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?
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?
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.