The month or so between February 19th and March 23rd is a tough one for me and it just got tougher this week. No wonder I have been in a depression. The challenges during this time include my father’s passing on March 2, 2012, and our stubborn but precious dog, Joie, passed on February 28, …
My daughter is still at my dad’s house but each passing hour my anxiety rises. Why? What awful thing is impending?
My kid was invited to the neighbor boy’s 5th birthday party today from 2-4 p.m.
Now why on Earth would taking my kid to a birthday party make me anxiety ridden and panicky?
Event crowded with people I don’t really know, outside my safe zone, lots of unknown factors (like the year we were paid to leave a birthday party cos Spook was upstaging the birthday girl), rainy cold day making my depression worse…
My heartrate is up,I feel sweaty, even a little woozy. This is why I personally rarely go out to public events or even private ones if more than 3 people will be present.
The physical effects of anxiety and panic are disturbing and it takes a long while to restore equilibrium. While professionals may classify this aversion to events avoidance behavior…I have become wise enough to view it for what it is: the opportunity to make the choice to not become overwhelmed,discombobulated,and physically ill.
It’s half amusing how people with known food allergies are condemned if they go ahead and eat something that hurts their stomach or results in unpleasant bodily responses. ‘You know you can’t properly digest peppers,idiot,why’d you eat them?’
BUT if your condition is on the mental health spectrum and you avoid things known to impact your physical health negatively…then it’s avoidance and unhealthy behavior. You won’t try hard enough or push yourself hard enough.
WTF kind of double standard is that?
For myself,I can opt out 95% of the time and only feel moderately self loathing.
For my kid, I aim to barrel through the anxiety and panic so at least one of us has a happy life. Even if it means I will spend two days sick,trying to calm down and recover,I try for her sake.
I hate to admit how many times I have failed her in spite of trying my best.
This is where depression makes anxiety worse. If I weren’t clouded under a depressive bout, my anxiety would probably not be so metastasized over a kids’ birthday party. The disorders just feed on and off of each other,round and round it goes. The carousel never stops turning.
If my anxiety is as bad as any food sensitivity and even hinders my ability to go out and have a good time…
I don’t know how long the spider had been living in my car, but he chose the moment when I was halfway through downtown and dodging construction cones to show up on my dashboard to say hey.
I screamed, not because I was scared of the spider but because things aren’t usually SCUTTLING ALONG MY DASHBOARD. It startled me, and it was headed right for my steering wheel.
I jerked the wheel (to maneuver around the spider inside my car, which made sense at the time). Unsurprisingly, it did nothing except make me say, “Eeeep!” and then dodge the other way to stay in my lane. The spider, unfazed by this, kept inching toward me.
For whatever reason, this didn’t strike me as a nice spider. It was nothing like Winston, the giant spider who lives in my garage. I say good morning to him every morning. It was also nothing like Ned, the stink bug who lives on the lampshade by my bed.
Actually – time out – “lives” is a stretch. Ned is more, well, dead. But he died perfectly perched on my lampshade, and his tiny exoskeleton is a reminder to enjoy the little things in life, like the friendly bug who wishes you sweet dreams every time you turn off your lamp.
At this point you may be thinking, “No way. This chick does not actually wish a dead bug good night every night.” But if you saw Ned, you’d understand why I couldn’t just throw him away.
Well, come to think of it, you might not. But that doesn’t matter.
Back to the point – the car spider was nothing like Winston or Ned. It was more akin to Elsie, my cat who tries to suck out your soul with her eyes. Spidey stopped perfectly centered with the steering wheel and glared at me. Glared. And spiders have eight eyes or whatever, so that was a lot of glare. I was in an invertebrate stare down.
Turns out I had less of a backbone than the spider (which is saying a lot), because I broke the stare down first. If you recall, I was DRIVING. So I had to look out my window to, you know, not crash into stuff. But I wanted to keep an eye on the bugger, so I looked up and down and up and down to try to minimize the time that I didn’t have a visual on the predator.
Unfortunately, I hit one tricky curve, paid full attention to the road, and then when I looked back…no Spidey.
It’s not like he got off at his stop and was trotting down the road. Nope. Spidey was hunting me from somewhere in my car, and now I didn’t even see him. Sniper Spidey.
So then I was looking all over the place and also driving, which was probably quite unsafe when I think about it.
When I finally found him again, he was halfway down the dashboard on the passenger side. I wanted to let go of the wheel and smash him, but I’d already been driving like a texting teenager. So I did a look-front-look-sideways combination all the way home. He started crawling toward me again, like, “Na-na-na-boo-boo. I know you can’t take your hands off that wheel.”
But then – fatal error – he didn’t see me put the car in park once I got to my driveway.
I’ll spare you the gory details, but Spidey ended. And I got home safely. So all’s well that ends well, and I didn’t have to explain to any cops why I was driving crazy.
It’s so hard for me to wrap my mind around the events of the past few weeks and perhaps that is why I struggle to find the words to yet again tell this story. But it’s a story that needs to be told, the kind of story that opens your eyes and perhaps prepares a better way of doing things in the future that will prevent this sort of tragedy from ever befalling a family again.
First, I need to tell you about my son, Elliott. At the time this story starts he was 21 and recently engaged. He and his fiancé had recently adopted a dog from the humane society and he was excited about their future together. Elliott was a fun loving, always moving, bundle of positive energy. His smile was contagious and his heart enormous. He donated and partook in many different humanitarian charities and his compassion for people and animals was unparalleled. At 21 years of age I have never heard my son say a curse word, his respect was inspiring. He enjoyed caring for various plants in his grandmas backyard in particularly papaya and avocado trees I had started for him. He also had coconut trees and many varieties of palms he had started on his own. He was a happy, nature loving, young man with a kind heart and a bright future who loved fishing and his family.
But then things started to change…
Little things that may go unnoticed at first…he stopped brushing his teeth. This was strange because his teeth were his pride and joy. He withdrew emotionally, getting him on the phone or to return a message was impossible. He stopped watering his plants or even tending them. The guy who couldn’t stand to stay home now didn’t want to leave the house.
And then it just got worse…
Elliott began to hear the radio and television talking to him. He believed the flashing red dot on the DVR was a sign the government was recording him. He became convinced that Jesus Christ had returned, that the rapture had taken place and that the government was going to start “purging” citizens. His girlfriend and sister actually drove him to a church to prove to him that the government wasn’t there with buses as he believed and that the congregations were safe. He became obsessed with his salvation and believed he was unredeemable that all hope for him was gone. He had missed the rapture. Everything became a sign, pictures on the covers of books, words or images all held hidden meanings to his mind that began to rob him of sleep. He would pace back and forth with his racing thoughts trying to piece together the plot he was now convinced had been hatched to kill him personally. He wanted to clean out the refrigerator to hide in it for protection from what he referred to as the purge. He told his girlfriend he needed to get a gun to protect the family.
And then he became increasingly agitated and started to hurt himself by punching himself in the chest with a lighter so his girlfriend called 911 and reported him as hurting himself. She expressed her and the families fears that he may hurt himself or accidentally hurt someone else. They needed help that they hoped the police would provide. The police came and assessed that Elliott needed to be Baker Acted so he was removed from the home. This was Elliott’s worse nightmare come to fruition, the government had succeeded in getting him. His last words as he left the house was in the form of a question “Why did you do this? Now they are going to kill me?”
Our family did the right thing. Everything should get better now….right? We couldn’t have been more wrong.
Elliott was taken to a Medical Center on a Baker Act. He was admitted early Wednesday morning well before dawn. He had to be sedated to be moved from the ER to the mental health ward. On Thursday family went to visit him but no doctor had evaluated him at that time. I held an hour long phone conversation with him trying to assure him he had not committed the unforgivable sin. He expressed an extreme nervousness as to why the nurses needed to take his blood pressure so often and I told him they needed to make sure he was ok. He was set to be released on Friday at 2pm if the morning doctor said he was well enough to leave. We still had no idea why he was seeing or hearing things that weren’t there or why he had this plot about the purge.
He never got to see the doctor in the morning, instead I got a phone call from the local jail my son had been arrested and charged with a felony. The hospital had placed my son in a room with another man and in the middle of the night my son hurt the man. Why a hospital would place a man in the middle of a psychosis in the room with another patient I am not sure, especially when he had been admitted for being a danger to himself and others. Elliott was seeing and hearing things that weren’t there, and Elliott has no real recollection of what happened. He admits to blacking out and seeing bits and pieces of what happened.
The police then take Elliott to jail, question him and imprison him. Elliott had received no anti-psychotic drugs of any kinds at this point. He is still in the middle of a full blown psychosis that centers around the government killing him. On Friday night in that jail cell my son tried to kill himself twice. On Saturday he had a bond hearing and the family was able to bail him out but Elliott had to be remanded to a mental health facility to be evaluated for his suicide attempts. On his intake I was able to talk to him. He said “ Mom did you hear what happened?” I replied “ Yes honey I did.” Thinking he is talking about trying to hang himself. He goes on “ Michelle called the police on me I was hurting myself mom”. He had lost two or three days of his life. My hour long phone call on Thursday was gone. This hospitalization did allow him to be started on anti-psychotic drugs but the paranoia and suicide attempts continued. The new hospital made me his proxy on a Monday of that week. His paranoia prompted him to call me screaming about how they were evil and they didn’t care about him they had me fooled he said as he dropped the phone and ran down the hallway I could hear him screaming they are doing experiments on him. A nurse picks up the phone and asks if they could sedate him and I agreed.
The next day he took a colored pencil, placed it against a block wall and tried to ram it through his temple as he smashed his head into it. It has been this sickening feeling of a race between him killing himself and his medicine finally working. He was trapped in a nightmare in his mind by people who were trying to poison him through the water, keep him over medicated, and do experiments on him. He was still hearing voices and seeing hallucinations. Then I got another phone call, the police came into to the new hospital and removed him back to the jail almost one week later on a new charge. Anti-psychotic drugs can take weeks to work, all this while my son is confused and still completely delusional and extremely suicidal.
I made frantic phone calls in the middle of the night to anyone that would listen trying to get ahead of his arrival at the jail. I am a mother pleading for the safety of her son from 1100 miles away. I talked to the people in booking and was given the number for the medical ward of the jail. I explained that only hours early he had stabbed himself in the head with a pencil. He was highly suicidal and was on active suicide watch at the prior facility. They assured me he would be safe. His bond was set the following day at $100,000 and I have not heard from my son. He gets no visitors, no mail and no phone calls. It’s been a week. I call everyday and ask if he is safe. They will tell me nothing more. He has been in paper clothes sleeping on a mat for a week. He does receive medication and gets to see a doctor.
We did everything right and my son is suffering. Our family is suffering. This is the hardest thing I have ever gone through and it’s NOTHING compared to what he must be enduring.
I’ve spent many hours in prayer. I’ve called NAMI and gotten resources through them. I’ve read article after article on paranoid schizophrenia and I’ve learned that Elliott’s story is not unique. Most first time diagnosis comes after some run in with the law or after the person hurts themselves or others. In Elliott’s situation it could have been worse, he could have killed the roommate. We could have waited to call and he could have hurt himself or his family. Or any of his dozen or more suicide attempts in treatment or jail could have been successful. The sad thing is we did everything right to get him help and to prevent a problem and it wasn’t good enough. The system is broke, people are getting hurt when it is absolutely avoidable.
At the end of June we had all attended a family reunion in Kentucky to celebrate the 4th of July. We had crept across the road to look for crawfish, arrowheads, and minnows in a little stream. My son sat down on a rock next to his girlfriend and told me he had heard the audible voice of God. Being involved in Ministry I thought this had been a supernatural spiritual experience, but unfortunately I know now that it was probably the first voice to show up for my son.
My son is still in jail and we have had no contact with him. He needs to hear his family loves him but we have been denied that. It is December 22 and Christmas is only three days away. He spent his 22nd birthday (December 9th) in a mental health facility this year on suicide watch. Mental illness is no respecter of persons. I have an uncle and a cousin who both are paranoid schizophrenics. There have been Nobel Peace Prize winners with it, there have been black and white, rich and poor paranoid schizophrenics. They say with proper medication and a good therapist he can live a normal life. I am beyond thankful my son is alive and that we have hope. I am dedicating my life to telling this story to anyone who will listen to me until the system changes. It is unacceptable that a very vulnerable part of our society is absolutely unprotected.
My son’s name is Elliott. I am Elliott’s mom. I am and always will be proud of my son he is the bravest person I have ever met.
My name is Tamara my phone number is 1-304-684-9550 please feel free to contact me if you know of any information or resources we should be looking into this story is a plea for help and solidarity.
UPDATE: January 29, 2018
Elliott is still incarcerated. We have had only three family visits with him, each lasting an hour. His visitations are often revoked, sometimes at the last minute even. He has been in and out of the medical and the behavioral unit for this entire month swinging between stability and suicidal thoughts and actions. I can only call the jail each day and ask if he is alive, via guards, i am not allowed to speak to my son. That is the only information I am given and where he is housed. We did start a gofund me account in order to raise the 10,000 bail we need to get him moved from jail into an actual in patient treatment center until he stands trial which a date has yet to be set. If we are unable to remove him from jail, he will continue to live in 23-24 hour isolation which is not helping his illness at all. If you can help PLEASE CONSIDER DONATING ANY AMOUNT. ALL ARE APPRECIATED BE IT $5-$10 WE ARE FOREVER GRATEFUL! THANK YOU AND GOD BLESS!
Update: February 12th 2018
Through the GoFund Me and the church and family pulling together we raised enough to bail him out. He was remanded to a mental health facility until February 17th when he was able to come home. He finally received proper treatment and started on an Invega monthly shot along with respidone and that seemed to be working well for him. He was officially diagnosed as Schizophrenic.
UPDATE : March 5th
Elliott was rearrested on an additional charge “Attempted Murder With A Weapon” a comb found at the scene of the original crime. He is currently being held without bond at The St. Lucie County Jail in Fort Pierce Florida. This can carry a sentence of LIFE IN PRISON! ALL BECAUSE WE SENT HIM TO THE HOSPITAL WITH POLICE TO GET HELP! And we haven’t heard from him since.
…have definitely struck. I’m not off the spool, but I’m restless and have all this energy I’m having a hard time channeling, and having just a great time not doing anything! The weather sucks hugely—it’s only 39 degrees and there’s snow mixed in with the rain, but it doesn’t matter, as far as I’m concerned it might as well be 80 degrees and sunny out. Music sounds especially good these days; I just wish I could sing! The other day when it WAS sunny, I was rocking out in the car with the stereo cranked way up and playing air guitar at stoplights. Shelley was with me and actually got caught up in Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”, tapping her feet and lip-synching right along with me. I love days like these, when everything, even the clouds are so bright and the world holds limitless possibilities.
I’m sure ready to take that cruise though. Seven days under the Caribbean sun sound really good right now. And oh yeah, I got some really exciting news the other day: we’re all going to Europe next year! Ten-day Mediterranean cruise to Greek isles Mykonos and Crete, then to Athens; better yet, we get to go to Rome! As a good Catholic girl, I’ve always wanted to go there. We’re also going to Florence while we’re at it. Places with centuries of art and music and food to be savored. The trip is booked for August of 2019, so that gives us plenty of time to plan ahead (and pay!). I want to get back on the wagon and lose some more weight; I haven’t really lost anything in six months, but then I haven’t really been trying either. I may not be able to climb the stairs to the Acropolis, but I’d like to at least be able to wander around Rome and visit the Vatican, pray at St. Peter’s Basilica, see the Sistine Chapel. How fabulous are my dreams?
Thing is, they only used to just BE dreams. I never thought for a minute that I’d ever actually see Europe. Then again, I never thought I’d get to visit the Caribbean, and I’ve been all over the place there and am going again. I remember thinking of that first cruise as the Trip of a Lifetime…well, it was, and it was certainly Will’s. But there have been and will be more. Dreams come true after all.
Today started out in a lovely way. And by lovely,I mean, shitty.
I went to do dishes for the first time since Sunday (as I said,the gabapentin has me lethargic and constantly feeling exhausted) and water came flooding out from under the sink. The fitting keeping the plastic pipes connected had come loose and not being a plumber…my instant reaction,following the shouted obscenities, was to panic at the mere thought of having to call the landlord for repairs.
After mopping up the flood, I inspected the pipes,put them back together,and tightened the connecter piece. Yay! It worked,no need to make a loathsome call and hope the elderly landlord remembers he even rents to me. Relief.
I next washed a load of laundry in our new used (oxymoron?) washer and had to rewash it as my scent crystals didn’t dissolve. Not a huge trauma,but definitely one more thing to heighten anxiety if my monthly water bill is $65 before we use a drop of water. (If only my brain could be ocd about cleaning the way it is with panicking over every tiny thing.)
I worsened this anxiety by bothering to bathe,how many gallons of the precious gold Armpit,USA calls water service does a bath use? But grungy hair ain’t working for me these days. Guess that’s a first nod to seasonal depression sloooowly starting to lift,no longer able to go through 5,6 days without bathing.
Following this,I cooked myself eggs and bacon and won the lottery. For once,eating breakfast didn’t upset my stomach.
I went to hang dry the laundry washed and the rolling rack collapsed for the tenth time,shattering a vase so I had to stop that chore to clean up glass and put the rack back together.
9/10 of that done,the rack collapsed again,this time with all the wet laundry on it,into a shelf full of glass chotchkeys…more cursing echoed off the walls but I put Humpty Dumpty back together again and finished hanging wet clothes.
It was only 11:30.
It’s very hard not to get discouraged, pessimistic,and downright tired when day after day your life is filled with a never ending chain of mishaps that hinder accomplishments. I think isolated incidents would be a little less destructive to my mental state but since 2018 began,it’s just been catastrophe after catastrophe.
On top of the depression and anxiety,it makes it difficult to be a shiny happy person.
The fact I am still upright and functioning,even on limited capacity days,should be indicative of my tenacity. I’m not one to simply shatter after a series of trying events. I may regroup but I do not quit.
That being said…my kid is staying the night with the paternal faction so I am gonna take the blessed million-question-free golden time to regroup.
And try not to have panic attacks knowing my brother will be driving her to some hick activity tonight after dark.
Why panic attacks when your brother is 22 years old?
He has…how to put this politely…a learning disability not to mention he’s pretty much half blind during the day and night blind,plus such an iffy driver,dad and stepmom wouldn’t let him drive to and from town last year when he was a tax service costume greeter. These days he does 2 hours Mon-Fri putting a 4 year old on the bus and taking him off the bus. Said 4 year old pulled the fire alarm at school last week and my brother called stepmonster to ask if he could go pick the kid up per his mok’s request cos that is part of babysitting…and he was forbidden from doing so,in broad daylight,cos she didn’t trust him driving the 4 year old. Wtf?
I broached the topic with both of them expressing concern about him driving MY kid after dark and they got all pissy like I was being rude. I am terrified for my kid,not cos I think my brother will purposely hurt her but because he is so blind,such an iffy driver, and has less attention span than a gnat.
Still my concerns were swatted away and as I owe them so much money cos of the move,it’s been made clear I no longer have a voice or true say over my kid.
Hell is owing family.
This is my life and it no longer feels comfy like a well worn pair of houseslippers. It doesn’t fit me. I have been sucked into living their life and there’s not a damn thing I can do about it. Until I repay them every cent which could take years…
I am stuck wearing toe pinching foot torturing shoes.
This is my life. It no longer fits and I want a return.
You know how to tell when the fates have a twisted sense of humor? When a mathematically,short term memory impaired person like me ends up with a car with a broken gas gauge.
Since it was bought used at auction there is no way to know how much fuel I started out with. It said half a tank but after driving 60 miles and watching the gauge go UP toward full…Is the car backwards so full means empty? Is the gauge simply giving random readings that have no true meaning? I put gas in,the gauge sometimes goes up towards full but then it settles on half no matter how many miles I drive. Color me confused! Not that I didn’t have a car before with a broken gas gauge, difference was,I’d been driving it awhile and knew how much was in the tank when it quit working. This ‘new’ car (sad that an ’01 is not just new to me,it is the newest car I’ve ever owned),well,I am playing Russian Roulette with the gas gauge. This is not a fun game now that we are 15 mile minimum from town. Not the place to run out of fuel.
So why am I prattling about gas gauges,math,and dollar signs?
It’s very relevant to our current situation. My only real guide to how much gas the car has in it is,argh!,using the mile counter thingie (can’t come up with technical term,can’t be arsed to Google it) then tracking the money I spend on gas, how many gallons,and basing it all on the city/ highway mileage the car was originally supposed to get. Guessing game from hell! I’m not awful at basic math but when forced to do it on the fly and rely on my non existent short term memory to track and divide…
My brain hurts writing about it.
How is this relevant to a mental health blog?
I’ve never once run a car out of gas. Now it’s a distinct possibility every time we hit the highway. It’s paralyzing me.
Now I know what many are thinking,using that icky thing called logic…why not fill the tank then err on the side of caution at 3/4 of your estimated mileage???
Ha ha ha. Another of this used car’s quirks is that it fuels slowly,something inside is broken and even if the car has driven 100 miles,the gas pump shuts off every $1 you put in,or worse,splashes out. So just putting $5 in takes ten minutes and cramps the hand.
Guessing game. I hate guessing games.
The fact that the car has these issues,on top of our geographical isolation and cash flow issues means…
I feel trapped here after a trip to town and 28 miles on the car even if in theory my math calculations mean I ‘should’ be safe for at least another 12 miles.
Unfortunately,panic and anxiety don’t much care for logic or theoretical things. Scumbag brain locks onto my shitty memory and how I get numbers all mixed up (psych med side effects,anyone?) and becomes convinced that even if the math is right..,an old car might not make the mileage it did when new and I could run out of fuel on the interstate. Worse,not even have a dime to my name to put more in.
So I don’t risk it til next check thus my own mental issues cripple me as much as dollar signs. Anxiety is a cruel disorder I’m not sure I’d wish on an enemy.
You can sometimes reason with yourself on bipolar or depression.
Anxiety just stampedes your logic, spits on your intelligence,and keeps stabbing you in the back.
At least I do like driving the car,whatever its issues.
Gotta love the wackiness of a woman who wears nothing but black driving a white car.
So I had my second workshop this week with a video conference last night. It went well–turns out that I’m being tripped up by the same things as usual–too much dialogue and not enough description. So I am also conferencing with my professor this morning and seeing what can be done and interacting more with someone about it. So we will see how it goes. I don’t know as I will rewrite it for my final project–I still have another exercise to do for class that may spark my interest. We will see.
We go to Mobile this afternoon to get ready for another dance competition,. This is the last travel one until this summer, I believe. So it will be nice to have my weekends back again.
I prayed last night that I would be able to get up and do this morning–have the energy to do what all needed to be done, etc. So far I have gone and changed the oil in my car and will soon go and finish packing for the trip and finish up laundry. So today has been much better than yesterday, which is also doing wonders for my self-esteem. Makes me feel like a productive member of society again instead of a slug.
Hope everyone has a good weekend and a blessed Holy Week next week. Thanks for continued prayers as I start Psychamore next week.