During my months prior to being in the hospital, I had been alone. My troubled room mate had finally departed and I'd been released from my position as a Flight Attendant due to what others considered strange and unacceptable behavior.
One day I was asked to open the exit door of a DC-10. We had just landed at the San Francisco airport and the on-ground agent was waiting for the passengers to disembark through the jet way. "Disarm the slide" the stewardess said. But something inside me said "No, go ahead and open the door." So I did. And within seconds, all fourteen feet of rubber and air shot out from the plane with a loud whoosh. The huge bright yellow slide covered the tarmack, the agent nearby barely escaping the forceful explosion. I was shocked. A tense silence filled the plane. My fellow attendant looked at me as if I had lost my mind. A supervisor hurriedly pulled me aside. A wave of fear and confusion flooded my senses. In looking back, it was clear that a loss of control had crept into my life. At that moment all I remember thinking was that my career as a Flight Attendant was over.
The next day, I was called to a special meeting. A gathering of management sat at a large wooden table and told me I couldn't fly now, that I'd be put on sick leave, that I had to go to the company's doctor to find out what was wrong. During the bus ride home, my mind focused on other things: beautiful shoes calling me from the fancy store windows and dark worn shoes staring up at me from the feet on that San Francisco bus. I walked the streets that night looking into the star-lit sky.
Within a few days, my appointment with the company doctor was set. We would meet three times in all. He was kind, thoughtful, and never condescending. "Was it drugs?" he asked. The way he looked at me showed he found it hard to believe me when I told him it wasn't. The frustration at my helplessness to know what was wrong with me was enormous. I was alone, not able to work, and trapped in a mind I could no longer rely upon. What had happened? Where could I find some help? I told the doctor I would find it on my own.
To be continued ...