After my 2nd emergency room visit things were calm...er. I can say with certainty however, that we were both on edge. I still wasn’t sure what I would feel like in the long run with the meds I was on. I was even more afraid of feeling so sad and hopeless again. Unfortunately that has happened several times, but it hasn’t been as scary, more manageable. No more ER visits since. I credit this mostly to adjustments with my meds and how they’ve been treating my unique little brain. I want to touch more on this specific topic, but I’ll save it for a future post because I think it’s important to note the role meds have played in my situation.
This leads me to drugs, sex, and prison. Have you seen Orange is The New Black? You can also add the show Wentworth to your list which is 100X better. Sorry Piper! You can find Wentworth on Netflix. The sex (if you’re into that sort of thing) is not raunchy like it is in OITNB. And there are certainly drugs involved, which will likely piss you off and make you cry in one episode. Lastly, both shows take place in prisons, which brings me to my audition. No, I didn’t really audition for OITNB, but I felt like I did.
So I’m feeling pretty good right? It had been a month since my last ER visit. Sarah and I went out to walk our dogs and came back to discover two police vehicles in front of our house. Yes, we shit our pants. We thought maybe our neighbors had something going on because we live in a cul-de-sac, so the police parking in front of our house wasn’t really a definite sign that we were in trouble. Nope, that wasn’t it.
Then we immediately thought about the pot--the wicked neighbor lady behind us must’ve reported us for smoking. I was shittin’ bricks people! I didn’t want to be known as a druggie. Poor little me from Kansasville, Wisconsin, never touched pot in her life, swore she never would. Then had to cave because her anxiety was so bad and nothing else was working. Dude, I was so scared. How would I ever survive prison? Would pot lead me other drugs? I was doomed.
I had it all planned out in a matter of seconds. I mean, I had to act fast. I’d write Sarah a letter every day. I’d read tons of books and go back to school. I’d offer to clean the inmates’ prison cells so I wouldn’t have to smuggle drugs into the prison via butt. Would that work? Maybe I could sell cigarettes. Turns out the cops weren’t there for the pot either. Phew.
Sarah instructed me to stay on the sidewalk with the dogs. I observed from a distance of about 25 yards. I couldn’t hear a single thing, but she later told me what was said. She walked up to the house and asked the officers why they were attempting to open our front door and looking through our windows without our permission. Apparently they can do what they want.
They greeted her with, “Is this the residence of Stephanie Ryckman?” Sarah replies, “What can I do for you and what does this concern?” Sarah totally gave them a hard time and played sassy wife. I love her for that. She wasn’t about to give them any information without getting more from them first. Smart lady. They asked her again, knowing full well her intentions. She eventually said that I was in fact, a resident of the household and again asked what they wanted.
“We have a warrant out for her arrest and need to speak with her.” Sarah’s jaw dropped and her heart sank. Not good, not good at all. This is hysterical right, because here we have some cops about to arrest me, after I just broke my house, my car, and hassled eight EMTs while they attempted to strap me to a gurney.
Sarah replies, “Okay. So um, yeah that’s not gonna work. She was having a bad day earlier and she’s on meds. Let me be the one to tell her.” So Sarah walks toward me thinking they were just going to hang back, but nope! They followed her.
She got to me a bit quicker then they did. In the calmest way ever, she said, “Hun, the police are here to arrest you. It’s going to be okay.” So it’s me, Sarah, and two police officers standing in a circle, fairly close to one another. I think they were preparing for a potential chase. As if little oI' me, who has never been in trouble, would run...from cops..with guns...and cars.
We had a small discussion and they told me charges were being pressed against me by one of the ER nurses that I apparently kicked in the face. I almost passed out. I had no clue what they were talking about. I was clueless. I had no memory of arriving at the ER, let alone kicking someone. I was in a mental health crisis for crying out loud! Who the hell presses charges against a patient in a crisis, especially hospital personnel trained in such scenarios?!
I remained calm though. Sarah still tells me she’s not sure how I managed to just casually walk over to the squad car and hold out my wrists for them. Truth is, I thought maybe prison would be good for me. If I really had kicked someone, then what else was I capable of?
I am handcuffed. Put in the police car. And taken away. I had no phone. No jacket. No money. And no pot. SML
The inside of a police car is so uncomfortable. I felt like my arms were going to fall off. They were so numb by the time we arrived at the jailhouse. We pulled into an underground parking garage and I was taken inside. I was searched. I was fingerprinted. My picture was taken, which they would not allow me to smile for, trust me I tried. My shoes were taken away. And though I didn’t get to wear an orange jumpsuit, I did get a nice pair of orange sandals.
All I wanted to do was call Sarah. It’s amazing how lost one can feel without a cell phone. Sad really. I looked around the room and saw a payphone. What the hell am I supposed to do with a payphone? I didn’t have any quarters. Furthermore, why was there a payphone? This all felt too real.
They finally told me how to call out. I hear this prompt and I’m supposed to state my name. This way, Sarah would know that it was her wife calling from prison. She could choose to answer and hear my plea, or never speak with me again. I immediately thought of an idea for a podcast: K-Town, the life of a Midwestern woman from podunk Kansasville, Wisconsin, who sold DIY pottery barn clocks, falsely accused of a crime she didn’t commit. A girl can dream.
I sat in a waiting area for a long time until I was finally able to speak to the Wizard of Oz. Actually she was the Magistrate, but whatever. She asked me what I was doing there. I told her I didn’t know. She asked me if I knew the person who filed charges against me and I told her I had never met him in my life. I had no memory of it so I was telling the truth. She noted I had no criminal record (DUH) and was very empathetic toward my personal situation. She understood why I ended up in the ER in the first place. She literally told me that I shouldn’t have been charged and that the case would be dropped. Could it be that easy? Would they really just drop the charges?
Before I leave you, let me just make sure that you understand that I have never been to prison. I have no idea what it’s like or how it changes a person. I know what the Wake County Jail taught me in less than two hours but I am in no way saying it compares. I hope you recognize my sense of humor. I have a very serious opinion about our justice system. I’ll share that later.
What’s in store for next week? The hilarious dialogue between me and Sarah as we drive home from the jail. You do not want to miss it. Subscribe to my blog and you’ll get an email every Wednesday with a link to my most recent post.
Until then, do your best to stay out of trouble.
Last week I told you about the worst experience of my 36 years on this Earth. That was only half of the night. There's more.
I'm not sure I can even say which half was worse because each tops my list for different reasons. They were both horrible. The first half of the night (my violent, yet inadvertent actions) was the worst because of what I subjected Sarah to. It was the ugliest version of me. She saw it and I knew she saw it. I can't come back from that.
The second half was also the worst because of the unknown potential and loneliness of my actions. I know I've said this before, but Sarah had to help me remember this ER visit just as she did the first. I remember the latter parts as the drugs started wearing off.
After being turned away by Holly Hill, a psychiatric hospital, we returned to the same ER I was at a couple weeks prior. We pulled up to the doors and Sarah asked the hospital personnel to help her. I was refusing to get out of the car and didn’t want anyone touching me. I was extremely combative at this point. There was a police officer and approximately eight hospital personnel that ended up being called to the scene.
“Just shoot me, just shoot me. Take your fucking gun and shoot me in the head and this will all be over.”
Those are not words that I ever imagined would come out of my mouth. In my other years of battling depression and anxiety, not once did I request that someone shoot me.
I was in and out, but recall snippets of my combativeness. I know it was scary for Sarah and others including the police officer who had the gun. Sarah said he was crying as he watched me desperately calling out for help. That’s what it was; desperation.
As I replay this in my head, I feel out of sorts knowing those words came from my mouth. But it is possible for that to happen to anyone who suffers. I am so grateful that my wife had the courage, and the physical and mental strength, to get me to the right place at the right time. There are no words that could ever express how much she means to me and how she has helped me through the worst of times. I need you, I need everyone, to know that.
I was later told that 8 grown men, hospital personnel, had to restrain me and hold me down on a gurney in order for them to administer meds to subdue me. This is not a joke. I am 5'3" tall and I weigh 125 lbs. Now you can imagine the level of my combativeness.
After reviewing my medical records, I was admitted to the hospital around 6pm. At least this is when all the test results were completed. My last vitals were taken around 6am the next day. I was administered 5 mg of Haldol (haloperidol) which is an anti-psychotic drug that decreases excitement in the brain. I was then given 50 mg of ketamine in my left anterior thigh. Ketamine is an anesthetic medication. Ketamine is used to put you to sleep for surgery and to prevent pain and discomfort during certain medical tests or procedures.
When I started coming to, it was the strangest, loneliest feeling I’ve ever experienced. I was still very out of it. At one point throughout the night, I remember having to pee. The nurses had to move me to a toilet. I couldn’t even resist if I wanted to. I had to pee and there was nothing I could do but pee. Throughout the night I was transferred to and from the bedside toilet. They took care of me so that I wouldn't piss myself. I feel embarrassed right now, but it's OK. As I've said before, it's a part of my story. It's true and it's real. That's what matters.
After a while I was able to fully open my eyes. I could barely lift my arms and felt glued to the bed. I immediately began looking for Sarah. I kept looking around the room to make sure that what I was seeing was not a dream. It felt so real, but so unreal at the same time. No matter how hard I tried to see her, Sarah wasn't there. It was in that moment when I realized I never wanted to feel like that again. My call for help was answered.
Sarah didn't choose to leave. She wanted to stay and would've stayed as long as she needed to. The nurse told her to go home and that there was no need to stare at me while I was drugged out and recovering. We had dogs to take care of. She had to take care of herself. I was in good hands. I understand this.
When I was finally able to form a sentence, I met a nurse. He was super cheery and such a wonderful nurse. He joked with me and said I was apparently stronger than eight grown men. We both laughed, though I knew that meant I was the talk of the ER as some super drunk lady beating up hospital personnel. Yikes. Not necessarily what I want to be remembered for.
When I was finally able to stand and walk on my own I made it to the bathroom. I examined myself. I felt so sore. I had bruises on my wrists and upper arms from the personnel needing to hold me down. I don’t remember acquiring them, but I understood why I had them.
I was so happy when Sarah arrived to take me home. For a few days after that things were a blur. I couldn’t tell you what I was feeling or doing. I do know that Sarah and her parents were there to support and comfort me.
If I had gotten a gun in my hands during this night, it could've turned out very differently. There was no chance of me grabbing the gun from the police officer in the emergency room. We did however have one in our bedroom closet. The laundry basket I fell on was approximately three feet from our gun. I later learned that Sarah had locked me in another room that night, so that she could go back into our closet and disassemble the gun.
I dislike guns. All kinds. I've never actually shot a gun. I have no desire to. They are scary. To me, guns mean harm. I hate the thought of doing harm to anyone or any thing. Here again, is another example of what the struggle with mental illness can do to someone. No one wants to suffer.
With all my might, and the fight I have within, I always want to live. I've always wanted to live.
I can't wait until next week when I tell you about my audition for Orange is the New Black.
At this point it had been a few months since my struggle began at NC State. The depression hit me like a semi and the anxiety railroaded my entire being. I was constantly telling myself I needed to just suck it up. I’d feel good about that thought for a few minutes and then I’d find myself on the verge of tears. It went back and forth like that all day, every day.
One day, after feeling so defeated and unsure of how long I’d be going through this, I just said fuck it. I started drinking.
I started early in the day. I don't remember when exactly. My wife stopped me as I was chugging a bottle of whiskey in the kitchen. She had to grab it from me and yell at me, asking me what the hell I was doing.
I don't remember much of that night. I was out of it. I was so tired of it all. I make mistakes like everyone else, but this was different. I wasn't thinking clearly prior to the alcohol. Yes, I was depressed, utterly anxious, but I felt something else. For a split second I felt like drinking was the answer. In that moment I thought a drink or two would dull the anxiety, that feeling in my chest, and the million negative thoughts in my head." Another second later I was happy. It felt good to toss the fight aside. The mistake was trading it for alcohol. I knew this, but two drinks turned into a lot more.
This particular day I thought about everyone I loved. I kept thinking, "them or me". I'm a failure. I let them down. How would I ever fix this? How could I put Sarah through this? My heart ached because as much as I wanted to live, I wanted it all to be over.
At this point I was on a couple of medications. I wasn't yet at the point where I found "the one". My psychiatrist and I were still experimenting. I never even considered what drinking while on meds would do to me. It wasn't good.
What happens next is an experience that Sarah and I have had to heal from. I wish I could go back in time and delete it from our history. We've talked about it a lot. I couldn't remember what happened. Sarah had to fill me in. She had to explain to me how I acted, what I did, and what I said. Per her recollection here are some details:
At some point in the evening I became violent. I kicked two holes in the wall, damaged the linen closet door, fell on my laundry basket, and hurt my wife. As Sarah tells it, I inadvertently punched and or kicked her as she attempted to restrain me. I said hurtful things to her. My wife, the love of my life. I did those things.
My wife made the call to my psychiatrist. Being a Saturday, she had to leave a message on the emergency line...my psychiatrist called back within two minutes! He told her to take me to Holly Hill Hospital. Holly Hill provides treatment for psychiatric conditions and substance abuse for children, adolescents, adults, and older adults.
Sarah had to restrain me, get me into the car, and manage to drive half an hour on the freeway to the ER, hoping that I wouldn’t steer us off the road. Before she could even leave the driveway I had already torn off the visors and rear-view mirror, and cracked my windshield.
This experience has been the worst of my 36 years. This is only half of it.
My call for help, in next week's post.
Dear Friends & Family,
If you know me, you know me not for this ugly side. You know the best of me, the positive stuff. I'm sorry if you're reading this and you're not sure what to think. It's OK. I'm still me I'm doing fine. I'm here, lucky enough to have your support.
Sometimes it's easier to feel like I'm admitting something about myself that may not necessarily be true, instead of not being so hard on myself. I am hard work. I am more than 40 hours a week AND I'm a volunteer position. Sounds exhausting doesn't it? Who would want that?
This week's entry is unplanned. I wrote it on Feb 4th, 2019. I felt it was important to write in the moment, especially in lieu of the last few days. It is a part of understanding mental illness and many things that may come along with it.
**Side Note: I spent one night writing my entire story. I get these manic moments where I have so much energy that I can get a lot of shit done. Feels great at the time. I had an idea to start this blog soon after my down-spiral here in North Carolina. It was weighing on my mind heavily. One night I couldn't sleep and I spent the next several hours writing out my timeline and most of the posts. I am not joking. So each week, I go to my Google Docs and I find the next post in my story. I look it over. I make sure I wasn't too drunk when I wrote it (KIDDING) and I post it. So yeah, this post was not written ahead of time like the others.**
I try my best not to transfer negativity to others, but this is just another part of my story that I know other people experience. I would be doing you a disservice if I wasn't honest with you. So, despite the mostly happy days that I've been having, I get some pretty shitty ones. Like the last few days. And they suck. I'm not myself. It just hits me. It's as if I have no control over the steering wheel. No matter how hard I try to veer off in a different direction it just doesn't work.
Have you heard of Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)? Well, I emailed my psychiatrist this past week because it's important I tell him when I have these shitty times. He mentioned the possibility of PMDD in his email. It's not something we've discussed yet, but we will at my next appointment. Anyways, there's a good chance I fit into that category. No, I'm not diagnosing myself or adding something else onto my plate and wanting people to feel sorry for me. It's reality and it's important that I'm real about my health. My goal is to learn how to manage it after all. Eventually I will have control. See, that's positive?!
So what is PMDD? Hopkins Medicine says, Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is a much more severe form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). It may affect women of childbearing age. It’s a severe and chronic medical condition that needs attention and treatment. Lifestyle changes and sometimes medicines can help manage symptoms.
The exact cause of PMDD is not known. It may be an abnormal reaction to normal hormone changes that happen with each menstrual cycle. The hormone changes can cause a serotonin deficiency. Serotonin is a substance found naturally in the brain and intestines that narrows blood vessels and can affect mood and cause physical symptoms.
While any woman can develop PMDD, the following may be at an increased risk:
Symptoms of PMDD appear during the week before menstruation and end within a few days after your period starts. These symptoms disrupt daily living tasks. Symptoms of PMDD are so severe that women have trouble functioning at home, at work, and in relationships during this time. This is markedly different than other times during the month.
The following are the most common symptoms of PMDD:
**Actually, I'm only going to list a few because there are a shit-ton**
Psychological: irritability, nervousness, lack of control, agitation, anger, insomnia, difficulty in concentrating, depression, severe fatigue, anxiety, confusion, crying spells, poor self-image, paranoia and more. There are also others such as gastrointestinal, skin problems, neurological and vascular, fluid retention, respiratory, vision issues, and other complaints.
HOLY SHIT IS RIGHT! I told you, I'm a full-time job. I know what you're thinking; her poor wife. (I do have a sense of humor believe it or not). And if you're one of those people who thinks PMDD just means women become raging bitches, than you're mostly right. If my sister were here defending me she would tell you to "SUCK A D". Then I'd apologize.
It's easier to just tell myself that I'm friends with depression, anxiety, and PMDD. I guess I need to walk alongside them and find a way to cooperate. Maybe I could bribe them. Like a bunch of moms watching a bunch of toddlers bite each other as they steal each other's sippy cups. Another full time job, but a less negative and ridiculously funny way to look at it. In times like these humor can be the best medicine.
Can I put in my 2 weeks now?
Stay tuned next week for that phone call my wife had to make to my psychiatrist.
I just want all people to learn and grow together.