How Do You Heal?
My husband and I have been together for seven years. Two summers ago, in the midst of extreme financially difficulty, my husband tried to commit suicide. It was July 20, and my parents and sister and I were just returning home after a family get together. My husband was supposed to pick me up from my parents' house. The first sign that something was wrong, was when I couldn't get him on the phone. Worried, I sat down on my parents couch to wait for a little before calling again. About ten minutes later, my parents' phone rang. I answered. A pleasant woman on the other end asked to speak with me. She told me that my husband was in the emergency room, having just attempted to kill himself. I was told that he was alright, and that I could come see him.
When I arrived, I tried very hard to keep my composure. Walking from the front of the hospital to the emergency room was the longest two minutes of my life. As I was brought to his room, I couldn't stop myself. I cried. I knew that my husband didn't need to be burdened with my emotions at that moment, but I couldn't help it. He looked so ragged. He was extremely pale. His wrists were bandaged from trying to slit them, and his throat was badly bruised from attempting to hang himself. My rock had crumbled. Seeing me, he began to cry. I hugged and kissed him.
A nurse came in and informed me that my husband would have to be moved to another facility. It is state law that once a person tries to injure themselves they must be held for 72 hours for observation and he couldn't take up room in the emergency ward. To make things worse, my husband's incident had butted up against a weekend--meaning that he would be held for at least five days because no counselors would be present over the weekend at the new facility.
I followed an ambulance a fair distance to a mental hospital. I was patted down before I was allowed to enter. My husband was checked in over the course of a couple of hours. (As time has gone by, I have let the specifics of everything surrounding that day dull. I don't come back to this horrible day much. It hurts too much to.) Much of the day, we sat in silence, crying or just reeling from the severity of the situation. How could we afford this? We were barely making ends meet, what now? How long would he be hospitalized? Etc. Once he had gone through the admittance process, I was forced to leave. (Most mental hospitals have very controlled visitation hours.)
I returned the next day in time to visit and stayed for the entire time I was allowed. It was so hard to see my husband in the hospital. To visit, I had to be checked in--the doors unlocked to let me in and re-locked behind me. Anything that could have been used as a weapon was removed--no hardback books, no belts, no shoelaces. One of the worst things was the hospital's rules about affection. Hugging was to be kept to a minimum, hand holding was allowed, but only in small amounts. Kissing and such was strictly prohibited. This was hard. All I wanted to do was take my husband in my arms and make it better--to kiss him and tell him it would be alright.
The worst experience of all was at the end of every visit, my husband would look at me and beg me not to go. There was nothing that I could do. I had to leave and he couldn't come with me. Each day as I surveyed the hospital, I just kept thinking that he didn't belong there. The other patients were much worse--very serious cases--talking to people that didn't exist, thrashing out violently, screaming and crying. It was heartbreaking to walk out those doors every night--to turn around and watch the door shut and lock behind me, and most of all to see him through the window a sad misguided shell of a man surrounded by scary imbalanced people.
For well over a week, I traveled daily to see him. Finally, he was released. I brought him home to a house full of "Welcome Home" decorations. He has been attending a therapist since then, and has really learned to talk about his feelings--rather than waiting until he feels too overwhelmed to take it. His healing is well on the road--even our financial situation has improved--somehow though, in all the craziness, I lost something. I lost the comfort in our relationship. I see that he is doing better, but everyday I wake up wondering if/when it will all fall apart again. My husband may be whole again, but in many ways it feels like I never will be. Did he do it because of me? If he felt that life wasn't worth living anymore, what does that say about how he feels about me? How can I trust that he is okay when he was so good at hiding it all before? How do I heal?