This evening I finally received a book via UPS that I have been hunting for, for months. It is out of print (it took me a while to understand this), and I don’t know why I didn’t just order it online to begin with.
The book is called Love Works Like This by Lauren Slater and I have been awaiting it’s arrival with baited breath. I love Lauren Slater. I have read Lying, Welcome to My Country, and I will certainly read anything else she comes up with. She’s brilliant. And not only is she brilliant, but I identify with her in a very substantial way. She writes words straight from my head.
She firmly believes in the chemistry of mental illness – that it can be helped tremendously with psycho-pharmaceuticals and also, in not blaming her mental illness on her mother. And so, as soon as the book arrived, I cracked it open and didn’t stop reading until I got to the last chapter and realized I wasn’t ready for the book to be over yet, which meant I had to stop reading.
I have been so interested in finding Love Works Like This ever since I discovered that she wrote this book about her personal experience with pregnancy and child birth. You see, Lauren Slater has had mental illness most of her life. She describes her life as having spent a decade in the hospital. She was first hospitalized at the age of 14, the last time at the age of 24, and very nearly at the beginning of her pregnancy when she went off her meds.
Now, there is a certain amount of interest on my part, because I have always wondered about having a child. I love children, have always loved children, and have always been, if I may say so, rather good with children.
The main problem, of course, is that I have also been cursed with these genes; Mental Illness and Addiction on both sides of my family tree with deep roots in both. I have one relative that committed suicide, another that has attempted, and it would surprise me not in the least if there are more of them that have as well.
Every time I have thought of myself as a mother, I have wondered about the curse I could be laying on my child. I would not wish my mental life on anyone, not anyone. And how could I possibly roll the dice on a child? Because as much as I have loved the children in my life, I know that I would love my child so much desperately more. And I know that as much as it breaks my heart to see any person, children especially, in emotional pain, to see my own child suffer with chronic mental illness and know that my genes were the cause, would be excruciating.
But more than all that, reading Lauren Slater’s book has reminded me, at a point when I very much needed reminding, that what I want more than anything else is to live a life worth living. I want to do whatever I have to do to get better sooner rather than later, so that should I decide to have a child, I will be living a life worth living when I do.
Erik and I have been discussing the hospital for weeks. There are treatment programs all over the country, but in Albuquerque there are only crisis intervention programs. I am not an imminent threat to myself or others. This is not what we’re looking for. We are looking for something more residential, more practical – something life changing. And of course, something for which our insurance will pay. Why is this so hard?
I want to get better. So. Cart me way. Next week. Tomorrow. Right now. Take me to some place where I can face my demons once and for all; where I can learn to handle the catatonia that my doorbell induces; where I can have “down” days that don’t mean I’m looking for the closest tall ledge; where I can face the people in my life who have treated me poorly and not feel angry or abandoned or alone.
I want to seize the day, every day.
And just this moment, I don’t know how.