Historic Parallels

I need to write. It has been some time and I feel all of these emotions welling up inside of me. In usual “Josh” fashion I will decompress by letting some of it out for mental relief.

Last night, when I was attempting to sleep, I would slowly drift off and then wake up in an abrupt panic. To what I can remember, one of them was that someone was in my bedroom and then the other was about my mother. After the one regarding mom I turned on my ringer, just in case.

My mother has been having delusions. She had them awhile ago in the form of thinking that my cousin, her nephew, is dead. Legitimately no longer among the living. I had to video chat with him to prove he wasn’t. My mother was elated that he wasn’t gone, however even among that proof her brain somehow turned his death into “in prison.” For whatever reason, with a few more days under our belt, that all went away and she never spoke of it again.

After her brain scan, showing the substantial decrease in brain mass, the doctor prescribed her something for the delusions. But first we had to get her off the Lexapro the previous nurse practitioner had prescribed for the misdiagnosis of “stress and depression.” Once she was weened off of that we began these. That was a nightmare.

After just the second 1/3 of the actual dose, she was becoming aggressive and manic. As a knee jerk reaction I told my father to stop it and we would try again down the road.

For awhile she was okay, but not good. It wasn’t until this past Saturday when my mother was explaning to me about seeing people in the mirror, who moved and talked, that I decided it was best to try again.

This had the same result as it had before. So much so that my father tossed one of his xanax down her throat to calm her down, because she would not sit still, would not stop crying, and was basically “freaking out” (per my dad.)

I went over to visit her the day he called and she was there, happy as a clam. I guess after getting some sleep she was doing alright and had mellowed out. We then decided to try again, but this time at night (which should have been last night.) My biggest worry is that she freaks out again, and my secondary being my father not even giving it to her because of how she had responded. The second I absolutely understand. I don’t know how I would have handled the situation at all. Especially since I don’t have a bevvy of pills at my disposal. Thank god my dad is a prescription drug addict.

Whats funny is I have been in this reality once before.  When I was six, my father had a mental breakdown and ended up in a mental hospital. He was seeing demons coming out of the mirror and was out in the backyard swinging around a broom trying to kill them. He did the second for so long that he gave himself blisters and had to wear kitchen gloves to keep going.

When I brought this up to my mother about her seeing people in the mirror, she dismissed me out of hand. She said something to the effect of “yeah but that’s the physical realm.” The woman can barely find the words she wants to use to express what she wants to say, but she pops off with “physical realm.” (Jesus… shoot me.)

When the husband and I visited her on Tuesday, she was herself. Calm and collected. She even understood how “crazy” she had been. What we also learned is that her cousin (who she explained had been born a couple months before her and was her best childhood friend) is not long for this world, from alzheimers.

I remember my mother coming home and explaining how her cousin had acted weird at he and his wife’s 50 year wedding anniversary. It wasn’t long after that, that he was diagnosed with alzheimers. Now, he’s dying. The beginning of this tale was maybe 2 years ago. Now… He’s dying.

This last part feeds into my own diagnosis. I estimated my mother maybe had a year or 2 years left. I concluded this just by the brain scan and seeing how quickly her mental health is declining. And then hearing this… Maybe I’m not far off.

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Turning Down a One-Way Road

So that’s that. My mother most likely has Alzheimer’s. Or so said the nurse practitioner at my mother’s follow-up MRI appointment. Quite the change of diagnosis from “it’s just stress” we had been told just a year prior. (Not even a full year.) The only good thing that came from the previous visit was a baseline to see her degression. And there is a lot.

The nurse practitioner showed me, and only me, the scale of it. I don’t know why she chose to reveal this information to just me, maybe she thought I wouldn’t have had an overreaction or that I would be able to comprehend what was happening. Whatever the reason, it is what it was.

The decline on her results was sharp. Almost entirely a straight line down from where she had been. I wish I had taken a photo or had them print it out to fully digest what I was seeing. I cannot stress this enough, it was severe.

I posted the results on twitter and the outpouring was so overwhelming. Those that had gone through something similar were the ones to offer their assistance or advice. Even some who haven’t, offered an ear to bend, fully providing (a stranger on the internet) their phone number. I am overwhelmed with love that I don’t even know how to process that. It showed me a world that seems almost counterculture to what twitter appears. It proved to me that at our core human beings are a community and will gather to care for each other.

I don’t think my mother has very long. I arrived at that conclusion by one, witnessing her descent over the past few months (which has been rapid to say the least) prior to concrete test results; and two, being haunted by those three graphs.

The part that frustrates me the most, above knowing I will lose my mother, is that there is NOTHING I can do to stop this. This is a one way road and it’s all downhill.

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.”

Lost at Sea, a Letter of Confusion and Mental Health

I am almost certain I am going through a mid-life crisis. At least, I hope it’s not “mid life” because I would like to think I’d live past 64. One side of the family has early death rates and the other lived into their 90’s. So, who fucking knows?

When I was 25 I thought I was having a quarter-life crisis but I quickly discovered it in fact was due to the Prozac I was taking. In my own trials, I discovered that when it doesn’t work it has the opposite effect. Instead of making me not-depressed it made me erratic and I made broad sweeping decisions about my employment that made me look like a fool. In the end I survived my irrational choices without damage.

Having that memory in the back of my mind, I worry that this is just another one of those moments, however I am currently not on meds and that may play a part in it. All I am certain of, is right now I am in a very weird place.

It all began at Christmas time. I had lost all desire to shop, sure I put up the decorations but my usual Christmas cheer was AWOL. The only reason I ended up purchasing gifts at all is because I would have looked like an asshole come Christmas day and everyone I care about had gotten me something but I had not returned the favor. Social decorum kept me in check, but deep down I wanted no part of the holiday.

I sought the help of my psychiatrist and he came to the conclusion that I might be bipolar type II. The diagnosis angered me, as if I was somehow “broken” but I thought I would humor him at least. (He is the professional after all.) My doctor prescribed me a medication that made me very, very uncomfortable physically and emotionally. The most significant side effect was during that time period it made me really question my relationship and where it was going. I volleyed between staying together and splitting up. Although no side had more power over the other. They were equally matched in every way. It was almost as if it was making me bipolar. For the second time in my life, I felt truly insane.

Still on this medication, and grappling with these emotions, I asked my husband for a temporary separation. Well, I didn’t ask for it. He offered it up in the moment and I took it. For a week (probably less) we lived apart. Eventually, he came back home and we haven’t really discussed anything since then. Which the fault lies on both of us, but probably more-so on myself.

Yet, I am still in this peculiar area of where I have no idea where I’m going or what I’m doing. Most importantly, what I want. I have this type of personality that I fear and hesitate to make the “wrong” choice. I sit there and suffer, contemplating everything down to a fine point, until I expect everything to make sense. What unfortunately ends up happening is I gain no clarity. I see the merits on both sides and still sit in the middle; undecided.

When I returned to my doctor for my trial period follow-up, he told me he had fallen into a “conundrum.” He had no diagnosis for me that seemed to stick. We had tried the depression and the bipolar type II and found no success. His final suggestion to solve our medical quandary was for me to have psychiatric evaluation. The prescription pad leaflet for it still sits in my center console of my car. No appointment date set. I fear what the conclusion will be.

My biggest concern is that I will come back with a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder or something equally as drastic. I worry daily that it would show me that I don’t know what love is and don’t have the capacity to return the emotion. Like I’m some kind of sociopath. Such results I would see as a death sentence, that I am fundamentally, at my core, fucked up beyond repair. However, I would NEVER view such results for someone else in that manner. I would be supportive and try to be there for them. (I think.) I just don’t have that kind of kindness for myself.

Currently, I loathe to say it, I am lost. I am in uncharted waters of which I have no map and see no land on the horizon. Yet I am still captain of this ship and it will inevitably keep moving regardless of my choices.