Those of you who know me have been privy to the recent events unfolding in my life. For those of you who do not know me, here is the Reader’s Digest version.
For at least the past six years (documented), my mom has been living with paranoid delusions. Because she was never a harm to others or herself (that’s the standard, right?), I never insisted she seek treatment. Three weeks ago, I got a call from the bank that her house was going to foreclosure–I knew instantly that meant that Mom was not leaving her house, and had not left her house for some time. She was definitely now a danger to herself; I had to Take Action.
About two years ago, Mom was supposed to move more near Stacy and me, into the house I had vacated but still owned. That was when she confronted me–she needed to know whether I believed all of the things she had been telling me over the years had actually happened–were actually happening–to her. Because Mom values Honesty over all else, and, because, as my mom, she’s fairly dialed into whether or not I’m telling The Truth, I said, “I believe you believe all of these things are happening.” Self-righteous indignation ensued, and even after several discussions, Mom never ended up moving.
It has taken me a long time to come to terms with my own mental illness. I’m forty-two years old, and I have used anti-depressant medication off and on since I was nineteen. In spite of that, it has only been within the last few months that I have fully realized that I will be taking medication every day. For the rest of my life. Because that is in my best interest, and in the best interest of those around me (especially my partner and kids, who are with me every day). So it’s no surprise to me that Mom has difficulty recognizing and accepting her own mental health needs, despite the fact that she experienced a similar situation with her own mom, not all that long ago.
The first time I took anti-depressants, I was halfway through my freshman year of college. I was struggling with a more-than-full-time course load, an unrequited crush, and the weight of Life in General. My symptoms are often somaticized, and it was then that I began having migraines of such intensity that I sometimes couldn’t get out of bed. It took a couple of tries to get the best medication for me at the optimal dose.
The interplay of Nature and Life’s Circumstances has led me to use that medication more than a handful of times in my life, though I’ve always been stubbornly, perhaps pathologically, reluctant to allow myself to take the pills–the pills that bring clarity and relieve anguish–as if suffering was more virtuous. Now I appreciate just how stupid that is.
I know from experience that the road Mom and I are traveling is long and winding, often doubling back on itself in the most unexpected of places. I am relieved that she is finally getting the help that she has needed for a long time. I am relieved that her community (the one in which I was raised) and my community can work together to make sure that Mom has the supports she needs to not just live life, but to live an enjoyable life.
“Have as much fun as you can, because it goes fast,” Mom has said to me, on more than one occasion. Every time she’s said it, it’s been a bit wistfully, and I’ve wondered if she feels she’s failed to take every opportunity to have fun that came her way, and Has Regrets about that.
I look forward to the day when the cloud that has shrouded her mind is lifted, at least enough so that she no longer lives in the fear that she does now, that she has been living in for too many years.
I can’t wait to have fun with you again, Mom.
As always, I welcome your thoughtful questions and comments.