Many months ago I was thumbing through a Voice for Health pamphlet at my chiropractor’s office. Now, I do not recall if I read the article though I am inclined to think I did because I brought the pamphlet home with me, folded and creased to a specific article which I had also dog-eared. So I assume it was in fact something I had purposefully thought of using or sharing… something. I have still not revisited the article, however, a little over a week ago I stumbled upon that open, dog-eared article once again. It’s title: Your Most Precious Possession. I said to myself, right then and there, this will be a future blog post! I did not however know at that time what my most precious possession was.
It has been a long hard week for me, but now I know my answer: My Brain, My Memories, My Thoughts, My Cognitive Thinking and Ability to Reason. Friday night of last week, it was May 8th, I received a telephone call from the management of the apartment complex where my mother lives. She asked them to call me because she was going to the emergency room. They told me her heart was racing and then she seemed extremely confused. She needed my assistance, they did not think she should be on her own. And so I drove the
Friday night of last week, it was May 8th, I received a telephone call from the management of the apartment complex where my mother lives. She asked them to call me because she was going to the emergency room. They told me her heart was racing and that she seemed extremely confused. She needed my assistance, they did not think she should be on her own. And so I drove the four-hour drive to pick her up and bring her back with me so I could help her get the help she needed.
We arrived back at my home at 4:00 a.m. on Mother’s Day. Only 2 weeks earlier we had spoken on the telephone and she was “normal.” Now, however, absolutely everything is an enormous production and taking hours to complete. When I took her to a restaurant to eat she tried to order everything on the menu. She thinks if she orders it, it will instantly be hers again anytime in the future for eternity, without the need of paying. She does not remember a moment after you ask her to do something. She is confused. She has the energy of a young child and is in fact behaving like a 4-year-old, even though she retains the high intellect and trivial facts about science, nature, technology, the Internet and so on.
She wanders off whenever she sees someone nearby like a child does when they see a puppy or kitten. And then she starts talking to these poor strangers. I call them poor strangers because she is spending approximately 20-hours a day speaking, non-stop and at first you think you are in the midst of a real conversation but then she goes off in a direction that is obviously not rational. My mother is 68 years old. She is talking in the future tense about when she is going to have babies in her belly. And she talks in the past tense about the things she knew how to do before she was born. On Monday, I caught her speaking to someone in her bracelet, it lasted for more than an hour. I told her that I had just received a text from Lydia — that is this imaginary friend’s name — that it was time for Lydia to have her lunch break and so mom had to say goodbye and that Lydia promised to call her back later. She believed me. It broke my heart.
This is not a case of dementia or Altheimer’s, this is a very bad manic attack… or so I have been told. In some ways I feel a relief, that she has had no stroke, her heart is in excellent condition. Apparently she took herself off of her bipolar medication about three weeks ago and now my mother is entirely unrecognizable, even to her family.
I first became familiar with bipolar disorder in 1980 I was eleven and at the time; sufferers were called Manic-Depressives. I learned about it along with the rest of my family: the hard way. My mother’s brother had entered a very dark manic state and tried committing Harakiri. By God’s miracle, he missed every single organ and survived although the emotional scars of that incident have never left a single one of us. We were, at that time, an extremely close-knit family. Life has never been the same since that day.
For me, growing up, my mother was extremely high-functioning, a workaholic when I knew her. In later years, when I had moved away to college and continued life without her, I watched from the sidelines as she became less and less capable, depressed and self-medicating. Apparently this was nothing knew, she’d just happened to have a long period of effectiveness between depressive deaths because, before I was born she’d apparently spend months at a time in bed, this went on for several years. This is not uncommon for bipolar depression. She had, however, never had what appeared as a manic episode in her life… though looking back now, perhaps the workaholic behavior was low-level mania. Not sure. If not, I guess she held it all in and let it blow all at once.
It scares me because I am bipolar and unlike her I have always suffered both sides of the disorder: the weeks in bed, suicidal ideations, and the 5-days without sleep, superwoman of the universe, irrational dreams or beliefs and reckless behavior, but never have I ever had anything like what she is going through now. And so I am afraid that some day I could, within a matter of a few days, be nothing more than my earthly shell walking around babbling nonsense out into the world.
On Tuesday, the state put her on a 72-hour involuntary commitment. Yesterday she signed paperwork to remain hospitalized for two weeks (which would put her release date at the 29th of this month). I am grateful for the respite. I have not been as thoroughly exhausted as I am now since I was pregnant with my son, 21 years ago.
I have one more story to tell because it leads to what happened today.
On Saturday (the 9th), my mother knew I was coming to pick her up so she went to the beauty parlor to get a “special hair style” just for her vacation. She took no currency of any sort. I covered the bill over the telephone. When I arrived to get her I discovered that my 68 year old, white mother had asked the lady to put three cornrows in her hair, finishing each one off in a tiny piggy-tail. It is a hairstyle that you would most likely see on a two to four year old.
Yesterday (Wednesday) mom voluntarily signed the two-week commitment papers. This is good because she needs the rest and there is much less visual stimulus there than out in the world. This evening she telephoned me and complained that the hospital would not give her scissors to cut her hair or allow her to leave to go to the beauty parlor. I know that tomorrow when I see her again I will be taking out those little baby cornrows, I only hope it isn’t too painful to her. I told you her short-term memory is basically non-existent and that is true, however, every day she seems to become fixated on one or two ideas and that is all she talks about, round and around and around in circles she talks about it, and nothing else.
Please, Lord, let me keep my most precious possession, my sanity and, Lord, if possible, please bring my mother back to us. In the name of Jesus Christ, your son and our Savior, Amen.