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The Fallout Before the Fall- Part 1

Updated: Apr 26

January 1st, 2021. The worst was over, right? The orange guy was out of the office, toilet paper was back on the shelves, and things were starting to look up. My son had a terrible November and December with hospitalized mono, his first broken heart, and psychiatric hospitalization for depression. But he was starting to recover and get the light back in his eyes. My nephew, who was in a terrible accident in November and almost died, was also alive and on the road to recovery.


Coping Mechanisms


To keep myself busy, I bought a campervan from a crunchy millennial couple from Boulder. I named her Pearl and she was my escape vehicle in case things got bad again. My social outlets were opening up with social distancing and masking up. Things seemed to be getting back to a new "normal" or were they?


In hindsight, 2020 was just preparation for 2021. Suicide rates skyrocketed and my job as a utilization manager doing inpatient psychiatric authorizations was busier than ever. I spent eight hours a day reading clinical documentation of just about every way imaginable to try to end someone's life. The relapse rates for substance abuse patients were also at an all-time high. 


To add to the stress, my only son came out as transgender and wanted to be called Mae with pronouns of "they, them." And Mae became severely depressed and had to be hospitalized again. 


I went to see my Primary Care Physician for a check-up and was told that my blood pressure was through the roof. It could have been any higher, and she would have sent me straight to the ER. Everything seemed like a crisis, and I couldn't differentiate between an actual emergency or just smoke and mirrors.



A Brief Travel Respite


Respite came in May with an offer of a free plane ticket to Honduras. M, who had broken my heart over and over, had been temporarily living there and wanted me to come to visit him in Roatan. Within 48 hours of the offer, I was on a plane to Roatan to escape my life. I told no one in my family except Mae, who gave me their blessing to go, and a few close friends. I took a risk and got my first taste of real adventure and freedom in years. 


I stayed with M at his Air BNB in my own room and slowly started getting my groove back. I hadn't been scuba diving in almost 15 years but still had my PADI card from 1994. I took a refresher course and went on 2 dives almost every day I was there. The feeling of meditation and freedom underwater in another world fed my soul. 


You'll Never Know Where You'll Find Your Tribe


I met some amazing humans… Adrienne and Alex. She is a Broadway performer and he is a programmer for Apple. We went scuba diving, danced, and hugged sloths together! M did his own thing and stayed in the Air BNB happily alone. He wanted me to stay longer than the 8 days, for why I don’t know; but I knew it was time to go back to Boise and deal with life.


One of the last nights I was there, Adrienne looked at me seriously and said “Jen. I see your light. Don’t let anyone or anything ever fade it.” Sometimes you can know people for only a few days or even a few hours and know they are your people. I felt more like myself again and ready to face the world at home.





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