Monday, May 26, 2014

Who is the caretaker?

Clinging to the edge. That's the only way I can describe today.

The past few days have been an emotional rollercoaster, which is exactly what my psychiatrist told me to avoid. (How, he didn't say).

I have an old cat who will probably need to be put to sleep soon, so I'm having angst over that. Where does one draw the line over a beloved 15-year-old cat being in too much pain and being OK and still happy? My mom just wants it done because she's sick of cleaning up the messes. My dad is against it because he is worried about how I will react. So that leaves me with the deciding vote and watching my poor cat every moment wondering if she's OK or not.

In the middle of this, my mother has decided to go through one of her rebellious phases. She's like a fucking 14-year-old. She has COPD bad enough to be on 4 liters of Oxygen and she literally takes more than 20 prescription medications. She sees 7 different doctors, from her primary physician to a heart specialist to a kidney specialist. She also sees a hack pain specialist whose answer to everything is to give her more and more powerful pain meds instead of eating better or trying physical therapy.

She takes care of her own meds and doctor appointments - usually. But the past week she just "doesn't want to deal with it." She told me yesterday that "I'm 63 years old and I'm rebelling against the restrictions put on my life."

Seriously, mother? By 4 p.m. she was using her rescue inhaler because she hadn't done any breathing treatments all day. She refused to make 3 doctors appointments (wow, I wish I had the option to even see a doctor, let alone refuse to see one). By the time my dad got home from work she was shaking so back she kept dropping things.

I have no idea if she took her meds. I know she was up at 4 a.m. doing god knows what out in the kitchen. When I got up at 11 a.m. she was standing ASLEEP at the kitchen counter with a bowl of cereal. I had to poke her and prod her for 20 minutes to get the cereal eaten, then sent her to bed. I mopped up the mess from my sick cat, fed the other cats and cleaned up her breakfast mess.

And now I am a fingernail away from losing it. I depend on my parents being at least moderately stable. The last time my mom "rebelled" she ended up in the ICU and I just can't face that. I had to deal with it last time and I am panicking that it will happen again. And I won't be able to deal with it. I am afraid to go check on her to make sure she is actually in bed and not asleep on the damn toilet or something. All I can do is stare at the new scars on my arms and tell myself over and over that I can't go there again. But I need something stable to hold onto and it isn't there.

Yes, my mom is disabled. But she is by all accounts - when she does what she's supposed to - stable enough to take care of me. I am not - by all accounts - stable enough to take care of her. So what do I do when my caretaker decides to not only take the day off but turn into someone I need to take care of?

Yeah, that isn't in my therapy handbook.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Stripped bare

"Bridging The Gap" acrylic on wood by Kathryn van Roosendaal.
Trying to find stable ground beneath my feet.
Nothing strips you of an masks and illusions like having a total mental breakdown. There are no lies, no privacy, no humble covering left to your damaged psyche.

I had a breakdown. I let the stress build too much and was depending too much on the meds to keep me stable. It didn't work. The worms that thread their way through my brain and eat my memories and thoughts spread down my arms and I ended up on the floor of my bedroom with a pair of scissors chopping my hair off and gouging my arms in an attempt to get them out. This was how my dad found me. They were on the phone with my psychiatrist within minutes and I was in the ER withing 10 minutes.

What followed was a period of total sensory deprivation. I was in Behavioral Med (the new PC term for the mental health ward) for 5 days. The meds blocked all my voices and delusions, which for me wasn't a good thing. I imagine it's good for people new to schizophrenia, but they are so much a part of my life I felt cut off and numb. I couldn't sleep. I was jittery. And I was surrounded by other unstable people, which was putting me even more off balance.

The worst was the lack of privacy. I can understand it, but I hated it. No closed doors; even the restroom had only a partial door. If I was alone in my room they checked on me every 15 minutes. There were interviews and check-ins with the psychiatrist, three different therapists and each charge nurse each and every day.

Many of the other patients had been there multiple times. They felt safe there. I was frantic. My anxiety of doctors and hospitals was in full gear and my vitals were constantly off. At one point my heart rate was around 120. And the food was so different from what I am used to. It is heavy on protein, with makes me sick when I eat too much of it. I couldn't get it through their heads that I couldn't eat dairy so there was always milk or pudding on my tray.

Going home felt like coming out of a sensory deprivation tank. It didn't get better for a while, though. They had changed my meds and I didn't react well to them. I couldn't sleep. I stayed jittery and agitated and couldn't calm down. They gave me sleeping pills but they just made things worse. I was two weeks on the "bad meds" before my regular psychiatrist put me back on my old meds. I am still trying to detox from the hospital meds and I still feel like the ground beneath my feet could collapse at any moment.

I can tell there will be some serious recovery time from this. My regular doctor equated it to being in a car accident and I just need to be gentle with myself and let myself heal and find my balance again. In the meantime he has it set up so that I see him or my therapist every week to make sure I am doing OK.

At the same time, I keep getting calls about bills and debt - this is no doubt what set me off in the first place. My dad has taken over opening my mail and paying my bills, so here I am 42 years old and basically not able to take care of myself. At the same time I'm still getting letters from SS disability needing proof of disability. So I can't take care of myself. I can't even open my mail or answer a phone call without have a total meltdown. I can't leave the house without tranquilizing myself with Xanax and I've had to cancel several events because I'm too freaked out over talking to people and being out in public. But according to the government I should be perfectly able to hold a job. Oh, and the IRS has now put a lien on my earnings for past taxes due. Good luck with that. I would have payed that two years ago if they had granted me unemployment or disability. As it is, they have nothing to put a lien on. Talk about the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing.

And I sit there feeling like my mind has been sunburned and trying not to panic over ... everything ... and hoping I can stay on top of the cliff and not fall back into the abyss.