“So now what? This is the part of the essay where I should offer some wisdom. Tell you what we’re on the journey to learn. I’m not an expert. This is all still so new to me. I’m presenting one path, the rooms I’ve passed and been through on my way through the house, my haunted house.” — Bruce Owen Grimm
We all have our own inventories to make. When I was young, my father would sometimes take us to the store he managed to “help” him with inventory. It meant hours of counting weird do-dads and whatsajiggers and reporting to him how many. If my number didn’t match his records, I had to recount. If it still didn’t match a third time, he would sigh, look over his glasses, and make note on a dilapidated clipboard of how many were missing. At least he could recoup a portion of the loss from the manufacturer.
Taking an inventory of our life is neither as exact nor as mindless as counting dusty boxes on a shelf. Nor is there only one way to do it. Those of us who aren’t as creative as Bruce may never write a spellbinding tale of their father’s ghost. Other creative souls, like my friend Nicole from Mood Swing Art, revisit their own haunts visually. For my clients, I help them by creating a mental map of their journey, noting where we may need to stop and close a hellmouth of self-hate (see my previous post “You’re Going to Need a Map” to begin your own). I digress.
Yet what do we do when we unleash a force we cannot contain? When our past breaks any glyphs of protection we have cast and claws its way towards us, instilling a terror so deep we think death is our only escape? Fortunately, for Bruce, Nicole, myself, and others, we have been pulled back from this brink time and again through fortune, friends, or fortitude. Now we share our stories as a beacon of hope breaking through the nightmares of others.
Again, before I share the conclusion of Grimm’s Inventory of a Haunted House No. 2, if you are in need of help text or call the The Trevor Project (866) 488-7386 for LGBTQ youth or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline through online chat or calling (800) 273-8255.
Inventory of a Haunted House No. 2 (continued):
For two months I couldn’t look in the mirror. I feared the reflection would reveal the shadow I felt behind me, the specter of my father. A few days before I felt the call, the desire to swim the 2.6 miles out to the water crib, he came back. I feared being alone. When in my room, I had to cover the left half of my body, including my face, with a blanket. I didn’t want to take a shower because I felt so vulnerable in there, most at risk for being attacked by my father’s ghost. A trick of the mind that I couldn’t banish.
That day, the day where my suicidal ideation felt closest to being actual, a friend texts to see how I was doing. I reply, “I’m no longer trying to figure out how to disappear forever.”
Confession: As I tell her this, I lie in my bed, thinking about the bottle of sleeping pills in my bedside drawer. An easy, classic way to go, I think. I’ll fall asleep and be lulled into whatever awaits.
She must have some sense of this because she responds that I must go see my general practitioner because it’s clear my meds are not working. She insists I make an appointment to see my doctor asap.
The building where my doctor practices looks like an abandoned contemporary church converted into six floors of doctors’ offices. I count only four floors, which confuses me.
“Two floors are underground,” my roommate says. He has come with me to the doctor. He sits in the waiting room next to me. Perhaps it’s to make sure I follow through with my appointment.
Water spills out of the faucet as my doctor washes his hands. “What’s going on?”
“I’ve been feeling very depressed and,” the paper on the exam table crinkles beneath me as I shift my weight. “and suicidal.”
He stops wiping his hands with paper towels and holds them. “Ok. Then I’m calling the police and having you hospitalized.” His tone stern, but not uncaring.
“I wouldn’t do it. I just keep thinking about it.” I don’t tell him about how in the minutes before he came in, I conjured Lake Michigan with my father’s voice saying, “This way, this way, this way” as my eyes dipped below the water. It felt like a threat and a comfort.
He dries his hands and goes over to the computer. He tells me that it sounds like I’ve plateaued on my current medication. He prescribes me a stronger one, a pharmaceutical enchantment that will work on two parts of my brain instead of one.
So now what? This is the part of the essay where I should offer some wisdom. Tell you what we’re on the journey to learn. I’m not an expert. This is all still so new to me. I’m presenting one path, the rooms I’ve passed and been through on my way through the house, my haunted house.
So now what? What I want to offer is understanding. To let others know I know what it feels like. I’ve been told my whole life that if you feel suicidal, don’t talk about it, don’t tell anyone. I broke a taboo when I confessed my suicidal ideation. We need to talk about it. We need to end the shame in order for people feeling suicidal are more comfortable reaching out. They needed to know they will not be judged; they will be helped.
I also know that I’m very privileged to work for a company that provides medical benefits to hourly employees. Without it, I couldn’t afford my doctor visit or my medication. There are other resources: The Trevor Project (866-488-7386) or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-8255).
So now what? All I know for sure is that when my depression came screaming back it made me feel like that kid hiding between the bushes at dusk in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio playing Ghost in the Graveyard. My friends looked for me. When they found me this time instead of running away, they held out their hands and beckoned for me to stay with them.
For more from Bruce Owens Grimm, visit him on:
or his webpage: https://bruceowensgrimm.com/
Thank you, Bruce, for being my first guest blogger here on Monsters Beneath My Bed!