It’s been a while…. almost 2 months since our quiet wedding ceremony on the bridge over the Thames River…
Almost two months…..
And it’s been great!
Our family has settled into a routine of sorts that is never really routine because, well, what kind of routine can you really expect in life when you have a seven year old, three dogs, and two cats?
Trust me, there is no routine to be had in that!
Aside from that… there have been other adventures that have guaranteed that life is never ‘routine’ around here…
– My ex of course; he still loves to throw a wrench in there on occasion….
– Work for me; that can always be an adventure of trying to balance the workload as well as the needs of the family….
– Phil’s work; working in the restaurant industry, your schedule is always an adventure….
– My physical and mental health which, thankfully, has been pretty stable….
– Wee and her dental appointments….
– And our dear Phil and his shit. SOMUCHSHIT.
Unfortunately, his shit was a total surprise to, not only him but also to me…
And trust me, there has been a lot of shit.
You see… It goes back… Back quite some time… Years back… Perhaps his entire life. He can’t say for certain. All he knows is that, man alive, he’s got some shit to deal with.
Fortunately… Or maybe unfortunately… He happened to realize that his shit was not quite right and that he needed to get help here… In this home… With me… And, since I am no stranger to the Mental Health Care System, I was able to point him in the direction that he needed to go to get the help that he needed.
Looking back on the last two months… It all started so innocently… So innocently. But I guess that can be said of most things.
We don’t fight. We don’t yell. We’re not fighters and yellers. We’re talkers. But we’re not fighters. Not yellers.
I started to notice a pattern in our talks… And one day, he made me mad and I mentioned the pattern… I told him that I could expect to be having this very same conversation that we were having right at his moment in about 10 to 15 days….
And it happened.
And then one day… One day I looked at him and I asked what was wrong? What was going on? I said you’re a stranger to me today….
Really, I forget exactly how the whole ball got to rolling. Philip may be able to tell you; his memory is much better than mine….
However it started though, it ended up with him telling me that he needs help.
Help, when asked for, when wanted, is something that I am very good at providing.
I told him where to go. I told him the easiest way to get the help he wanted; the help he needed.
And he got it… In record time. He, fortunately, got counsellors who listened and who were concerned, he got doctors who listened and who were concerned, and they all gave him referrals…
And he followed through. He did the work. He made the phone calls. He went to the meetings. He was honest.
For that, I am very proud of him.
I know from personal experience that admitting that something isn’t right is the hardest thing to do. I also know that sitting down with a bunch of strangers in a clinical setting is even harder…
I know that getting help for your mental health is not easy. I know that asking for, begging for the help that you need takes more strength than most people think they have.
But he did it.
And while he went through the process… Wee and I were still here.
Wee has no idea what exactly is going on. All she knows is that, some days, Phil is a little extra tired…. A little more sad… A little more grumpy… And that we have to colour Phil’s ‘sleeping patterns’ on charts for Phil’s doctors….
That is all that she needs to know. That is enough.
Me, on the other hand… I have seen it all. I have heard it all. I know exactly what is going on.
I have held him at night while he cries and rages against his uncontrollable thoughts and moods… I have cared for him during his terrifying ups that are getting worse every time he swings up… And his frightening lows that are getting lower. I have listened to him, wiped his tears, supported, and been brutally honest…
I have been the voice that he hears when everything feels out of control.
My days have changed, altered, shifted…
My day starts with me checking in with my demons… What did we do last night? Did we sleep? What are their plans for the day? Are they hanging around or are they leaving me as dawn approaches?
Once I have those answers, I roll over to see ‘who’ is in bed beside me.
Is it Phil? Is it happy, over the moon, super elated, doallthethingsallatonce Phil? Or is it Idon’twanttogetoutofbed Phil? Is it Dark Phil… Or is it Scary Phil….
Coffee… Reassess… Gauge my day and what I will have to shoulder… Recheck with my demons… Reassess Phil and which Phil is with us today….
Get Wee ready, on the bus, and off to school…
Come back… Feeling the weight of whatever my day is bringing… Sometimes lollygag at the bus stop if I just feel too small while the bullshit feels too big.
And trust me, the weight that I’m carrying through this is fucking heavy.
It’s hard to go through the process, go through the work, do the work, be brutally honest.
I personally believe it is just as difficult and just as mentally and emotionally trying and draining to be on the outside; watching it happen… Watching someone go sideways… Watching them struggle… And not being able to do a fucking thing to help them.
Sometimes, I just breathe and wish… Wish that I had known of any of this, some of this, even a portion of this before… Long, long before.
See, at least on Phil’s end, he had the knowledge of my illness… He had the choice…
I honestly feel, some days, like all of this was dumped on me and now, now I’ve been expected to deal with it.
I’m sure, had Phil known how sick he was, he would have told me….
The problem is, not even Phil knew.
He had glimmers of issues but he would self-medicate through alcohol, cigarettes, medications that weren’t his to take, illicit drugs, or yes, even massive amounts of coffee to ‘manage’ his feels and the thoughts that he had…
And no one ever stopped him and said “Hey man; you doing okay”?
As I have told him before, the sick rarely ever know they’re sick; mentally or physically; until they go to see a professional… And usually that doesn’t occur until something occurs to alert them to a problem; blood in the urine, a chronic cough, a pain that won’t quit… Or someone asking the simple question “Hey man, are you okay?”
But no one in his thirty-seven years ever asked. No one sat him down and said ‘Hey… You’ve been a little sideways… Are you okay?’
Until one day, in the kitchen, I didn’t even recognize the man that I was talking to.
Now it’s been almost 8 weeks since this circus, this hunt for help started….
Phil is doing ‘well’….
He saw his Psychiatrist for the second appointment yesterday. He was diagnosed; labelled; and the medication trials have started.
And, anyone who knows about the crazy meds will tell you, this will be the hardest part of this whole process….
Struggling through the pain and the sickness and the feeling that you just want to curl up and die.
And staying compliant with your meds; no matter how much you fucking hate that bottle, you have to stay compliant.
We talked last night… And it was a big talk… The ‘what if shit goes sideways’ talk…
And we’ve had this talk a few times over the last 8 weeks…. When it became apparent how sick he actually is, we had ‘the talk’.
We really just altered a few things in the original talk and I reiterated the fact that, if he fucks up…
I hate to sound cold and callous on this but, really, I think it’s important that we all step back and take an honest look at the situation here. I am a mom of a beautiful and bright daughter who doesn’t need her world tossed upside down… And I will do whatever it takes to protect her ‘safe place’; and her safe place is in her home, here with me.
Her home here with me is her safe place because I did the work… I did all of the hard work and I got myself healthy; and I keep myself healthy by keeping in touch with my healthcare team and staying compliant with my meds.
The last thing someone with my mental condition needs; the last thing that my daughter needs; is some asshole who thinks that he’s better than the healthcare system and the doctors; coming in and fuckign up everything that I’ve worked so hard for.
I have been blunt. I have minced no words. I have told Philip flat out that we will continue to be in his corner and we will continue to support him; as long as he plays the game by my rules.
He knows my rules.
He has promised absolute compliance.
And I trust him….
Because he asked for help. Help was not forced on him. He asked for it….
And he knows, if he slips… He’ll lose everything that he has worked so hard to get…
And he knows he has too much to lose.