~My daughter had just died, instantly, of head trauma received in a car accident at 15 years of age.
It was a beautiful afternoon in July. She died within 40 seconds of sitting down in the passenger seat of her boyfriend’s car and fastening her seat-belt. The news hit social media before officials could contact me. Facebook was blowing up before I knew my child was gone. I was approximately 3 miles away from where she died. I was in a meeting. I still hate meetings.
After the anger, the disbelief, the abrupt disregard for all I believed, the tears, the screams, the death, a nurse asked me if I wanted medication. I was in shock; I looked at her as if she was disturbed and told her, “No!” I didn’t even know why she would ask such a thing! My daughter was dead. It was my daughter they should be thinking about. Why in the world was she asking me about medication?
I remember that I was so angry with Lilly’s friends and classmates for posting something so ridiculous on Facebook without knowing the truth. I remember thinking that I would straightened everything out later when I had proved that Lilly was alive. I remember being angry at the doctors and then the police officers who kept telling me that my baby was dead. “How did I run into such a huge pocket of idiots,” I thought. “They are all daft.”
Turns out, it was true.; it was possible. The doctors advised me not to see Lilly. They said it wouldn’t be good for me. She had sustained a lot of trauma to her head and face, they said.
…Once I reached Hank, her 22-year old brother, his anguish, his disbelief, his cry of, “No, not her,” prompted a new layer of panic. How was I going to help Hank through this? I had lost one child and the other was experiencing emotional trauma that he was far too young to deal with. And I, their mother, was shattered. I would struggle with this for many years.
Once Hank and I returned home from the hospital, friends and loved ones had already gathered. Their well meaning arms wrapped around us. Their tears were real, but I wanted them to go away. All I wanted was to be alone. I wanted to go to Lilly’s room and cry. I wanted to be with Lilly! Hank wanted to be with Lilly. We wanted to be alone with Lilly… with our grief for her.
That night, I laid in Lilly’s bed; Hank made his way to her room also. Lilly and I had just remodeled her room a couple of months before the accident. I bought her all new furniture, and we painted three walls of her room a beautiful pale lilac and the remaining wall buttercup yellow. We hung shear, pale yellow curtains on her window, set against the pale purple, it was beautiful. I laid in her bed and thought about us painting together and picking out furniture. I laid on the new silk comforter and imagined what it was like to be Lilly, before the accident. I would spend a lot of time in that room in the months to come, thinking about many things, looking through her pictures, reading her journals… imagining what it was to be Lilly.
Out of utter exhaustion, Hank and I both fell asleep in her bed that night, but only for brief moments. Between the two of us, we slept for only a few minutes at a time — all night long. One of us would startle the other awake, and we would hug each other and console each other. We would tell each other how we were going to live the rest of our lives to honor Lilly. It got us through that night.
When I did drift into sleep, I dreamed about the accident. I dreamed horrible things. I would dream of Lilly being afraid, of her crying out for me. I would dream she cried for me, and that she didn’t understand why I wasn’t there to save her. I would see the results of the accident that I decided not to view in the hospital. I would wake and hope the nightmare would go away, but it became more real when my eyes were open.
The next day, as the shock wore off and the truth began to arrive in shards that, unfortunately, cut through the fog, I realized I would have to get some kind of medication. I wasn’t going to be able to do this without help. I was going to break.
A friend drove me to the doctor’s office. Family and friends still wouldn’t allow me drive. I guess they thought I was going to take a header off a bridge — they might have been right. The young doctor I visited tried to give me an anti-depressant to ease my pain. I had never taken any kind of medication except antibiotics (sparingly), and no illegal drugs except a couple of hits of pot when I was younger, but even I knew, an anti-depressant wasn’t going to do the trick. At that moment, I didn’t care what anyone thought of me. I didn’t care about anything really. As raw as I was, I was never more honest, more in touch with what was real than in that moment of utter brokenness. In that moment, I knew, absolutely, what mattered — and a huge part of it was gone forever.
I looked at the young doctor and said, ” My daughter just died. You are not going to make me happy! I want you to knock me out; I need you to knock me out,” I told him. As controversial as benzodiazepines, aka, benzos, are in this day and age, I have no problem admitting that, at that point in my life, I needed them. My mind and my body needed to rest. I needed the horrible trains of thought that were racing through my mind to stop. I needed to sleep. This reality was simply too much for my mind to deal with. It was going to shatter as surely as the world around me had shattered.
The young doctor told me that, given my situation, he could prescribe me with 10 day of Ativan. He also said, that he would only write the prescription if I followed up with a Psychiatrist. I agreed to see a Shrink; I knew I was losing it! In hind-sight, the doctor was very responsible and, probably, went out on a limb to prescribe the Ativan to me.
Later that night, I took the first Ativan (.5 ml). I was scared of what it might do. I told Hank to watch me in case I started having a reaction or acted erratically. I had no idea how I would react…
Ten hours later, I woke up. My last memory, prior to waking was asking Hank to look out for me when I swallowed the pill. Ahhh, sweet sleep!
The next morning, reality was still there; the pain didn’t go away; the trauma didn’t go away. I didn’t forget my Lilly by taking a pill. But, I did sleep. My mind and body received a brief reprieve from the tragedy that was now my life. For now, that was enough.
NOTE: I am, in no way, encouraging the abuse or over-prescription of benzos. This is also, not a post about becoming addicted to Benzo. I took the meds as the doctor prescribed and, eventually, when I was ready, under doctor’s care, weaned off of them. This is the story of how my life was and what helped me get through it. I do, however, believe that in certain circumstances, Benzo’s are very effective. I know this is controversial, but I worked diligently to retain the sense of honesty I felt in those days after Lilly passed, and I still don’t care what anyone thinks! The meds helped me. Maybe, they can help someone else.