Tag Archives: Mood

Choices

13 Sep

depression-1A person with Bipolar Disorder experiences moments of Mania, where they are euphoric, have tremendous energy, and sometimes even feel invincible.  There is also a crash downward into Depression after the Manic episode occurs. Some people experience these shifts a few times a year, others can have symptoms  with shifts as often as several times a day.  It really depends on the person and their chemistry.  Those who experience contrasting moods to the extent that they happen several times a day tend to be very restless and irritable.  Auntie was one of them.  One minute she would be goofing around, having fun playing with the kids, and I’d see a glimpse of the woman I remembered. The next she was annoyed, treating the kids harshly, and stomping off in a snit, leaving my husband and I looking at each other in confusion over what had just happened.  Worse, the kids would be bewildered and ask, “What’d I do?”  The only person in the house who was “safe” from Auntie’s moods; at least directly, was my husband.  Auntie had been through several abusive relationships, and I think she had a fear of men; though she’d never admitted it.  I believe that was probably the only thing that kept my husband out of the line of fire.  She would come to me to complain about him instead.

Over time, I found myself dreading being home with Auntie and would find any excuse to get out by myself for a while. I didn’t recognize this woman, and I grew weary of pointless discussions that went on and on, in circles for hours, with no resolution.  There was a lot of finger-pointing and blaming going on and she took absolutely no responsibility for any part in anything that happened.  In her eyes she was never wrong and to hear her tell it, my husband, kids, and I were mean, horrible people who did things purposely to hurt her!  I couldn’t wrap my mind around the fact that this woman who had known me my entire life was accusing me of acting in ways I just wasn’t capable of.  The things she accused my husband and kids of doing were even worse.  She acted as if she thought everyone had some hidden agenda or ulterior motive.  I was constantly having to defend myself as well as my husband and kids to her and it was getting to be so surreal!  I wondered when she had gotten so bitter and cynical.  After all, Auntie had raised two children.  Surely, she had to have experienced these kinds of things before.  Why was she getting so bent out of shape over “kid stuff”??

I started going to Starbucks every morning after dropping my youngest off at preschool.  I’d get my favorite coffee, pull into the parking lot across the street and sit in the car.  I’d park in front of a small pond at the far end of the parking lot, the furthest away from the all stores and activity, and watch the mama ducks and their ducklings play follow the leader, while enjoying the solitude and my coffee.  It was during these moments that I would try to make sense out of the things that were going on.

After a while of taking time to myself each morning, I decided to have a talk with Auntie.  I couldn’t understand where her behavior was coming from and I wanted to see what we could work out to try to lessen the tension in the house.  The conversation wasn’t going as I’d hoped; we were getting nowhere, and I had decided to drop the subject for the day when Auntie confided in me about her Bipolar Disorder.  In the next breath she told me she didn’t need to be treated for it and she could handle it just fine on her own. She said she had been prescribed medication for her symptoms but was not taking it.  When I asked her why she stopped taking the medication if the doctor felt she needed it, she said she didn’t like how it made her feel.  She said she had only tried the one medication and had never gone for her follow up visit to let the doctor know how it affected her…

…next…choices part 2

 

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New Year…New Life

8 Sep

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During the time I was dealing with losing my job and sorting out the issues with my friend, a family friend came back into my life.  She and my mom had been friends since they were kids, I’d known her since birth, and we considered her family.  I’d grown up calling her my Aunt, her children my cousins, and so on.  She and I had always been close and I was very fond of her.   She had always been a unique individual, free-spirited, or what my mother liked to call “flaky”.  It wasn’t unusual for years to go by without hearing from her.  I’d wonder how she was doing  and would eventually track her down.  I had done just that earlier that year in May, a couple of months before losing my job. We talked every few days from then on.

About a month later, I was talking to her during the hour-long drive home in the early morning hours from my ghost tour job in Saint Augustine.  She confided in me that she was in a horrible living situation and desperate to get out, but had nowhere to go. I called her back the next day after talking it over with my husband and invited her to come stay with us. The plan was for her to stay as long as she needed until she had saved enough money to get her own place.  I was excited to have her come and stay, but there was an uneasiness in my gut when I thought about it. Figuring it was just the idea of someone living with us causing it, I made the call anyway and brushed it off.  Unfortunately, like so many times before when I ignored that inner voice; what I now call my soul voice, I made the wrong decision.   I remembered her as a sweet, nurturing presence in my life when I was a kid,  and as someone I could always talk to, no matter what. I felt my kids would benefit from her being around since I intended to return to work full-time when I found another job and she’d be there with them when I couldn’t be.  They’d have another adult with a positive presence in their lives. She’d benefit by getting out of her current living situation and have a place to stay with people who loved and appreciated her, and she could save up the money to start over.  She offered to help out with the kids, cooking, etc., in return for staying with us.  I figured it was a win-win situation for all concerned.

She arrived December 1, 2012.  She’d changed her name over the few years that passed from the last time I’d seen her until I tracked her down and called her in May.  The day she arrived, she asked that we not call her by her former name.  She reasoned that it bothered her because she’d been through hell and having coming out on the other side, she felt that person was long gone.  In hindsight, I can see where the red flag should have gone up for me.  After all, I’d known her all my life as that person.  Chalking it up to one of her many eccentricities, I didn’t give it much thought at the time.  It felt strange and awkward calling her by this new name, but wanting to respect her wishes, I compromised and just called her “Auntie.”  I would find out her name wasn’t the only thing that had changed since I’d seen her last.

…next…new year…new life…part 2