Part I

I laughed a minute, through the sobs, recalling a joke so old that when it flitted through my mind, dust poured from my brain:

“One day, the suicide hotline got mixed up and began to play that (now old) Nike slogan: “Just Do It.”

Because you know what suicidal people need?

MORE COWBELL things getting in the way of finding help. I’d spent the entire weekend waiting for Monday, the day I knew I could get get the ball moving with my GP as well as begin the long and obnoxious process of finding a therapist. And so far I’d been met with this:

1) A doctor’s office who seemed to be ignoring me like I was a stalky ex-girlfriend

B) A suicide prevention hotline that, when I was told to “wait on the line,” disconnected me.

Nervous Breakdown: 2

Aunt Becky: 0

Being tenacious, even in my breakdown, I decided that I would call back – perhaps I’d been lulled by the soothing voice on the phone and had not, in fact, pressed a number like a good little semi-suicidal person should. I did.

This time, a woman with a German accent so incredibly thick it sounded as though she was speaking through honey, answered the phone. Not being one who likes to pour her heart out to complete strangers (which, I think even Alanis Morisette would agree is particularly ironic considering that is precisely what I’ve been doing since I started this blog), I was immediately on guard. Would she Baker-Act me? Did Illinois HAVE a Baker Act? Where were my pants? And where in the name of the Good Lord of Butter was that damn python?

Fucking snakes.

She introduced herself and asked me why I’d called the hotline, or at least, I think she did. It sounded more like,

“Hi, my name is (garbled), and you’ve reached the suicide hotline.”

“Uh, HI,” I said, sobbing heavily, which I was pretty sure made me as indecipherable as her German. “I’m Becky.”

Except it probably sounded like, “I-I-I-I I’m Bu-bu-bu-Becky.” (snotty interlude)

“Hai, Becky,” she returned, “Vhy did yew call us today?”

Sputtering, I spit out (really wish WordPress had a “weepy” translation so I could toggle a button and translate my words into whiny hysterical bitch mode.)(I’ve also, a time or two, wish there was a “translate into pirate-ese) “I’m just losing it – I’m having a nervous breakdown. Things have been so bad.” I’m sure she heard something like, “Snorrrrrttttt….nerbous break…things….bad.

“Vat,” she inquired, “Is dee problem? What hassss been going on?”

“Well,” I said, “I’b habing problems and I’b overwhelmed and so sad (as though I needed to point that out to someone I was acutely weeping toward) and I don’t know what to do.” I trailed off into a snotty burble.

“Arrrrr you married?” She asked – or I think that’s what she asked –  she could have asked if I’d been contemplating my new life as an alien or a man named Steve – I couldn’t be sure.

“Yeah – but we’ve been having some struggles. He’s said some things that I don’t know you can take back.”

She clucked sympathetically, and rather than delve into those problems, which, you know, I’d have preferred skewing my eyeballs out with fondue forks than really delve into with a woman whose accent made it sound as though she was continually insulting me.

“I’m not sure he loves me anymore. He says he doesn’t,” I sobbed.

“Do you believe in a higher power?” she asked, and confused as to how it related to my husband’s love – or lack thereof – for me, I answered thoughtfully, “uhhhh, yes,” but before she could answer and harangue me with her Bible Talk, I quickly responded, “but I am not particularly religious.” Which is mostly the truth. Or as much of the truth as I cared to delve into with a woman who had (I presume) the capacity to call the cops on me, especially since the last thing I’d taken away from my upbringing was “do not discuss religion. End of story.”

“Vell,” she continued, “tap into zee energy of zaaa vorld. Can you feeeeel zeee energy of zeeee planets? Da sun, da planets, da universe, all sending their energy to yoooou.”

Great, I’d gotten the only (presumably) suicide counselor who believed in zeee power of zeee planets. Oh well, I shrugged, at least she wasn’t telling me “Christ died for YOOOOU,” because how is THAT comforting? (answer: it’s not)

“Uh, yeah,” I responded, the tears slowing a bit. Maybe there was something TO this suicide hotline – she’d certainly distracted me from my nervous breakdown as I wondered a) where she lived b) whether she did Tarot readings and 3) was she (currently) burning some Nag Champa?

We hung up soon after that – once you talk astral energy, you don’t have anywhere else to go.

I began, as I’d been doing on and off for a couple of days, to sob once again, the moment I hung up. I returned to the computer to assure my two best friends, Jana and Crys, that I was not, in fact, off offing myself. They’d been calling local therapists to see if I’d be able to get in to see someone ASAP, so I wasn’t particularly surprised when the phone rang.

I didn’t recognize the number, but I answered it anyway with a tentative, “Hello?”

“Hi Becky,” a soothing male voice greeted me. “It’s (insert name of old shrink). How are you?”

Assuming that this had been the handiwork of Jana, who’d been lovingly called some therapists while both of the guys in my life (Ben, and the Guy Formerly on the Couch) had gone off to work, I continued speaking to him.

I spoke honestly: “I’m not so good – I think I need to come in for a session soon.”

“Okay, how’s Thursday at 1PM?” He asked. “Hopefully, I’ll have the air on by then – the storms cut off my power and water, which means I’m sweating like a pig.”

“Sounds good to me,” I snorted, the tears falling fast.

“I’ll pencil you in for every Thursday through July,” he said, clearly hearing sobs.

“Oookay,” I replied.

“Now, I was calling to ask about Dave – he has an appointment today and I have no air conditioning. Figured I’d double check with him as to whether he wanted to show. I don’t have his cell – what is it?”

I doled out Dave’s cell phone number and we exchanged our goodbyes.

I sat, staring at the phone somewhat quizzically – how had Jana known that this was my old therapist? Eventually, I sent Jana an IM – “did you call my old therapist?”

“Nope,” she said in her mouthful-of-sugar Southern accent. “Why?”

“He just called out of the blue. On the one day I’m having a nasty nervous breakdown.”

“Wow,” Jana said. “Wild.”

I was quiet a moment while I thought.

“That? That’s Providence,” I said. “With a capitol P.”

And thus began my road to recovery.

68 thoughts on “The Nervous Breakdown Chronicles: Providence

  1. Bex, I’m not a therapist, but I’m a damned good listener. Any time, babe. Any time. First time I make it up to the Chicago for funzies, you’re getting a hug or elventyseven.

    Heh…I’m wearing my “With The Band” shirt today.

  2. Oh man, yes a hug is in order. He will remind you how strong you are, sometimes we forget. Just need a nudge take care

  3. Aunt Becky. You have my love and support. I know this must be so hard for you. We are all of us here to help, whatever you may need. I am so sorry that you have to deal with this. You have been a beacon of light for so many. Let us be a light for you now. So many hugs.

  4. soooo glad you are okay(or as okay as you are going to get for the moment anyway)….i’ve been so worried.
    Love you!
    keep your chin up kiddo….

  5. Sounds like zee power of zee planets kicking in! You are awesome. So happy you’re getting help. I am rooting for you ALL THE WAY!

  6. Becky, I know I am only just getting to know you, but I am an extra set of ears should you need them, for Realz.

    As for your shrink, I think he had crazy amazing timing. It’s like a dose of the world, zee amahhhzing world, shining through at the right time. Maybe accented phone lady had something going for her! She knows something that matters and works! Huge hugs to you.

  7. I am so glad you are getting help, and he called exactly when you needed him most. I LOVE YOU! And I am always here day or night if you need anything. If you want I can email you again so you have my address, we can heal together maybe. HUGE Internet HUGS to my BFF!

  8. Becky,

    I have been lurking around your blog for awhile (does this make me a “blurker”?) and I just wanted to send a little love your way. I am a young mother to a 1 year old, and your blog has become a place for me to hide out and feel normal when said child is driving me crazy bananas. It has been said so many times before, but I will say once again, you are not alone! We are none of us alone.

    Being a mother is by far the most demanding job in the world, because it never fucking ends. Our husbands get to come home from work. Our work is home. It’s goddam overwhelming. But know that I am right there with you, trying to navigate through this crazy shit that is life.

    THANK YOU. For your blog. For making me feel like I’m not the only mother out there who isn’t exactly “typical” or “normal”. Normal is bullshit.

    (p.s. I thought I should mention that I encountered a shop the other day called “The Hot Dog Emporium” and immediately told my husband that I had to take a picture for “My Aunt Becky”. He asked me if I was drunk, which, unfortunately, I was not. Oh well.)

  9. Amazing! This makes me so happy to hear that you got the call at the right time. Maybe there is something to that higher power thing…

  10. Oh, AB. My heart has been breaking for you. You let me know if you need *anything*. I’m always around for you. I love you so much, my dear. Sending you hugs and all of the good stuff!

  11. So, the lady on the hotline wasn’t wrong. The universe was tapped into… and here you are. Still here to see another (very hot) day. Love you.

  12. Oh, honey. I”m so sorry you’re going through this. I’ve heard some similar words from a loved one before, and it fucking HURTS. I’m sending you vibes and energy and stuff from ze universe. THIS TOO SHALL PASS!!!!!

  13. See? Your Pranksters and Zeee Univerz love you! I’m so glad God or Zeus or Uranus {snort} told your old doctor to call you.

  14. Reading this, I felt the elephant shift at least most of its weight sideways, off my chest. Dear god, Becky. Relief. Just relief.

    I know you’re still in the middle of this, but damn it’s good to know that you have resources and HELP and people with German accents that answer the phone.

  15. I’m so so glad he called. I’m grateful for providence and hopefully you can get through this. I love ya honey.

  16. The German lady sounds like a real trip.

    I’m really glad you found a therapist. I would have offered to send my mom over (she’s a licensed psychologist who isn’t currently practicing) but I suspect she’s caused more suicides than she’s prevented. You’ll probably have more success with the therapist who called you out of the blue.


  17. Aunt Becky, I’m so happy you are doing better. The universe is an amazing place some times. Now that you are in a safer place, I’ll share what one of my pranksters told me when I was in a similar place. She said, “You have helped so many people believe in themselves that if you did something like THAT, I’d be so pissed off, I’d come and kill you myself. How can we believe in ourselves, which YOU taught us to do, if you don’t believe in yourself enough to hang in there when the going gets tough?” She made a valid point for me. I”ve spent my whole life trying to find my place and helping others find their place. The last thing I’d want (because I’m a vain, egotistical bitch) is to think my pranksters thought I let them down and by doing so caused them to lose faith in the universe.
    I’m old enough to be your mom, and I’ve come to love you through your writing like a daughter I never had. You and the universe ROCK.
    Put on some music and let’s dance!

  18. Becky,

    You hold all of us up, love on us, make us laugh, and tell good dirty jokes — you deserve some Providence.



  19. Oh man. If it helps a tiny tiny bit, a stranger reading your words wishes good things for you, and for you to find your happier days.

  20. Bigger issue: Did the Daver really say he doesn’t love you any more? If so, I’m on the first plane to Chicago to kick his butt. I don’t know how I’d find him in a little city like Chicago but I’d sure give it a hellava try.

  21. I wish there were hug-a-grams so I could send you one right now. You are one of my favorite things about the internet- not just because of your ridiculousness (purple as a flavor?!), but also because you talk about what happens after the trauma ends… when you’re tempted to believe the lies of isolation. Your work is important. YOU are important. And I sincerely hope you know how very much you are loved and appreciated.

    As you’ve said many a time, we are none of us alone.


    – one of your many lurkers

  22. I’m so relieved to hear things are on the upswing, although I’m sad to hear you are struggling in your marriage. I know that exact pain, and it is the worst. I wish you peace and send lots of hugs.

  23. When shit like this happens, sometimes the ONLY ‘comfort’, the ONLY thing that helps us swing our legs over the side of the bed and walk lead-footed to the kitchen or to pour cereal and cut bananas for our children, is knowing that this very thing has happened, is happening, and will happen to someone else.

    I hope you are finding some comfort in all of these comments, I read through them, and each seems to offer you a unique kinship of sorts.

    I am here to tell you that when I went through something similar but different but exactly the same ,the first place I went (physically and emotionally) was on the floor, in a ball, like a child, wailing.

    I am not on the floor anymore, in fact, the floor is in a dusty place in my mind, forever marked, but dusty.

    Hold onto this: You never know how this chapter will end, where this part of the story will take you. The hardest part of this is our inability to choose. We are Mothers and we are Grown Ups and we. must. take. the. fucking. journey. The destination may be Unexpected or Different or Not What We Planned for or Imagined, but, BUT, it may be Beautiful still.

    I am not going to tell you how my story ends, for it is of little consequence. What I know is that I know a lot of the things you are feeling these days, and those days, and some of the days ahead.

    The other thing I know?


    (apologies for such a long comment)
    (my email is, if you wanna talk/type/ask/tell/yell/vent/eatvicodinchipcookies ).

    1. I love this comment. I wish I could have written it for AB. I wish I was in the place where you are to have been able to write it. I wish I was in a place to believe the journey will, in fact, be beautiful. Thank you for encouraging our Aunt Becky, and in turn, encouraging me.

      And Aunt Becky, I am so, so glad you are feeling hopeful, even if they only come in fleeting moments at first. You can, and will, make it through this, and we’re all right there next to you.


  24. “And thus began my road to recovery.”

    YAAAAaaaaa…. 🙂

    I have no advise. But, I have this:

    {{Aunt Becky}}

  25. So glad! So very glad! Hang in there and some times things just work out right! Glad it happened to you this time. You above all needed it the most! My sofa is always warm and ready!

  26. Glad the universe is sending you some positive energy…you deserve to feel healthy and happy. We were in the city today…saw a sign, “coming soon, Cox’s Cleaner” for a new drycleaner……. thought of you and wished I had a camera, dang.

  27. Aunt Becky I don’t have anything but love and hugs and energy to send you. And a reminder that through this (and you will get through this) you are teaching us all and helping us all. That universe the German lady was talking about…the power you (maybe) felt…that’s us, right here behind you. xoxoxo

  28. Well there you go the universe was listening. I’m so glad what you needed arrived when you needed it most.

    I”m proud of you for putting one foot in front of the other and keeping on. (((hugs)))

  29. Please please never think of suicide, you’ll be okay, really you will! What would this world be without Aunt Becky and all her stories?????? Please STAY with us!

  30. Big hugs for you, Becky. I’m glad that German woman didn’t depress you further with her ability to remain unflappable and organized in the face of chaos—always a danger when a German is around.

  31. That is definitely Providence. I am SO glad that he called you and you’re going to be able to see him soon. I really hope that everything gets better soon. Lots of hugs.

  32. I, too had nervous breakdowns at an early age and was taken to a therapist. I remember my mom saying, before she took me that she thought something was wrong with me and that I needed to see someone. Thanks, mom. Way to ease me into it. I don’t remember much about the guy besides that he had a fish tank in his office. Apparently those early therapy sessions were really helpful.

  33. I remember calling a hotline after my son was born 17 years ago. Barely able to string 3 words together to make a sentence.

    And the cold perfunctory manner of the volunteer. …So awful.

    I decided then I better figure something out, b/c no stranger is going to help me.

    And so I found a fantastic therapist, the right prescription, a non denominational study group, a PPD support group, and slowly in weekly increments, found my way out of the 50 foot deep black tunnel.

    EVERY so slowly.


  34. 1) That’s a lot of shit. You’re seriously strong to reach out and MAKE someone help. Go you, time a million. Thank you. 2) I got a little bit goose-pimpled when your therapist called. (Did you feel zeeee energy aligning?)

  35. ((creepystrangerhugs))

    My heart broke for you reading all this. Even in your moments of agony you are still incredibly funny. Please hang in there, you have so many people who love the hell out of you even if they only get to read your witty blog.

    Also, I had a similar past with early nervous break downs. I spent all my time playing with my therapists dog every session and she tried to give me prozac, my mom said no so she gave me enough sample zoloft to off myself if I really wanted to. I realized that at the time and flushed the stuff.

  36. Just now reading these posts as I was out of town all weekend. I will send you a personal message through FB today.

    I do have one question though…why the hell didn’t you take Dave’s appointment? I think you probably needed it a lot more than he did that day. I am not sure about a Therapist that would wait 4 days to see you when you are in crisis. Maybe you need someone with more availability / flexibility at this point.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *