Bi-Polar Again

I don’t understand this illness. Son can get along just fine for 5-6 weeks and then he gets manic, stops sleeping/eating. He starts losing things. Completely losing things, never to be found again. Like half a pair of sneakers. How do you lose just one shoe  between night and morning? I swear he must throw things away. After a few days we generally start to wonder if he is using or drinking. We talk to him or ask him about it, and he of course gets defensive. “Why don’t you trust me?” Then he starts getting really agitated, can’t sit still. He’ll stay in his room, barely speaking to anyone, then suddenly barge into the room, say something odd and mumbled and disappear again.

He has started seeing things and hearing voices.  He kept sweeping his room, complaining that it is impossible for the dust and dirt to reappear when he just swept. He told me it was the ghosts doing it. They don’t like him. He had chunks of time where he spoke of things that have not happened. Then he would have a few minutes where he seemed completely ok.

This time I called the PET, Psychiatric Emergency Team. While it was nice not to have to involve the police, especially since for the first time he was remaining somewhat talkative and aware. He was calmer than most time he gets like this, so I thought about cancelling PET,  but I knew he could go downhill pretty quickly.  My hopes of help were dashed when this team tells me they can do nothing. He is calm and answering questions with them. Even if he answered a question with something completely odd. They said that Son needs to meet the requirements of a 5150: Is he a danger to himself or anyone else.  That’s it. They don’t think talking to things that aren’t there, and discussing how ghosts are messing up his room as warranting a psych hold.  Granted his odd behavior is not against the law, but this one defining question as to a psych hold, “Is he a danger to himself or anyone else?” hardly seems enough.

We had been nearly three days with almost no sleep because Son had been up cooking breakfast at 1 AM, or any number of daytime activities in the middle of the night. He loses all sense of time when he gets like this. You cannot reason with him. He doesn’t hear you, sometimes I’m not sure he even sees me.

In all I have read I have only seen mention that someone with BPD may hallucinate a couple of times.  But it’s just that: one line or two saying some people may experience hallucinations. I need to expand my search parameters. At last! I found a couple of good places for more info.  All I needed to do was add “hallucination” or “psychosis” and boom, I got info. Helpful? Somewhat.

In the end, Son voluntarily admitted himself to the hospital because of the hallucinations. He called this afternoon angry because they wouldn’t let him out. Possibly the psych team admitted him unwilling, or they don’t feel it’s safe to release him. Either way he is terribly angry. Tomorrow he will be contrite and beg us to pick him up.

It’s gotten to the point we don’t want him in the house, he’s so disruptive and unpleasant so much of the time. But if it’s just the BPD we have to hang in there, but if he is doing this to himself I don’t know that we can.  If we could just get a doctor to confirm that nothing untoward showed up in his blood work. Last time we went through this I managed to see his lab results and Xanax was detected. He doesn’t have a script for that and had a terrible habit at one time.

He can’t get into rehab unless he is actively using. He can’t get into a sober living home unless he’s clean. He is unable to hold down a job for a litany of reasons, so he lives here. How do I help him? How do I get through to him? Will he let me talk with his doctors? Only one way to know. I’ll ask him when he comes home if he would let me talk to them.

 

 

 

Obsessive Behavior

Son is not much improved.  It’s terrible to bring your mentally ill family member to a hospital ER.  It is not set up to handle the kind of obsession, frustration, and anger.   When Son is in this state, he does not fully comprehend what is going on.  The longer the wait the more manic and frustrated he becomes.  There are a few Urgent Care centers for mentally ill, but they are not open 24 hou.rs a day.  When Son gets like this there is no where else to turn but to the ER.

It was all I could do to keep him in the ER long enough to be seen by a doctor.  Twice he’d run outside and missed a bed.  By 3:30 Tuesday morning I had to call 911 to get the cops to corral him and keep him inside the ER.  He was extremely agitated, belligerent, and combative.  Pacing wildly, and screaming at people in gibberish.  All in all a very pleasant Tuesday morning, especially after Son locked my keys in the car and I couldn’t rouse Husband to rescue me.  I ended up walking home at 4 AM.  Luckily it wasn’t a long or unpleasant walk.

Mental illness or alcohol?  Both probably.  We just don’t know.  I was going to call to make sure they kept him 72 hours, and ask them to keep him another 2 weeks, but never had the chance.  Son called first thing in the morning begging me to pick him up.  Sounded so contrite, talking in a small voice.  Nothing I’d ever heard before.  He admitted he’d been drinking, that he has a problem.  He said he’d go to meetings and all the group stuff, and everything, if I would just bring him home.  I said I wasn’t picking him up until I talked to a doc.  That happened in less than an hour.  The doc did not feel son was danger to himself or others, and despite reiterating the diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder, practically threw him out.

So angry!  We had hoped the hospital would keep him at least the 72 hours.  Give us a little time to find a sober living or halfway house for him and dismantle his business.  We did clean his room, picking up dirty laundry, general straightening, hoping if it was tidy he would not come home and obsess about his business.  Stupid me, for thinking it was a nice thing to do, but he was angry and belligerent about our help.  Apparently, we ‘threw everything’ away.  I handed him the trash can and invited him to go through what we tossed out.  He said something about how he feel’s he’s lost his mom, and that I don’t care or I wouldn’t treat him like this.  He doesn’t believe me when I try to counter that claim.

He is unable to comprehend my behavior and attitude toward him, and I don’t know why.  I’m here, available, and speaking to him, yet he thinks I sound angry.  He still angry, argumentative, and just plain wrong!  He believes I am angry with him, though I have tried to explain I am angry at the obsession.  I don’t hate him, I hate the addict in him.  To him that said I don’t love him, and am not willing to help him.  He feels I don’t care that he has a mental illness.  I told him it was a diagnosis, not an excuse.  You can imagine how that went over.

He has needed round the clock watching since coming home.  He is obsessing over these damn accounts.  Important stuff, sure, but he won’t write down his passwords, and he screws up his accounts every time he has an episode like this.  He has called help lines, tried a dozen different passwords and now wants my help!  How can I do anything with his accounts if he has gotten locked out?  I explained there is nothing I can do for him without his passwords.  So now I’m a shitty mom for ‘not supporting’ him, to hear him tell it.

And he’s not able to use his iPad since he somehow ruined the plug in and can no longer plug it to a charging cord.   He has a big expensive gaming computer that he barely knows how to operate, but he can’t obsess about learning how to move around on that.  Instead, he is using his dad’s iPad to sign into his accounts.  He keeps asking for his dad’s passwords.  When I asked why, he said he needed them to get into his email.  I don’t know what he is thinking.

He is putting words in my mouth, twisting what I say, and in general is just being a big dick.  He can’t seem to understand anything that is said to him, as it does nothing to change his behavior.  He is practically inconsolable in thinking I hate him and that hurts more than he could ever know.  Nothing I say comforts him or reassures him.  I don’t know what else to do.

He is driving me absolutely mad!  Where is the ‘throwing up your hands in surrender’ emoji?

Drug Abuse & Brain Damage

Right now I hope my son is using something, because if he isn’t, he has permanent brain damage that may require hospitalization or institutionalization. I’m scared.  He has spells of normal behavior then suddenly he turns into this psycho who cannot articulate what he means to say–he uses the wrong words.  Nouns elude him.  He also gets obsessive and damn near impossible to communicate with.

He got lost coming home from his ex’s the other night.  She lives just one town over, about a 25 minute drive on surface streets.  She has lived at this location for five years.  The other night he ended up on the freeway going north into South Los Angeles.  A fairly unsafe place for a confused long-haired white guy.  It took 10 minutes of talking with him to get him headed in the right direction.  Stay on This Road, I told him, and it will bring him home.  5 minutes later he calls back.  He’s lost again.  Husband figures out where Son is and tells him to wait, that he will come lead him home.  Another 15 minutes and he calls, they’ll be home in just a minute, Son was right behind him, and they were 2 blocks away.  Unbelievably Son called about 10 minutes later.  Now he is headed south on a different freeway some 35 miles from home!

When he get’s home, it’s not much better.  He’s in and out of the house.  Front yard, back yard.  He comes into our room looking for various items, usually something that we would not have in our room, like the car.  He won’t go to his room, he won’t lie down.  He returns to our room repeatedly, goes into the bathroom 4-5 times in an hour.  He took two showers.  One less than an hour after the first.

It’s like having an extremely mobile 3 year old.  So afraid thinking about him driving on the freeway, probably speeding, considering how far he got from home in just a few minutes.  How am I supposed to deal with that?  What is that?  What is happening?  He gets single-minded and resolved to a particular action and seems unable to stop.  He listens, but he doesn’t hear.  He speaks, but he makes little sense most of the time.

Here is a sample of some things he said today:

“If I want to pick a fruit, just let me pick a fruit.”

“I’ve got to go to Armstrong’s (a gardening store) to get a thing, a, a, a, rope for my my my, the, that, my couch.”  He  meant he needed to go to Best Buy for a new charging cord for his iPad.

“It won’t work and no one will help me.”  This about his iPad, which isn’t the problem so much as he can’t sign in to any of his accounts, his passwords no longer work.  This happens each time he has one of these episodes.  I cannot do this any longer.  Husband can no longer handle this.

“You guys do so much for me, too much.  But I need help and you’re not helping.  All you do is yell at me.  And I’m not allowed to be to be upset or get mad.”  At times his anger feels like a physical presence and I am acutely sensitive to it.

One doc diagnosed him with schizoaffective disorder.  A scary mix of schizophrenic and bi-polar symptoms.  He fits some of those guidelines.  I also came across something called semantic dementia.  A truly horrifying illness with a limited lifespan.  He fits some of that criteria as well.  The only information I really find on these illnesses is a description of symptoms and prognosis, or I end up on some rehab site that tells me nothing except ‘drugs bad’.

I have an appointment to see my therapist with Son tomorrow afternoon.  I need someone I trust to give me an opinion as to what is going on.  I think he needs to be hospitalized, properly diagnosed and treated before returning home.  Except that won’t happen because there are too many mentally ill or addicted individuals in the area.  There are not enough facilities for all the mentally ill.  Not enough beds, nurses, doctors. The help is not free, does not take most insurance.  What are poor addicts supposed to do then?  What options do we provide them?  None.  What help do we provide to the families of those with serious mental health issues?  None.

None.  And with the new Trump NonCare it will only get worse for people like us: Sad losers (to use Trump’s words) who never caught a break in life.  How can people not understand the allure of suicide?

Slogging Through Info

My most challenging activity is trying to sort through the pages and pages of assorted sites dedicated to the advocacy of addicts and the psychologically ill.  Go to the “How You Can Help” page on most of these sites and it’s all about fund raising.  Join a walk, have a bake sale.  I don’t want to raise money to study the fucking problem.  And why should it cost money to try to move a bill through its paces?

Of course, it always comes down to money.  That’s why so many addicts and the mentally disabled people are either without insurance entirely, or only getting care through ERs, county-funded (make that underfunded) facilities and crap insurance like Medi-Cal or Medicaid.  No one wants to put money into funding proper training, adequate support, and sufficient insurance coverage for what society has apparently decided are ‘throw away people’.  Like the poor, mentally ill people and addicts are treated like they did something to deserve their current situation.  Just like poor people should work harder, an addict should just quit using, Mrs. Conservative Christian Republican says.  (Actually, that was real advice given to my son by an MD.)  What people don’t seem to realize is that without help the addict is quite unlikely to achieve sobriety.  Just like without our help our poor are dying on the streets for lack of care.

The GOP of the past 15 years or so is responsible for there being more poor, more mentally ill without care, and more homelessness.  Why?  Because every bill that comes along designed to help people is watered down or destroyed by their manipulation.  Why?  Because they have decided that those with are not obliged to help those without.  Mostly it’s because there is NO MONEY to be made in helping people.  What we have is a political system favoring the rich and powerful, with laws designed to help them avoid paying taxes that fund programs like Welfare, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, and the Affordable Care Act.

So here I am trying to figure out how to try to impliment change.  I’m still trying to filter through all the various groups involved in trying to make policy changes.  I guess I kind of get why there are so many websites and groups, and other pages since each of us has their own ideas on how to accomplish change, but if we could pool our resources and our energy toward changing laws to reach complete reform it would seem to guarantee success.  I know it will be slow.  Evolution is a slow process.

NAMI

Change.Org

State of Mental Health in America

Dec. 17, 2012 Washington Post article on mental health care

May 12, 2014 USA Today article on mental health care

Addiction Is Not A Choice

I’ve been gone for a while…life had been going so well.  It’s taken a significant downturn lately, and recent events have brought on this rant.

Son’s addictions have taken him to the bottom and he’s finally asked for help.  Great.  Now try to find a program in the US that will take an unemployed, under-insured man.  Blue Cross, Aetna, sure we’ve got space.  Medicare? um, yeah, but…  No. Not Medicare.  Medi-Cal.  Same sort of service, but at a state level.  It was all the coverage he could get through the Affordable Care Act.  Medi-Cal, I have been informed by a well-known and respected hospital that there is a waiting list for a bed in Detox/Recovery.  Six month-long waiting list?  Meanwhile he continues to use and falls deeper into addiction.  His only recourse is the ER.  Not the place for an addict, since they eventually note that he is a ‘drug seeker’.   Rather than treat them as they would treat someone in a wheelchair, suffering from stroke, or blind.

I want people to understand Addiction Is Not A Choice.  No one gets up one morning and thinks, “I’ve never tried heroin, I think I’ll go score some.  I hear it’s really addictive.”  No, they think, “yeah, it’s addictive, but I’m not addicted to anything else, maybe I won’t be this time either.”  Or any similar thought.  Usually the addict is young, lonely, and in pain either emotional or physical, and they are unable to get legitimate doctors to listen to them.  “Of course I’m seeking Oxycontin, I’m in pain you idiot!”  Just because they see nothing in the X-ray, doesn’t mean he has no pain.  Instead, a note is made in the file and they are labeled and addict and therefore lumped in with other undesirables.  The addicts are today’s Unclean.

Search for Rehab Facilities.  Count how many are touted as “luxurious”, “spa like”, and have a 360 degree view.  Hundreds of them up and down the coast.  And my son, because he lacks the resources is relegated to the bottom of a long list, left to his own devices for six months.  A lot of damage could happen in 6 months.  In that time, he could get arrested and sent to jail for three years on some drug possession charge.  Left in a cell to go through withdrawals sick, alone and scared…I don’t care how tough you are, withdrawals make you feel like you’re dying and most people are afraid of that.  No sympathy from the guards, they figure you’ve got what’s coming to you, what with you being some scumbag dope addict.  Like it was a choice!  It happens.  To a lot of people.  A poor decision, some bad luck or serious falling out with friends/family.  That drug filled the deep black hole of depression, made me imagine I had a heart again.  It made me feel better, why is that wrong?

The US justice system is how we deal with our societal pariahs.  I believe we do need a prison system.  But it needs reform.  NOW.  We must work to change the laws, states should have standardized sentences.  Like all states should put your standard rapists away for a minimum 10 years, and wear a bracelet for another ten (for example).  That way people like Brock Turner are held for an appropriate time, regardless of how well liked he is by the judge.  Consider arsonists.  Some are very smart and do their research.  Arsonists live in states with lots of far away places to burn: California, Texas, AZ, etc.  If Arizona’s state law says arson with no injuries to persons or property receives a sentence of 18 years.  But in Texas they’d only get 3, wouldn’t you think that would attract  the wrong sort of people to Texas?

What really needs to be standardized and seriously changed are the drug laws.  Many of these laws were written in the 50s and 60s.  We have gotten smarter and understand more about addiction and mental health than ever before, and yet we continue to lock up sad, but mostly harmless, addicts for $25 rock of crack.  The police and lawyers have been trained for years to treat addicts like criminals.  Just as people were once imprisoned for loving the “wrong” sex, we will see the errors in incarcerating our addicts.

I want to see doctors and those in the justice system treat addiction as a mental illness.  Our justice system is broken, poorly run, and employs far too many people who don’t really care.  Probably because of overwork and inadequate compensation.  We need more mental health service providers, more doctors, hospitals.  We need more classes graduating more nurses each year.  We need Government money to fund these programs, not the nickel and dime donations volunteer groups raise.

The end result of this rant is my desire to do advocacy work in this area.  I am overwhelmed by the dearth of specifics provided on various mental health sites.  Most sites have a button saying “Get Involved” and basically ask for a donation.  How do I get my view to policy-makers?  Should I just write my president and representatives so I can get a nice reply letter saying thank you, but this is a complex process and blah, blah, blah.

How do you change the world?

 

Feeling Negative

I’ve been feeling rather negative lately.  Perhaps I am depressed about my back, which causes me pain daily for the past 6 months.  Standing at the sink for the15 minutes to do the dishes and my back is screaming for me to lay flat, or at least sit down.  The doctors do not seem overly concerned.  The last appointments I had with all three of my docs I felt I was dismissed.  They all said, ‘see you in # months’.  Made it sound like an order.

My back is causing me not to do things, like walk, though I can last longer than standing still for some odd reason.

Beach yoga
Beach yoga

Some days I can walk an hour before it starts to ache.  But at night, doing the cooking and washing after, I’m in pain.  I keep trying to get to yoga and tai chi, but the timing just never seems to work out.  I’m thinking about making up a schedule and promising myself I will keep to it no matter what for the month of November.  I know that’s a lofty goal: Committing to improve my health.

I do have to.  Improve my health and that of my family.  We had all promised (many times, very many times) to eat better, treat our bodies like the temples they are.  Love our bodies as much as a spouse or child.  If we loved our bodies would we treat them better?  We seem unable, individually or as a group, to eat a more balanced diet.  We are addicted to sugar.  Most people are to some degree.  But today I ate an entire 1 lb bag of candy corn.  I had been angry at Husband when I bought it.  So instead of sharing this treat, I devoured it in secret throughout the day.  Yikes!  If that’s not a sign I need to change, I don’t know what is.  I’ve been doing things like that a lot lately.  Buying candy bars on the sly when off shopping by myself, then go out for an ice cream with Husband that night.

I’ve lost weight, mostly because I just don’t find anything very appealing about food lately.  I can go days without feeling hungry.  I want to keep the weight off, but by improving my diet.  Coincidentally, the liver doc told us sugar has been shown to be more addictive than heroin.  Scary right?  I’m a living example of a sugar junkie:  using excuses to justify eating a chocolate, lying to people about it, hiding my binging from family.

candy
My nemesis

I must take better care of myself, but lately I just don’t care.  If I were a day, I’d be chilly, damp and overcast.  The sort of day that won’t necessarily stop you from doing the things you have to, but nasty enough not to do things outdoors that you might want to do.  Like picnic.

They say the first step to beating addiction is admitting you have a problem.  And I honestly do.  I seem unable to stop myself from eating nothing but what’s bad for me in every way.  And I so don’t want to give it up.  But I’m promising myself, and using this blog to hold myself to it, the month of November will be my test, but I will try not to put anything in my mouth that is not healthy for me starting now.  I tell myself, I would do these things if I had cancer, right?  That’s what you do when your life is threatened.  Start taking better care of yourself.  Why invite cancer into my life by sabotaging my own health?  Why wait for a fatal diagnosis?

The Ex Is Pregnant

She just told Son last night she was pregnant.  His Ex. She shouldn’t.  She had bad morning sickness for three months, and then spent the last six on bed rest because it was discovered she had something wrong with her uterus.

Here’s the worst-case scenario Son believes will unfold (and I have no reason to doubt this possibility):

Loses her $12/hr job – because she doesn’t work for someone who needs to provide benefits like sick leave.

Loses apartment – Possible, but they currently rent the back house of Ex’s boyfriend’s mom.

Apply for food stamps, WIC and other assistance programs – Which now require more paperwork, and provide less money for the recipient.

Can no longer afford to keep Grandson living with her – She will send GS to move back in with us.

Obviously, not a good scenario, but as I note, that would be the worst-case.  Hope springs eternal, and maybe somehow things will work out.  However, Son feels he is now burdened with ‘fixing’ any psychological damage to GS.  He feels pressure to make a success of his business.  He’s distracted by his grandma’s precarious health.  He’s in pain, both physical and psychological.  He’s feeling the pressure of wanting to be on his own, but unable to afford it.  He’s barely started paying us rent, and since he’s still growing his business, most of his money goes right back in for supplies.  It’s a lot of work too, running his little business.  He answers questions on Facebook all day, fills orders, looks for deals on his supplies, and constantly has to battle other vendors for his slice of the little pie.  Other people will steal sales right out from under him.  His site could be shut down at any time by FB if someone decides to play dirty.  It’d only be a couple days, but that could mean $100s of lost sales.  I hate to even suggest he find something else to do.

I understand his pressure.  I don’t understand why he has taken his Ex’s pregnancy as a sign that his world will come to an end.  He knows we’ve always supported him (in every way), and always will.  I know we helped create his monsters, but he won’t let us help destroy them.  We’ve allowed him to get this dependent.  Now it’s time to change things.  Since I have good psych coverage, he will come with me to counseling.  He can complain about everything, and someone with the proper training will help him change his life.  I just hope it doesn’t take years!

I’ve started looking at apartments in Spain again.