Each time I write a new blog, one of my top priorities is making it entertaining for you.
I truly appreciate you taking time out of your life to read about mine.
I must warn you, this blog is different.
This time I am writing it for me and I have a feeling it will be a long one.
If you can't take it and you need to leave, I totally understand. All I ask is that you give me another chance next time.
Writing my blog has been one of the most therapeutic experiences of my life and considering the stressful recipe that my life is cooking up these days, it is great to have an outlet.
I am writing this blog in the computer room at my 80-year old mother’s assisted living facility. It is currently 12:07am and it will be much later when I finish.
As I unfortunately predicted a few weeks ago, she was on the verge of another bipolar episode.
Well, it is here. Loud and clear.
We’ve been trying to head this one off by adjusting her medication, but unfortunately it isn't working.
My wake-up call this morning was from two managers at her residence. They informed me that her behavior in the last few days was quite abnormal.
So abnormal that I really don’t feel comfortable sharing what I was told.
She has been living there for seven months and fortunately this was the first time this call came my way.
After living on her own for the last 20+ years, 1000 miles away, she moved in with me and my family about a year ago.
But after two different episodes landed her in the hospital, we made the painful, but necessary move.
We found a place, about 15 minutes from my home, that was not only acceptable, but actually fantastic.
They cook all her meals, deliver all medications, do her laundry, clean her room....
We should all have it that good.
All was well until a couple of weeks ago, about the same time that I shared with her that I was headed to New York for a job interview.
Nobody else will validate my thoughts, but I have no other answer for what may caused her latest episode.
I have been told by people much older and wiser than me that it is a waste of my time to try and figure out what set her off, this time.
But if there is one thing that I have plenty of these days it’s time.
Well no matter what caused it, the bottom line is she is currently knee deep into a manic phase.
Among the traditional issues that take place during one of those episodes is spending money.
And it's usually on some unusual purchases.
This time was no different.
These days she doesn’t have many financial resources at her fingertips, but she is a resourceful one, that mother of mine.
Last week when the snack man made his monthly visit, she bought $94 in nuts, charging it to her room. We have since cancelled that option.
Then she convinced an employee from the building to take her to WalMart to buy things that she desperately needed.
That trip cost another $134.
In case you were wondering, among those critical items were nine new bras.
When I asked her why nine, she told me there were seven days in a week.
Of course there are.
When I got the call this morning, it was not a surprise. Unfortunately I saw it coming, I just didn't know when.
I picked her up and took her to the hospital where I was hoping a medication adjustment and a couple of days of R&R would get her back on track.
I don’t think she has slept in weeks. That’s another one of the usual suspects.
As I am writing this, in the middle of the night, she is in the lobby of the building sleeping in a rocking chair.
At least she's sleeping.
Perhaps the first sign I notice when things are not right is her rambling. It goes something like this.
She does all the talking, you do none.
Today at the hospital, when they were looking to admit her, they asked her why she was there.
You would’ve thought the question was – take me back 25 years and tell me every thing that has happened.
And I mean EVERY thing.
About 45 seconds into her answer, the nurse turned to me and I said, “Pyschosis.”
I must’ve answered correctly, because that one word got us a room.
Once we got settled, I asked her that same question again to see if the answer had changed.
“Do you know why we are here?”
She quickly answered, “a lot of people think I’m going through a nervous breakdown.”
I’m afraid that was the correct answer.
While mental illness may still be looked at as the disease of the crazy, I have noticed that more people are willing to open up about it.
In the last few months I have had conversations with three of my closest friends who have told me, without me asking, that are using anti-depressant medications.
I don’t know that they would’ve admitted that ten years ago.
Just today on the radio, I heard the manager of a major league baseball team say that one of his pitchers is trying to come back this year from arm surgery......... and clinical depression.
When did that become ok to talk about?
Even as I write this, anonymously, I am still not totally comfortable talking about this topic.
But as they say, if even one person can learn from my mom’s situation, I guess we will all be better off.
I can honestly say that I didn’t understand death until my father died. I was 35 years old.
And I can honestly say that I didn’t understand mental illness until my mom moved in with me. A year ago.
Why can’t she just control herself? Doesn’t she realize what she is doing?
What do you mean her chemicals are imbalanced? Just sleep already and you’ll be fine!
It took me a LONG time to comprehend that her behavior is not her fault.
But as hard as I try to pass the sensitivity test, I keep failing.
The entire time we were in the ER today my mom was talking. I didn’t say a word, not one.
The two nurses in the room heard every word she was saying.
And that was a lot of words.
At one point, I caught one of the nurses staring at me from across the room as if to say either I feel for you or wow, you have given up.
It breaks my heart to think that I have given up, but I’m afraid the nurse might be right.
I realize I don’t have a whole lot of emotional strength or compassion left in me these days, but I have got to keep reminding myself that the person in my mom’s body right now is not my mom.
It is the product of a woman who has endured several tragedies in her life, perhaps none more devastating than being born with a bipolar disorder.
It’s not her fault! It’s not her fault! It’s not her fault!
That's me talking to myself.
The hospital did an evaluation of her, both medically and emotionally, and to my absolute surprise and tremendous frustration, they found nothing that would validate admitting her to the hospital.
Her primary doctor called. The assisted living folks called. I expressed my deepest concern.
But the hospital said there was nothing they witnessed first hand that would change their opinion.
They asked me to sign her discharge papers, which I would not.
I told them that their decision was wrong.
Even with that protest, moments later we left to go back to her home.
She started talking from the moment my car started. I literally did not say one word.
Until she asked me about 40 minutes in, are you tired of listening to me?
“Yes,” I said.
She paused for about ten seconds, then went into another story.
I was asked by the assisted living facility to spend the night tonight to be there in case there was a problem.
It’s now 2:24 in the morning and she's still sleeping.
In the lobby.