I already feel guilty writing this blog today. Yes, this week has been one from hell, but I know that people are going through worse. Our cousin, Bonnie, in Canada, is going through so much right now. The tumour in her liver is pushing on nerves, causing her the most excruciating pain. Pain I cannot begin to imagine. So, whilst I’m sitting here considering my next move. I’m aware that people face even bigger challenges. Cue the guilt. But I know Bonnie is always the first to say that everyone can have problems which test their own personal strength. She’s an inspiration. I feel so lucky to call her family xxxxx
So, as with my previous blogs, I use this cathartic process to voice my emotions, and hopefully help others going through a similar ordeal with their Parents.
Since Christmas, my Dad has begun to write a book. This has quickly become an obsession. Within the last 8 days, his energy levels have risen drastically. Post stroke fatigue is very much a thing of the past now. My Dad has lost 8 days of sleep, and sadly is now in the throes of mania. This is incredibly dangerous for anyone, especially an elderly person, post acute stroke. He has significant paranoia, paranoid that someone is breaking in to steal his manuscript and various other anxieties. In reality, my Dad is ripping the work up himself.
33 years ago, as I’ve said in an earlier blog, my Dad had a nervous breakdown when he was Headmaster of Bradninch school. The previous Head was forced to retire due to his age, and could not let his former school go. As an 11 year old child, much was kept from me. However, this week, my Dad’s been going over all the events of 33 years ago. It makes my blood boil hearing what my Dad went through. The previous Head just couldn’t let go and played hideous games, resulting in Dad having to take early retirement, following a 27 year career in Teaching. During this time of his breakdown, he had a manic episode, resulting in him being given a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder. He has not had depression or mania for 33 years… Until now.
I started back at work on Monday. This was a massive deal, after not being at school since the end of the summer term. It was so lovely to see familiar, smiley faces. As I was driving there, I felt like a new kid about to start their first day of school. I work with such lovely people, with big hearts. It was good to be back in my familiar. However, I never imagined the tiredness I’d feel on my return. Probably exacerbated by the fact that I felt so torn. Knowing I needed to try and regain some sense of my own normality, whilst knowing my Parents’ life is anything but normal now. It was so lovely to see the children, I’ve missed many of the characters so much. Leaving my Parents and the fragility of their situation was a huge ask of myself. I can’t praise my Line Manager enough. She has so much empathy for my current situation. I’m so lucky to have such a good support from all the amazing team.
After work on Monday, I visited my Parents and my Dad was argumentative, irrational and erratic. It also transpired that he’d made many calls to people. So I spent the afternoon ringing people, such as Kings school, to apologise for his odd calls. This reached crisis point on Tuesday night. I had to get advice from a GP, who recommended I take Dad to hospital, my Dad refused, so we had to settle for giving him a sedative instead. On Wednesday morning, my boss sent me straight home. I had to get someone from the Mental Health Team to come and assess my Dad. He was really thorough and could see that all was not well. So a plan to alter his meds was put in place. Unfortunately, since then, things have become more erratic with Dad. Yesterday afternoon, I had to get someone from the Mental Health Team to visit again. As I was stood in my Parents’ hallway privately talking to the Practitioner, the tears came. I told him that these last 6 months had taken its toll on me and my own family. The words “Your Dad would have been admitted by now, if it wasn’t for you, Sophie” really got to me. I’m not a Social Worker. I’m not a trained Mental Health Practitioner. I’m just a daughter trying to keep her Parents safe. As he tried to compliment me on all I’ve done, I felt so despondent. The more you do, the more people expect, it just perpetuates the problem. He told me I’d saved a lot of people from tearing their hair out with my Parents’ vulnerable situation. What about me?? They’re the professionals. They’re paid a salary to deal with these situations. In the meantime, my own job had to be put on the back burner, and my Managers have had to be incredibly understanding.
When you’re a Carer, many things are put on the back burner. I feel like the worst friend, I have little time to see people and catch up on their lives. I feel like a crap wife, my Hubby has had to put up with so much during these last 6 months. I’m so consumed by my Parents’ vulnerabilities, that I’m distracted, and not the best Mum to my two amazing children. The last 6 months have had a detrimental effect on all aspects of my life. It’s very easy for people to sit in judgement, and say “let the services take over.” When you experience a situation like this, the reality hits that life just isn’t that simple. I’ve learnt the survival technique of taking one day at a time.
This afternoon, I have my Mum’s CT scan, which will hopefully lead to a formal diagnosis by the end of the week. After the scan, I will have to make a judgement call about my Dad. I know he needs admitting. He walked to town earlier this morning, in odd shoes, and banged on the Police Station door to report a burglary, it’s scary just how vulnerable both my Parents are right now.
If anyone reading this has encountered my Dad this week and heard about burglaries etc. Please know that he’s not a well man and not of sound mind right now.
Due to miscommunication ??? The enabling is down for me to sort. So I’ve got a Care Agency taking my Parents on from next week. But, firstly, I need to get help for my Dad. If any of this resonates with anyone reading it, I’m sending you love and respect. If you’re a Carer, please remember that your wellbeing is really important too xxxxxx