Dreary days

Today is the fourth dreary and rainy (or some form of precipitation) day in a row. I’m feeling it to the deepest part of my core; the cold, the dark, being locked inside not able to get out and find the light. There is so much trouble in the world, so much trouble in the people that surround me. It never seems to end. It is heavy, denser than the fog.

Yesterday Paul and I stopped at my parent’s house before going out to eat with Matt for his birthday. It is something I have to prepare myself for like wearing a winter coat on a cold day even if it looks like it could be sunny and warm. I will be triggered. It will be hard. Sometimes I ask Arabella what it is like living with my parents. From the sounds of it, not much has changed. My dad roams the house in his underwear. My mom cleans up his messes.

Then there is Matt. Matt can not do complex tasks like washing the dishes, but he can do simple tasks. When Matt is home, my dad has Matt wait on him hand and foot. Matt go get me a cookie. Matt get me some water. Matt hand me my remote. My mom tells my dad that Matt is not his servant. Then mom gives Matt permission to wait on my dad to feel like she is in control. I don’t miss the games, the power struggle between my parents.

The visit home was uncomfortable. Paul said he really doesn’t want to go back again. I don’t either. My parents complain Arabella is messy. She is, yet they fail to notice the own mess they live in. My mom wants Arabella to leave, even if it means moving to an apartment with a boyfriend she has been dating a few months. Before my dad’s crime, my mom would’ve been aghast to the idea. But now there aren’t any morals anymore.

They are all hard to live with. But what’s even harder is to see some of their very own struggles manifested within my children.

That’s one thing we never thought of before having kids. I just looked at the autism in my brother; the violence, the voices in his head telling him to hurt someone. Maybe we didn’t examine our parents enough; their relationships, their modeling, their own mental health. Then add a random bio dad to the smorgasbord of genetic maelstrom. All I can say, as if it’s any consolation, at least what we are seeing passed down is not entirely foreign to us.

It is sad. Sometimes I feel like crying with the rain as it pours down.

One of the most important things I’ve learned over the last couple of years is acceptance. That doesn’t mean I will accept poor behavior. It means it is what it is. I am not going to be able to change things. An apple is an apple even if I want it to be an orange. It also means being mindful of triggers. A visit to my parents house may cause me to feel depressed, anxious, or even angry. If I can prepare myself in advance for the possibility of those feelings, it doesn’t hit me so hard.

Today, though, I just feel tired and blah. Under the weather I guess. It seems hard to focus and form thoughts into words that make any sense right now. This post did not go where I was expecting it to go, but that is okay. I can accept that as well, I guess.

There is no warm up in sight. The weather forecasters are saying it should be warm and sunny, spring like on April 1st. What a joke!

Navigating life

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t struggle with depression, anxiety, insomnia, and nightmares.

Why should I expect that to change? The likelihood of no longer struggling with these things is about as likely as me waking up one morning with schizophrenia. It’s probably not going to happen. I was thinking about these things while I laid awake the other night.

Some things have changed. I started taking medicine prescribed by my doctor to help me sleep at night. It works better than nothing. I still struggle with insomnia and nightmares. The insomnia part has improved, but the nightmares have not.

Do you ever have dreams where you are falling and you wake up before you hit the bottom? I don’t wake up anymore until I’m dead. Sounds strange, right? In the last week, I’ve had two dreams where I was shot point blank, heard the sound of gunfire, and woke up after I died in my dreams. The nightmares just seem to go on forever. In one of the nightmares I was shot while I was cleaning my house. I mean, seriously??

Then I got to thinking, people really don’t change either. Most of my childhood I believed my autistic/schizophrenic brother would become normal again. If only we could find the right doctor, the right diet, the right medication. I was waiting and hoping for this. God was going to heal my brother. I didn’t know what this was going to look like. Would he be able to suddenly read and write like me or was he going to start life over in his toddler years. I thought it was going to happen, but it never did.

When my own daughter started having mental health struggles a couple years back, I thought the same thing. If only I found the right doctor, the right medication, the right inpatient program, outpatient program, etc.. Surely an expensive residential treatment facility would do the trick. But it didn’t cure her. It didn’t take her mental illness away. She is not the same person she was before. She will never be that way again. She may decide to end her life someday and I have to accept that and love her where she is at. That’s a hard pill to swallow.

After my dad committed his crime, there was a period of time where I was under the impression that he accepted the Lord and was a changed person. I wanted so badly to believe that was true. I thought maybe he would finally be the kind of dad I always wanted. But guess what? Nothing changed.

If I pray more and have enough faith, then my anxiety will go away. I used to believe that too. Maybe something was wrong with me because when I prayed for my struggles to go away, they didn’t. I don’t believe people anymore when they tell me those kind of things. It sounds like a gimmick to me. God is bigger than that. I don’t see God in that way anymore. I think faith is a wonderful coping mechanism. But I think people do more harm than good by telling others if they do certain things then their sibling, their child, their parent, or they will not struggle anymore.

Miracles do happen, but they are truly one in a million. I’m better off accepting that the way things are will probably be the way things will always be. If I look at it that way, my life makes a lot more sense. Look at the patterns of behavior. It’s very simplistic, but for me it was a real aha moment in the middle of the night. People don’t change. They may grow and mature over time like a baby turns into an old lady. But it’s still the same person with the same strengths and weaknesses with a little more wisdom and mindfulness on how to navigate life.

Honoring the dishonorable

Next week my dad will be celebrating his 75th birthday. It should be a grand celebration surrounded by his children and grandchildren. There should be a cake with candles a blazing, birthday cards, thoughtful gifts, and laughter. But there won’t be any of that.

On his birthday, Paul and I will be going to a Wisconsin Dells waterpark with our children and their significant others for an extended weekend. I planned it that way so I wouldn’t have to think about my dad’s birthday and how a relationship between a father and daughter should be. It’s painful I won’t be celebrating with him. I’m not sure what I’m going to do. Maybe I’ll call him. I tried to find a card to avoid an awkward conversation, but all the cards talk about love, admiration, honor, and respect. My dad doesn’t bring to mind any of those things.

On a side note, I totally think there is a market out there for shitty dad’s greeting cards. Who wants the sappy love stuff when their dad is a deadbeat? Or it could be for anyone for that matter, an annoying mother-in-law. It could cover all the major holidays so an awkward phone call isn’t necessary so I can feel like a good person although the recipient is a total ass. But I digress…

I talked to my brother Luke yesterday. His daughter Eva has a swim meet near our house and he was wondering if they could stay with us the weekend of our dad’s birthday. I told them they could stay at our house even though we will be out of town. We talked about our dad’s birthday. Luke said he would be driving by our parents house on our dad’s birthday. He wondered if he should stop by, then decided not to.

Luke said our dad never taught him anything. The only time my dad and him ever spent alone together was when my dad was whipping his ass. But beyond all of that, when my daughter Angel found porn on my dad’s computer and turned it over to the police it changed things for all of us. My brother’s daughters are the same age as some of the children in the images. My brother told my dad if he ever wants to see his grandchildren again, he needed to do several things. I can’t remember what all the conditions were. One for sure is that my dad needed to seek counseling. He didn’t do anything my brother asked him to do. Should he go back on that because it’s our dad’s 75th birthday?

His daughters have not seen my dad for over two years now. He said that once he opens that door it will be hard to close it again. I totally agree. We had the same issue with our brother Matt. Matt heard voices to hurt and/or kill our children. I did not allow contact between my brother and children when they were little after he attacked my daughter. Christmas was so hard. My mom would drop off the gifts then leave. The kids would cry. We had to be very careful. That was before Matt went to a group home and was on anti-psychotic meds.

So, yeah, how lucky I’ve been to have a brother and dad we didn’t/don’t want our kids around. I told my brother to just keep driving. I told him not to tell his children it’s grandpa’s birthday. They don’t understand the situation. Because they don’t, they might think their dad is in the wrong for ignoring his dad on his birthday when their dad has been everything our dad never was. For that I am thankful.

We both feel a tremendous amount of guilt for not spending time with our dad on his birthday because we still want to honor our parents. We want a relationship that will never be. Sadly, our dad made a lot of bad choices and we have to accept that and the pain that comes with it. We have to do things in the best interests to protect our children. It’s not the way we want things to be, but that’s the way it is.

So, in recognition of our dad, my brother and I became the parent he never was. I’m going to spend his birthday celebrating that with my own family and my brother will keep on driving.

The old normal, part 3

There was another new friendship I put on hold once COVID started. Again, we had a lot of similar beliefs and shared interests. Now she wants to get together again and I’m not sure I want to.

Where we left our friendship off, my friend confided in me that her husband got really drunk one night and beat her. I don’t think it was an isolated event. She said she would take him back if he stopped drinking. He said he would stop drinking. Fast forward two years later. My friend posted some pictures from a New Year’s party. It looked like she was drinking but I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt.

A couple weeks after that, she posted pictures of them BOTH drinking at a winery and brewery tour. He is drinking again. I JUST CAN’T. I can’t go out with them and have a few drinks knowing it might lead to violence towards her. He didn’t keep his word, and frankly neither did she. I want to be her friend but I don’t feel comfortable about their relationship knowing what I know.

My daughter has a similar friendship and it’s been very difficult for her. Last year her friend’s fiancée got drunk and beat her resulting in a broken ankle. He said he would quit drinking. But the violence still continues. Last week he choked her totally sober. Angel told her she needed to leave but she won’t. Her friend said maybe she provoked it. Plus they are getting married in a couple months. They already reserved the hall and she has her dress. Now is her chance to leave, but she won’t. It’s a lot more complicated once you are married and have children. Why doesn’t she understand that?

Ages ago, I was in an abusive relationship with someone I was engaged to. My fiancée Mac grabbed me by the neck and held me against the wall and shoved me around causing bruises. I got out of the relationship but I was tempted to go back. You see, he said he was going to change. One night we were sitting outside grilling with the neighbors at his apartment complex. When Mac left to go to the bathroom, his next door neighbor pulled me aside. He told me he heard me crying. He said I deserved much better. He told me to leave and not look back. I did and I would tell others to do the same. But what if they don’t? How can you be a friend, hear about how they are being abused, and watch them do nothing about it?

Several years before I was born, my mom left my dad. He shoved her around and bruised her ribs. She left and stayed with a friend. My dad showed up at her work with flowers. He said it would never happen again. He wore her down. Some fifty years later, she is still thinking of leaving. If only she left then, her life could’ve been a different story. It’s painful to see someone you care about in an abusive relationship that they do nothing about. Doing nothing is still a choice.

There were times I remember as a kid when my mom said she was going to leave. My brother Mark pleaded with her to not leave our dad. We jumped in the car with her as she drove around crying questioning herself out loud about what she was going to do. It was stressful and scary as a child because I didn’t have the security that my parents loved each other or were in a loving relationship. It could all unravel at any time. We were afraid of our dad and didn’t want to be alone with him because we were never sure what he was going to do to us. Mainly it was emotional abuse, but he would enjoy terrifying us. He didn’t change. The flowers were a cheap substitute for a beautiful life she could’ve had without him.

That being said, I find this friendship to be triggering and I’m not sure how good I would be pretending everything is fine. I would be open to talking to her but I can’t support her staying in an abusive relationship. I JUST CAN’T.

I believe that change is possible, but not likely. It takes a tremendous amount of work to change especially if you are dealing with other issues such as addiction. There is nothing I can do to change or fix things except directing them to clergy or professional help. Even then, they still might decide to do nothing. That makes me feel helpless, and I don’t like to feel that way towards the people I care about.

Fortune cookie wisdom #41

As a cure for worry, work is better than whiskey.

As someone who is a worrier warrior, I can say that work is a better cure than whiskey. It also leaves you with money in your pocket. Plus you have to admit being a workaholic is a lot more admirable than being an alcoholic.

Back before we sold our business, I really threw myself into work. Honestly, looking back I don’t know how I did it. How did I work full-time, raise a family, train for marathons, and keep a clean house?

I was happy at work when it was busy. Slow days left me with too much time to think. Super busy days added to my list of worries.

I love to keep busy. I love having tasks to complete. Is that so bad? Every day I have a plan. Every week I have a rough plan for the following week. I live my life through routine, structure, and planning. Spontaneity drives me absolutely bonkers. You might think my rigidity sounds a tad bit boring, but I can assure you it is not. Although I am a structure freak, I am also totally neurotic which makes me fun. As proof, no one has ever called me boring. I’m not really sure why.

Now I no longer work full-time, train for marathons, or raise kids. You might wonder if I miss it. No, not really. Now I’ve got whiskey. Okay, okay I am just kidding. It’s been an adjustment, but change is not always a bad thing. I’ve had to learn to cope with my anxiety without being a workaholic. I’ve had to learn to slow down and take better care of me. I can’t always outrun my demons.

There still never seems to be a shortage of things to do. Maybe now I’ve become the project, a work in progress.

Muse ick

My daughter showed me how to view my 2021 review of the year on Spotify. Numbers don’t lie and it showed me myself which can be scary. Angel showed me her year in review and posted it on Facebook along with all her friends. I would never do that. People would wonder if I was okay.

Music has always been a big part of my life ever since I got my first radio in Kindergarten. For the most part, music has been a healthy coping mechanism in my life.

Through my years music has always been there for me. In grade school, I cried myself to sleep at night with the Duran Duran Arena album. Planet Earth echoed my emptiness. The Chauffeur, The Seventh Stranger I felt my aloneness with them.

In high school I found Pink Floyd. I understood The Wall because by that time I had locked myself behind one. Comfortably Numb spoke to me. I could find myself in the depression and numbness without ever touching a drug. I remember when The Division Bell came out. When I got a Spotify account I searched and scoured everything Pink Floyd. I now have 69 songs from them on my playlist. Sadly, there is nothing new to consume. In a few months I am planning on getting The Dark Side of the Moon prism tattooed on my back. That’s about as new as it gets. They are my #2 artist of this year.

Music means the world to me. According to Spotify, I listen to music 88% more than other listeners in the US. I am beyond happy that my daughter Angel has a music degree and my son plays many instruments and started making beats for a rapper.

I could almost say I have a music addiction. There were times I felt guilty about my intake. I destroyed my collections, later to buy them back again. I am extremely private about the music I listen to. I feel shame because I don’t like feel-good Christian or otherwise music like my mom does. I like music to express the feelings when I am having a hard day: the anger, the emptiness, the despair.

Spotify said my music mood is wistful and spooky. I listen to thoughtful hard to listen to music discussing difficult topics like death, suicide, emotional pain, broken relationships, etc.. I really wish I liked songs about grace, forgiveness, love (in a good way), and happiness. There are a few I like but not many. I want to like that kind of music but I don’t. I can’t force myself to. I tried.

This year I found a new band. It’s not really new, but new to me. I found it by watching the MTV videos on Beavis and Butthead. I know, I know. Just remember I wasn’t able to be a kid and my inner child likes it. I keep telling myself that anyway.

The band is called Type O Negative from when I was a teen. Never heard of them before. Some of their songs I don’t care for. But four out of five of my top five songs this year were from them. They are my top artist this year. I am in the top 0.1% of listeners. I’m predicting next year will be lower because they will no longer be new and they don’t have any new music since the lead singer is dead.

Type O Negative has some really difficult songs to listen to because they have some really really hard grief messages. It really helped me process my feelings about having a suicidal daughter, Arabella, and the resulting depression from it. I can’t take the mental illness from my daughter and it is killing me. Life is Killing Me. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt from this band. I recently ordered the Black No. 1 shirt with the lyrics written on it of ‘loving you is like loving the dead’. Sometimes I feel like anyone who could love me is loving the dead because at times I was so numb it was like I wasn’t even there.

My number three song was from the $uicideboy$ entitled Kill Yourself. No strong suicide lyrics there. NOT. My daughter Angel showed me this song. She said after she found the porn on my dad’s computer she became really depressed and started listening to this song. It helped me understand how she feels. Most parents would be worried but apparently I am not one of those parents since I started listening to it as well by myself. But seriously, it’s not going to be on my top 5 list next year. It’s just too dark even for me.

I wonder if there are any other dark people out there like me. Is there anybody out there? Why am I drawn to the darkness inside of myself? Why don’t I like uplifting music? Why do sad songs make me feel good? It doesn’t make sense.

Why do some people like romance and others horror movies? You probably already could guess what I would prefer. Yup, horror.

It’s hard to explain to people who don’t get it. It’s like music is a friend of mine. When I’m feeling sad it cries along with me. It’s always there for me. As an introvert who struggles with depression sometimes it’s easier to pour out those emotions with music than with people.

Maybe I just figured out why I don’t want to share my music with others. If I share my music, I really am sharing about myself and that is truly scary to put myself out there like that. Now I just have to figure out why I am okay putting myself out there here.

Not at my best

I wish I could say that once Paul came back home everything was alright. I want to tell you we were kind and supportive to each other but we were not. Stress does not bring out the best in people. Sadly having a child with serious mental health issues does not build up a marriage as fast as it tears it down.

In some ways I resented Paul for being away for work while I was at home dealing with this crap. I imagined him wining and dining while I was whining and crying. He was joking and having fun at the bar while I was lying in bed at night awake and worried. I suppose it wasn’t like that but that is what I imagined it was like.

Paul started drinking again a week before Arabella came back home from residential. He was trying to quit for a whole year back in December. He didn’t quite make it. There were times over the last couple of weeks I thought he drank too much. At times this was upsetting. Other times I thought it was better than having a heart attack. The stress is too much. It doesn’t bring out the best in us. At times I drank more than I usually do. Because who cares? Who really cares?

Paul was upset with me because I was angry with God. He said I turned away from God. In hard times I seem to have less trust in God while he has more to get him through.

I started to drift away to a place deep within myself to find myself comfortably numb. I didn’t feel anymore, good nor bad. It didn’t matter because there wasn’t much good that I blocked out anyway. I went back to the safe place I lived as a child. Everything became muted. I shut down. I didn’t care about anything. I didn’t want to go to the party I was looking forward to going to for months. I didn’t want to go anywhere and you couldn’t make me go. I listened to the music on my broken playlist I created which contained songs of death, loss, and despair. I noticed one day that I got so numb I didn’t even know what song was playing. I was staring off into space. I was gone.

People kept asking me if I was okay. My best friend asked me how I stayed sane. Who says I am? She was afraid to talk to me about her problems because they are relatively minor compared to what I have to deal with. I don’t like that. I want to be treated like a normal person. It’s okay to talk to someone with more problems than you. It’s okay to feel sad or angry even if you have no reason to feel that way. Friends listen to each other because that’s what friends do.

I was looked upon with wary suspicion by my husband and daughter both whom said their therapists and they were concerned about me. Paul brought me a book home from his therapist called What’s Normal. I guess I can read it and learn what normal people and families are like. Maybe I can even share it with you, but you probably already know.

My own therapist was worried about me. She wanted me to come in every week. She said most people would have a hard time dealing with what I had to deal with in that one week. Although I don’t have an appointment this week she told me to reach out if I needed anything. She knows I like to isolate instead of ask for help. She was the one who told me that people can bring comfort to pain. Woah, my bad I only thought people brought pain. I started to worry maybe they were right and I was not okay. But it is okay to feel angry and sad when you have a really bad week. If you don’t, then something surely is wrong.

When I am in pain I like to sit in the corner alone and lick my wounds. If people try too hard to get in I feel cornered and push them away. I feel hidden in the corner by myself but when others invade my space I feel trapped. I get angry when I think others think I am not strong enough to take care of myself. I spent a lot of time as a child alone mending my wounds.

But this time I realized that shutting down and blocking other people out was not healthy for me. It still hasn’t been easy. It hasn’t been easy on our marriage either. This current struggle has brought up past trauma and unhealthy coping mechanisms for both of us. We are trying to work our way through it the best we can together and alone. I think we need to be patient with each other because neither of us is at our best at the moment. How can we be?

Walking again

That brings us to last Thursday. I dropped Paul off at the airport before first light. He was travelling for work and wouldn’t be home until Sunday. When I got back home Angel was heating some water in a glass bowl in the microwave. The microwave starting sparking and flames shot out from the side inside. So far things were off to a bad start. Maybe the microwave starting on fire would be the worst thing that happened while Paul was gone. Ha ha, funny. It wasn’t the worst, but it was the first.

My mom had spent the night but was leaving soon to head to the police department to sign some papers because a caregiver from my brother’s group home stole his phone. She called Arabella and told her she needed to check out of the hotel she put her up in a few nights. I didn’t know where she was going to go from there. She applied for an apartment with this guy Will whom I never met and didn’t know anything about besides him trying to kill himself a couple times.

The rest of the day went by in a blur. I went to bed when I normally do. I turned my ringer off. I slept until 3 AM when I awoke to go to the bathroom. At that time I checked my phone. I received a call around midnight from a No Caller ID caller. My heart started to race. That didn’t seem good to receive a call like that in the middle of the night. I’ve gotten calls from the police as a No Caller ID caller before. What was going on?

I also got a text from Arabella saying she was in the ER. I texted her back asking her what was going on and if she was alright but didn’t receive a response. I was wide awake now. Next I called the hospital ER department and asked to be connected to Arabella’s room. Arabella answered sounding very weak and tired. I asked her if I could talk to someone, anyone if she couldn’t talk. A nurse, her friend that took her in. Arabella said she thought I didn’t care and hung up on me.

What the hell was going on? Was it an overdose, a suicide attempt? I tried to reassure myself she was okay. She is in the hospital. They are taking care of her. She is alive. But it was little comfort as I laid in my bed alone trying to fall back to sleep. I may have dozed off a few minutes here and there. After a couple hours sleep was futile so I decided to get up and get on with my day. Right after I got up, the power went out. Because sure, why not? It didn’t stay off very long, just long enough to have to reset things.

The minute the psychiatrist’s office was open I called. I had to leave a message and decided to get on with my day. I planned on going for a run. Not sleeping was not a good enough excuse not to. Otherwise I would get nothing done if I was waiting for a stress free moment to live my life. Although I didn’t feel up for it, running is a healthy way to deal with my stress. After I left, my mom called and said Arabella came over to her house to sleep. She said Arabella told her she thought she was having a seizure and went to the ER. My mom wondered if it was a side effect from her new medicine. She just started Lithium and I remember a doctor once saying that it could be a problem with her thyroid disorder.

The psychiatrist’s office called me back a couple hours later. The nurse said that Arabella did not have a seizure. The ER diagnosed her with hyperventilation. That was a relief. She did tell me that Arabella threw me under the bus. She told them right after we got back from our vacation with her that Paul and I took another vacation. We left her home alone to starve as she was too weak to get out of bed. She also told them we gave her $200 when she turned 18 and wanted nothing to do with her. The nurse said the day after her initial psych evaluation appointment, she had an appointment with the psychiatric nurse where she was acting erratic and couldn’t hold a thought.

The nurse also said that Arabella tested positive for cannabis. She said that teenagers who already have a history of mental illness are more likely to have a negative reaction to pot. She thought maybe Arabella’s delusions were marijuana induced even more so with the high THC cannabis that is available today. She said that there was nothing I could do unless Arabella wants to quit and she didn’t know if it would even be reversible. She said she would discuss everything with the psychiatric nurse and call me back, but she never did.

After thinking about the situation, I wanted to tell the nurse that Arabella has a family history of the exact mental health struggles she is dealing with but not as extreme as her. She was experiencing paranoia and delusions before she even started smoking pot. Maybe smoking made it worse? Honestly, I think genetics is a bigger factor than smoking is. This is from what I know of our family history. Paul never knew his dad so there could be so much more effecting this than we even realize.

Right now I am kind of kicking myself though. Arabella was in inpatient 3 times within 4 months. After that she spent 2 months in outpatient, another 2 months in residential. Outside all of these programs, she has seen 5 different counselors within a year and a half. I thought she would come out of residential fixed. Part of this is my fault for thinking that. She was gradually getting worse and worse but I couldn’t accept that. I was setting her up for failure. She couldn’t go from residential care to seeing a counselor once in awhile. She fell through the cracks. She became an adult and no longer qualified for the adolescent outpatient program.

Basically she couldn’t go from wheelchair bound to walking like normal again. I thought residential was the miracle cure. I still believe it saved her life, but it wasn’t the end of her mental illness as I thought it would be. I realize that now.

Borderpolar with SAD

Last week my daughter said she accidently sent me a text which contained a screenshot of a conversation she had with her friend. As her parent, I found it to be very disturbing. I was debating on whether or not to post this and decided that I needed to talk about it. I want to warn you in advance that it might be triggering because I will be discussing drug use and suicide.

Arabella: I tripped too too hard on cough medicine that I was seeing hallucinations. Cause I took around 13 at night. And then the next morning I took 13 more. And I was planning to call the police because of them. As I was so miserable. That when I wanted to take a relaxing shower I saw the bath turn into like intestines. Something you would see only in really fucked up entertainment like movies or like books. But then there was screaming and the devil talked to me. And luckily V picked up the phone and talked with me and told me not to call the police. And just had me sit and talk with her until I went to bed or she did, one of those. And she told everyone at school that…

V: And that’s a pretty weird call to get from someone you don’t talk to regularly that you didn’t think did drugs. And she was calling to say she took too many pills and was crying saying she had to call the police because she saw the devil talking to her in a bathtub.

Arabella: That was me. That is more than 4 times the safe amount to get fucked up within 24 hours. That fucks up your liver. That’s why I don’t think I’m going to live long.

Will: I’ve tried to OD with a variety of OTC and a couple prescription pills.

On the bottom of the screenshot of the conversation between Arabella and Will there was a selfie of Arabella looking awfully messed up with the caption good-bye. Underneath it read, I took too many pills.

The first thing I did when I got the message was make sure it wasn’t recent. I believe the attempt to OD originated before residential. It wasn’t a current call 911 threat. I literally felt sick I was so heartbroken. I didn’t know or maybe I’ve been in denial. She wasn’t like this before. Her mental health issues all started with an out of the blue suicide attempt. Before that she didn’t do drugs or even drink. That all changed after her third inpatient hospitalization. She met a girl there who was into stealing and drugs. That’s when it all began. She didn’t have many friends left at that point. I thought it couldn’t be that bad to have a few friends from the hospital. It’s not as if anyone healthy or well adjusted wanted to hang out with her. Now I know why they discourage those types of friendships post hospitalization.

Arabella told me a couple of months ago that she didn’t like being sober. She said she liked pot but when she couldn’t get that there was alcohol. She also told me when she didn’t have money she would shoplift cough medicine. I had no idea it could be so bad. I mean it wasn’t heroin, right? But that was before residential, right? Because she was supposed to go to residential and go into remission and lead a happy healthy productive life. That’s what I was telling myself anyway.

Sometimes teenagers experiment with drugs and alcohol. Alex did. He wasn’t an easy teen. There was that one kid in the neighborhood. When we found out, he wasn’t allowed over there anymore. But he lived a few houses down. It was hard to stop once it started.

But this was different. She wasn’t with a group of friends experimenting. She was alone. Was she trying to kill herself?

When we were on vacation, Arabella wanted us to buy her alcohol and weed. We didn’t. She was already on a smorgasbord of pharmaceutical medications. I honestly didn’t know she had a problem. Maybe she doesn’t. Maybe I’m in denial. All I know is that since the trip she went into a downward spiral. She lost her job. I knew she would be okay if she was able to hold down a job. Now that is even gone.

The initial diagnosis also includes substance abuse. I haven’t wanted to face it. I’m certain that the dual diagnosis of borderline and bipolar has the highest suicide rates. If you add substance abuse to that, the prognosis is very poor. My daughter already has had multiple suicide attempts. I have to live with the fact that my daughter is seriously mentally ill. I could get a call any day.

It’s been especially hard because she has been more delusional than I’ve ever seen her. She sincerely believes that I’ve been starving and torturing her. It’s been making it nearly impossible for me to help her. I feel so helpless. There is nothing I can do. She hates me and has been abusive towards me. Should I tolerate that because she is mentally ill? When do I let go and take care of me? I feel so much anger and despair. I’ve lost a lot of hope and don’t see this ending well. I want a miracle. I want her to be the one that beats the odds. But what if she doesn’t? I’m so afraid of what might happen next. I’m worried sick.

Our first night, Vermont

The night before we left I had a dream that was too good to be true. So much so I considered it another nightmare. I dreamt my dad picked my son and I up in a van. My dad was loving and had a good conversation with Alex. In real life, my son hasn’t spoken to my dad in almost 2 years since discovering his crime. He never wants to see my dad again. In my dream, my dad dropped my son and I off at an apartment complex in a crime ridden ghetto. Instead of getting shot, a gangster gave me the shirt off his back for my trip. It was a fairytale dream that left me feeling sad.

I awoke early after the dream to finish packing. We had to leave early to drive to the airport a couple hours away. I had a hard time waking Arabella up and we ended up leaving later than I wanted to. I didn’t even check to see if she turned off her lights. We took my small car and couldn’t fit all our luggage in the trunk. My mom’s suitcase was wedged between my mom and daughter in the backseat.

The drive and check in at the airport was rather uneventful until we got on the plane. The pilot announced there was bad weather in Chicago and we would have a delay where we might have to deplane. We only had an hour to make our connecting flight. I could only hope that our connecting flight was delayed as well. Thankfully we were delayed less than we anticipated and our connecting flight was also delayed. But that also meant we would get to our destination later.

Although I wore pants and a sweatshirt, Arabella was hot. She decided to wear only a tank top and short shorts that were several sizes too small. Half of her large cleavage hung out and her cutting scars on her arms and legs were fully visible. She seemed to like the attention her appearance was receiving. I was rather embarrassed but she is 18 and not open to feedback.

We got to our destination at the Connecticut airport as the sun was starting to set. The car rental company said we could upgrade from a midsize car to a large SUV and considering our tight car ride to the airport and several hours of driving on our trip, we took it.

We were spending our first night in Vermont which was another hour and a half drive from the airport. It wasn’t easy to drive the huge SUV as dusk was nearing, an unfamiliar city in an unfamiliar vehicle. We wanted to find somewhere to eat as we neared the end of our drive for the evening. We wanted to eat something local to Vermont since we were only spending one night there. Arabella wanted to eat at the chain restaurant she worked at at home but no one else wanted to. We wanted to try something new so we kept driving. We ended up out in the middle of nowhere stopping at the only restaurant that looked open.

Arabella was angry because we didn’t stop where she wanted to eat. She also got angry because her dad said he would not buy her alcohol. She was pissy during the whole meal and only ordered dessert to eat. Afterwards, Paul talked to her alone and apologized that he did not stop to eat where she wanted as it was her vacation too. I didn’t think he needed to because he wasn’t out of line, she was. We both wanted everyone to get along, but that wasn’t going to happen.

The rest of the car ride was very difficult. Paul drove trying to find our Airbnb. We were out in the middle of nowhere. It was pouring outside. The roads were winding and mountainous. For the rest of the ride, Arabella attacked Paul. She accused him of being a horrible father. She said he was abusive. She was angry that we never gave her an actual graduation gift like a stuffed animal although we said the trip was her gift and we were spending a lot of money to take her. She screamed at Paul while the rest of us sat in silence. I was angry at Arabella and worried about what the rest of the trip would be like. I felt sorry for Paul because he was bending over backwards trying to be nice to everyone and he was viciously attacked.

We got to our Airbnb which resembled an old haunted farmhouse. It was cool and damp. It poured all night and the rain ended just before we left. In the morning we found that we were between two rundown houses. It was strange at the house we rented because two of the bedrooms didn’t have curtains on the windows. The host was really nice though and said we could help ourselves to anything in the fridge or cupboards. We found some Vermont pancake mix and Paul ran to the store to buy maple syrup. He made us a nice breakfast in the morning then we were on our way.