It happened so fast.
Rachael and I were cleaning up lunch at a table a little further from the pool than I normally sit. The boys had asked to go back into the water, and I told them it was fine.
I don’t remember if I heard the three short whistles first or Rachael’s voice saying, “You need to move, now!” first, but in a matter of seconds, I was leaping across lounge chairs and diving into 3 feet of water to save my son.
The lifeguard got to him a moment after I did, and together, we walked him over to the side of the pool. Colin leaned against the edge, took a couple of breaths, and said, “I’m fine. What are you doing?”
It’s the second time I’ve pulled someone out of a swimming pool, the first being in high school when some pot smoking led to an intense study of the bottom of the pool. I dove in, pulled up my friend, leaned him on the edge, only to have him say, “I’m fine. What are you doing?”
When I was eight months pregnant with Colin, my midwife asked me how I was doing. I told her, “I’m fine.” Her silence was prodding. I added, “Well, I’m kind of pissed off all the time.” She asked me why, and I listed some pretty significant reasons. People I loved dearly were terminally ill. There were legitimate reasons for stress. So much so, I never considered that my anxiety and anger issues were anything but normal. My own sucky normal.
The midwife handed me a quiz. I answered modestly, trying to take into account the level of stress created by things I couldn’t control. Even so, I scored a mere two points away from where they want to admit you to in patient care right away.
The decision to begin taking an SSRI still wasn’t an easy one. I took the prescription with me, but I hesitated. It wasn’t the stigma or even the fact that I was pregnant that kept me from wanting to start taking meds. It was the fact that alcohol counteracted with it, and I would have to stop drinking.
That’s right. I valued being able to drink more than I valued my mental health. Without going into the details of my addiction and examples of my inability to self regulate, I’ll leave it at that. Anyone who thinks about choosing drinking over improved mental health has a serious problem.
Still, I didn’t see it that way. There I am, in the middle of the ocean, flailing about, moments away from drowning completely, and I’m totally blind that someone has thrown me a life preserver.
It wasn’t until Kevin swam out to me, grabbed me under the arms and pulled me to shore that I even questioned my situation.
“I’m fine. What are you doing?” I asked.
Kevin said, “You need to choose the meds. You need to stop drinking.”
And just like that, I came up for air and started my recovery. It was so obvious to him, but I hadn’t even realized I needed saving.
Do we ever?