Saturday, August 14, 2010

Chapter 6 - My Life: Saying Good-Bye

I had gotten two jobs...one full-time during the day in the accounting department of a small local company and one part-time a few nights a week as a cashier in a local department store.  I needed both jobs to make end's meet, if you know what I mean.  I had the rent, car payment, insurance, utilities and routine expenses that we all have.  In addition, I had signed a lease for an apartment.  Shortly after I moved in, I was told that my mother was being released from the institution.  Finally, I thought, she was coming to live with me full-time!  I was so happy that I would finally have the "mom" I always wanted!  I was so naive, my head in clouds, thinking that her illness was cured.  I often wish that I had attended some type of guidance for the relatives of people with a mental illness.  You know, some type of an awareness program similar to that of an Al-Anon, which offers strength and hope to families and friends of alcoholics.  But, I didn't.

Oh, we did OK for quite a while...me going off to work, coming home making dinner and then going off to work again until 10pm.   But, that wasn't a good routine for my mother.  She was alone and on her own far too much.  I had no one that could come and stay with her while I went off to work.  I needed to work.  Had I known how difficult it was going to be, perhaps I could have had her released to a home, where professionals would have given her the quality care she needed and deserved.

But then things began to happen...strange things that I didn't understand.  I didn't know that the "meds" my mom was supposed to be taking were not being taken.  I was just too stupid to know or even think or believe that she was not taking them.  She was throwing them out.  I'd go grocery shopping, buy a ton of stuff, come home and all the food would be gone.  The refrigerator was almost empty.  Where did it go?  She said it smelled funny so she threw it out.  She said people were calling the house bothering her.  She said the police were after her. She began swearing like crazy...like a trooper, I might add...something I'd never heard from her before.  She said the kittens that I had adopted drowned in the pond behind the apartment.   Unfortunately, I did find them dead at the edge of the pond.  She called me the social worker when I wore my hair curly.  She was afraid that I was going to take her away.  She said that I was the Pope.  Another time, she said that I was a nun.  She rambled on about a teacher, screaming and yelling at the top of her lungs, shaking her head from side to side.  She would laugh uncontrollably but when I asked her what was so funny, she would not respond.  She locked herself in the bedroom or sometimes in the bathroom and was afraid to come out for hours on end.  She didn't want to go out in the car.  And I remember that one time, when I did get her to go, she tried to open the door while the car was moving, saying that it was time for her to get out.  When that happened, I didn't know what to do, but I remember, hollering at her like you would a child.

  Another time, we were sitting at the counter in a little breakfast place and she suddenly started looking up at the sky and then ducking and ducking.  When I asked what she was ducking from, and she said, "don't you hear the planes?"  In her mind, we were being bombed, I guess.  She would be sitting in the living room suddenly start talking, not to me...answering someone in her mind. 
 
Her illness was not "cured" as I had so innocently thought.  After several months of this and after talking to her doctor, I was instructed to bring her in so they could reevaluate her.  That day, I remember I had to lie to her to get her into the car so I could take her to her doctor only to find out that she needed to be institutionalized again.  I had to have my mother committed.  It was the hardest thing I ever had to do.  I loved her so and it meant saying "good-bye" once again. 

2 comments:

Tiggeriffic said...

You were very brave bringing your mother home.. There is so much more education about mentally Ill people nowdays. My mother-in-law was mentally ill and she finally had to go to a nursing home.. at the age of 81.. I loved her so much and my children thought she was great.. She always gave them peanut butter and honey sandwiches and a hershey candy bar.

varunner said...

Don't blame yourself. There aren't many people who are capable of handling mental illness in their homes. Do you know her diagnosis? It sounds like classic schizophrenia. And at that time, the drugs that they had to manage schizophrenia weren't all that great and caused a ton of side effects, so no one wanted to take them. Sounds like you did a really good job. I can't imagine how unnerving it must have been.

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