Wednesday, December 02, 2009

It Gets Worse...

It seems I am being blocked at every angle. After seeing Dr. X. yesterday I called my sister to see if I could drive 5 hours to her place and leave my dog with her while I went into the hospital.

She owns her own home on 2.5 acres of fenced in property. She has two dogs that my dog adores. When we go there it isn't anymore work to take care of one extra dog, because really all she needs to do is put out an extra bowl of food and water (which I, of course, would bring with me, so there is no extra cost). I have dog-sat all three of them for a few days at her place before and found it no more difficult than taking care of my one dog.

At first my sister said sure, bring him up. So I made arrangements with a friend to take the 10hr return trip with me. A couple hours after my sister said okay, she phoned me back and said, "Can you find somewhere else to keep your dog?" I told her I had no where else to go. She said she couldn't take the dog, and I could hear her husband yelling at her in the background.

I got off the phone and started crying. I felt completely abandoned at a time when I really need my family to help me. It was really hard for me to reach out and ask for help. I know the dog is my responsibility. I know when I got the dog I made a decision to care for him. I also know I am an adult and need to take care of myself...

I know all this, I am generally, despite being so depressed, very, very independent. I always have been. I rarely ask my family for help. I feel so intensely alone.

It seems like my family thinks I could choose to be different if I just tried harder. Honestly, sometimes I feel like I am being treated like a drug addict, or a family member who is a criminal, rather than a family member with an illness. It feels like my family has decided that tough love , cutting their ties and there losses, and allowing me to hit rock bottom is the only way to saveme from myself. It is as though they feel that if they just push me far enough away my problem will disappear.

My other sister phoned me last night and I was really honest with her about how I was feeling. I told her that sometimes I feel like no one in the family cares about me, like the only way my family would recognize I need help would be when it was too late to help me.

She said, "that is just the depression talking, and they love me, but they have their own families".

I replied," I understand that, and I know your families take a lot of love, attention and time. I try not to ask for help, because I know you are all busy with your own lives, but for me, you are my family. I have no family of my own to help me. I have tried to find help in the community, but I cannot afford to pay very much, and there are no resources that I can find to help me get the treatment I need right now" . I feel desperate for help.

"We cannot understand what you go through.", she said.

Very calmly, but assertively I decided to be completely honest about what it feels like to be me, with my illness, in my family. I asked, "Why have none of you ever taken the time to learn about what it is like for a person to be clinically depressed? Or asked me what would help me? Or even sat down and taken the time to find out what it is that I struggle with. Not one of you has read a book, or tried to see how incredibly hard it is for me to manage an illness like this. Why has no one in my family (except my Mom...but she is dead)...cared enough to learn how to help or be supportive of me?"

When I write what I said down, I feel guilty for saying these things. My intention was not to make my sister feel bad, but to get her to see why I might feel so alone and uncared for in the only family I have. For years I have avoided expressing how saddened I am by the lack of support I get from my family. I am desperately in need of some support now, and I don't feel like I can get through this alone anymore.

I cannot imagine one of my sisters, or my dad or stepmom, becoming chronically and severely ill for years, and my not wanting to help them in anyway I could. To me, that is a familial responsibility, and an extension of your love for that person. Caring for family no matter what seems to me what a family is all about.

I know I cannot dictate, or change, how other people feel. People show love and feel love in their own way. People understand the role of, and their role in, the family in their own way. Knowing all that doesn't make me feel any less alone.

I feel like I really am so depressed that unless I can get more help than I have, unless I can somehow get some relief for awhile, I don't think I can continue in this life. It is too much for me to handle. I feel like a person, screaming in constant pain, and there is medication that could help them, but no one is willing to give it to them, and they are unable to get it themselves.

You know what scares me and saddens me about this whole situation (trying to get outpatient ECT, lack of family support, lack of community support and resources, bizarre and unhelpful treatment protocols etc...What scares and saddens me is that I know there are people who are far more mentally ill than I am, whose families have either completely abandoned them, or were never there for them in the first place. Compared to lots of people I have a caring family and I have a difficult time living with my illness. How hard must it be for those who literally have no one? The world is a sad and confounding place to me.

3 comments:

The Silent Voices in my Mind said...

Aqua,
I am so sorry to hear the difficult time you are having surrounding the ECT. I can imagine how dark the place is that you have found yourself in, how trapped, abandoned, worn down, and nearly hopeless you must feel. I struggle so much with my own demons, and although my demons are slightly different than yours, I know that dark place you are in.

A few thoughts that I hope convey my unconditional support for you.

- What you feel because of the situation with your family is not only normal, I think it is healthy because you recognize that it is not right, that you would do differently in their position and (most importantly) that you know you deserve better treatment from them.

- What you said to your sister was not, in ANY way too much, inappropriate, or inaccurate in any way. You did the right thing in the right way at the right time. It would be wonderful if that opens their eyes at least a little.

- But if it doesn't, I hope you can lay the responsibility for the lack of change on the correct party: them, not you. You cannot force them to change, even when the change is warranted and all opportunities have been provided to them to do so. It's very much a case of leading the horse to water. You did as much as you could and should. Now it is in their hands.

- Most importantly of all, I want you to know that I feel strongly that you are a beautiful person with many talents and attributes worth treasuring. It's hard to see it when the darkness closes in so just hold onto the fact that others see it in you even when you cannot. And I do.

- I've read your ups. I've read your downs. I've read the things that cause you shame and the things that make you (rightfully) proud. I am not related to you or economically or contractually bound to you so I have no cause for a bias towards you. AND I THINK YOU ARE A WONDERFUL PERSON!

- You deserve relief from your prison. I'm so relieved that you are persevering through these terrible obstacles. You can do it. There is light at the end of the tunnel and you will make it and break through into that light.

My apologies for the length of this comment. You are in my thoughts and, if it does not offend you, in my prayers.

All my love and support,

TheSV

Harriet said...

Please don't feel guilty for explaining how you feel to your sister, and telling her what you'd like. I admire you for doing this, it is very brave. We really can't get what we need unless we ask, and often we're too afraid to ask. We're taught to be independent and take care of ourselves, but human beings are social creatures and we need each other. Maybe if you keep up this dialogue with your family they will come around and start to understand. I hope so.

SG Indigo Child said...

Aqua,

we are pack-animals, and your discontent with your family's lack of interest towards you is righteous but useless: i'm afraid though they won't change...

acknowledging that the one who gets mentally ill in the family, is actually the one who is reacting right on the sick dynamics of that family might be useful for you though. (depression is anger and aggression turning inwards, isn't it?)

i have been in a very similar dark and abandoned point myself too. the only advice i can give, is maybe stop looking for the love from the direction wherefrom it won't be coming.

instead, try to find your own way to love you and cherish yourself. reading mama gena's school of womanly arts really helped me a lot :)

with so much love and pleasure
SG Indigo