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.

The squeaky wheel

Last Wednesday my mom came over. She walked in saying she told my dad she was going to move back into my house if he didn’t take a shower. In an instant I felt more stressed. She lived with us I would guess somewhere around 4 months. My dad showering was always a fight. If it was up to my dad he would never shower again. One time he didn’t shower for a whole year. It is a topic of marital conflict that I would bet most of your parents never have had.

It wasn’t long after my mom showed up that the police called her. She found out not only one, but two of my brother Matt’s caregivers in his group home stole money from him and his roommates. It broke my mom’s heart because she really liked one of the caregivers because she was good to Matt. Not only that, but my mom found out that someone most likely a caregiver stole my brother’s cell phone. My mom got a cell phone bill for hundreds of dollars on Matt’s phone for texting and data. My brother doesn’t read nor write. He said he couldn’t find his phone for the last couple of weeks. No wonder why, it was stolen.

This was very upsetting for my mom. She is going through so much. Sadly, it’s nothing new. From what I heard the police were going to arrest one of the women as they have a low tolerance for people that steal from the disabled. My mom needed to go to the police department the following morning to sign a subpoena to get the cell phone records. It never ends for my mom. The week before Matt was exposed to COVID and his roommate had pneumonia.

As my mom was dealing with some major problems with her special needs child, I was dealing with some major issues with mine. I knew that my mom was not as concerned about me in that moment as she was with everything going on with my brother. I spent my whole childhood pretty much used to that. My mom always said the squeaky wheel gets the oil. Some way or another, Matt was always that squeaky wheel. The other three tires never made much noise in comparison.

The last year and a half Arabella has been that squeaky wheel. Lately, she is all we ever talk about. She was sending me upsetting texts while my mom was busy with everything going on with Matt. Lately Angel picked her maid of honor for her wedding. She was excited because she was also picked as the maid of honor for that friend’s wedding. We were happy for her, but then the conversation quickly switched back to the problems we are currently having with Arabella. Angel said it wasn’t fair. She was doing great but no one ever focuses on her.

I understand totally as a special needs sibling. Tonight Paul and I are taking Angel and her fiancĂ© out to eat to thank her for keeping a good eye on the house and pets while we were on vacation. We try to celebrate the good, but in all honesty everything going on with Arabella is bringing us down. There isn’t a lot of joy in my life right now. On a scale of one to ten I would list my joy rating at a zero. One of the only things that is keeping me from jumping off a cliff (or should I say the Kennebunk bridge) is looking forward to my daughter’s wedding.

Arabella’s time at the hotel was running out. She wanted somewhere to stay and didn’t want to stay with us or with my parents because the environment was way too unhealthy. She wanted to stay with my best friend’s family. Cindy has an 18 year old son living at home. I told my best friend not to let her stay there. If my daughter makes false allegations against her son, or husband for that matter, it could ruin their lives and I couldn’t live with that. Would she end up living in a car? Winter is coming. Then she ‘accidently’ sent me a text conversation she had with someone which detailed her overdosing. Maybe I’ll share that tomorrow. It’s hard to read though as a parent. Every day I expect a phone call telling us she is dead. That’s my life right now.

She doesn’t want anything to do with us, she said. But then she asked me if I would take care of her frogs. I have been but I don’t want to. I feel sad because every time I look at them I think of how they were a gift to her to show her how much we care. I don’t want her to take them because I am afraid they will die because she can’t even take care of herself. As I went to the pet store last week for more crickets, the guy who worked there forever commented to me how happy he was to see pets in good homes like mine. I almost started crying. I have a good home?? It’s so easy to doubt that anymore. I’ve been told how awful I am that I am almost starting to believe it or think that others see me that way.

How do people view me? Am I still the kind calm person with a sad smile? Or do people just see me with the weight on my shoulders that brings me down? Do they see the angry lady who beats her fists against the walls? The sad lady that almost cries in pet stores? Or do they see the real me in there somewhere? The me I can’t even see anymore. I’m so beyond broken at this point. Dealing with this stress day in and day out is killing me. But I’ve been through hell before and kept on going.

Diagnosis

I told Arabella she needed to come home on Sunday to pick up her medicine. She said the psychiatric nurse changed her medication but she didn’t say what changed. I was afraid to give her all her pills, but what choice did I have?

She stopped by and said she was staying at her friend Kami’s house, but they wanted her out by Tuesday. She said because of our drama and abuse, she wouldn’t be coming back here. She said it has been wonderful living with a normal healthy family. Arabella asked us if we knew what it was like to grow up like that. Of course, Paul and I both responded that we did not. I felt hurt and rather defensive. But how could we give something we never had? We did our best. Paul asked what Kami’s family had that we don’t have. Arabella said they have food that can be eaten at any time. It always went back to that, the delusion we are starving her.

She said she would text me her diagnosis once she left. Although they didn’t do the full psychological testing yet, they gave her a diagnosis of borderline, bipolar, and schizoid personality disorder. They also listed binge eating, insomnia, alcohol and cannabis use, and child physical, sexual, and emotional abuse with a word behind the abuse listing I didn’t recognize. I looked up the word the following morning and it said that it’s was a symptom of a health condition. So basically she thinks she has been abused because she is delusional.

I felt a sense of relief that I finally had some answers. Then I took it one step further and analyzed her results. It made sense. I believe that Paul’s mom had undiagnosed borderline/bipolar with delusions. I didn’t know a lot about schizoid so I looked it up. In it I found the definition of my dad. I always thought he was depressed but I never remembered him crying once in my life, even when his mother died. This disorder is characterized by lack of affect, laziness, isolation, and an inability to form close relationships with emotional intimacy.

Then I took it one step further than that. If my dad is unable to experience emotional closeness with another person why would my mom stay? She always said she stayed because of her religious convictions but no one would blame her for leaving after what my dad did. She was always the main breadwinner, so it wasn’t that. I looked further. I think my mom has dependent personality disorder with anxiety. She can’t handle being alone even if it means staying with my dad. Regardless, she is also seeing a psychiatrist.

Needless to say, Paul and I were both raised with all of our parents experiencing mental health struggles and now we are seeing something similar in our daughter. It didn’t just pop up out of the blue. The pieces finally fit together.

I was finally starting to feel hopeful again. Then something bad happened. Angel and I noticed that our 14 year old dog was especially stiff in his back legs that day. As I was walking around the corner with an overflowing laundry basket of towels, I tripped over my dog because I couldn’t see him. He started limping and having a hard time walking. Was he going to be okay? Was anything going to be okay? I felt a tremendous amount of guilt because I caused suffering. I was back to feeling sad and upset.

Will we ever get a break?