OK. Sometimes when i’m sad i know why and sometimes i don’t. At the moment, i am fully aware of the reasons for my despair but i have no idea what to do about it, except write it out here. If i find that it has made any difference, i may share it with my therapist on Friday. Or not. It’s hard to admit the cause is because of my own failures, as both a caregiver and a daughter.
Last week, my brother-in-law got the news that his 90-something year old mom was actively dying. The next morning he flew to her home and her side. He is the youngest, with 4 siblings. My sister joined them the following day after arranging for someone to take care of the farm and their critters. They don’t ask me anymore, i must be unreliable nowadays.
No problems until one of his sisters posted a picture on Facebook of him curled up next to his mom in her bed. They’re both smiling. I burst into tears.
When my mom was dying at home under hospice care, almost 3 years ago, i joined my brother and sister to offer comfort to her and the family and say goodbye. But i discovered that i felt nothing, i had no emotions, and i had no idea how to be supportive or caring.
I spent most of my life as a nurse and later as a vet, but when the people in my world needed me to step up and be a caregiver, to help guide them and her through death, i failed. I simply detached and watched as the others tended to her physical and emotional needs. I was useless. She died hours after i came home.
So, when i saw the picture of my BIL and his mom, i remembered how i couldn’t be that person for my mom. And i hate myself for it.
I was sitting and thinking about the last words my mom said to me. “Go away”, as I tried to reposition her frame in the prison of her bed. I loved it. Finally, she found her voice and said what she meant. My mom had always been the stoic one, the one who kept going no matter what, the one who made me wonder “really? – is that what you’re thinking?”
Yesterday, in therapy, I told D about some of the dreams I’ve been having. Again, vivid and a bit odd, but not scary. He then asks me if I had had “any mom dreams?” “No.” Of course, I started worrying that I would (should?) start having some. So far though, no dreams. What”s scary is…he planted that in my head under cover of a reasonable question. I swear I may strangle D if I start to dream (just kidding – maybe).
Seems I haven’t had the time or inclination to write anything. My mom died on September 27th. Thankfully. She took the low road to death. At one point she looked at my sister and me and said “I don’t want to do this anymore. Do you understand what I mean?” My sister nodded yes, she understood. But she didn’t really. I knew mom was asking us to kill her. She was too far gone to take her own life and gratefully, Hospice had provided the tools I needed. We had at our disposal liquid morphine, liquid Ativan and dilaudid tablets which we would crush and mix with fruit punch or applesauce. So every hour we medicated her until she fell comatose. Blissful non-awareness. I know I hastened her death and i am glad I could do it for her. She was cremated and had asked that we spread her ashes into the creek that the house is on. A task still to be done.
Her husband, Mac, has dementia but I do believe he understands she is gone. He continues to deteriorate mentally and plays no role in his own care now. My mom asked that the family continue to care for him at home, her fear being that we would put him in a nursing home once she was gone. So far, my brother and sister-in-law have shouldered the responsibility of caring for him. They left their home in the mountains of WV to come to VA to provide for his care. But, I feel from talking to my sister-in-law that this arrangement is going to cause some friction in the not too distant future. My brother is adamant about never moving him, but my sister-in-law is feeling the loss of her life and home and believes, like I do, that taking him home with them to WV is the better option. She knows from caring for her mom who had dementia that changes can and often do accelerate their decline. But Mac knows them very well, trusts them, and has visited their home before. While it may not be ideal to move him, I’m much more worried about the strain on their relationship. Unfortunately my sister and brother-in-law run their business out of their home and simply can’t be away for too long. I am simply too befuddled and selfish to take on the job. I just don’t want to do it.
My therapists’ parting words this week were – “Have as good a week as you can.” Translation – You’re fucked up. You know it and I know it.
I just got back from 4 days visiting with my mom and step-father. He’s 85 with dementia and she’s 76 with a newly discovered lung mass, probably cancer. He relies almost totally on her and she’s recovering from a repeat total hip replacement. My mom has been steadily losing weight over the last year or two, claiming she’s “just not hungry.” I calculated her BMI at 16.2 with being underweight at 18.5 or less. She looks like a walking skeleton. I’m feeling very guilty because I could see it happening but I deferred to her right to choose and manage her own life without me butting in. Now she’s facing possible major thoracic surgery +/- follow up chemo. and she has no reserves, nothing.
When I mentioned her body condition to my therapist, he questioned whether she is/has been depressed. I think I can remember not too long ago that she did express some depressive feelings. So, now, i’m feeling even more guilty because I of all people should have recognized it and suggested she considered talking to someone about her feelings. So, today I wrote a letter to her GP requesting he refer her to a registered dietician for an explicit meal and treatment plan. I also suggested a behavioral consult to address any underlying depression and a possible eating disorder. I also told him that I was concerned that her weight loss had not been addressed more aggressively until now. I feel a little less guilty but, she will kill me if she finds out (I think). I bet her GP rats me out. She certainly has good reasons to be depressed and has a lot of shit coming her way.
My brother was also there from W.Va. He is, to be honest – “difficult.” To be blunt, he is a self-righteous, know-it-all, control freak. God, I hope he never reads this. I love him dearly but right now my head is not in a good place to deal with him and my mom. He never shuts up and at one point I had to stab him with a fork to get him to shut up and fuck off.
She had a reasonable honey-do list which my brother and I worked on together. But by day two I could feel my mood slipping and despite a generous supply of good pot, I knew that if I didn’t escape soon that I would start screaming. There are likely bad times ahead and I need to find a way to get and keep it together for them.
Since coming off all of my meds a few months ago, I have known that I am still depressed. Not as bad as I’ve been but not happy, not motivated, not sure why I keep thinking anything will ever change. I just need(ed) to see for myself if I really needed meds. The only thing I believe they helped with was sleeping. So, for now, I am trying to at least sleep through the night (hasn’t happened yet) with my dwindling supply of Ambien, antihistamines and pot. I tried 300mg of Seroquel the other night and it was awful. Still awake, but staggering around like a drunken moose outside in the darkened street at 2:30am trying to make my muscles stop cramping and forcing me to keep moving. Finally I smoked enough pot to stay still and eventually fall asleep. A typical night is me taking an anti-histamine and 2 or 3 bong hits around 10pm. I usually fall asleep between 12mn and 2am, awakened between 3 and 5am -WHY?- go outside for a cig., back upstairs for 2 bong hits and if i’m lucky that night, back to bed and sleeping until 6 or 7am. I don’t nap during the day so why aren’t I sleeping?
Therapy has sucked lately. I know it’s me so I am starting to wonder if I should continue. I’ve been with my current therapist for over a year. I think he is getting tired of me and has run out of things to say. Last week he blurted out during one of our periods of mutual silence “they’re doing Cinderella on Broadway.” WTF? I didn’t know what to say. In my head i’m thinking “What does he expect me to say? How does the story of Cinderella go? How does this relate to me?” I don’t know what my face was doing. Finally, I croaked out “Are you going?” To which he faffed about explaining that he didn’t think his 2 girls were old enough to appreciate it. OK, again – WTF?
Last week I also told him about my experiment designed to not feel feelings. I currently put out dry food for a feral cat who recently had kittens. Unfortunately, several other cats often raid the food and run her off. So, one night I was sitting on my carport steps smoking when one of the other cats walked out of the shadows to the empty bowl in front of me. I decided not to feed him even though he was clearly hungry. I wanted to see it I could “sit” with his pleading eyes on me and not feel his hurt and confusion. He deliberately walked slowly in front of me (to be sure I saw him) but I didn’t cave and he eventually gave up and left. But I didn’t feel bad for him. Nope – no guilt. Success. I told my therapist -D- this and he said “You know, the same could apply to people.”
I said – “that was the point. People have told me that suicide leaves behind pain and questions. I was just practicing.” I think he nodded and let the subject drop.
Yesterday in therapy D’s questions felt more like accusations.
D: “Have you talked with your mother?”
D: “You haven’t talked to your sister?”
D: “Do you do any exercise?”
D: “Any self-harm this week?”
Me: “no, I’ve been afraid to pick up a scalpel lately. I’ve been getting these images in my head of me cutting off my fingers.”
D: “Has Wolf been around?”
Me: “he’s behind this. Once before he told me to cut off my breasts(in pictures). I didn’t want to, but he wears me down and I said I’d try. As I made the first incision, I realized I didn’t have the right equipment and I didn’t know how to do it on a human. We negotiated something else.”
I’ve heard of thought insertion but what do you call picture insertion – telepathy?
I think we can compromise. I’m going to take an overdose with one of each of my discontinued psych. meds. (Maybe not the Seroquel, though). The alternative of ignoring him places my family at risk of his retaliation.
So, anyway, when I got home yesterday I felt like crap, awful, with deep, painful feelings of despair that lasted for hours. I finally gave in and got high… I felt better in about 10 mins. Guess i’m not as drug free as I thought but I get better results than any psych. med. i’ve ever tried.
My mom was recently in the hospital with a bowel obstruction where they also found a mass in her lung. Diagnosis pending. So, of course this is on my mind. Interestingly, I have discovered that I am now the last one in the family to hear bad news. As the eldest and after a lifetime in medicine, I was usually consulted about medical issues. Now, I guess they think i’m too fragile to handle the truth. Fine. It’s not about me.
D’s parting words were: “do something nice for yourself.”
So, I made strawberry jello with whipped cream on top.
Enough of this. I’ve got things to gather.