With my memory issues, I was hoping initially that I’d forget the time I spent in the system. But I’m realizing whether I like it or not, it’s serving a very important purpose as I move slowly forward in my life.
What was I doing Thanksgiving 2009? Not much. I spent midday Thanksgiving of 2009 at a drop in center for the mentally ill (Vail Place in Minneapolis). That evening there was another Thanksgiving dinner at the group home,later that evening . I had already received finally, in the beginning of November of 2009, my 1st SSDI check. It was quite painful to sign over $900 of the $1,001, that I had received,to pay for my crappy room (and board) that I shared with 2 other people at the group home I was living with. (note: It cost me $900, however it cost the county an additional $600 or $1500 a month, as prior to getting SSDI, I had been on General Assistance since I left the hospital, post suicide attempt). However time was moving by, oh so slow, as I impatiently awaited my backpay.
So, imagine living on a $101 a month, knowing that sometime, you were going to receive several thousands of dollars in back pay. It really wasn’t the money I was waiting for, it was my FREEDOM. Because of missing some medication passes, I had been restricted for months, on not being able to leave the group home for an extended period of time (more than 4 hours).
Holiday Season of 2009 was my SECOND holiday season spent in the mental health system, though. The year before though,I had been in a 90 day inpatient intensive behavior treatment group home, that was slightly less scary, than my current residency in a group home that was for people who long term needed assisted care because of severe and persistent mental illness being a barrier,of them being able to live independently.
Thanksgiving came and passed. Then 6 days later, it was my 40th birthday. Which I celebrated by having a delicious (dripping copious amounts of sarcasm) dinner consisting of having mushroom swiss Angus burger from McDonald’s, that I’d end up puking my guts out (the psych meds while I was being weaned off of most by early December of 2009, caused a wicked binge and purge cycle, even though I was almost 8 years status post gastric bypass, this was 9 months BEFORE what would end up, of my getting reversed, which I had NO IDEA that would be an issue in the future) by myself.
I found it kind of funny that in both group homes they celebrated St. Nick’s Day. While I understand the sentiment, it was kind of funny to see a bunch of people who where their medications and a lot of sugar was an interesting combination. It was less funny in me, given the fact I was in that binge/purge cycle and still dumped from sugar, caused quite an ugly reaction (projectile vomiting).
Christmas of 2009 came and went quietly. That also was spent at the group home and later that night, at a local church with friends from the group home, that offered Christmas Dinner to the indigent . A couple of days later, knocked me for a loop. In a VERY good way. When checking my balance, of my checking account, to see if I had enough money for a pack of cigarettes, I had about almost $10K that I should’ve known was coming, but kind of gave up. Two days later, New Year’s Eve of 2009 was spent at a dentist appointment,checking out a condo in Plymouth for rent, which I saw, wrote a check for and then promptly moved out of that group home, next day on January 1st, 2010.
Now, all of this is in my very 1st (ranty, wordy, not capable of any logical sequence in order of thought) blog on here, on WordPress. It bears repeating, for multiple reasons, though. Especially THIS holiday season, for ME. For someone who nearly lost their life, multiple times in the last couple of years (only once was due to mental illness, the other near death issues were medical) I know how lucky I am, to still be alive.
This blog was not written to do any type of activism. It probably explains more of why I’m passionate about the activism that I do. It also reinforces why I take nothing and no one for granted. But I NEVER did. Maybe the one thing I did take for granted was my freedom. But I had no mental health or legal history before the age of 38 1/2.
So, what will be I doing this Thanksgiving in 2014? Due to having a bad cold, I will be celebrating it quietly by myself. As I don’t want to make anyone else sick. While most of the holidays (including my birthday) in 2010, I was by myself as I was still quite sick, after my gastric bypass reversal, the last several years the holidays have been spent with my boyfriend and his family and then stopping by my parents house and seeing my children .
I started a tradition that came from when I first moved out on my own, New Years Day 2010, after almost 16 months in the mental health system. It’s a “gratitude” tradition. Kind of quirky, but I actually thank everything that I have, and everyone I have, often. Not just on the holidays. While I’m sure, I’d look strange if I was thanking my bedding and my television (among many other things), in front of anyone else, I couldn’t care less.
There was a time when I had absolutely NOTHING, in 2008 to the end of 2009. I had to start at ground zero in 2010 and rebuild a life with a lot of medical and mental health barriers. Not only did I lose almost all my material possessions, but what I lost in abilities and in freedom. And I did rebuild a life, one I never imagined, while it’s not of my dreams that I had in 2004, it’s not of my nightmares of what my life was like in 2008 and 2009. SO,I know how lucky I am, to have what I have in my life, not to mention, WHO, I have in my life. My children. My family. My friends. My boyfriend.
And the freedom of choice. I couldn’t be anymore grateful this Thanksgiving of 2014 for that and everything else.