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Hijacked to Health

As told to Chany Rosengarten

When Ressy hijacked me in her car, boy, did I kick up a fuss. Ressy is my wife, but that that doesn’t mean I follow her blindly. She has an obsession with health and a compulsion with nutrients and I must stay on guard. Mung beans are her potato chips. She visits the chiropractor like other women visit the spa. She spent thirty dollars — thirty — on an organic papaya. I guess, though, I should tell you why she bought it in the first place.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

There I sat, buckled into our Honda Odyssey, because Ressy issued a “Let’s talk” order, and she was behind the wheel. Instead of the usual scenic throughway we take whenever we need to smooth out an issue, we were surrounded by towering skyscrapers and the honk and din ofManhattan.

I had known Ressy would want to talk after last night. It had been an unusually hard day for me. My boss didn’t realize what a good job I was doing under difficult conditions. He came down really heavy. When I came home, Ressy was busy serving dinner to the children, and she barely listened to me. And that wasn’t right, I told her. Husband before children, isn’t that the order of priorities?

Ressy went all cold and she wasn’t even there for me later, when I started punching my pillow to vent my frustration. She walked out the house, so I followed her and blocked her way. This morning, she didn’t say a word. Until she picked me up from Shacharis, and instead of driving me home, or even out into the wide open spaces, we were stuck inManhattan’s snarl.

“Why are we here?” We stopped at a red light and people bobbed across the street.

“We’re going to Dr. Frey.” Ressy’s shoulders leaned in on the steering wheel.

“Who’s this Frey guy?”

“A chiropractor,” she said simply, glancing at me before turning back to the traffic light.

“I don’t need one,” I said, putting on the smile that usually wins my way.

She ignored me.

“You’ve been doing well for the last few weeks, but I want you to be well. I want you to be healthy, completely healed.”

She was talking, of course, about my emotional state, which fluctuated from down in the depths to up in the heavens, crashing and rising like a broken barometer. I’ve used every medication the psychiatrist has in his bag of tricks, some with better results than others. I’ve been fat, lethargic, angry (lethal), drugged, bugged, everything.

But now I was doing fine. Not too many outbursts. No swaying, rocking (just a little), crying. I went out to my job and brought home a paycheck. Six weeks had passed on a plateau, neither dipping sharply nor rising like the inflated economy. I was fine.

I must grant it to Ressy, she’s an eishes chayil if ever there was one. She’s been by my side and tried to understand, even though anyone who’s never tried mental illness can’t possibly understand. She’s tolerated my daily bawling and thrashing, my angry outbursts. She kept up cheerful banter when I stared into the depths of space, my eyes focused on an unseen dot. She laughed with me good-naturedly when I told her my belief that henceforth I’m earning a six-figure wage. But at some point, even the deepest well of patience runs dry.

And then, late last night when I’d finally calmed down, she said, “It’s your illness or me. Choose which one you want to live with.”

This was no threat. This was for real.

 

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