Standing 8 Count…

Living with a parent with mental illness is one of the most difficult things a person can face. Sadly, more and more of us are in this situation these days. The rule of thumb is that you shouldn’t get angry at the person in your life with the illness because it’s usually the illness at fault and not the person. That, of course, is probably the hardest thing in the world, especially if the person figures out that they can get away with nearly anything without repercussions.

My father is a very sick man, he’s always been sick. He’s always had the need for attention as his illness. He comes up with a narrative to his world and more often than not comes up with roles for each of us and does his best to make things play out the way he has them in his head. My sister was smart enough to move herself and her family far away from his games years ago, robbing him of key cast members, but those of us who provide care from him are stuck. There’s no way out and it continues even though he’s currently in the nursing home.

Not supposed to get angry, Jim, remind yourself of that, he’s mentally ill, he’s not doing this on purpose.

Take a deep breath.

This week, I think I was cast in the role of ogre again. I have an aversion to hospitals and nursing homes, I admit it. I can’t get out of those places fast enough. When he’s in, it’s like a break for the rest of us until he gets home and due to my schedule (working nights 5 to 6 nights a week), I don’t get out to see him as much as I should. When he last saw me I was the “evil guy keeping him from the bathroom.” I admit I had to be in the bully role because what landed him in the nursing home was his refusal to come out of the bathroom. If you haven’t read the earlier stories, he would sit there for hours at a time, just blindly staring and refusing to come out until one of us literally had to start a verbal fight with him and yell until he got out of the toilet.

Mom said that they had pretty much cured him of this by monitoring him and working with him at the nursing home. That was the prognosis I got as I went to visit last Wednesday. The visit went something like this: “Hi dad.” “Oh hi, James…” as the nurse assisted him to the bathroom. Then mom and I waited and waited and waited and I left after forty minutes of sitting there as dad wasn’t coming out. Eventually, they had to get security to get him out and he saw mom for three minutes before heading right back into the bathroom…

I didn’t go back on Thursday, my second day off, because there wasn’t really a point to it.

The part of blaming the illness and not the person is one of the most trying things to deal with. Mom said that it was like he just didn’t want to see me. That was the first time in ages he had pulled the stunt and he made sure I was gone before letting security get him out of the bathroom. I’m not sure what to make of it. I was angry for a long time once she said that and as sick as he is with memory problems, it’s days later and I’m still a bit snubbed by the whole thing. It’s weighing on my mind when I should be over it, and adding more weight to the events of the rest of the week that I won’t really get into. Let’s just say it was downhill from there.

I freaked. I really did, though, I admit it. Too many negative voices in my life and yesterday I nuked the source of them — that second facebook account (for now anyway). I can’t tell you how much of a change it’s been. My original facebook account doesn’t even have the ticker for some reason. I don’t know how I disabled it or I’d share, and I have maybe a quarter of the friends I had on the other account, so it’s strange not getting the constant updates from people from work clicking on things or making political statements or playing facebook games or what have you. It’s quiet and it is boring, which it needs to be if I’m ever going to break this need for constant information.

I started to drive myself crazy earlier because most everyone was gone for St. Patrick’s Day and it was fairly warm on the east coast for a Saturday in March. We’re supposed to be cold and bundled up, instead, it was shorts and cook out weather. Where I’d usually be digging out St. Patrick’s Day snow, I was dreading the fact that I totally gassed up the snow blower and we’ve only had to use it twice this year and one of these days I’m going to have to give up on the snow and run the thing and waste all that gas before putting it away until next fall. Everything is off a beat and I just can’t find a way to get back into step.

I’ve got to work on that I guess, but for now, I’m going back to work.

Jim