Let me start this blog off by saying that I am not a health care professional, nor am I licensed in any form of mental health capacity. All I am is a person in pain, having lost a dear loved one, and who also happens to suffer from Bipolar Disorder.
So, in a sense, that makes me an expert of sorts. I say that in a lighthearted way, coming from a heart that is anything but light. Ever since Daddy died I have been running in circles, like a dog chasing it’s tail. Somehow, I am dealing with each necessary task: the funeral, the cremation, the memorial, filing for assistance for myself since Dad supported me in my disability, cleaning up all the evidence of his sickness and dying that were left here in the house. It feels like being in the center of a hurricane.
Knowing that I will soon be back in the raging storm, only this time I will be alone.
In my manic state right now, I cannot sleep, cannot rest. I either forget to eat, or I eat the wrong things in the wrong quantities. I baked a cake and cupcakes last night at 11:45, then ate 3 cupcakes before lying down. No wonder I did not sleep, right?
I keep getting up, in a half asleep stupor, thinking I have to check on him. Then I wake up sitting at my computer at 4 in the morning, all crooked and stuck like a pretzel. Once the other day I fell asleep on my face with my glasses on, and they had embedded themselves into my head. Not a nice way to awaken.
But the endless cleaning, and going from room to room carrying the strangest things, and the inability to breathe normally are also very disconcerting. I have the feeling of impending doom, the one I had for years in active addiction, the feeling that came back when Mom died in 2010, the feeling that follows me like a shadow. It keeps telling me that I am all alone now, that there is no one to love me, or hold me anymore.
It is a terrible, sad feeling, and my head knows it is not real. God loves me, and will NEVER forsake me. I am in a cloud of witnesses, all loving Jehovah, and He has tight hold of my hand. So-leave me alone, terrible darkness! Stay at bay, awful sadness!
Please God, help me have soundness of mind, help me to have a quiet heart, a hopeful spirit, and faith sure and strong!! I know that you hear me, in the name of Jesus.
I am loved, and I am safe. I will never walk alone!
I am feeling a bit more positive than I was in this morning’s post, Dad got up for a while around 2pm, I laid on the couch dozing on and off, keeping my eyes and ears on alert. He fell on Wednesday, big gash on his head, poor Pops.
It happened while his caregiver was here, she called me saying there has been an accident. I believe the first thing you should tell a loved one is that the patient is OK before you dump the accident stuff on them. It keeps from shaving a couple years off their lifespan, because, as a family member, your heart just falls out of your chest when you hear,
” Hello, Ms. Kiko? There has been a terrible accident…”
What is the first thing you think of? Yup, I thought so: That he is dead or maimed or otherwise terribly injured.
So, I had been dropping off a painting at the Art Gallery, so I raced the 10 miles to the hospital in rush hour traffic, all the while telling myself that, as a law abiding Christian, I should be setting a good example and pleasing God by obeying the speed limit. I really tried, and I do always try, but that is a difficult task when your Dad is lying helpless and afraid in an Emergency Room.
I hit the Hospital doors at a trot, had my ID already in hand to be checked in, and rushed down the hall to his bedside, ready to find him at death’s door.
Of course, the scene that greeted me was quite different!
“Hiya there! Where have you been?”, he laughs with a big smile.
He smiles his most charming at the cute little nurse who is taking his blood pressure.
“Are you Ok, Dad? I heard you had a bad fall!”
He looks at me quizically, “Did I?”
I could just pinch him, but he looks so little and frail in the big hospital bed, so I kiss him on the cheek instead. Now I can see the big gash on his scalp, and blood all over the pillow. Oh, my, I think, here we go again. I just cannot bear him spending any time in this hospital, this is the place where he fell twice in May, the place that caused him so much anguish mentally, the hospital that hastened his Alzheimer’s Disease and broke his spirit, and the place where I had to face the reality of my losing him. Imminent. On the Horizon.
I hate that hospital. I told Dad’s doctor that I am trying to sue them for what they had done to him, and the doctor brings me back to reality: I am going to do whatever is necessary to get your Dad better from this fall…
Now I feel like a real heel, like that wasn’t what I wanted too?
I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs:
I DO NOT WANT TO FEEL THIS!!!!
I DO NOT WANT TO WATCH MY FATHER DIE!!!
WHY DOES THIS ALWAYS FALL TO ME? TO SEE MY PARENTS, TO SEE THE PEOPLE I NEED, THE PEOPLE I LOVE, TO SEE THEM ALL LEAVING?
TO SEE THEM ALL DYING.
TO BE LEFT HERE all alone.
But, I did not say anything except , Ok. Thank You.
Now you understand a little more why I am so tired today, this month, this year.
Each day that goes by I feel a little more dead myself,
all tied up in my solitary cell, watching my life pass by.
I know deep inside that I want to do this, and I want to be with Daddy till the end. I just get so lonely at times. But I don’t mean to sound bitter. I am grateful for everyday I have. Just feeling a bit sorry for myself tonight. It will get better- I promise!
I will place my burdens on Jehovah tonight, He will hear my cries for help. I will pray in Jesus dear name, and Jehovah will breath new endurance into me.
We love our pets, don’t we? When you have no children, and you are trapped for 10 years in a house with elderly, sick and dying parents your pets come to have a whole new meaning to you. I always was loopy about them, and as time has gone on my family and I have raised passels of kitties, feral and tame, and a couple dozen dogs and pups have held my heart over the years.
Then there is Munson or Muncie Spumoni, also known as Little Big Ears as a kitten and then Spoops as he matured. He is a wonderment, and a more loving,intelligent kid there has never been.
Munson arrived here at the house as a teeny-weeny days-old kitten with his 2 sisters after being gently placed in our newspaper bin by his feral Mom cat, Teddy. Teddy was one of a large colony of feral cats who my Mom had been spaying, neutering and working on taming for the years after our moving to Florida in 1984. Back then there were no organizations taking an interest in wild cats, Mom did it out of love and a sense of duty to help these abandoned and discarded animals who were left here by snowbirds and vacationers when it was time to head back North. Our house backs up to a large 55 plus trailer park where most of the tenants only winter here. So the colony was about 20 cats in the early days.
Munson instantly has a special place in Mom’s life. With 2 huge ears the size of satellite dishes, he was a strikingly beautiful kitten with his brilliant white blaze, socks and belly on a black tabby background. He also bears a little “light” in the tip of his extraordinarily long tail, a white beacon that my brother Eric always called his “landing lights”. He was really stinkin’ cute! (and is.). His litter mates were little girls, Ebony: a psychotic coal-black cat with 1 white hair at her breast, and Tiggy: another hot mess of gleaming black with a true psychotic streak. (Possible sign of inbreeding?) At any rate these two would like to bite you hard as let you pet them. (Ebony used to gag when Mum would run her fingernail along the edge of the flea comb- where was YouTube back then?) Then there was Gretchen, a dainty tiny cat like her mother who danced along like a ballerina, light as air on her tiptoes, with a tiny meow you could barely hear.
But Muncie and Mom were inseperable, and when Mom was fighting the cancer, he would lay right next to her thru $%#! and high water, letting her pour out her tears into his glowing fur. He would have the most loving look on his face, as if he were the size of an Siberian Tiger and could carry Mommy off into the forest, away from all the torment and pain. Munson. Dear Munson, and dear Mom. He spent those years as faithfully as any Lab you have ever heard about sleeping by their master’s bed. She would hold him in her arms and stare down into his face, saying,”muncie. Muncie.” and kissing him a thousand times on his white striped nose. One of the last things she asked me to do was to, “Take care of my Muncie for me…Please take care of Muncie for me.” Of course I promised. (Like she had to ask…Oh, Mom…)
Well, now Munson has come to the end of his life. His nutty sister Ebony died 2 weeks ago, and I’m sure it was typical kitty old age, where the kidneys just shut down and she stopped eating and drinking. She lingered about 5 days before sleeping herself away. All this was happening while Dad was in the Hospital, so I grieved for her,but not as much as I am for Muncie.
Fast forward three days, I had to stop writing because I was crying too hard, and the grief exhausted me. Poor dear Muncie still lingers on the brink of the great beyond, and I have crumbled. I wanted to let him die here at home, i hate it when we put an pet down at the vets office-they are so frightened. But the stress of losing him by drips and drabs has cost me my sanity, having to hide his dying from Dad, who just goes to pieces over these events. So I have been disappearing every 5minutes to go hold Muncie, carrying him to all his favorite places in the yard and house. I can sound just like Mom when I try, and when I speak her love talk to him he looks up with his blinded eyes with such adoration.
I never fully appreciated how truly magical he is… until now. I knew he was special, and I loved him dearly; I stopped short of giving him my heart completely, out of fear of the pain that would surely come i the future. Last night, however, I gave my heart to him completely, when at 3in the morning I awoke with him snugly settled in my arms, head resting on my chest. Somehow, as weak as he is, he climbed up the side of the bed, out of the basket of towels on the floor, into my warm embrace. I will never forget that act of devotion as long as I live. Oh my…
Today I just can not allow him to go on like he is, so frail he is barely breathing, dragging himself to the door so h can go lay on the cool cement where the garden hose drips, trying to quench the unquenchable thirst that death brings. Somehow he had willed himself to Dad’s door, and in his dementia, Father let him outside a little while ago, and did not realize how sick the poor kid is. I just can’t let him die alone, although that is probably what his instincts tell him to do. No, the mother in me wants to hold him to the last.
Aren’t we humans a useless lot when it comes to the animals. Here I am, refusing to let him do what he wants to, even at the end of his faithful 18 years as our pet. And now trying to be humane after letting him linger for a week, for a reason I am not even sure he feels? Do I take him down there to the vets now, can I keep myself from collapsing if I let him die here?
Oh God, I wish I knew. The stress is crippling me, as is the grief.
I want to run so far away from all this pain, and leave Dad and all the animals here where they can’t hurt me anymore.
But that is not what Mommy’s do.
That is not who I am.
Jehovah made the animals instinctively wise, and He loves them even more than we do, because He created them. He gives them their gifts to be our companions, our comforters, our friends. It is my human failings that give me all this doubt, all this worry. Munson is not crying out in pain or sorrow. He showed me last night who the wiser one is. And he said goodbye already too. It is me who has to let him go…
I want to live again, with his memory to keep my heart warm.
Goodbye, Muncie Spumoni.
PS. I just cancelled the appointment to have him euthanized, I will let him pass here, with his sister and me and Dad, and the only home he has ever known. He is a great cat.
The decision to enter my painting in an art show at a real art gallery was easy to make. I believe I am being motivated by fear, having learned while Pops was in hospital that I will basically be destitute after he dies or if he must be placed in a home. I had always hoped that I could make a living with my art, knew I could, really, but I never wanted to let anyone see it. It isn’t that I am ashamed, it is just so personal. That is my heart on the canvas, my veins torn open, my blood on the page.
I never wanted to sell out. to allow complete strangers to dissect my innermost thoughts, to critique my self expression. My life has been so full of can’ts:
You aren’t a boy, Susan. You can’t play ball like that.
You can’t just draw from your imagination- you must be trained properly.
You can’t go to art school, it is not realistic.
You are too sensitive, you can’t take everything to heart.
YES I CAN!!!!
The latest critic in my life is an elderly aunt, who believes she has my best interest at heart by terrifying me about my future. She wan’ts me to look into selling my antiques, selling my china, selling my whole sense of home and safety in preparation for the big nothingness that she keeps reminding me that looms ahead when Dad dies.
I try very hard to be smilingly pleasant on the phone with her, but it is the most negative words she can say. She totally does not understand my bipolar disorder or depression. I absolutely CAN NOT focus on what MIGHT happen. I will dwell on it, I will obsess about it, and if I am not careful, I will drink and drug over it. Her constant warnings of doom will be a self fulfilling prophecy for me.
I was on my own for many years without any material possessions, and those were some of the most meaningful years of my life. Meaningful in that I learned how to survive happily with nothing, that I appreciated every single meal, blanket, pot, pan, article of clothing, tree, water faucet, sunrise- and every single human being who crossed my path.
I was much younger, sure, but I learned how to SURVIVE. And I succeeded.
Jesus had no place to lay his head- he lived by faith. He lived free, and appreciated all His Father’s blessings. He did not fear not knowing where he would sleep, what he would eat, and the Bible counsels us to follow in his footsteps.
I do not want to sell Mom’s china, and I won’t. If I have to eat dog food on it in the dark, then that is what I will do. I will use my considerable brain function to keep my head above the proverbial water, but not by selling the things I hold dear, or by giving into fear of what may or may not happen.
If something good can come out of my anger at her doubt in me, it is that I am taking a leap of faith and taking my painting to the Gallery.
And I might just take a binder on my writings to an editor while I am at it!
So thank you Auntie Doubtful for the motivation. I remember that I am still the brave girl who jumped on a freight train and rode across Arizona, hitchhiked through 6 states, dumpster dove for greasy Mcdonald’s burgers, and that they tasted like T-bones!
I am the brave girl who worked 27 jobs in 25 years, rigged for the crane building Missle Silos, worked with Belgians and Shires and Clydesdales and Andalusians, and groomed the Atlanta Police department’s horses, learned to decorate cakes and operate forklifts, did lawn maintenance and worked on the tip of an island in the Atlantic. I have befriended train tramps and illegal immigrants, and helped a 15 year old Mexican kid hide in a grain car to get to his uncle’s house, his only relative in this world! I have accepted gifts of food, and given some, accepted rides and given many, and I have loved and believed in the very best of my fellow man, and I also believe in myself.
I am the brave girl who survived rape ad beatings, being stabbed and shot at, falling in holes and having horses roll on me, having a riding lawnmower flip over on me, divorcing a dangerous man, jail, drug addiction, alcoholism, hepatitis C, and the death of my beloved Mom, and losing my sanity, and I am still standing, even if it is crooked.
The first thing I have to do is turn to my Higher Power and give Him all this pain, He is much bigger than me, He can carry it and throw it away. He has His Active Force, His Holy Spirit to help me have “the power beyond what is normal”(2 Corinthians 4:7) if I only ask for it, so I am asking and pleading now. The wonderful thing is that even though my disease tells me there is no hope to feel better, I know deep inside that this is a lie. So I must FORCE myself, in the midst of the inertia of my illness, to DO SOMETHING to help myself. Even when that is the LAST thing I want to do.
So I pray, and I MOVE OUT OF THE DARKNESS, taking my head out from beneath bedcovers I have pulled tightly over my head. Prayer is a gift from God, a lifeline to raise me out of this pain. There is a particular scripture that has helped me so much over the years that perfectly describes what my relationship with God does in this regard. It is at Psalm 40, and it was originally penned by David as he was inspired with God’s Holy Spirit, His Active Force. Here I have taken excerpts: ” I earnestly hoped in Jehovah, and so he inclined his ear to me and heard my cry for help. He also proceeded to bring me up out of a roaring pit (my depression), out of the mire of the sediment (where I was stuck, immobilized by mental illness, as in quicksand). Then he raised up my feet upon a crag. He firmly established my steps…(Psalm 40:1,2 comments in parenthesis are mine).
What a marvelous healing provision from the Highest Personage in the Universe, to hear the tiny prayer from a tired, depressed human whose mind tells her she is not worth saving. He sees my heart, sees my pain, and reached out to stand me on my feet again. It is not a miracle cure, He gives me the mind to pick up the tools I need to fight this mental illness, provisions such as mental health professionals, meetings for worship that put me with others who have suffered the same way and recover, and His Word the Bible, as my guidebook.
Another example of God’s power to help me back to joy is found in the Bible book of Philippians, where we read, ” Do not be anxious over anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication along with thanksgiving let your petitions be made known to God, and the peace of God that excels all thought will guard your hearts and your mental powers by means of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6.7). Beautiful isn’t it? How comforting to know that help is only a prayer and grain of faith away. I do not have to sit in a pile of despair and hopelessness forever.
To have this loving relationship with Jehovah, there are some things He asks from us in return, none of which are too difficult for even a person like me. He asks that we love Him with whole-souled devotion, that we turn away from sin and repent of our past wrongs, and that we learn accurate teaching from His Word , the Bible. And another requirement is to pt Faith in the Ransom Sacrifice of His pefect only-begotten Son, Christ Jesus. I was able to do this by putting my pride aside, letting light into my hate-darkened heart, opening my mind by asking humbly for God’s help and by accepting the offer from Jehovah’s Witnesses for a free home Bible study. Eventually I was able to qualify for baptism by water immersion, dedicating myself to my Wonderful God, putting faith in all His Loving Provisions, and in the Most wonderful Provision of all, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the greatest gift , the greatest act of Love ever expressed.
By writing this post and finding all these examples of God’s Love for me as an individual, I am lightened of this burden, this illness of Depression. No, it is not gone, and I will have to cope until the new system when everyone will be freed from the pain of mental illness, and every other sickness too.
.Praise God, and may you find peace also under the shelter of His mightly wings. Any one of Jehovah’s Witnesses can help you to learn more, and you can find help online at the official website, jw.org.
I answered his call tonight. What a foolish foolish girl. I knew that it was wrong, to talk to the abuser, but I did it anyway. After years of being strong, of cutting out the gangrenous heart of me. How could I sell my broken soul out so cheaply? I knew he would say something that would bring it all back, and when I heard the liquor in his voice I remembered the loathing I felt for myself when I realized I had given away all that ever was good inside me, given it to a psychopath who only loved me for the pain I would suffer at his hands.
Now that I let that voice into my ears, that devil’s voice as sticky as Karo, how do I unhear it? When it professes “love” to me from a dead man’s mouth? How do I wash the blood off of my mind’s eye, when I dream of his devil fists, his green devil eyes, his devilish ways with his devilish hands on my broken and battered memory of myself?
Why did you do it?
Did you really need another reason to be afraid today?
Did you need another reason to doubt your own sanity?
Did you really need to add all those forgotten nightmares to the list of must-see flashbacks you have on file?
Now the phone won’t stop ringing, so I turned them all off. But can I turn of that record that has played in my mind ever since I broke free?
That record that keeps going round and round playing a tune called,
” If I can’t have you, then nobody will…”
How long until he’s at my door?
Did I just invite him when I answered that call tonight?