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Saturday, 8 March 2014

Why I have been quiet for a week

I've been quiet online for the past week with no new blog post since Sunday when I had a minor crisis with confused thoughts, severe negativity, and a feeling of helplessness stemming from my mother's dementia. On Tuesday she and I went to see her geriatrician and I told him about how managing her illness was becoming more and more of a burden, and he took my words seriously, suggesting thinking about finding alternative accommodation arrangements for her. This involves getting her assessed by the government so that a suitable level of care can be found in a nursing home. There are a number of such residences nearby but the assessment will provide information that can result in an appropriate kind of residence for my mother's particular situation. She and I will go to see her GP in about 10 days' time to arrange for the visit, but it might then take some time for the team to come to see my mother.

But even though these discussions have been conducted, the mild depression I am living with continues to bother me. This week has been distinctly unpleasant. On Sunday last the negative thoughts proliferated as I tried to sleep, and throughout the week I have slept badly, usually waking during the night several times, and in the intervals having strong dreams. I have been exercising for about an hour each day, but I think that part of the problem is alcohol since I have been drinking a few glasses of wine in excess each evening.

Negative thoughts are a signal of poor mental health for me. You have confused thoughts, you spend long periods of time feeling lost, and you even compose critical diatribes as you lie in the dark that aim to say what you think you want to say to someone, to go over things that have happened in the past, or to rewrite the record in a way that suits you in your hyper-critical phase. The negativity is sometimes overwhelming, and while that may appear unfortunate it is a symptom of the malaise I have lived with for 14 years.

Sleeplessness associated with these running thoughts that involve your mind for long periods of time can also operate like a drug. You can easily become euphoric, but then that euphoria can suddenly switch to panic, and so your heart can ramp up to beat at 120 bpm and you can stay in this phase for hours and hours until you find sleep through exhaustion. I have experienced this many times because of my illness. If you live with mental illness you learn to know the symptoms, and so you try to manage them. The consequences of not doing so can be extremely unpleasant.

Looking after my mother also involves looking after myself but just for her care is complicated - even though we have someone to come in each day to do laundry, wash dishes, and do the shopping - taking in such things as medication, finances, monitoring the regularity of meals, making sure the house is locked and secure, checking up in case of falls, and generally just worrying about the thousand details that constitute a normal person's life. These details disappear for most people in the regular practice of living but when you have to look after someone else - as well as yourself - the number of them proliferates to an alarming degree.

Because I have two households to monitor and manage, and two people who are both living with a mental illness, the burden can sometimes be heavy, and so other things - like writing, in my case, or even reading - can fall away from the focus of current preoccupation. There might simply be no bandwidth available for things that are not immediately relevant to the basic demands of living. I think it is important to find a balance, and so I decided to get back on the blog this morning and talk about these issues here.

1 comment:

Marian said...

You obviously have a lot of insight into your situation, Matt, and that's got to be half the battle won. Congrats for hanging in there.