I said earlier that I was kinda looking forward to this weekend. Well, it hasn’t quite turned out the way I had planned. In fact, it’s been downright scary, lonely, and sad.
Yesterday, I slept in and lazed around in bed for a while before Christina came over. When I finally did get up to get ready, I realized I had a very upset stomach as whatever I’d eaten the night before exited me in a very violent way. Maybe Guy is right…maybe I do have giardia. I first got sick towards the end of the Jamaica trip, then I felt better, and now I’m sick again?
Anyway, I showed Christina around my place since she hadn’t been over since the first flood. We have very similar taste…she seemed to really like my girly retreat of a bedroom and my office, which is punctuated with a few serene prints of photos I’ve taken in Hawaii. We headed to Sweet Tomatoes and ate and chatted. Then we came back to my place and chatted some more. It was so nice getting caught up on our lives and what’s been our minds lately. She’s such a beautiful friend, and I’m so glad we got to spend some quality time together, finally. Shortly before she left, my phone rang its family ring (“We Are Family”)I knew it was either my parents or my aunt so I figured I would just call them back. My stomach had started churning again so Christina headed out.
Once I’d gotten rid of my Sweet Tomatoes lunch (we parted ways much too soon in my opinion), I checked my phone and saw that my dad had called from his cell. I called him back, and he sounded a bit frantic. It was my mom. He was worried about her.
I guess I should take a few steps back and explain a few things. My mom has suffered from depression on and off for years. She has also experienced auditory hallucinations like hearing voices. She’s been on medicationa lot of medicationfor quite a while. About a week ago, though, she stopped taking her meds. My dad said he would try to get her to take them, but she just wouldn’t. I spoke to him on Thursday and he told me that she had started acting really strangely. All of a sudden, my atheist mom was saying how much she loves Jesus Christ and going on and on about peace in the world and such. Now, my dad is Christian, and I consider myself spiritual but not religious, so we have no reason to think that loving Jesus is necessarily a bad thing. However, knowing my mom, something was really, really wrong for her to suddenly start feeling that way.
Anyway, when I first talked to him yesterday, he explained that he had been at a wedding and had called home to check on Mom. She answered the phone and they held a perfectly normal conversation, until she suddenly put the phone down (she didn’t actually hang it up) and walked away from the phone, still speaking, but not to my dad. My dad got worried and decided he should skip the reception to go home and check on her. When I spoke to him, he was almost home. I asked if he wanted me to head to their house and he said I didn’t need to.
A few minutes later, he called me back and said, “Sabrina, I need you down here.” The way he said it, I knew that something was horribly wrong. He had come home to find my mom barefoot, standing in a neighbor’s yard, staring up at the sky. When he tried to get her in the car so he could take her home, she wouldn’t respond at all. Then she said she couldn’t hear him and she couldn’t speak, and also that her legs couldn’t move. Of course, none of that was true.
I was really, really freaked. I told him I would leave right away, and then I proceeded to stumble around my place looking for my keys and trying to get my purse together. I was a mess. I was so scared, and I didn’t understand why my mom had suddenly flipped out. I knew that Guy was not even halfway through his weekend getaway, but I felt like I really needed to talk to him, just to tell him what was going on and hear his voice and hear that he loves me. I called his cellphone and of course got his voicemail. I left a frantic, teary message and bolted out the door.
In the car, I called Jason to tell him that I might not be able to take Kona back this weekend. I burst into tears again when I told him what was going on. I told him I would just call him back when things were better.
My dad called me back and told me that he had called 911 because my mom was not responding to him and had started walking towards the main road. They told him that they couldn’t send an ambulance to pick up a mental health patient without a “1013,” and they couldn’t get that until Monday. They recommended a private ambulance service, and he gave me the name of it. I used Infone to get their number, and it rang, and rang, and rang….nobody ever answered.
Since I was in my car, I thought maybe I could get someone at home to help me look up other private ambulance services online. I had just spoken to Jason, so I thought maybe he’d be home and could get online. I called him back and got no answer.
Then I called Christina. She was home, and her first question was “How are you feeling?”, referring to my stomach troubles. “Not so good,” I told her before trying to explain what was going on and asking her to help me find some phone numbers. She and her husband flipped through the phone book and gave me several numbers to try, and the short of it is that I could not find a single service that would help pick my mom up and get her to a hospital. On top of that, I got stuck in some weird traffic jam downtown and was getting nervous about getting to my parents’ neighborhood and helping my dad quickly enough.
When I finally called my dad back and told him I couldn’t find anyone, he called 911 back and told them to send the police. When I finally got there, I saw my dad standing at the corner of their street and the major road, and his car was parked nearby, along with a police car.
I parked and jumped out of the car. My dad said that Mom had headed down a dirt path into the woods, and the police officer had gone to find her. We started walking down the path, and when we got them in sight and saw that the officer had my mom in handcuffs and was trying to restrain her, we started running.
My mom was totally crazed. She was barefoot and had dirt all over her feet. She was wearing running shorts and a t-shirt…the kind of thing she’d wear around the house. She was using all her strength to pull away from the officer, and my dad and I tried to help the officer get my mom to head back to the car.
Two other officers arrived, and after a short struggle, my mom apparently decided to cooperate, and she let them lead her back up the path to the police car. I hurried to my parents’ house to get my mom’s clothes, shoes, and medications before heading to the hospital to meet them in the emergency room.
Once I arrived, they had already checked in. I sat in the waiting room and watched the other folks there. There were all sorts of people with various ailments, I suppose, but I was kinda surprised at how calm the waiting room was considering it was the emergency room.
Finally, a nurse came out and called my name. She told me she was my mom’s nurse and took me back to her room. She was in one of those padded rooms, laying on a stretcher.
She ended up staying in that room for about six hours. Over the course of those six hours, I watched a doctor and a counselor come, as well as a phlebotomist, for whom my mom happily flung out her arm when she heard “I need to get some blood.” However, when her nurse wanted to get a urine sample, she resisted and fought so much that the nurse gave up and ordered the drug screen on the blood instead. I watched my mom go from being very talkative and happy, blissful almost, to being scary and silent, using her hands and facial gestures to “speak” to me, even though I kept telling her I couldn’t hear her because she wasn’t actually saying any words.
It was a very stressful, scary, sad night. My dad and I took turns standing in her room, sitting in the one chair in the hallway, and standing outside her door watching her sleep. We saw at least two or three other psych patients come through, including one young man who had to actually be locked in one of the padded rooms because he was a “runner”…he had tried to escape the hospital twice before.
It was as we sat there listening to him cry his heart out, stopping every so often to desperately plead for some water, that I thought about how sad mental health issues can be. I myself went through a clinical depression years ago in college, and at the time, I had no idea what was wrong with me. I didn’t understand why I couldn’t get out of bedI literally wanted to sleep all the timeand why all I wanted was to get in a really bad car accident so I could spend my days laid up in a hospital bed where nobody would bother me. That was a very difficult time for me, and it honestly changed my life. But that’s another story for another day.
They decided to transfer my mom from the ER to the behavioral and mental health facility right behind the hospital. “It’s very plush, I hear,” the nurse told us. They were going to take my mom over at the same time as another woman who had been sleeping on a stretcher in the hallway. She had come into the ER by herself, complaining of anxiety and telling everyone she needed her lithium.
I finally left the hospital shortly before 2 a.m. because my dad and the nurse wanted to make sure I made the 40-minute drive home safely. My dad later called me to let me know that my mom had been checked into the facility and that he would call me around 11 a.m. today to give me an update.
Today, I’ve heard that my mom has been sleeping mostly…she’s been pretty medicated so she can rest.
Why did all this happen?
Apparently my mom has bipolar disorder. I never knew this. It causes severe mood swings, from very very high to very very low. And, if you stop treating it (stop taking your medication), it can progress into ultra ultra rapid cycling and psychosis. This is exactly what was going on with my mom. She had extreme periods of euphoria and then, just minutes later, she would be gripped by voices in her head and extreme irritability.
Bipolar disorder is often hereditary. Before I arrived at the hospital last night, the nurse had asked my dad how many children they had and how old they were. When he told her they had one daughter in her twenties, the nurse suggested that I get checked out for a chemical imbalance. She told my dad that a lot of people have bipolar disorder…famous, successful people like Ted Turner. When she said that bipolar disorder usually affects super-smart, intelligent, creative people, my dad said, “That’s my daughter.”
So anyway, it’s nearly 6 p.m. and I might give my dad a call soon to see if he has an update on my mom. I am really scared about things…wondering if she’ll be able to fully recover from this and stay on her medications. I’m also a little concerned about my own mental health prognosis, but not so much. I’ve heard background chatter as I’ve tried to go to sleep in times when I’ve been really stressed out, and apparently that could be a warning sign that I’m headed to bipolar land myself.
Right now, my main concern is my mom. And my dad. I know how lonely I feel right now. He must feel a thousand times lonelier.
It’s Father’s Day, and we had planned on getting together and going out to eat. Just Friday, my mom had asked my dad about my visit and what we were doing for dinner. It’s scary to me how quickly she could decline in the course of one day.
So there you have it…it’s been a weekend from hell. I’ve learned in the hours I’ve spent online today that a LOT of people suffer from bipolar disorder and its associated symptoms. Perfectly normal peoplelawyers, nurses, stay-at-home momsare out there going through manic episodes, hallucinating, etc….and trying the many medications that are being prescribed to treat the disorder.
If you believe in prayer or otherwise have faith in the power of positive thinking, can you please, please keep my mom and my family in your thoughts for happiness and peace?