36 missed calls

03D449F0-342B-48EB-9E5C-A314989C1AA7The day my mum tried to take her own life, I was viewing a house. I switched my phone on to silent whilst being shown around & chatting to the agent. When I came out I looked at my phone & I had 36 missed calls. I’ll always remember it was 36.

I remember clearly looking at my phone & being really confused, just for a moment …but then it hit me. The fear of why I would have so many missed calls from different numbers, most had been from my friend Ali. My first initial thought was something had happened to my son but then I realised it was more likely to be about my mum as Ali lives in the same road as her.

I was already shaking when I called the last number I had missed which was the landlady of the property my mum was staying in. She answered, voice shaky & desperate. “Tina!! thank god! You need to get to the flat, there’s been a fire!!!”

It never ceases to amaze me that our brains can think so many thoughts in a ridiculously small amount of time. The first thought when I heard the words fire, was an image of my mum burnt all over, it was horrific. I also thought she was dead. I pictured the flat with flames billowing out, her inside. All these thoughts & more had gone through my mind in grafic detail in a matter of seconds..

I have no idea if I finished that call. I think maybe I didn’t, because before I knew it I was in my car speeding at an alarming rate, going down a one way street the wrong way & on my way to the flat which was only 5 minutes up the road. I do remember very clearly what I was like in the car. I was driving so erratically & screaming “no no no!!! Please god please god let her be ok!! Please mum!!! Don’t die don’t die!!!!”

I was hysterical. I arrived at the road without taking anyone out thank god! I had a few near misses with cars on the way which in hindsight was so dangerous, stupid & selfish but I was in shock. As I came to the road all I could see were two fire engines, an ambulance & a police car or two. I drove at speed towards them & mounted a curb almost hitting two frantically waving police officers.

I literally pulled the hand break before I had come to a stop & jumped out of my car. One of the police officers came over & took my keys off of me & I started trying to get to the flat but they held me back & I remember trying to fight them off. I managed to get to the ambulance in time to see them tending to my mum & I could see that although she was unconscious, she didn’t appear to be burnt & she was alive!

My dad, sister & husband appeared from nowhere. My husband took me & held me in a grip so tight I felt my body shaking uncontrollably. I will never forget whilst he held me & I looked over his shoulder I could see my friend Ali, outside her flat just a few doors down & she looked pale, in shock & like she’d been crying. I later found out she had tried to comfort my mum after the fire crew had got her to safety. Ali knew my mum & I will be forever grateful that she tried to give her comfort & reassurance whilst she was still conscious.  She must have lost consciousness shortly after in the ambulance because by the time I arrived in intensive care, she was totally unresponsive.

The staff were incredible. There was a whole team of people tending to her & I was ushered out of intensive care because I was too hysterical. I was given something to calm me & the rest is a blur. I don’t even remember when I learnt that she would be ok. It was days before she was fully able to talk & get on her feet. She had been injured whilst being dragged out of the fire, her back was hurt & she had some scrapes here & there, she had inhaled a lot of smoke & her liver & kidneys took a real pounding from the overdose but that was it!! She was alive!

The aftermath of the fire was heart wrenching. The feather duvet had exploded leaving burnt feathers stuck to everything. The whole bedroom was black, all her belongings were covered in ash & smoke damaged. To think my mum was planning to die in there. It’s too painful to think of but it enters my mind when I least expect it.

Although there had been a fire, that part was actually an accident. My mum had taken an overdose & decided to have one last cigarette. The pills must have started to take effect & she dropped the cigarette. A neighbour smelt smoke & called the fire brigade & they saved her. Coincidentally, it was a man from my school who was a firemen that pulled her out. Another person I will be eternally grateful to, as well as all the crew.

So what happened to me after this? Well, I am left with phantom ringing. I think I hear my mobile phone when it’s not ringing. If I can’t get hold of my mum, I go into immediate panic. I try my best not to but if after a few calls & no answer I start to think the worse. It’s left me with anxiety, an even greater fear of death (not mine but family) I have reacurring nightmares & I suffer from PTSD.

When a person tries to take their own life, the last thing they are thinking of is what it will do to loved ones. I asked my mum years later, what was going through your mind? Did you not think of us? She said all she could think was she needed to stop the hell she was going through, the torture of her own thoughts & to end it. It wasn’t a cry for help, it wasn’t an attempt to get attention. She wanted to die because it felt like the only way out.

 

 

 

Advertisements

What happens when your loved ones mental health causes your mental health?

alone man person sadness
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

So, you are dealing with a loved one with a severe mental illness. They have tried to take their life on 3 occasions, all with absolute intention  to actually die (not a cry for help as it’s said) they survive, thankfully. They are sectioned on numerous occasions & their illness has been 11 years thus far & you have been by their side the whole way.

This is me. The person with the illness is my mum. Where has it left me? The main person who has dealt with her illness, who has been there through every single appointment & sat by her side after her suicide attempts. What became of me?

Before Mental Health so cruelly came into our lives, I thought anxiety was for people who craved attention (sorry to offend but it’s just how i thought of it) I thought they were quite pathetic if the truth be known. I wasn’t naive or ignorant enough to think actual illnesses such as bipolar, schizophrenia or depression were not real but I really thought when people said “I suffer with anxiety” they were just wanting attention or trying to get out of something. Fast forward many years & those thoughts came back to bite me hard on the bum!

I didn’t know what it felt like to be anxious. I knew people often suffered with breathing problems, sweating, shaking and various other symptoms but I didn’t truly know how it actually felt, that is until it hit me & I became that person.

I woke up and started to get ready for my day when all of a sudden I had this pounding feeling in my chest. My chest felt heavy, like I had someone sitting on it, I immediately thought it was a heart attack, you hear of people describing it as this feeling. I put it to one side & tried to continue with my day but it got worse & worse. My heart was missing beats, fluttering & definitely out of rhythm at times. I felt a real sense of doom, panic & dread. I took myself to my doctors the next day as it hadn’t  subsided at all. I thought the dread I was feeling was because I was assuming it was a heart attack. My heart rate was irregular & they even went as far as to do an ECG at the doctors surgery. Eventually I was sent to hospital where I was seen by a doctor almost immediately. They obviously had concerns because it appeared to be linked to my heart & my pulse was pounding so hard from my neck, along side the jugular that you could actually see very clearly my pulse pounding in & out.

I was sent for a dye to be put through my veins to check for clots etc. I had various bloods done, another ECG & eventually at 2am I was given my own room as they still had concerns it was my heart & didn’t want to risk infection. At one point it was suggested it could be a goitre & my thyroid could be the cause.

All of this palaver turned out to be anxiety. I was absolutely floored! I couldn’t believe it. But it was true. After I had been given a sedative to sleep & had spent a whole night & most of the next day in hospital doing nothing but sleeping & relaxing, my pulsing stopped, just like that! That is when I was asked questions about my life. I hadn’t thought for one moment my life as a carer had caused this. Up until then it hadn’t even occurred to me that it could possible be anxiety. Of course I was relieved it wasn’t my heart but I felt incredibly silly & more so guilty! I had taken a much needed bed which could have been used for someone in real need.

As guilty as I felt & still do, I WAS actually in need. My body was telling me that I’m not coping, I was under attack by my own thoughts & feelings & needed care, not hospital care but self care. I needed to stop for a moment & take in this feeling, realise it, go with it & then learn how to deal with it.

I get anxiety here & there now. No particular times, just random & mostly unexpected. All I can say is that it is truly horrible. It can be completely debilitating sometimes & manageable other times. It can last for hours, days or a week if not more. It is what it is. If it’s here to stay then it’s down to me to find coping mechanisms & talk myself out of it. But I will never ever judge anyone again for something I know nothing about.

Mental health is for life not just for Christmas

christmas tree with baubles
Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

So Christmas is, or at least should be a time for celebration, family, loved ones, gift giving, love & laughter right?

For so many people it’s a time of sadness, memories, depression & a very difficult period especially if you have a mental illness. It doesn’t matter how much you try to make it ok for them, if they are feeling depressed or having a bad episode of their illness, it’s just not going to happen.

My mums illness was triggered by a lot of things. There is debate that she has always been boarding on the manic depressive side especially when she was younger but then again she had lost her mother very young, looked after 3 older brothers (who could have looked after themselves!) & her dad who was quite frankly, a pig!

She had a loveless marriage, two young kids, worked several jobs, looked after everyone & still managed to be the life & soul of the party. Or was she? Now looking at the evidence & listening to what people who knew her back then have said, I’m beginning to wonder if actually it was all a cover. I’m convinced she has suffered with depression her whole life but just kept a lid on it for us kids. In those days you weren’t allowed to be depressed, it didn’t exist, you had to pull yourself together & get on with it. And post natal depression was unheard of! Just ‘the baby blues’ which you had to snap out of very quickly.

For some reason, Christmas seems to bring out Mental Health issues more than any other holiday. The pressure to be ‘in the festive spirit’ is put upon us everywhere we look, we can’t even do our weekly food shop without getting carols blasted in our ears. Everything on tv is about families sitting around a table pulling crackers, laughing & singing. In reality this just isn’t the case. If the truth be known, more people dread having to be forced to socialise with family that they don’t want to, be happy & cheerful & act like they are in a absolute bliss when infact they are going through hell.

My one bit of advice after almost 11 years of dealing with this is just to let them be. The more I fussed my mum the worse I made her. Just let them take in the surroundings, try not to push them into doing anything that night make them feel uncomfortable & most of all, just try to understand & be patient.

 

 

The after effects of a suicide attempt

addiction adult capsule capsules
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Apart from all the ‘feelings’ a suicide attempt leaves loved ones with, what are the actual effects on the person who attempted it?

Anyone who has attempted suicude & survived, has their own individual story. Even if two people have tried to take their lives in the same way, the lasting effects can be very different. It’s not just the fact they tried to kill  themselves, if that wasn’t enough already, it’s the physical effect it can leave.

My mum attempted suicide three times. It is by sheer luck she is still here because she definitely meant business. The first time was when she was in France. She had been showing psychotic symptoms for a while but at that time we didn’t know that’s what they were. She had driven off one day & disappeared. We were later to find her in a physcatric ward in Toulouse.

I was waiting for the doctor to get the discharge paperwork & it was then that I noticed bandages covering both of my mums wrists. The feeling at that moment was something I will never forget or want to experience again. The physical effects from that was obviously scarring which was helped by a gel to heal & fade the scars. Mum wore a watch over one scar & kept the other concealed the best she could, but the shame she felt daily looking at those scars was awful. Thankfully scars can heal but memories stay. Luckily the police found her before it was too late.

The second attempt was when she was at home. She took every medication she had including her antipsychotic medications, paracetamol & whatever else she could find. She then laid on her bed & decided to have one last cigarette, it was this that saved her. After the medication started to kick in she started to drift off with the cigerette in her hand. The duvet caught alight. If it hadn’t been for the neighbour upstairs smelling the smoke, well, I don’t even want to think about it.

The neighbour kicked in the door, found my mum on the floor, by which time the fire brigade had arrived. They dragged her out over a step, onto concrete. It turns out the fire had made her alert enough to crawl off the bed where she then lay unconscious. She was taken to hospital & placed in ICU. She has been left with chronic back pain due to being dragged out over the door way, step & onto the road. When saving someone’s likes there isn’t time to worry about what damage may be done, the aim is just to get them out of danger as fast as possible. Her kidneys have been left weak & her memory & ability to concentrate or process information has been affected greatly. My mum was always sharp & on the ball but now she needs to take in everything you say & really think about it before she can answer. She is physically unstable, wobbly, has trouble with balance & a lot slower than before.

The third time was an also an overdose. It was the first time in months & months that I had decided to have a break. Just one night, camping with a friend & her daughter. That night my mum overdosed. Again she took all of her prescribed medication plus anything else she could get her hands on. To this day I don’t know who found her, if it was my sister or my dad but it’s too painful to ask the details for them & for me. I had a call to say she was in a coma & they didn’t know if she was going to make it. I was a couple of hours away from home & just remember my poor friend having to tell me & then deal with me after I had downed half a bottle of vodka & coke in about ten minutes flat to numb the pain.

The lasting effects are horrific. Without the mental effects a suicude attempt leaves, the physical effects hamper my mum everyday & she has to live with the pain & the knowledge that she did it to herself. People say suicide is for cowards. This is wrong in my eyes. To be so desperate that you want to end your life, leave your children, your family, everything you ever knew & love means that they were literally in such a deep dark place that there felt like no other option. No one can possible imagine the despair someone feels when they decide the only way out is to die.

I will never ever say my mum was a coward for attempting suicide. She is the bravest person I know. She was & still is fighting with everything she has just to get through each day. Her mental illness is now made even worse my her physical aliments & she lives everyday in pain.

 

 

Tourette’s, ocd & me

person washing his hand
Photo by Burst on Pexels.com

From around the age of 11, every time I saw an old person I had to say “bless you” out loud because if I didn’t they would die. I was sitting on the top deck of a bus on the way to college one day & was looking out of the window at all the oap’s about to board. I probably said “bless you” twenty times. If I didn’t say it out loud it wouldn’t work & they would die for sure. I still say it to this day but I’ve learnt to say it in my head (and as far as I know, they don’t die)

My compulsive hand washing started when I was around 12. I had visited an old man down the street & he smelt quite strongly of urine. I convinced myself I could smell it on my hands & so the hand washing began. I would visit the toilets throughout the day preferably when there was no one else around & wash my hands 5-6 times in one go as quickly as I could before anyone asked what I was doing.

Touching, tapping & smelling are only a few of the many ocd’s I have. I have never been one to openly discuss it which is odd because I think I am a very open person but over the last few years since being officially diagnosed I now kind of feel free because  I know what is it although I have known what it is for years really, I just didn’t want to admit it. I’m not ashamed, not anymore, I just think it’s another little thing which adds to my personality.

For years I have been the master of disguising my ocd. You get clever when you have an urge & make excuses to cover it. No one would know, not unless they were looking for it. My husband & my son who both also have ocd know when I am acting out a compulsion. My husband only has it slightly, but my son had it quite severely, he has Tourette’s so it’s part of that. Our son didn’t stand a chance of not having some kind of ocd with us two!

My mum said for years I showed signs of TS too. From a little girl I would ‘tic’ & show repetitive behaviours. luckily for me I grew out of it but the ocd remained. We were told that our son would either grow out of it by the time he was in early teens & if he didn’t it would more than likely stay with him for life but he would learn to cope with it. Unfortunately it has stayed & he does cope with it but it’s incredibly difficult for him. There isn’t a single day that goes by without him ticking or having some major compulsions but incredibly he has taught himself to suppress them at school. This comes with its own problems as he has to concentrate so hard to stop the tics or the urges at school that is can interfere with his thought process & ultimately he’s ability to concentrate. Also after spending a whole day at school suppressing, it will come out with vengeance when he is home.

What some people don’t understand is that ocd is exhausting! It really can make you feel so drained, frustrated, irritated, aggravated & tired. If something just doesn’t ‘feel’ right, it takes such willpower to be able to move on from that thing. Only recently I walked past a charity shop window & saw a shirt hanging off a rail inside the shop. I didn’t want the shirt or look at it because I liked it, I just saw it. I had the urge to go & touch it but I was in a rush & had to get back to my car. I walked right up to the other end of town before the compulsion just got too much & I had to literally run back to the shop to touch it. In that moment I didn’t care what that must have looked liked, a woman running in to the shop, picking up the sleeve of the shirt & giving it a good feel before darting back out. After that I felt immediate relief but then I had to go & wash my hands ASAP because I convinced myself the shirt smelled of urine Now, this is quite rare for me nowadays, that day I was particularly stressed & thats when my compulsions are at their worse. Most days I do something compulsive, it can vary from touching something to folding a tea towel into a perfect square, it just depends on what ticks my box that day.

I have often felt overwhelming guilt about my son having TS. Of course I couldn’t control what he or I was born with but the feeling that I have passed it on to him doesn’t feel good even if they say it’s not hereditary, which is debatable. I know the hell it can be & he has it far worse than I ever did. Luckily in our little family of three we have a great sense of humour & we always laugh at ourselves. Sometimes in the moment of a bad tic session or an intense compulsion episode it’s hard to see the funny side for my son but afterwards we always manage to make some kind of joke from it BUT what people also don’t get it that it is painful. Literally. Can you imagine having to jolt your head back hundreds of times a day? Or maybe push your knuckle deep into your own cheek (yep that’s a tic) until it bruises? We have lost count of the different tics my son has but there are hundreds!! Repetitive movements cause pain, distress, fatigue & are incredibly disruptive & frustrating.

For me I’m lucky. I can control my ocd to a degree & be very subtle about it but many people can’t & it completely rules their life.. Again, it comes down to the wiring of your brain & no one really understands why we have ocd. The only thing we can do is try to teach our son that it’s ok & it’s nothing to be ashamed of but he is the one who needs to overcome these overwhelming urges & at the moment at the age of 15 his patience & ability to try & talk himself out of them is non exsistant. The Tourettes is here to stay, it may dampen down from time to time but it’s a condition with no cure. In time we hope our son can find a way to control the ocd & learn to beat it. In the meantime we can just educate ourselves with coping mechanisms, support, & encouragement.

what everyone else can do is educate themselves. ❤️

 

judge your little heart out. I DONT CARE!

blur close up focus gavel
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Let’s face it, lots of people already think I’m a bit of a fruit loop, hectic, hyper, emotional. That’s ok, they are right. I don’t take offence to any of these observations. I’m not trying to be anyone I’m not & nor do I want to be.

One thing I have learnt dealing with my mums illness is that I really REALLY don’t care what anyone wants to think of me. I always was a kinda free spirit, a little wild but I liked being like that. I didn’t choose to be that way it’s just how I was. I still am to a degree but unfortunately this experience had dampened down my wildness a fair bit. I say unfortunately but it’s not a bad thing. We all need to settle down at some point & act like an adult don’t we? 🤷🏼‍♀️

When I had my son 15 years ago it changed everything. I gave up smoking the day I found out. I changed in so many ways. Up until that day I was still raving & I loved it. Every.single.minute! And that’s ok, I’m not ashamed to say that. I was a late starter I guess. I had my son when I was 29. I partied all the way until I fell pregnant. I can still party today given the chance & I will, I don’t care if you think I’m past it or my music taste is so stuck in the 90’s. It means nothing to me.

I was always happy go lucky Tina, always a smile, always laughing, playing jokes, doing accents (my Speciality) larking about. I still do all these things but not so much, maybe it’s my age & not this journey that has changed me but I do know that throughout this time I have learnt just how much people judge. We, the good old British public, the whole world, judge the absolute crap out of each other! We look down at people, we think WE are so much better than others.

Let me tell you this. Don’t ever think you are better than anyone. For whatever reason you think you are, don’t think it. Are you better then a cold blooded murderer? Yes, if you don’t do the same you are better, a better person but don’t think like that. When you think like that it makes you a person that isn’t so great. It makes you the one who gets it in their head that everyday people are below you. A murderer is not an everyday person granted. But once you decide to think it about one person it soon spreads & your thought process becomes negative & stale.

I look at the news & I see people who have murdered & I think “you bastard!” but I choose not to think that I am better because then that feeling can flood your feelings toward others, good people, people that haven’t committed heinous crimes, people you hang around with, sometimes even your really good friends. We all judge, it’s in our nature, it’s our natural instinct to look at someone & make a judgment. You may see someone with tattoos all over their body, peircings in every orifice & you will make a judgment on that person because of what you see. You might see someone walking down the street with a tiny mini skirt, showing her legs right up to the crouch. We sneer, laugh, mock, we’ve ALL done it but WHY?? Who are we to think bad of that person? I’m not saying I’ll never have a laugh at someone’s else’s expense, I’d be a bloody liar if I said I wont but I try very hard not to judge a person by the way they look or act. I have no idea what that person has been though, if anything. Maybe they have the best life ever but they just want to make an impression, or are just simply doing it for their own satisfaction. Good on them.

My mum. The louder than life woman who threw the best fancy dress parties the 90’s ever saw. The Antique dealer. The mother, wife, nurse. A very intelligent woman who loved trival pursuit & was the best mum ever. That woman became a woman who tried to take her own life, who ended up running down a busy motorway trying to escape who knows what evils. That woman, has been judged. She has lost ALL of her friends because they think they are above mental health. They are above nothing or anyone.

They are not. You are not.

 

but why are you mad!??????

black and white person feeling smiling
Photo by Gratisography on Pexels.com

We all know that mental illness is due to a chemical imbalance in the brain but it doesn’t stop it from being frustrating. We  know that it is due to this imbalance but we don’t know why or what triggers it. What makes the chemicals in our brain change what we do, think & how we act? What do we go through in life that might make a person become the way they are?

This question has gone around around in my brain for so long, it’s almost driven me insane! What happened to my mum to make her ill? after all she wasn’t always like this. She was the life and soul of any party and actually held fab parties!!  But was she hiding her depression and this was her way of coping? Her way of hiding it?

Throughout our lives we all deal with different things which some of us cope with & some of us don’t. You can have two people that both have depression & one may be able to deal with situations completely differently from the other. With my mum it can take a very small thing to trigger a really bad episode of anxiety or psychosis. At the moment we are going through another phase where she is convinced that she is going to die & in a brutal way. No amount of talking will ever make her believe any different, I have literally sat for hours and hours over the last 10 years and tried to talk her through her thoughts and to reason with them.

Even today, some of her memories from when she was in a Psychiatric ward in France are still very evident. As we sat in the doctors waiting room she told me about some of the horrific sights she saw in that ward. She told me that before I came to collect her they had scrubbed the ward profusely because it was covered in blood. She also told me that she saw someone actually being tortured, which led to them dying.

I asked her for specific details of the torturing. She went on to explain that she saw staff holding a man down and inserting something into his rectum. He was screaming “pas plus pas plus!!” (no more! No more!) whilst they held him down & violently inserted this object.

It is very difficult, if not impossible to tell someone who has had psychosis and hallucinations that what they saw wasn’t real so I never really tried to say those exact words. Instead I tried to dissect those memories and those versions and break them down into parts. I asked my mum why she thought the staff were holding the man down in the first place. This is how it went..

Me:  you were  in a psychotic state at that time, you had been put into a psychiatric ward with other people who  were also very ill and a lot of them were psychotic.  Why do you think they were holding the man down?

Mum:  because they were torturing him

me:  and why would staff torture a very ill man in a psychiatric ward?

Mum:  because that’s what they do, they are evil. It’s all part of the plan, can’t you see that?

Me: So let’s look at it another way. For example, say that man was refusing to take any medication and he was extremely ill and showing signs of hurting himself or someone else around him. The staff have no choice but to give him some kind of medication rectally because maybe they couldn’t  give it to him orally.  Maybe that thing you saw them inserting was an enema or possibly a suppository because he couldn’t go to the toilet and was severely constipated. Can you try to think outside the box and think of other possibilities like this?

mum:  I know what I saw and I saw them torturing people and then they killed them. I saw young women having sex with old men. Before you arrived all the floors had to be cleaned and all the blood washed off the walls, it was disgusting, they were all going crazy to clean up the place before you arrived .

me:  what if your brain was making you believe that you saw those things? What if you was so psychotic that you are hallucinating?

Mum:  I know what I saw I was not hallucinating.

me: could you possibly entertain the idea that maybe you were? Do you think that you were psychotic?

mum:  yes I was psychotic for a while, but not in that ward.

me:  when you in the ward in France you had been driving around for around 24 hours until the car radiator actually burnt out. You had left the house telling my dad that there was a tracking device under the car, that the mafia were after you & then you disappeared for over 24 hours. You were eventually found in the car & had tried to take your life. I think you were at your most psychotic in France, why would you have believed that was happening to little old you? Why were the mafia after you?

mum:  I know what I saw & I they still are.

Me:  when a person takes LSD just like they did in the 60s and 70s  it makes them hallucinate, you’ve known people who used to do it. When the chemicals react badly in your brain this could also cause you to hallucinate, what is the difference?

Mum:  The difference is they were druggies and I am not 😂🤷🏼‍♀️ (True)

Me: do you think the chemical imbalance in your brain could have made you see things that weren’t there or that you could have possibly interpreted situations incorrectly?

mum: they had everyone sedated, they killed people, tortured them, had sex with them and I was lined up to be killed. I should have died that day.

me: do you think someone is still trying to kill you?

Mum: I know they are

me: (with black humour) well, they must be a bloody bad shot because if someone hired a hit man almost 11 years ago and he still hadn’t done the job, I hope they have sacked him!

Mum: (laughs) we then get called into the doctors office but not before her saying  again “I’m not scared of dying, I’m scared of the way I am going to die”

You see, this is the type of conversation you can sit and have for hours, days, weeks, months and years and believe me we have. You simply cannot get into the mind of someone who is psychotic and convince them that the horrific things they have seen are just not real. Just as with a person that has taken LSD, they think what they are seeing is real and at that moment and even after that moment they are convinced they saw it, the difference is, Someone who has willingly taken LSD can then reason with the hallucinations because they know it was the drug making them hallucinate.

The long and short of it is, you simply can not argue with someone who is psychotic because in their mind they truly believe what they are thinking and seeing is real. The last thing I want to do is ever undermine my mum’s thoughts and make her feel like she is completely crazy but of course this is exactly what I have done. My mum functions on a daily basis but she is surviving not living. We go about and do our daily shopping, have coffee, walk around the shops but she is always on high alert and extremely anxious. From an outside persons  prospective she might just look like an average Joe on the street. The fact is she is living in a land full of nightmares, things we only dream about or see in films. This is her reality. This is what she copes with every single day & minute of her life.

And then sometimes I am left thinking, but what if it was true?…………

 

the frustration of mentalhealth

help!!!!!

board game business challenge chess
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Today wasn’t a good day. It was even worse for my mum as she is after all the one who is going through this nightmare illness but I am there along side her trying to also deal with the side effects of it all. We visited the doctors, we needed to go in, get some antibiotics & leave but it isn’t that straight forward when you are faced with such a complex illness such as my mums.

The Doctor was a really lovely lady, a French lady with the classic classy French look & that beautiful accent that screams elegance. We, or rather I told her why we were there & really that should have been that. With the type of illness my mum has (which hasn’t really been ever diagnosed as one particular illness, more like a few mixed in together) it is extremely difficult for her to let any of the past go, like ever! Anything that may have happened years ago is still very present today as if it was only yesterday. Memories are jumbled up, not saying some aren’t true but also lots are very mixed up & any little occurrence which may have happened many years ago is now a huge occurrence & multiplied tenfold.

My mum cant just say why she is there, she will go in to great detail about previous Doctors, illnesses, operations & such like. She will tell the doctor about the awful experience’s she has had (she actually has had some pretty awful times) & she will go in to a total rant & get herself so wound up that the doctor is sitting there with no clue what is going on because lets face it they rarely have time to read up on the notes & you rarely get the same doctor time & time again. What ends up happening every single time is that I end up speaking for my mum which in itself is degrading & patronising for her, so this upsets her too. More often that not the doctor will end up looking at me & totally avoiding the glare from my mum. To her, every doctor is the same, she doesn’t trust any of them in fact she doesn’t trust anyone at all. Ultimately what ends up happening is I have an argument with my mum in the doctors office, in front of the doctor & no holes barred. Its a horrible & intense situation & you honestly would have to be there to see how very frustrating & upsetting it is for us both. I am very aware the doctor had a time slot & we need to get the issue sorted out & all my mum wants to do is get some kind of recognition for the pain she has suffered already which is totally understandable but also not appropriate for that time.

Before we left, after what probably ended up being a double appointment, my mum turned to the doctor & asked her, actually she told her, that she was married to a French man my mum knew. The doctor told her that she was mistaken & although she did have the same surname of the man my mum had mentioned, she was not his wife. My mum then repeated herself & almost spelt the name out to this doctor who was extremely professional & could obviously see the strain in my face & told her that she knew she was his wife & gave her look as if to say ‘I know you are lying’, now at this point if I had been the doctor I would have told my mum it has absolutely nothing to do with her who I am married to & I will only talk about the reason why she had visited the doctors office in the first place.

This is all part of the illness. The accusations, the interrogations, the poorly re-laid memories, the mixed up thought process. When we finally got out the doctors my mum turned to me & said in a really deep ‘I know I am right voice’ & said “she might think I don’t know but I know who she is!”.  By this time almost to exhausted to argue the case but I just said that she is getting confused & I was sure the doctor knew who her own husband was. If it wasn’t so sad it would be hilarious.

I admit I cried today, I admit I lost my cool with my mum. I am tired too, I am worn out from this illness, I am done talking. Some days I get home & I shut off but other days it could easily drive me to drink. Luckily for me, I hardy drink, I actually only drink now & then & when I do its a kind of binge drink & I get rat faced very quickly, but its more than likely very much needed for me. The conversation ended with my mum saying “I’m not scared of dying, I’m scared of how I’m going to die” indicating again that she has this horrific idea that she is going to die a cruel, violent & gruesome death. How can I reason with someone who truly believes this to be true. I cant, I have tried for almost 11 years & I am yet to find the answer.

Remembrance day, anxiety & the calming pill

sunset sun horizon priroda
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Today was rememberance day. A day to think of all our fallen hero’s & to mark 100 years since the end of the war. If it wasn’t already a sad enough day, it was made even more so by watching my mum struggle through the service because she was so anxious. Whilst we all stood, heads  lowered in a mark of respect, my mum is sitting on the church bench frantically rummaging around for a pill packet.

It was the minute silence, deathly quiet & I can see her trying her best not to make a noise but having the urgency to get to her medication. We didn’t have a drink so she dry swallowed it. I stood behind her & placed my hands on her shoulders. I could feel her shaking. Tears welled up & I tried to focus on the old veteran who was placing a wreath on the grass whilst trying not to lose his balance, the image made my tears even bigger.

We made it through the service. Whilst everyone around us seemed to only have past loved ones & memories of friends & relatives who fought on their minds, our mission was to get to the cafe next door to the church as fast as possible. My mum was pale, still so beautiful with her green/ hazel eyes, but pale & tired. We sat & had coffee waiting for the pill to work it’s calming magic.

All I want, is one day. One day, one event, one family outing where this bastard illness doesn’t ruin it. A day my mum can enjoy with no fear, no anxiety, only thoughts of the day ahead. It makes me angry. I look about & see families laughing & joking without a care in the world. Of course this isn’t always a fact. No one knows what goes on behind closed doors & all families have problems but maybe not so openly. Not in public where everyone can see her fear, see her illness. I don’t care what people think, I never have & I never will but people stare. They wonder. Today a small child was watching my mum, just curiously watching her from other side of the path. Kids are so intuitive, this little girl was staring because a lady was shaking, being comforted & it was interesting to her. There wasn’t much else to occupy her, it was boring listening to the long names of locals who lost their life to the war, she didn’t understand all of that & I get that but at the time, I felt like mouthing to the mother  “STOP YOUR KID FROM STARING”!! The mum noticed the child watching, she could have gently nudged her. I know my mum was very aware of being watched.

Wherever we go, whatever we do, it’s always there, it never goes. Almost 11 years. People say it must be so hard. Yes it is. Is is agonising, frustrating, sad, upsetting & I hate it. But it’s not my mum, it doesn’t define her, it just something she has.

 

Mental Illness & memories

 

2F658140-574C-4994-BA3A-9885D0FA8476I wish I could get inside my mums brain & have a little crawl about & explore what’s going on. I had a bad (horrific) back issue for 5 years, I remember thinking that I wished I could just open up the centre of my back & have a look to see what was wrong. If I could get inside my mums head I might be able to help her more but even she doesn’t know what the problem is some of the time.

Anything can trigger bad feelings. It might  be music, a smell, a sight, just like anyone without mental isuues would experience. I bet we all have that particular smell that reminds you of something or someone right? A certain song that triggers a memory, good or bad. With Mental Illness it seems that every memory is basically shit on! In my mums case, most memories are now remembered as bad ones. Songs which were loved & sung years before are now not listened to because it causes distress for what ever reason. Wonderful memories I thought we had are now relayed differently with my mums perspective, being the total opposite of mine. It really hurts, that days out, family gatherings & holidays etc are remembered as mostly bad. Had my mum thought it at the time? Did she really have such an awful time on all these occasions? It is almost too much to bare to think that all along she was just pretending to be happy & enjoying herself. I can’t think it’s all true, surely she enjoyed some of it. I just don’t know anymore & it is heartbreaking.

Sometimes we would be sitting having a coffee in our regular jaunt when all of a sudden mums eyes would lock on to a person & she would glare at them with this really accusationary look which if they happend to look up would make them squirm in their seat. I would ask why she was staring & she would tell me they had done something bad to her. This isn’t an isolated incident unfortunately & it seems there is always someone about to trigger a bad or unpleasant memory.

The thing is, I don’t know if these people did something bad to her, I wasn’t there. Maybe these people who always seem to be in the place we are, actually did upset her at some point of her life, I mean we live in a small town, it’s quite possible but is it really true? Are these memories real? I feel awful for even writing my doubts down but that’s the thing with this, I just don’t know.

Mental Illness is hard enough to cope with for the actual person suffering & for their family. Add in all the nasty intrusive thoughts, mix them up with some confusion, pour in some horrific memories & sprinkle with anxiety & fear, you have yourself a cocktail of hell. It is a concoction I would like to stay away from.