Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Long and Winding Road

I know it's been a long time since I last posted - over two years in fact and for those of you who have continued to check in - I Thank You. This post is, hopefully, the beginning of my road back. A bit of an update - David is still living in Columbus, but is no longer in college - he was dismissed for failure to meet academic standards. This past two years have been hard - on all of us. We lost two beloved grandparents last year. I have been separated from my husband for a year - our divorce should be final in April. I believe that the divorce may have played a role in David's increased anxiety and reluctance to go out in public. David's sister, Elizabeth lived with him for over year and what I thought would be a helpful situation soon turned into a war zone. She is also, I believe, bipolar, though she has never been diagnosed. She took off before finishing high school and is now dealing with struggles that in ways go beyond David's. The two siblings clashed at every turn and called me at every twist, till some days I would turn off my phone to get away from the constant stress. But Elizabeth did finally move out and their relationship has improved. Last weekend my boyfriend and I went up to David's and did a complete overhaul of his apartment, even shampooing the carpets. I was hoping that the positive change would boost David's motivation, which has been rather low lately. Alas the best intentions ... For a lot of the time we were there David was agitated, trying to pick an argument - by the time Saturday evening rolled around we were exhausted and fed up so we packed up and came home. Of course then I worried for two days about the effect our leaving early might have on David. He seemed a bit upset - but now OK. He's started back on his seroquel which he had been skipping - I hope that will help with his agitation. But he needs to find something to do - take classes online - start a blog - something constructive. He is going on the 21st to spend some time in Florida with his uncle - I hope that this might change his attitude a bit. On a sad note - the dog who was always David's loyal companion after his illness got hit by a car and killed yesterday. He was eleven and a half years old and will be sorely missed by all in the family.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

#37 Justice is Not Blind

I would begin this post with an apology and a promise to write more, but at this point I am again living day to day, sometimes hour by hour so I will only say that my intentions are to write more. Since my last post so much have happened that I really don't know where to begin. This may need to be a multi-part post.

I begin then with my struggles with the justice system, though I have come to doubt the appropriateness of that title. Blaine went to court twice for his OVI. The first was just a pretrial, the second he pleaded guilty after waiting in court five hours for his public defender to make an appearance, and got a sentence of three days in jail, a program put on by MADD, a fine, and mandatory attendance of a drivers intervention program. We slowly checked off each thing on the list. The program put on by MADD only lasted a couple of hours and David actually seemed to take some good points away from it. The three days in jail went smoother than I would have imagined, but then we came to a brick wall. Blaine had a severe anxiety about the OVI school. He explained that in jail he didn't have to introduce himself or talk to anyone, but in the drivers intervention program he would be in a spotlight. We signed him up for a weekend in the summer. On the way he had a panic attack, sick at his stomach, clammy hand, etc. and backed out. Then we had to go meet his probation officer. The deadline was past for his attendance to the program so we had to go into court again and wait a couple of hours to get an extension; otherwise he would have a warrant on him. The judge gave him a month to complete the program. That is when the nightmare really began.

I worked feverishly to get him back into the same program he had been scheduled for in the summer, but their requirements had changed. I had to drive the two hours to get paperwork, then have it notarized, then drive back up a few days later to take Blaine to the hotel. He was a nervous wreck - that week he had cut his arm again and was just terribly agitated - I didn't want to make him go - but I knew I had to. I dropped him at the hotel and then started home. I was across town when he called to say he was not on the list and that they wouldn't let him in. I was furious - I had spoken with this people repeatedly, filled out all the paperwork, faxed it in on time! I was also frightened - would this send David into a tailspin? I left him in the car and stomped into the hotel demanding to speak to whoever was in charge. After repeating my tale to three different people, I finally was taken to the woman in charge - the one I had e-mailed and spoken to on the phone. By then I was almost crying - she didn't understand - David was mentally ill - he was on edge - she didn't know what effort it had taken to get him there in the first place - she just mumbled excuses - she was running two offices - short staffed - misplaced paper work. I didn't even respond - just left - I didn't trust what I might say.

David became even more pessimistic - sure he was going to go to jail - was going to fail college. His next probation meeting was on the day of one of his midterms. I called the probation officer probably at least twenty five times in the week and a half before his meeting explaining that David needed to go to his midterm - surely she could reschedule - David e-mailed her - she never responded. I told David to go to his midterm - I expected to finally get a message about a rescheduled meeting.

Meanwhile I got David into a different program down home - the day I dropped him off I was thrilled - finally we could mark this hurdle off. The next evening I got a call - David had a gran mal seizure and had been unconscious for ten minutes. Rushing to the hospital I just felt as if in a dream - how could this be? He had one fever seizure when he was little - but that was it - what more was going to be thrown at this poor boy? When I arrived he was alert, but scared - he had a bruise on his forehead and carpet burns on one side of his face. All the tests came back normal, except his potassium which was low. They gave him Klonopin to raise the seizure threshold and sent him home with an appointment for an EEG and told us to go see his regular doctor.

Luckily the woman running the drivers intervention was very understanding and David was able to return the next morning. So in the end he was able to get the program completed - but the relief I expected was replaced with a new worry.

We have seen the family doctor - he continued the Klonopin - which I'm not sure is great - and gave him a referral to a neurologist at OSU - we are still awaiting the results of the EEG. On top of all this and the running back and forth to Columbus - the probation officer finally left a voicemail on David's phone that suggested he had been a no show at his last meeting and must make the next or she would schedule a court date for breaking his probation. David told me it was the 28th and saved it so we could check the time. He spent Thanksgiving weekend with us and while here lost his phone. When I got his replacement Tuesday the 27th and checked his voicemail so I would know when to head for Columbus The next day - I found that the appointment had actually been on the 27th - he had missed it!

I can't even describe my reaction - I felt like I was in the middle of a hail storm and the hail was getting larger and larger, pounding me towards the ground. What was I to do? Had they issued a warrant? What would David do when I told him? Give up? Fail to go to his finals next week? Worse? I immediately began to call the probation officer - but as before she did not answer and did not call back. Finally after a sleepless night, I decided to try to reach her supervisor - he answered! I explained everything - David's illness - his anxiety - that I was the one that took care of his appointments and such - I asked if David could be switched to a probation officer who dealt with the mentally ill or at the very least if his current probation officer would at least call me to let me know what was going on and if she could schedule a new meeting. He took my number and promised to have her call - that was two days ago - and guess what? she still has not called - we are back on hold - living with the worry - not good for me or David. I have read before about families of the mentally ill dealing with a "blind" criminal justice system - but now I see how difficult this can be. Considering the number of mentally ill who end up having some run in with the law - there has to be a better way for families to communicate with the system that seems to fail to understand the magnitude of our loved ones problems. To Be Cont.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Dailies #17

Wow, what can I say - sorry again that it has been so long. Not long after my last post - April 13th to be exact - a Friday 13th, Blaine called me agitated and sounding rather desperate. He said he was on his way home. I could tell by his voice that he had been drinking and I tried to persuade him to go back to his apartment, but to no avail. He insisted he was coming home. I spent the night in anxious anticipation of what I would face when he arrived, and then worry and fear when he didn't arrive. By mid morning I knew that something was wrong. After calling around I finally found him in jail. He had been arrested for OVI; I was able to drive up and bail him out, but I couldn't bail him out of the situation.

Since then life has been more of a roller coaster than usual. After his arrest he seemed to really settle down - I found out that he had failed to take his medicine for a few days before the incident and he promised he had learned his lesson and would take his medicine regularly. He put his mind into his studies and I really thought he might end up with an A and a couple of B's. But then depression hit again. He didn't go to school for two weeks and cut himself again.

We managed to get him back on track in time for finals and he managed to scrape by with passing grades. I spent days on edge and had to drive up sometimes twice a week. Now we face the consequences of his OVI. He went to court on the 26th and was sentenced to three days in jail, which he does this weekend, DUI school, and probation for two years, which will probably include mandatory counseling.

All I can say is

Years go by and days on end
And still I can't recall -
How I could smile with carefree joy
In that photo on the wall

You are there as well
Changeable eyes - this day blue
Grasping my hand
Half smiling at the camera

Where are those days of joy?
They slipped slowly out of sight
Still I hold your hand
And weep and hope and fight

Thought this article might be of interest.

ABC News: New Antidepressant Warning May Scare Patients From Needed Treatment

Monday, April 02, 2007

Dailies #16

Wow, when I logged in I couldn't believe how long it has been since the last post. I apologize to all who keep up with our story. My only excuse is that life intruded - but I will do my best to post more often. Since its been so long I have quite an update. Not long after my last post David had an appointment with the new Psychiatrist and the appointment seemed to go fairly well. He went in alone at first and then I was able to join him. The only thing that disturbed me was new details that David shared. He admitted that he thought people talked about him when he walked on campus. He even went so far as to say he heard them talking about him, but that he was able to tell himself that this truly couldn't be the case. Then he went on to describe how lately he had started having the feeling that someone was watching him when he was alone in his apartment. He felt that someone or something was going "to get me." The Psychiatrist appeared duly concerned about the paranoia and about his anxiety in class. Before I left for home I filled his prescriptions and filled his weekly containers, but he insisted on keeping the new anxiety medicine, clonipin with him. "Mom I'm fine. I will only take it when I need it." I hated arguing this point. After all, he is nineteen and needs to become more responsible for his own medicine, so I relented, also keeping in mind that the dose was low so I didn't think even the whole prescription could be deadly. Oh what mistakes we make. Over the next two days I only talked to him twice and he seemed to be rather spacey and then his speech was slurred. I sent my brother down; he checked on him, thought he had taken more than he was supposed to, but wasn't in any danger. The second evening he called me, his voice was not only slurred, but was filled with that pain I have come to know so well. I tried desperately to keep him on the phone while I motioned my daughter to call her uncle and send him over immediately. David kept saying that nothing really mattered. I told him his sister might be driving up to see him - he replied that she would be too late and hung up. Of course by this time I was panicking - we couldn't reach my brother - should I start to the car? But two hours, if he was harming himself I would be too late - should I call the police? - if I did he might lose his lease and if I was wrong that would be devastating to him - I tried my mom and thank the heavens she was driving, only a half an hour away from David. As she drove she called my brother again and reached him - he rushed down to find that David had consumed too much of the clonipin and had cut his wrist, but not deep enough to have been a suicide attempt. Mom got there and accessed the situation - he hadn't taken enough to be deadly - the cut was minor - he said he had done it to "relieve the pain" so he wouldn't kill himself. Mom talked to him awhile and got him something to eat; My brother and girlfriend stayed with him till my daughter got there to stay the night and we continued to trade off for the next few days.

Things have gotten much better since then - David's moods stabilized after a couple of days and we arranged for an old friend from school - whom we trust - to stay with him for awhile - the only major trial afterwards has been getting his winter quarter finished up - on top of everything he came down with a bad case of the flu a week later - so he ended up missing almost two weeks of class - but spring has sprung and I always attempt to remain hopeful - he has his next psychiatrist appointment this Friday so I'm going with him, to make sure David speaks about the episode and to make sure I take his medicine home with me.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Dailies #15

Sorry it has been so long since I checked in - between the weather, stomach flu, work and travel to visit David, this last month has passed in a wind swept fog. David is doing better than he was over the holidays - after Christmas I could tell that he was still struggling - holing up in his apartment and showing little interest in doing much else - I tried to visit at least once a week -sometimes twice a week - but things slowly improved - he started back to class the first week of January and just having some reason to get up, dressed, and out the door seemed to work miracles. He has had some problems sleeping and we have upped his seroquel to 100mg. I finally got him into a psyciatrist at OSU - the appointment is the 27th - so I am hopeful that this will turn out to be someone he can call when he is experiencing changes in symtoms. On a different note - I have been accepted into a Phd program from Walden University in clinical psychology - though I will have to attend a couple of residencies a year and complete a year long internship locally towards the end of the program, most of the courses I will complete online which will give me greater flexibility - a bonus I don't have to emphasize is crucial in caring for David.

Also in the last two weeks I have been wading through The Noonday Demon - though this description might suggest a boring read, this book is in fact a thought provoking look at depression. The author weaves the painful experience of his own illness through a comprehensive discussion of depression as a medical, philisophical, social, and political issue. The book is slow reading due to the depth of discussion, but is well worth the effort. The author does not shy away from controversial topics, such as his own homosexuality and his views on suicide as an option when someone is in a terminal or hopeless condition. Though I did not agree with all of his ehical conclusions, I was intriqued by the questions he raises, particularly about the relation between personal identity and mental illness, and about the idea that depression is possibly an evolutionary positive trait.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

#36 cont.

Christmas Eve was another late night - I again vigilantly watched David until I was sure he was asleep - so to say I was tired Christmas morning would be an understatement - but thankfully David awoke calmer and seemed more relaxed than he had been since he arrived - I fixed roasted chicken and rosemary potatoes for dinner because I know he doesn't like ham - after speaking with my mom and mother-in-law we decided to fore go our usual routine of everyone coming back out for dinner - we thought David didn't need any more stimulation and chaos.
We spent the day quietly watching South Park for hours - David had received two new seasons for Christmas - usually the show would grate on my nerves - but this day I was happy to curl up on the couch and watch episode after episode with David who seemed to be using the show as a means to get back his equilibrium - everything went great till evening when one of David's so called friends called - I heard him say that he didn't want to do anything tonight - that he just wanted to spend time with the family - but his friend wouldn't let it go - by the time he got off the phone he had plans to go out - he assured me "just for a little bit" - I worried - but then I reasoned that since he seemed so good today maybe a trip out wouldn't be so bad - of course I was wrong -
I walked over to the neighbors for a while to wish them Merry Christmas and to keep my mind off David - We only stayed for a couple of hours - but by the time we returned David was a mess - he had arrived home just before us and I don't know what he had done or how many drinks he had, but he was lying smack dab on the kitchen floor mumbling senseless things - his "friends" had just left him there - the next two hours I spent helping him onto the couch and trying to keep him under control - he began wandering around the house knocking into things, falling down - he shed his clothes piece by piece - his jeans in the kitchen - a shirt in the living room - he was buck naked by the time he wandered down and tried to go to bed in his old bed - now his younger brother's - needless to say his younger brother made a quick escape to the couch and left David to his old bed.
Up early I called my mom and told her the situation - I knew then that I had to get him back home that day - before something terrible happened - I couldn't tell him he couldn't go out with his friends without precipitating a fight - which could send him in Lord knows what direction - but I could not go through another night like the previous one. So I packed up all his clean laundry, presents, and cat and woke him up a half an hour before my mom was to arrive - still confused he wandered around the house in his boxers - he mumbled "what if I don't want to go?" - I acted as if I didn't hear him and kept bustling around getting him ready - unfortunately he could only find one shoe and one flip flop so he was in quite a state when Mom arrived - his hair uncombed and unwashed - the same stained shirt from the day before and one sandal and one shoe - in a rush I packed his stuff - put the cat carrier with the protesting cat in the back seat and gave him a long hug "I love you son" - then he was gone -
I walked straight to the bedroom, locked the door and lay on the bed to cry for an hour - I missed his physical presence so bad - I felt awful for pushing him out the door - deep down I knew I had done the right thing but that didn't help the memory of the look on his face that seemed to say "you don't want me"

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Dailies #14

For those waiting for the rest of my Christmas tale - it will be forthcoming - but today I just wanted to comment on a book that has helped me get though this season - though not new - it was new to me and gave me some insight into the larger national view of the mental health issue in the country - which let me look outside of my own troubles

This book is written with those whose family member suffers from mental illness in mind, but it is much more than an advice manual. Rosalynn Carter has been an advocate for mental health issues for decades. Her book discusses the problems facing not only individuals and their families, but also the challenges we face as a country as we try to alleviate mental illness, not only in our own communities, but worldwide. Carter inspires hope, at the same time as she urges action for those concerned with the issue. After briefing the reader on the history of mental health policy, she looks towards the future and the many things that still need to be done in prevention, awareness, research, and advocacy. This book was a pleasant read and gives those of us in the midst of personal struggles a vision of a larger community.