(This blog tells my family's story. To see more, click "blog" at the top of this webpage.)
The summer after the car accident, my doctor increased the dose on my anti-depressant and gave me two referrals, one to a psychologist for counseling and another to a surgeon for my dislocated thumb. Overwhelmed with our new normal, I put the referrals on hold, but I set aside my qualms about taking medication. I needed to stay afloat.
Starting high school pushed both of us to our limits. For Beth, it was the physical demands, and for me, it was working as a tutor with too little sleep. She actually liked school, in spite of tiring so easily.
“Most of my classmates only knew me as the shy volleyball player that I was before my car accident, but everyone was welcoming and supportive.”
On a cold fall morning, Beth had a low fever with congestion. Her small shallow cough reminded me of the weakness of her lungs. When I asked her to stay home, we argued, even though I didn’t want to make the call about missing another day of work. She insisted on going to school. When I transferred Beth from the car to her chair, I hit an ice patch and we slipped to the pavement. Maria helped me lift her sister into the wheelchair, but my rocky composure had tipped over a sharp edge.
Though I did my best to hide escaping tears, a few noticed. I said my head ached, no big deal. I didn’t lie. If pressed, I gave assurances that it would let up soon. After school, I moved a wheezing Beth into bed and rushed to give her medicine and water before she fell asleep. She made a request, a frequent one, to not let her sleep too long; a stack of homework waited.
Beth needed the rest more, but that was a battle I never won.
Alone in the quiet as she slept, I couldn’t fight the heavy sadness anymore. Then, it disturbed me that I couldn’t settle myself down for what felt like a long time—but I kept trying.
When John arrived home from work, I shared the immediate problem: whether or not I could get through another school day without losing control. And worse, whether or not I could calm myself down when I did. More than anything else, I had to function day to day for Beth. She depended on me and I would not let anything get in the way.
John knew about my chronic headache, but I had worked hard to minimize and mask the guilt and depression. I didn’t want to worry him. I love many things about my husband, including his ability to be a good listener. He hugged me and asked me to quit my job at the high school and start counseling. I agreed with relief. He suggested going out to a restaurant. No, thank you. He offered to schedule a massage for me. No, thanks. While I called to set up my first session with the psychologist, John made dinner.
We thought that counseling would help.
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