Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Silent Shame

I don't even know how to start this blog.  I have sat here staring at the screen for 20 minutes.  My head so full, my heart so heavy and my soul bursting with a pain so intense I find it hard to breathe

  If I were to say " We found out my mom has diabetes", there would be an outpouring of sympathy and support.  If I were to say, "We found out my mom has a degeneratize disease", again many would offer support.  If I were to say, "My mom had a heart attack or stroke", the response would be overwhelming.  If I were to say, "They found Cancer and my mom is dying", our family would never have to face this alone.

I am thankful that my mother has none of these things.  I checked my mother into the hospital last night.  We arrived at the hospital at the prearranged time.  I explained we were here to check into the Hope Center.  We waited, and after signing in, we trudged past the stain glass windows of the Chapel, down a corridor, into the elavator, along with the sympathetic looks as we went to the second floor.  You see, the only thing on the second floor is the psychiatric care units.  We have been here before.  My mother is severely bi-polar and has spun into the well of blackness in her mind that leads us here.

I am asked to check my purse and hers, my dad to give up his cell phone and keys as we are led to "the unit".  It sounds like a millitary term doesn't it?  It should.  The lost souls here are battling for this precious thing we all call sanity.  The battle is fierce, long and often lost.  We are asked to stand outside in the hallway as my mother suffers the indignity of a strip search for safety.  She is adorned with the bracelet of "high risk" which means she is on suicide watch.  I looked into the eyes of the other women on the unit.  Acknowledging that I see them, that they are worthy of being seen as I am waiting in the hall.  I receive sad smiles, relief and empty gazes from these lost souls.

We are given a schedule of when we can visit, a code-this code allows the hospital to acknowledge she is there, phone numbers that we can call to talk with her, between treatment and groups.  Everyone speaks softly, calmly, like you would a wild animal.  That is okay because that is what it feels like.  You are trapped, trapped in this nightmare.  The walking wounded.  I have long learned when you explain that no, you can't visit her in the hospital because of where she is, to expect the dropping of the eyes.  I know it is to hide the horror, the embarassment, the pity.  God how I hate the pity.  I wonder is that pity for her or me?  Do they wonder if I am ill as well?  Do they wonder if it's only a matter of time before I am?  I often wonder if they are afraid it's contagious...

And then, it is time to leave.  You see, this is the only place in the hospital where you are not allowed to stay with your loved one.  There is no "ICU" waiting room to receive regular updates.  I have the painful burden of requesting a drug test for my mother in front of my father.  You see when she is unstable, she self medicates.  We get our things and trudge back downstairs, past the stain glass windows of the chapel, and into the parking lot.  The family of the walking wounded.

I try again to have the conversation with the big burly Irishman I call my Dad, that she has a sickness in her mind that is never going away.  This is what we will have, times of instability.  That there is NO cure only maintaining stability.  That he needed to check the bank accounts, and what did he want to see happen. 

I come home to The Man, who understands that I smoked.  That allows me to smoke as I begin to call various family members.  Who finally sits in our chair and bids me come.  I crawl in his lap and tell him that I need him to make the decisions for a while.  He holds me and strokes my hair and then tells me to get my swim suit on.  We walk to the pool at 11pm and I swim and walk and work out till my legs are so tired they feel like rubber.  I sing hymns and swim and cry.  He brings me inside to the shower, and gets in behind me and washes my hair.  He tells me that he intends to give me relief from thinking about this for a while.

This Man of mine, he spanks me and rubs my back and spanks me, and rubs my back.  Only ever using his hand, always telling me how much he loves me and I am his and he is mine.  He offers me the comfort of his body and I forget for a little while.

19 comments:

  1. Oh Dana, I'm so sorry. I will lift your mom up in my prayers. (((hugs)))

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Grace, I have to tell you. I don't "know' YOU, may never have the honor and pleasure of meeting you, but your unfailing encouragement and kindness humbles me and is often a soothing balm to me. You have such a gift of encouragement that means so very much to me.

      Delete
    2. Dana, I'm humbled by your response and I'm glad if I've helped in some small way.

      Delete
  2. Dana I feel so much *pain*, *sorrow*, *(fill-in the blank)* for you right now. Mental illness is never easy to cope with. I will keep you and your family in my thoughts (((hugs)))

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thank you so much. right now, it's just getting through the day.

      Delete
  3. Dana, there is no shame, silent or otherwise, in dealing with mental illness. Often its harder to deal with than a physical illness. I'm sorry you're going through this right now, but trust that the hospital is the best and safest place for you Mom right now, until she is stabilized. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers. I know you will find the strength to deal with all of this. We women surprise ourselves sometimes on how strong we are capable of being. I'm glad the Man is able to read your needs and give you what you need.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. C,
      Thank you so much for taking the time to offer compassion and understanding. It means alot to me, especially when I know how full your plate is. I am truly, truly blessed with The Man

      Delete
  4. Dana, I wish I had words to take away your feelings of shame. Depression, bipolar or otherwise, is a disease like any other. Your mother did not choose to be sick. There is no shame. I will pray for your mother to get well and for you to find peace with her disease. I know how hard it is to watch our loved ones suffer. It pains me to know you are carrying an additional unnecessary burden.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Joanie, Thanks. I am not ashamed of my mom. My worst fear is that people will only see her disease and not the amazing person she is. the shame is in how society views this.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Dana, I feel so badly that you and your family are having to handle all this right now. I know you are right that society can be cruel sometimes but you have a safe place here. It sounds like your Man took great care of you. I'll keep you in my prayers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Zoe,

      I have used here as I don't feel like I can't howl at the moon, or unload my frustration of the situation. Thank you so much for your kindness.

      Delete
  7. Dana, the pain in your post is so obvious. I have had a brief exposure to mental illness in a distant family member and know a little of how hard it is on ones who love them. Sounds like you are doing all you can. Keep leaning on your husband.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I must admit I am weary to my soul. She has been mentally ill my entire life. I am not the point person on accessing her services, and determining when it's not working at home and she needed hospitalization to stabilize. Some days, it just sucks being a grown up.

      Delete
  8. I am so sorry for you, your family and your mom. Thank the Lord you have a strong man at your back. Hugs and prayers to you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for caring. The words of encouragement have meant alot to me.

      Delete
  9. Your words are eloquent, and your sadness apparent, (((hugs))) Dana, I can only echo what others have said, there is no shame for her nor for you. The woman who gave birth to me was schizophrenic, she did terrible things, but I bear her no malice because I know that she suffered as well.

    There is a burden in having to be the caretaker, but no shame in the caring either, you did only what you need to do to keep her safe and see her through. It's not easy, but you seem to have handled it with a particular grace and compassion. There should be pride or at least a comfort in that.

    We are blessed to have the men we have in our lives who know us, care enough and love us enough to give us what we need.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your words humble me and are soothing like a balm to a very sore heart that is aching. Thank you so much for sharing part of you to help me.

      Delete
  10. Oh Dana - I agree with everyone here and anyone who says or acts differently can just "go suck an egg"! My heart aches for the pain that you and your family are going through. Am so happy the Man is home with you right now to help you through this painful time. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you. If you still have my number, call anytime - if you don't, let me know and I'll send again.

    Praying for you and yours.
    Cat

    ReplyDelete
  11. If I lived close I would stroke your hair, pat your head, make tea for you and your father. I am so glad you can care for your mom-that takes great strength and courage. I feel so badly for my family during my dark times and would do anything to spare them. I've tried to trust that sparing them would also mean depriving them of my gifts, as well as my darkness. Thank you, for meeting our eyes in "the unit" I am so glad you have The Man. It sounds as though he is worthy of a woman such as you. Smoke, swim, spank-all have a place in grief and love.
    Blessed be.

    ReplyDelete