Saturday, February 18, 2006

Cold Front Moving In

I didn't want to have to write this, but I knew, deep down, that it would become necessary.

At the moment, I am living with a stranger. A very familiar, intimate stranger. The face, the form of this stranger are identical to those of the woman I married. But what lies beneath the outward appearance is no longer the Bonnie I know. She is in there, and on occasion she will surface, but at most times, the interloper who has taken control of her thought processes lies there staring unfocused, unfeeling, out at the world.

I have met this stranger 3 times before. I have learned to recognize and deal with the ill effects of this inimical alien on previous occasions, and now discover that I am being asked to do so again, now when I can barely walk the rooms of my own abode, let alone the endless aisles of Wegmans and the miles of hospital corridors I have often enough before had to traverse. Creator help me, I thought I was done with this.

It wouldn't be so bad if this doppelganger was benign. It is not. This foreign presence forces Bonnie to believe that eating or taking medication are activities antithetical to her best interests. She pretends to eat and sometimes nibbles on something just to shut me up, but it is nowhere near enough to approach basic subsistence levels. She takes medication only until I am out of sight, then removes the pills and secretes them in odd locations (as, for example, on top of the refrigerator.)

If it weren't for these behaviors, I could almost accept living with this being, to spare Bonnie the hospitalization and treatments that she abhors so much. It would be heartbreaking, never again to see the sparkle in her eyes, the brilliant light of her intelligence, but I could do it. But if I did, she would die - there is not a doubt in my mind.

And so it begins anew - my coping mechanism is kicking in and my emotions are shutting down. The storm of tears is past now (Happy Birthday to me) and the cold, dead being inside of me who takes control in this type of situation is coming to the fore. One of us must carry on, and it has once again been left to me to do so. I sometimes long to relinquish control and sink into that warm, fuzzy world where nothing matters and where one need worry about nothing. Except I now understand that it is not like that. It is a hell populated by voices that speak only in almost inaudible whispers, where all eyes hold evil intent, and almost no one, especially strangers, is to be trusted. Sleep holds no surcease, for the brain will not shut down - the eyes and the voices are always there, insisting that only death will suffice to alleviate the agitation.

The onset of the depression is always so swift as to be shocking. It actually begins some indefinite time before the red flags go up, generally triggered by some occurrence that sets Bonnie to worrying and causes her stress. She often makes assumptions about ill-understood events, and seems always to assume the worst. She will not share these fears with me, and if she does, will not believe my assurances that there is nothing to worry about. The fears linger and fester, and eventually balloon into full-blown psychosis. The worst part is that there is almost no warning - Thursday Bonnie is outwardly Bonnie, and Friday she is submerged below the persona of the Stranger.

On some subconscious level, I must have recognized that something was amiss, for I began to prepare for a future entry thusly -

Never underestimate the fragility of the human thought process and personality. There is sometimes a very fine line between what is considered ‘normal’ and what medical theorists determine to be ‘abnormal.’ What may seem, to a medical professional without full knowledge of the situation, to be perfectly normal behavior can often be just the opposite. For example, a weight of 105 may seem desirable for a woman 5'8" and slightly big-boned. Only after understanding that her original weight was well over 200 pounds and that the loss occurred in under a year without any exercise being undertaken, may one see that something may be not quite right.

It is difficult, if not impossible, for someone who has never before encountered mental illness to recognize signs that such might be in the offing. Not until the disease is well-progressed, and manifest behavior and personality disorders are evinced, does one realize that there is a problem, and by then the difficulty of obtaining treatment becomes problematic.

These are the red flags and characteristics of the depression personal to Bonnie. Other caregivers to depressives will most likely be familiar with some or all of these -

Listlessness, total lack of interest in food and pursuits, the statements "I’m so tired" and "I’m sorry", a faraway look in the eyes or a vacant expression, lack of emotion and emotional response, lack of assertiveness, indecision, restlessness, whispery and disjointed phrases

Please keep Bonnie in your thoughts. She is lost in a place where few of us would willingly go, and she will need your help to guide her way.

Thank you to those of you who have expressed your care and support. If you have ever been in need yourself, you know how much it means.

Entries will probably be few, although puzzles will continue to appear, because they are excellent therapy and keep my mind occupied.

Peace.

15 comments:

gdireneoe said...

Please remember we are here Malcolm. ;)  C.  http://journals.aol.com/gdireneoe/thedailies

barbpinion said...

I am so sorry to hear about your wife. To say it must be difficult is a waste of words. So instead I will tell you that I care very much about what happens to your wife, and to you. I have had my share of problems, but at the moment, dear one, yours makes mine seem quite insignifcant. I shall keep both of you in prayer and please email me any time. Sometimes it helps to share. People helping people is what makes it all work. I'm here for you and hope knowing that is a bit of comfort. I know when others read this entry they too, will offer you their friendship, support and prayers. Take care. Have put you on alerts so I will be back again.
Barb- http://journals.aol.com/barbpinion/ITSNOTABOUTLOVE-BUTABOUTSURVIVAL
       http://journals.aol.com/barbpinion/LETTERSTOHEAVEN

jcrazytrain said...

OH I am so sorry to hear this. Sometimes writing does help so I am glad u did. Hearing from all your online friends I hope helps too. I am thinking about you two. Praying hard. Take Care Love D

sistercdr said...

Malcolm, I am so sorry for the pain that y'all are experiencing right now.  Y'all are in my prayers.

plieck30 said...

Prayers for you and Bonnie. Paula

thinkingoutloud said...

Oh no.
I feel so terrible reading this.
A year ago exactly I was in the place that now holds Bonnie hostage.  
I call it "Limbo".
 
It's so hard to find a way out of there and while you're there you are completely useless to your self and others.
She must try and eat something, anything, at least twice a day.  When the physical is weak it brings down the mental aspect in us as well.

Hang in there Mal.  Bonnie needs you so very much.

Lotsa love & prayers for you both;)
Niki

mymaracas said...

I am so sorry to hear you're going through this -- for both of you. I admire your courage and eloquence in writing about it. Keeping you in thoughts and prayers...
Vicki

blondepennierae said...

Oh Mal, I am so sorry to read this.  I was full of eagnerness when I came to your journal.  I have missed reading you.  To find that life is turning a dark corner for the two of you makes me very sad.  I will be sending you all of my love and prayers.  Bless both of you, Pennie

mutualaide said...

Mal, I am so saddened to know that Bonnie is so very ill.  I have walked close to the edge with family members and know how difficult this is.  We know you will take care of Bonnie.  We want you to also, take care of you.  

bedazzzled1 said...

I am genuinely sorry to hear about Bonnie being lost in the darkness...and I will be happy to do anything I can to hold a light for her along the way out of that haunting place.

Be good to yourself. You matter, too.

cyndygee said...

"Sorry" seems like such an inadaquate word right now .. .  Mal, my heart hurts for you . . .  and for Bonnie.  May you be blessed with happier healthier days.  Until then, I keep you close in thought and prayer.
                                                          Cyndy

jouell3935 said...

Sending my thoughts filled with Peace...

Blessings,
Jodi

fitzzer said...

I know how difficult this must be for both of you. Keep the faith, you will get through this. We're all here for you. Sending all my bestest thoughts & wishes your way. ~ Lori

sunnyside46 said...

hello my friend.
I hope this early morning finds you somewhat at peace.
I am on the other side of the screen if yo need to talk...
Marti

sunnyside46 said...

hello my friend.
I hope this early morning finds you somewhat at peace.
I am on the other side of the screen if yo need to talk...
Marti