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.