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Our plane arrived in Auckland on Friday the 6th of May 2016. We were met by my step- daughter-in-law to be (don’t go there its too complicated) at the domestic airport and then made our way over to the international to pick up two good friends who had arrived from Australia for my daughter’s wedding on Saturday. I have been good friends with them for nearly 35 years and they were acutely aware when they arrived that something wasn’t right. Beside the fact that I looked like crap, Katrina had broken down in tears when she saw them and it didn’t take them long to work out it wasn’t tears of joy.
Jerry and Jenny are the type of friends you don’t see for months but you pick up pretty quickly from where you left off the last time your saw them. They were both aware of my history and they understood where I was coming from because they had supported me through my last episode in 1998. We gave them a quick run down but I was conscious that they were over here for a happy occasion and I didn’t want them following me into my murky world.
I decided not to tell my daughter what had happened until after her wedding. To be honest I didn’t really decide anything because my brain had stopped working and all I was doing was marching words through one ear and out the other while my brain tried to contemplate life after sanity. The ultimate decision was made by Katrina and my youngest daughter….I just agreed. They decided my eldest daughter had enough going on in her life without having to worry about her father being a complete and utter lunatic.
I spent the rest of the day trying to keep my head above water and look excited about something I should have been ecstatic about. On the outer I looked ok but inside I was a screaming mess…I was just trying to act as if everything was ok but in reality all I wanted to do was be on my own and close my eyes. Conversations were going on around me that I just couldn’t comprehend and if I was honest I probably just didn’t want to hear. I was just too consumed with thoughts about the previous 48 hours and nothing else really mattered.
As the day went on I was getting anxious about the wedding, meeting people and being in a social environment that really I couldn’t handle. I had to ask Katrina to tell a white lie…no a lie….to say I had a sore tummy so I couldn’t go for drinks in a local pub with both the families. I was just so anxious that I needed to get my head together and sitting in a pub and not drinking just wasn’t going to cut it.
Now as father of the bride I had some responsibilities for the next day. One was walking down the aisle and giving Laura away to Mark, who she had been going out with for 11 years. That wasnt going to be too hard he was part of the family anyway. The other thing was to do a speech. The previous Michael would have done what he always does and done it off the top of his head and hope that he covered everything. The current Michael didn’t have a top to his head…it had gone west with the rest of his cerebral matter so he had to bring some sense into his limited thinking capabilities. I took to the computer and put together 6 sheets of paper that covered off the topics I had to cover as father of the bride. I then wrote out exactly what I had to say, not just memory joggers, but contemporaneous notes that stated exactly what I wanted say. For me I wanted to be confident in what I had in my pocket because the last thing I could have handled was worrying about making a speech and fluffing around trying to remember things. A full chronology gave me some feeling of comfort that people wouldn’t see as a blithering idiot.
On the Saturday morning before the wedding I received a call from the Waitemata Mental Health Crisis Team. They had received my referral from Wellington and were touching base with me. They were aware that I was attending my daughter’s wedding and said they would phone me Sunday morning.
Saturday was a funny day….in one way I was anxious but in another the focus gave me some respite from the turmoil I was going through. I was completely focused on what I had to do and found myself doing little things that really the father of the bride shouldnt have been doing. Moving chairs, taking photos, getting people drinks were all things that kept me from talking to anyone for any length of time and giving them an opportunity to ask me how I was and what was happening at work. I tried to stay close to people I knew and who were aware of my overdose so that I didnt have to go through it all again. If I did talk to others I found myself diverting conversations away from anything that may lead them to ask me something personal. If I thought they were probing too much….I went to the toilet. It was embarrassing in some cases but when you are falling as fast as I was you do anything to avoid probing questions.
The wedding went well and the reception was a sense of relief as I sat next to people close to me. I found myself reading my speech over and over again. Reading it gave me an excuse not to talk to anyone and some confidence in what I had to do. The speech went well..or so I was told…and I remember feeling a sense of relief when it was done and that there was now no further expectation on me. If I could have gone home I probably would have, but Laura and Mark were more important.
On the Sunday morning we had a families breakfast and it became very difficult to avoid difficult questions like “when are you starting at work in Auckland or when are you flying back to Wellington. I hadn’t told some of my family and I wasnt in a good frame of mind to go through it all. My mouth was always dry no matter how much water I drank and I couldn’t seem to answer anything with any authority as I found myself glimpsing at Katrina with a look of “Please help me” The relief of a phone call from the Crisis Team meant that I could get up from the table and walk away.
The nurse Danny asked me if I could go and see them on Tuesday for an assessment. I was more than willing to seek help but had no idea what sort they would offer. I found out the location of the Mental Health Team was only 200 metres from where I was living so walking there on Tuesday would not give me that much time to think. I initially thought I would see them and they would sign me off to a psychologist and then my rehabilitation back to work would start to take place. I was wrong, horribly wrong…..they were going to see me and speak to me everyday for the next few weeks and if I thought things were bad now then they would get significantly worst. Danny and co were going to watch me hit rock bottom…….
Categories:My Story 2016