How We All Doing?

Did you do okay with Christmas? This dead week is still going on. The week where work is lighter, there is no school, and you still have your lights up. It can be a nice slice of a quieter life.

Or it can be trying.

Last year the slow pace of this week drove my husband and I up the wall. We were still silently freaking out after having found out on the 12th of December that we has been largely wiped out by Bernie Madoff and company (Sidebar, just saw that a local station in North Carolina said evil M had some punches to the face or some signs of an assault. Is it wrong to want to buy the guy who did that a beer? Sidebar, sidebar, my husband said it would be a funny skit, a cop standing over a beaten Madoff asking, “Do you have an enemies?”). All we could do is try to be pro-active with what economic life we had. Talk to realtors, a budget overhaul, look around for things to sell. We wanted to get busy so we could salvage our life and stop the screaming in our heads, but it was “wait till next week!” Also, I knew I was giving birth mid-February, so I really needed to make hay.

It’s also a bad week for a mental health crisis. I have gone through that with a relative and unfortunately it is happening again with another relative. It’s the hardest time to find a bed in a mental hospital because this is the busiest time of year to snap. Christmas time is very hard on some people. But we knew that right? I thought it was interesting when I found out it is not a punch line or anecdote, people really do end up in scary, lonely situations at holiday time, and as my sister who is a licensed therapist said, “The dirty secret is there are not enough places for people with mental illness, and no one cares until they have a family member who has fallen ill.”

Which I think must be everyone. In a few hours of hearing of my family member who is in crisis, the few people who I told all had a sister who healed with electric shock, a cousin who had recently killed themselves, a brother who has to live with his parents since his release, and it went on and on.

And from my previous experience dealing this, and it seems to be following the same course this time, not all facilities are equal. Often the institution wants 1) to keep the patient from harming themselves and 2) wants them to be compliant. Which means they are put in restraints, and it feeds into whatever scary scenario the injured brain had already manifested. There isn’t a course of treatment. And good luck getting a doctor to get on the phone with you. All of us were stiff with tension, minds distracted. I keep saying “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.” The constant balance of talking to shrinks, while playing happily with your little kids. “Everything is fine! Let’s play catch.” While you wonder if an anti-psychotic would be better than anti-anxiety drug.

A few years ago when we were mired in this, it was about a 4-month journey. At the other end was a breathtaking recovery. But nonetheless on the other side was also a changed life. A much, much better life than had seemed possible in that holiday time, but it was a different one.

No wonder I dread Christmas.