Friday, Sept. 15,
…Yesterday, Jenni said, “You’re supposed to be taking care of me, but I’m taking care of you.” It is true-I feel so fragile at times. I’m trying to get better. Some days I drop back almost to the starting point again. I get mad at myself when I feel so afraid that I want to get in a fetal position and pull the covers over my head. What am I so afraid of? Pain? Painful thoughts? Ends of dreams? Right now I feel full of dread. I’m so tempted to take a lot of pills (Xanax) and just numb out –of course that doesn’t stop the pain—just delays it. This whole past week I didn’t hardly do any work. I want to pull my weight but I feel nervous, extremely tired, and afraid.
I feel like I just keep repeating cycles—so that I feel like I fall back. Jen said she and Cathy have had this discussion and even though you cycle you do one thing differently each time.
It’s hard for mentally healthy people to understand the “divergent”, or the Neuro Atypical. In my family, we refer to mentally healthy people as Neuro-typicals or NT’s.
NT’s look at us funny if we say something like ordering take-out is “hard” today. They look at us funny if we say that a certain word has been resonating with us today, or we’re stuck on a thought, or characters are talking to us. My mother crossed the line into mentally ill, obviously, but prior to being mentally ill, she was just atypical. Words had flavors and colors (they do for me, too), concepts can be bright or dark in our minds, regardless of what the concept was about. For example, the concept of mutilation, say, could be “bright” in our minds, meaning it had focus and a strange type of beauty, even if the subject was abhorrent. Think of a painting: it can be beautiful and you can flood it with light, even if it’s depicting something gruesome.
My mother was going through a period of difficulty, where everything was “hard”. It means there’s a chunk of Slow-time, or of inertia, around an activity, and it is very difficult to break through. Difficult mentally, emotionally. For me, ordering take-out is “hard”. I know the steps are easy, but motivating myself to call, instead of pawning it off on someone else, is difficult. Overcoming my fear and dread of the task is difficult.
I don’t know when the illness took over, but I remember you before the illness, and after the illness, when you were NA like me. I remember how the illness robbed you of the best bits of being Neuro-Atypical.
I know what it’s like not to be able to do something. The ability is there, but not the oomph. I know what it’s like to not just feel apathetic, but antipathetic, toward an activity.
I wish I could feel bad about my younger self calling you out on not watching over me, but you really weren’t doing your job. I wish, in some ways, you could have stayed in the hospitals a little longer, learned more skills. I wish I could have been older and been better able to take care of myself.
But what you were afraid of remembering was happening to me. I wish you could have seen that I was being exploited and abused by people, sometimes not much older, and sometimes more than a decade older, than myself. And I didn’t even know that people shouldn’t treat me this way, because it was how I was treated my whole life.
Mom, I wish I could feel sorry for you. My heart aches, and I wish you didn’t have to go through this, but damn it, woman, some people have had so much worse. Worse than I had, which was worse than what you had.
I know you were sick, then. And the helplessness and fear you felt was all a part of the illness. But the more I read, the more I truly believe that your brain was trying to help you, and if you had just let it help you, you would have been better. It would have sucked to know what you’d have found out—what I suspect—but at least you would have known, and you wouldn’t have had to hide. You used to say I was stronger than you, and I think I know why now: I face things. I admit they suck, I face them, and then I just go on. I don’t think it’s strength, but I think you did. And, ultimately, I think your hiding is what killed you.
You were never the same, once you got on the medications. You took a permanent vacation. For almost 20 years, you were like a zombie. You’d drift off mid-sentence. You’d stare vacantly. You’d lose track of where you were or what you were doing.
Perhaps you got what you wanted, in those drugged-out 20 years. You got your numbness. Only I think I would have rathered (and you would rather, if you were alive), you lived two real years, knowing whatever it was your brain wanted to tell you, than 20 years of the half-life you led. You weren’t you. We were scared all the time that something would happen to your meds and you’d kill yourself. You weren’t sad, but you weren’t happy, either. You were numb, dead.
Which I guess you never stopped wanting.