Outpatient Recovery, Los Angeles, April 2014 (Age 25) Pictured with mom in the garden.
A clinic psychiatrist reduced my antipsychotics slowly over a month. Individual and group therapy, knitting, coloring, and parking lot cigarettes occupied my days. I tried, but friends were impossible to make. .
At Aunt Bonnie and Uncle Mike’s house I listened to music, smoked, did puzzles, gardened with Mom and called friends. A nearby one took me hiking. My cousin, a Dodger’s game. The people who loved me worked to distract me from the tedium of healing.
I suffered, fearing things I had done, sinking in shame. My brain was fuzzy. Could I ever come back from this? .
In a moment of courage I messaged him, the guy who rescued me on my manic trip. He lived in LA and I wanted to tell him. He responded with positivity that ballooned my spirit and offered to take me to dinner, to celebrate. What??
Mom and Bonnie debated heavily. He was ten years older than me, successful in business, really nice, he saved my life… I lit up. Even though she was worried, I think, my mom was relieved to see me happy for once. Ok but only if he comes in to meet us. Be home by midnight.
On the night of my date they said I was beautiful. Fifteen pounds heavier, the seams of my dress cut into my sides. I willed my shaky Lithium hands to do my makeup. Mom took my jacket. It has holes in it! And lent me her scarf.
When I opened the door he was so handsome. I had never been on a date with an older man. I was nervous. He charmed my family, and we were off to Santa Monica.
Over sushi we swam easily between heavy and light conversation, then found a dive bar with a terribly laughable band. Not ready to go I had an idea, the beach…The breeze moved through my hair when he kissed me. We leaned back onto the sand. Secret tears filled my eyes. How was this possible? I wasn’t ruined, tainted or crazy. The things I thought I was. He treated me like a woman. I floated home. Peace washed over me like a warm wave and I knew that our goodbye was likely forever. So was his gift.
On my last day, Morgan and Dad flew in. We tackled Family Day with commitment, love and openness. I left LA struggling deeply but unbroken. A seed of hope was planted deep in my heart.