A Glimpse at Insanity

My mother’s mental capacity is deteriorating at an accelerated speed and I don’t know why. Her delusions are getting out of control to the point that she is speaking absolute non-sense or scary ideas (like “the voice said it and I just knew”). Her visual perception of things is also off the charts. I think I mentioned in the previous blog that she thinks her house is sinking, well she is still holding onto that fact. Even though she has accepted (to an extent) that she’s wrong. She has worked herself into a panic about getting the house clean but in the end only creates more chaos.

I am absolutely at a loss.

Yesterday, my father called me to tell me he lost his cool at her because she got confused about why she had gone into a store. For whatever reason, he sent her into buy a 7 lb. bag of ice. (Why he didn’t just do it is beyond me.) When she went in the clerk came out to ask my dad what he wanted.

The rate at which she is declining makes me think that she is either accidentally ingesting my father’s pills, having her own allergic reaction to her own medication, or there is a brain tumor. At this point though we don’t know. She has an MRI scheduled for the 24th and hopefully that can shed some light into this darkness.

The thing I find most distressing is that she is convinced she is going to die soon. So I have been commissioned, by both parents, to write out letters to her sister’s so that they know how she feels. Yet, when I went to check-up on them today she was talking about more of me writing a book about her experiences. It was so very surreal, primarily because there is almost a strange thread of logic there, it’s just decorated with baubles of “crazy.”

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Duty Bound

I don’t know what to write here. I had previously tried to make some poetic entry about me facing my call to a “hero’s journey” but it felt ridiculous and just a tad over-the-top. Not to mention a little conceited as if I am some hero that can vanquish the demon I am about to face. Yet, it isn’t even my monster. It’s my mother’s.

A year ago my mother went through a slew of tests to find out why she was having such a hard time trying to find the words to speak what it was she wanted to say. She explained it to anyone that would listen that she could see what it was she wanted to verablize but could not make her mouth do it. The final diagnosis was that she was “stressed” and needed to get on anti-depressants, see a therapist, and read the bible. That last instruction was a legitimate resolution given to her by the nurse practitioner. He advised her to memorize passages to help exercise her brain. Even after all of that, did she even take his advice? No. Instead she has chosen to watch fox news and become obsessed with checking her bank account, multiple times a day, and printing it off every single time as if it was her first time viewing it in months.

At the time my family and I accepted these results because we didn’t want to bring ourselves to believe what we feared it could be, alzheimers. His thought that this was over-stress fit into the ditch of denial we had dug and we gladly lay in it, until at which time it has become blatantlty obvious that this was not the actual answer.

In that time since her first visit, it would appear we have returned to the situation even worse for the wear. My mother’s thoughts have now become consumed with paranoia and panic that the foundation to their home is sinking. She also has become consumed with shuffling and rearranging piles of paper.

The foundation thing was a sharp alarm. She took me through their house pointing out all these very, very mundane things as if there was some catastrophic event that had occured, while simultaneously alluding to the idea that some person had snuck into their house to rearrange their posessions and leave without taking a thing. Her persistent insistance was even more troubling.

The moment my heart truly sank was watching my mother sit and stare at an e-mail she had printed that contained at most five sentences. For at least fifteen minutes she read and re-read it and still could not grasp what it said. I would tell her, she would say “yeah,” shuffle through the papers and come back to that same e-mail to run through the same task.

Since then my thoughts have been obsessed with thinking of her, my parents, the situation but I refused to see why. It wasn’t until another one of my cousins, who I NEVER speak to, insisted we talk.

I learned today that my mother’s older sister has been diagnosed with alzheimer’s. Hearing that made my suspicion even more concrete. There are now too many red flags to ignore.

The thing I find most enfuriating with the situation thus far was my cousin’s phone call, wherein she implored to me to think of my mother as if I hadn’t been already. As if I lived some fanciful life with no thought or care of my parents. And in the same breath telling me that my mother wanted a baby so much and was so excited to finally have a child, and oh how she loved me, to guilt me into caring for her. These thoughts bring about a lot of anger in me, mostly being why is it that everyone else got to live their fucking life and have their children but fuck what I want or desire in my own? Now it’s all about my parents.  Their lives now run mine, as if I’m supposed to let them because they cared for me. Well, I didn’t want to be born. I didn’t ask for life. They selfishly wanted children so that, what, they could have someone to care for them and watch them fucking die?! It’s ridiculous. And if that is truly the way of life, and how things go, who the fuck is going to be my servant when I’m old? I can’t have children without a lot of fucking effort put into it, and how am I meant to make my slaves if I’m meant to be burdened by my parents?!

I say the last part in jest because the logic of “you care for your parents, like they cared for you” bull shit is irritating.

The worst part of all of this, is if I was to have children (which at this point seems pretty ridiculous to even bother) I could possibly do the same to them. I’m very nearly my mother’s age when she had me. So I could get dementia and have my brain turn to mush right when their lives are really starting. And if that were to happen I would want to be put out of my misery. Alzheimers does nothing to the one with the disease and does EVERYTHING to those watching you have it. And that to me is my own personal hell. Just like this journey will be.

Shoot Me

I can’t sleep. As much as I want to quiet my mind I cannot. My thoughts are consumed with how foolish, gullible, and childish my parents have become. They never used to be this way. But as the years pass I find them becoming increasingly naieve. However, in the same breath they are also ultra suspicious of everyone and have multiple locks on their doors behind security screens. It’s insane.

Tonight I was called over to do IT work, per usual. For whatever reason they were having trouble logging into their bank account. I would walk them through it over the phone but my mother can barely speak and my dad has never used a computer. So I have to be there to do it.

After I get there I become privy to the fact that they were very nearly scammed by someone using the most recent trick in the books. The grift is someone calling up an elderly person and pretending to be a grandchild in peril and requesting money. The marks are given a place to wire the cash by a designated time before they can ask anymore questions. And my parents very nearly did if it hadn’t been for my Aunt and Uncle telling them what it really was.

The thing that annoys me the most is the telephone call was littered with red flags, but my parents are so gullible and trusting they thought NOTHING of it.

First off, after my father answered, the person on the other end said “Grandpa.” That immediately should have forced my father to respond, “Sorry, you have the wrong number.” He has no grandchildren as I am his only child and have no children. For whatever fucking reason, my dad said “Blake?” and the person replied “Yes.” Which even if that was the case they would not call my parents and say “Grandpa” he would have said “Uncle.” And if my cousin was actually in an accident and required an immediate $2K he would not have called them. Nor would he have asked them to forward the money to a place in Wisconsin where he does not live.

My parents though, saw nothing wrong with this phone call. I am glad they did have some sense to contact my aunt and uncle to question the validity.

My parents, in classic fashion, over-corrected and despite not having given them any information (however even that is in question) they went to the bank to change their account. I can only imagine what it was they told the poor clerk at the bank. Because, even I could barely understand what had actually happened.

The real culprit here is old age and the fact that my parents have barricaded themselves into their homes, only leaving to get further sustenance or cigarettes (in my father’s case.) They have no hobbies and they speak with no one, except me when I am called over for IT work or for my weekly visits.

And I am torn. One part of me is furious that I have to endure this, this is my life and I don’t want to waste it with incompetent adults. On the other-hand I want to cocoon them in bubble wrap and place them in a safe corner away from further harm. I just don’t know what to do.

Better Together

I had never been one to believe in writers’ groups. The couple times I had attempted they were too awkward and uncomfortable for me to do on a regular basis and I always ended up leaving them for one reason or another. Little did I know that it was because of passing on these opportunities that I ultimately floundered.

I completed my first real novel length work of fiction in 2009. Since then I have attempted multiple times to edit the beast, but with no success. I would get to a certain point and stop because I would listen to the inner critic telling myself “this is terrible” and “I’m a horrible writer.” When you’re working on art with an analytical approach the artist gets upset. And when you’re more of a creator than an editor it gets overwhelming.

What I have since discovered is that having someone or a community to bounce your art off of really helps with the process.

I met my buddy Matt through a former friend of ours. This previous friend used to be Matt’s writing partner but for reasons they have since parted ways. Luckily for Matt and I, we have since gotten together to talk about our projects.

Matt’s passion for the written word is contagious. The past few times we’ve met up to discuss the craft I have left our sessions feeling so energized and overwhelmed with confidence. He and I wax poetic about the other’s pieces, but also offer advice and critique when needed. He is stronger in some aspects that I still need a little polish and vice versa. Together we are helping the other through it. Plus having him (other than myself) excited about my ideas is the best high. (I’ve never done a single drug though, for any kind of comparison.)

From these get-togethers I finally understand why so many books on writing recommend participating in a writers’ group. Working alone gets exhausting, and when it’s just you and your own viewpoint on your manuscript it can get incredibly negative very fast. And I should know, it’s been that way every time I’ve worked on my book before.

When one has a supportive place to share his techniques and ideas it really keeps the fire burning. And my fire can only stay burning for so long without adding some potent fuel.

The “Shut the Hell Up” Two-Step

It’s truly astounding how much I want to see myself fail. Whenever I gather up my will to accomplish something and make even just the tiny bit of headway in regards to my novel, my inner critic pipes in and likes to remind me how “shit” I am at writing. It happens without fail. Every time.

In the past I would inevitably listen and give up. The proof is in the fact that the last time I attempted to edit my book was 5/28/2014 (28/05/2014 for those abroad). At the very least that was the last time I opened the word documents. What’s even more excruciating is that I completed this novel length work of fiction in 2009. This December the 6th will be 10 years. That’s insane. But the delay has all been due to my submission to my self-hatred.

I wasn’t always this way. I used to be relatively confident in my ability. It wasn’t until I went to work for an office that treated me like I was a fucking moron that I started to cave so easily. “What’s the point?” Became my mantra. When those around you talk down to you, in the voice of your inner critic, you start to listen.

As of late, it usually gets the loudest after my initial read through of a chapter in “rough” condition. But I tell myself to ignore it and just keep reading. I start at the top and work my way down, and when I come across something that gives me pause I fix it immediately. The voice will chime in and I “talk over it” to myself “You can do this.” Even if I am mid-paragraph, that doesn’t need any real change, and he decides to tell me how horrible my writing is I restart at the beginning. It’s almost like learning a dance routine. If I miss a step, back to the top.

This time I absolutely refuse to give up or give in. Whenever the fucker pokes his head into my thoughts I knock him square across the jaw and then kick his dazed ass to the curb. In the words of Ms. Bianca Del Rio “Not today, Satan.”

#WriterProblems

I am almost certain I have come to this fork in the road once before, when I attempted to edit my novel in the past. Evidently though I chose not to do anything about it and keep it the way it was, for whatever reason. Maybe I thought, “Well I’ll just fix it after I revise the whole thing.” Which is downright ridiculous because the changes required ripple through the rest of the story. Jesus, I really hate myself sometimes. Past Josh was an idiot, to be quite frank.

Here is my dilemma, my novel takes place in the mountains northeast of Boise, Idaho on New Year’s Eve and there is absolutely no snow.  The things that occur very much show no snow and adding it would make things difficult for both me and my protagonists.

When I was editing my Chapter 9 (‘yay’ for making headway) the question that came to mind is, “Wait, could this actually happen?” In this chapter I describe a broad green valley cut in two by a stream. Green… In January… In the mountains. Naw, girl. That doesn’t sound possible. So I did a quick google search and discovered that snow covered 99.5% of the landscape. So, you’re telling me that there is chance of snow. Then that information made me wonder if there would even be a stream.

Luckily I have a buddy who moved from my hometown to a town in Idaho. So I started asking him these very questions. And that kicked me back to the beginning.

When I originally wrote this book I did not have this particular plot point about an alcoholic father and it being New Year’s Eve.  I added that AFTER the fact to answer another couple questions that arose that needed clarification. However, because of them, this has created quite the conundrum.

How do I solve this issue? Do I go back and add in the snow and change the action to handle the new dilemma OOOOR do I just move the date of the story to a spring month? My one hang up is that it would seem too forced for the alcoholic father to have a HUGE change of heart in regards to his substance abuse. With the “New year, new you” mentality it fits better, in my mind.

The other option I had was maybe move it up to May, and make it a birthday thing. Like “Now that I’m 40…” And it could work but AGAIN another plot point comes under attack in the forms of a character that HAS TO put on a jacket. (That is 100% non-negotiable.) Is she still going to ask for a jacket?

Oh, writer problems.

My husband is such a dick. He’s making fun of me by saying that I’m going to be eighty years old still working on this book. “I just need to add one more thing.”

Anyway, I’m probably just going to go back and put a winter layover. I just don’t want to do it.

The Writer’s Loop

One of the best feelings in the world, for me at least, is reading a chapter from my book and being utterly convinced it wasn’t me who wrote it. Not saying that I am THAT amazing, but more that I am astounded by its prose and tone and have zero memory of ever writing it. Additionally, it gives me an example to encourage myself whenever I start to doubt my ability to get it done. I can remind myself “hey, remember that time?”

I hope I’m not jinxing myself by writing this blog, but I haven’t written in some time and it was on my mind. Lately I have been pleasantly enveloped in the process of editing my book. The fire for such an endeavor has been sparked by 3 specific matches. The first being my overwhelming sense of pride and accomplishment from passing my appraiser license exam (thank you, thank you). With that out of the way I am free to do whatever I choose!

The second is because I have found myself a writing buddy who inspires me to get busy doing the thing that brings me joy. His enthusiasm for the premise of my “finished” novel encouraged me to get back at it. Also, his own passion for the craft is incredible.

The third reason, and the one I find very strange, has been a particular song from the musical “The Greatest Showman.” Whenever I listen to “A Million Dreams” I am filled to the brim with excitement for my book and the prospect of finishing it. (The song also has this nasty habit of bringing about these overwhelming emotions that, for some reason, make me sob uncontrollably. So. There is that.)

Currently I am in the middle of Chapter 6 of 31 and I couldn’t be more energized. I still have my moments of doubt but thankfully because of my “forgotten ability” I can remind myself I in fact can.