconds later he popped his head in and Jozlyn screamed, “You can see us through the fucking window, kid! No need to open the damn door to look in!” Steve and I started laughing hysterically. That poor kid did not open that door again for the rest of that hour.

When the counselor got to Kennie and asked if she felt she had anger issues, she looked at her hands and quietly said, “I’m not an angry person. I’m mainly just sad.” She made my heart break instantly. Her sadness was palpable, and all I wanted to do was give her a big hug.

They dismissed us and we waited in the hall for lunch. Just then some U of M students were walking down the hall with clipboards, about 25 of them. They looked at us smiling, but trying not to stare. It was 12:00 and I was still  in a hospital gown, slippers, and a robe. Jozlyn leaned over to me and said, “I feel like a fucking zoo animal.” I looked at the students and back at myself. “Zoo animals” pretty much captured it.

We had assigned seats and mine was with Kennie. We ended up talking quite a bit. She was extremely sweet. She lived with her sister and her sister’s very abusive boyfriend–never abusive to her but to her sister and her sister’s kids. She had decided to move out because it was an unbearable living situation. She felt a tremendous amount of guilt leaving her nieces there. He ended up beating them badly the first night she was gone and she ended up moving back in to help them. I’m not sure what happened after that, but that’s what brought her here.

I was on my way back to my room and saw I had Art next. Steve looked over my schedule and said, “That sucks–I got Gym.” Gym?!?! There was a gym? I noticed the Art class was all girls and the guys played b-ball and lifted in the gym. Anyone who knows me knows this did not make me happy. I didn’t say anything though. I just painted with the girls and headed back to my room.

Steve said there was a guy named Jack who works nights that will open the gym if there are enough people who want to workout. I said, “I would for sure.” Around 6:30, Steve and Derek were at my door in full gym clothes, waiting for me to get ready. Who comes to this place with a wardrobe? Todd had brought me some jeans and shirts, so I took off my robe for the first time all day and headed to the gym.

Steve and Derek explained that they wanted to play basketball, but that I didn’t have to–they had jump ropes and stuff. I laughed and said I would rather play basketball. They looked like I told them I was going to paint their nails or something. Then Jack said he would play 2-on-2 with us and they argued about whether I counted or not. Now I’m not meaning to brag, but I’m pretty damn good at basketball. I stayed silent, but all of the sudden I felt the need for anger management now. They finally decided I counted mainly  because Derek volunteered to have the girl.

I felt this pressure now. I hadn’t played in years. What if I sucked all of a sudden? I’m happy to report I didn’t, and Steve got razzed pretty bad every time I blocked his shot or scored on him. After the game we were all sitting against the wall catching our breath when Steve asked if I was a lesbian. I about died! I laughed and said, “No, are you gay?” Derek laughed so hard he shot Gatorade out of his mouth across the gym floor and we were promptly kicked out.

It was the first time I had had fun in months. The gym became a regular thing for us, although Steve would never play 2-on-2 anymore; instead, we played HORSE.

That night Todd had called like he did every night on his way down after work. He said his dad was coming with him which made me so happy. My father-in-law, Greg, is the best person I know. To be around him means to be happy. I knew hospitals were not his thing. He drove separately from my mother-in-law to the hospital when I had the boys so he could come later–the less he was there the better (but he always got to restless and came early anyway). When I was hospitalized with the flu and found out the baby had no heartbeat, he came up and sat by my side–my only visitor other than Todd. Todd told him not to come, that I was sad and very contagious, but he came anyway so I wouldn’t be alone when Todd ran home for things. He manages to be this quiet, calm voice of reason, and yet a complete tower of strength in these situations…and he instilled these qualities in his son.

When he got there, I could see that uncomfortable look he always has in hospitals. It’s a look I imagine most S.W.A.T. teams have when they are dismantling a bomb. We sat in the cafeteria playing UNO, just the three of us. We talked and laughed, and I could tell Greg was feeling a little better as the time went on. The last time he had seen me I had been in his living room sitting in his chair crying before I left for U of M. He had hugged me and said, “I want you to go, Honey, and get better.”

I’m glad he didn’t come the first day or two when I wasn’t as well. He got to see me on one of my better days. I’ll never forget that night. It was special for me–just me and my favorite guys playing cards in the psych ward cafeteria.

2 thoughts on “Making Memories in the Strangest of Places

  1. Oh my goodness Shelley what an inspiration!! I am so moved that I had to comment, haven’t ever in the past! You are so amazing and you are helping so many people, you always were before but in an even more profound, incredible way!! Taking away any type of stereotypes on mental health issues is incredible😄😄I can’t begin to tell you how I have been on pins and needles this holiday season waiting for a new post to see how you are doing!! God bless you my Warrior😊😊😊

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  2. I’ve been following your journey from the beginning, I am Amanda Breasbois aunt and I didn’t realize she actually knew you. I’ve been praying for your well being since then. Stay strong, you have a wonderful husband and a beautiful little son that want you home and well

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