“Kate, my darling, I’m ready.”
I walked in to a frail hug and then slumped on the couch, landing at my usual elevation. I couldn’t look at him and his emaciated figure. He was running out of time. The cancer was eating him alive. And that reality was eating me alive.
This man I loved and depended on for treatment and so many other things was dying. The time to prove I would ever amount to anything other than the illness that plagued my every day was disappearing and it was happening right in front of me. We sat there, two humans full of separate, excruciating pain and went through the motions of therapy.
Our sessions no longer made sense. Although I so desperately wanted to be worthy of this world and him, and do incredible good to help humanity for the better, my depression was at such a place that all I craved was an escape. I wanted to die. I thought about it all day, every day. And, here, in front of me was a man, a father, a husband, a doctor who so desperately wanted to live.
The reality of our situation gnawed at me every single moment of every day and night. Over the last year, since his diagnosis with cancer, not only did I feel lonely, hopeless and self destructive but I also felt endlessly selfish for my emotional reality. Why couldn’t I give my life and save his? I couldn't wrap my head around it and my toxic thought patterns made it all the worse.
After 8 years of mental health chaos, countless different treatment approaches, over 40 medication trials and enumerable hospitalizations, it didn’t seem like there was ever going to be an improvement and I just wanted to trade my life in and save his. No matter how many mood diaries I kept, how many days I practiced coping strategies and did my workbooks, the symptoms only seemed to get more pronounced. I would write and write and write about the beauty of darkness in hopes that it would make the darkness feel better but I was rapidly realizing that the only way it was beautiful was if there could be light in the world too. And the light was rapidly disappearing. And now, the man who had always held my hand and walked me through the fire of my own chaos to show me that light was leaving the world.
I couldn’t take it anymore as I nodded superficially to his musings about the power of love in this world and its healing powers. It made me sick to my stomach and queasy all over. “This isn’t working.“ I blurted out. He paused at my interruption, jarred out of his auditory mediation and for the first time in weeks, I was able to look him in the eye. “I just can’t do this anymore. You want to live and I want to die. It doesn’t make sense. Instead, its killing us both even faster.”
The tears fell from his eyes and he bowed his head. “I’m afraid you might be right, my darling. You have lost your spunk and I don’t know where it has gone. I don’t know what happened to you, when you stopped working on you and I can’t seem to bring your spunk back.” And there, he had said it out loud. We were not compatible anymore. After 8 years of him talking me out of suicide, planning books we would co-write, talks we would co-lecture, organizations we would co-found, he had finally broken the spell, he didn’t believe in me anymore and it was over.
He went on to try to explain himself but got sidetracked into another musing on love, family, the beauty of each moment and how celebration of the present moment could save the world. His musings lasted the rest of the session and his words meandered between love and god. I stared at my feet and the oriental carpet I had walked on every week for years. His words poured over me like a brook passing over a solitary stone. At the end of the session, I hugged his frail frame once more. “Goodbye, my darling. See you next week at the same time.”
As I walked out, I realized we really were that different now. I was a rock and he was water. He was passing. For the first time in weeks, I cried. It was really over. As I sat with tears falling in the parking lot, I said my own goodbye to his window. “Goodbye. I promise to remember the beauty of your wisdom of our many years even though this last year has held nothing but sorrow and pain.”
I pulled out my phone and called the number I had already saved in my contacts. I got an answering machine but I still left a message. “Hi, My name is Kate Fisher. I have bipolar disorder and OCD and I need an appointment. I definitely need an appointment. I would like to start immediately. Actually, I need to start immediately. Please call me back at this number as soon as you get the chance.” And there, in a message, in a moment, my spunk showed up.