Right now in my recycling box, there are several pounds of statements and receipts from 2012 through 2015. I don’t know if that covers everything, but looking through them, I see a paper trail of trauma.
The marriage counseling through the winter of 2012, followed by receipts for individual counseling for my ex after we split.
The week in 2013 one of my kids spent in a psychiatric unit fifty miles away. The compulsory ambulance ride, the in-network providers, the out-of-network providers, the zombie medications, the agonizing arguments over whether all of this was necessary (how was I supposed to know?). The retirement fund I cashed out to pay the bills.
The hand-written receipts from my old-school psychiatrist with the tweed suit and trimmed beard. Comments written at the bottom: “Increase X medication to 100 mg. Liberalize X medication use toward 15 mg twice a day.” That was when the depression didn’t feel like sadness, more like weariness so bone-deep I couldn’t remember words or stay awake for an entire work day.
There were times during those years I would slip a bunch of postage stamps into the petty cash box at work, pulling out the equivalent in dollars, to make it to payday. There were times I would take home a roll of toilet paper from the office bathroom. During this time I took out my first payday loan. Every year I sank a few thousand deeper into debt, a remarkably slow rate if I do say so myself.
This year, someone incredibly kind lifted me out of debt by putting me in her will. This year, I had my last court battle with my ex. This year I have two seniors and a junior. I have a paycheck that is, for the first time ever, slightly bigger than my rent/mortgage. I have a really nice house, and a car that by some miracle still works. These last couple years have brought their own reams of medical papers and questions, but I’m no longer falling asleep at lunch. I’m not paralyzed by grief and fear. I have love in my life that makes me feel like I have backup.
I could fall off this stupid mountain at any time, but I’m not going to focus on that. I’m just going to appreciate for a minute how far I’ve come.