On Christmas Eve 2017, after a month of anxiously caring for my husband and our two toddlers, I finally convinced my husband to enter the local hospital for a psychiatric evaluation. For the past month, my husband of four years had been devolving deeper and deeper into a psychosis that left him believing he could hear people threatening to shoot him dead through the window. On Christmas Eve, after his evaluation, he was involuntary hospitalized and became a temporary ward of the state. He remained in a psychiatric unit for over two weeks. When he was released, he was provided with some medication but no comprehensive follow up care. Within weeks, he was back in full-blown psychosis, this time requiring multiple calls to emergency services and two ambulance rides to get him safely in the hospital. He spent 14 days at Fairfax Psychiatric Hospital. All this to say, my husband has spent more than 28 of the past 60 days in a hospital--and all 60 of those days severely impaired by psychosis. Before these events, he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. We are still awaiting an updated diagnosis, but there has been talk of schizophrenia, bipolar affective disorder, or schizoid personality disorder in addition to PTSD. My husband is an incredibly loving father, but his acute psychosis made him completely unable to care for himself, much less his family.
Anyone who knows me knows this is not the first fundraiser I have done, but this is the first time I have a solid understanding as to why my husband has repeatedly stopped and started employment--many of his reasons for quitting or being let go from jobs have been based on paranoid ideas about people disliking him, which annoyed me at the time, but which I now understand were symptoms of his untreated mental illness. The stress, shock, and fatigue of the past two months has also kept me from taking on the amount of work I need to keep my family afloat. I currently have something like $100 to my name, with some publications owing me money (but not enough to cover our current expenses). My husband has $0. We have not yet paid the rent for February.
Though my relationship with my in-laws is shaky at best, and I detested living in the state of Florida, there have been many times during our relationship when my mental illness (PTSD) took precedence. This time it is Rick's turn. So that he--and our young daughters, who witnessed parts of my husband's non-violent but emotionally disturbing psychosis--may access the familial support necessary to heal, and also so that we can save money in order to build independent lives (something we haven't been able to do in costly as hell Seattle), we will be moving to Florida for a year. There, my in-laws have offered us a beautiful three bedroom home they own for half the cost of our current two bedroom slumpartment. It's not an ideal location, but it will allows us to gain the emotional and financial stability to decide what to do next.
Before we can leave, however, we need to avoid eviction. As you may know, having an eviction on our record adds a major barrier to renting in the future. We also have medical expenses, such as the ambulance rides, which are not all covered by insurance. Finally, we need to raise the money to get to Florida.
I make a decent enough income as a freelance writer, but I'm still pretty new. On average, I have to write (and receive prompt payment) 4-6 articles per month just to cover rent costs. Unfortunately, the extreme stress of my husband's situation has led me to take on much less work than normal, meaning I am quite low on funds. If you don't understand how this experience could have prevented me from pitching for work, I'll just leave you with this: I cannot express how deeply troubling it is to look in the face of the man whom you have loved and lived with for the past five years and see a terrified, listless stranger in place of your husband. I'm owed work on two assignments I have published in this time period, and have two more due next week. I can't cover the costs on my own right now.
Now that he's home and recouping, I am first finishing my current assignments, and then plan to return to full-time freelancing.
My husband says he wants to take on two jobs in the kitchen--where he has the most experience--to try to gather our rent, utilities, and travel expenses quickly. Last time he was released from the hospital, he jumped right back into working...and ended up back in the hospital. I am concerned that taking on this level of stress will cause him yet another major setback. I know his intentions are good, but his plan leaves me concerned for his well being, and that of our children, who adore their father and have missed him very much during his time in the hospitals.
I am hosting this fundraiser hoping you'll understand that we have two toddlers and have lost my husband's income for a full two months due to his mental illness. Now that we have a better understand of my husband's mental health needs, we're all hoping we can finally get him on a path to recovery and functionality in a way we've never been able to do before due to incorrect or incomplete diagnoses.
Any amount helps. Please consider donating. Please share this fundraiser. Please send any resources you have that may help a family coming to terms with a new understanding that a central figure may have schizophrenia. If you have well paying work for a skilled freelance writer (view my credentials and portfolio at eb-writes.com; they include Politico Magazine, Vice, Vox, Talk Poverty, Ozy, and HealthyPlace) please send it my way. All of this will help immensely.
Thank you for reading.