When she was struggling to tell false memories from real, I thought she was just uptight about her weight or clothes or religion.
When they took her to the hospital she was telling us she was The Beast. She tells memories now of recognizing every single face in every single car they passed on the way to the hospital. Where she had to voluntarily commit herself.
They treated her like a schizophrenic; she was just plain gone when they had her full of thorazine. But somehow the doctors figured out that the mania was temporary, and they started treating her for what they still called manic-depression in those days.
I never really understood. I thought it was like a wild version of mood swings; it wasn't until years later that I really learned about the power of the mind to deceive. Hallucinations are a pretty word that conjure up acid trips and more bad sci-fi movies. But that's not it at all. It's more like the time you swore you'd stopped at that intersection, and the cop knows he saw you fly right through. Only it wasn't always a memory of the past that was wrong, a clear vision of where you put down that bag and it's just not there and never was. It's when you're not quite sure whether you're awake or asleep, dreaming or experiencing reality, or maybe awake and experiencing a special, personalized reality.
But I really did go for years thinking it was just bad mood swings. They found the right dose of lithium for her, and she's not a zombie, just Mom again. I used to glibly say, "I'm my mom ON lithium." Hours of talking with psychiatrists also taught her to speak her mind, not hold it all in. Some people can't take it, and heck, I still end up fighting with her some days, but I'd rather have my mom the way she is. Confident that she's sharing our reality.
Four years ago, I was in the middle of my storm. The perfect storm that brought me back from years of running away from God. I was caught up in a sexual addiction that was destroying my equilibrium, straining my relationships to the limit. And yeah, I had a bunch. I tossed a bunch of relationships aside. I clutched and clung and tore apart the relationship I thought was most important to me.
It's too easy to remember the freeze. The absolute freeze where my mind had worked itself into a corner of there-is-no-possible-action. Sometimes I could cry. Sometimes I could barely whisper the words "I'm sorry." or "I love you."
I didn't commit myself. I didn't willing seek help. I was dropped. I think it helped that I made him angry enough to say the words, because I know that he cared, that he tried so long to try to help. Sadly, I followed the ultimatum he gave and it wasn't enough.
Um, yeah. A powerful mind-altering agent, approved for treatment of depression and anxiety. And my official diagnosis was "peri-menapausal mood swings" and a suggestion to "see how this works." No psychiatrist, no talk therapy, just try these pills. A black box label encouraging those around me to observe me, and off I went "alone" with my 10 & 14 yo sons to my great-grandmother's memorial service. In Texas. Those relationships I thought I'd trashed turned out to be solid friends who spent hours on the phone, in the middle of the night, talking me down enough to sleep.
And yeah, it got a little easier to let the little stuff slide. I started to learn not to have to control everyone around me. It took the edge off.
It didn't take away grief. Grief over the death of a seven year relationship. Grief over the state of my neglected marriage. Remorse for the years I'd put my selfish desires ahead of my family.
I started going to church. I searched out God, and He took me in.
But was I crazy?
This past Fall, through some clerical and calendar issues, I ended up not getting my prescription filled for about two months before I saw my doctor for my yearly checkup. I proposed staying off of it, and he approved. I felt confident that I was ready to face life again relying solely on God. And then I promptly forgot about relying on God and acted the A Number One brat over Christmas. Enough that Flar has suggested I should go back on medication. "Because [I'm] more irritable lately."
I've asked him to give me two months. See how I do relying on God, but really remaining in Him, in prayer and scripture and community. And if he still wants me to go back on it, I'll do it up right. Get a referral to a pysch doctor and do it right this time.
I experienced pure Joy this week. I'd been wondering if depression were contagious, and Flar's got enough of it to go around. I've kept slipping onto a roller coaster of hope and disappointment as he works through his sorrow over Gaucha. I'd forgotten where my source of joy and hope is, and when I started studying the Inked series again, my first answers to prayer where a joyful spirit.
The mind is a tricky thing. From false perceptions to false memories to joy that can't be rocked by outside storms -- the mind can handle it all. I pray for peace and joy. And humbly accept that it may take help from science as well.