Once again my son is struggling with the chaos of the system. Nearly three weeks ago he suffered another psychosis; i.e. a combination of hallucinations and delusional thinking which alters perception, thinking, emotion and behaviour. This again was proceeded by a seizure, but not all of his seizures resulted in a psychotic episode. The seizures themselves have never been investigated or explained and the psychotic episodes of the past have been "explained" as delirium tremens (vary unlikely given the total break with reality he had at that time and the relatively short period of time he was drinking heavily) to possible kidney infection and even epilepsy! These were all possibilities based on nothing other than the attending doctor's theory at the time. Of course whenever any of the seizures or psychotic breaks resulted in hospitalization, once my son gained clarity of thought and discussed his background with any of the nurses or doctors assessing him, the answer to "have you been using or have you used in the past any drugs" stopped any need for more assessments. The word "drugs" and in fact even "alcohol" can stop the medical and mental health professionals in their tracks, because their minds have then been made up that the sole case for every symptom is due to present or previous drug usage.
On this occasion, as with many of the others, I was the first to notice my son was not quite right and it was the early signs of an episode. Luckily I had no problems getting him into my car to go to the hospital. However, there were a few issues getting him ready; e.g. he thought the salt container was his keys, a piece of paper was his shoe and he was struggling to get it on his foot and so on. During the car journey there I am surprised I could retain my composure and continue to drive as my son tried to stand up from the passenger seat and tried to "walk out" through the back seat.
Those 9 hours of waiting with him in the hospital emergency room, until he was placed on the ward of the mental health unit were very difficult for me. To sit with a loved one, your first born child, watching him have imaginary conversations and trying to fill up an asthma vaporiser with water and at times not knowing where he was, is a heartbreaking and emotionally exhausting experience. The emotional strain is even greater when you are faced with such an ordeal on your own and you are also aware that you have left your other children at home alone for hours on end with no way of knowing when you will be home. Being alone with only a handful of local friends is difficult and I do not always find it easy to reach out to people for support because the friendships may not be long standing ones or indeed you may want a certain type of comfort or support only certain types of friendships can give. I luckily had two people to txt who lived close by to get some food to my daughters as we had nothing home and no money in the house. For my own moral support, I took a leap of faith and reached out because I really needed to be comforted, unfortunately I got none. I understand that people are busy and have their plans in progress on a Saturday evening, but the situation with my son would clearly not be a matter of a day, but a lengthy ordeal and I am still very much alone. To make matters worse when I did finally get home, I had to face "normality" and the mess left for mom to clean up and not really being able to talk to my daughters about what happened. Firstly because my youngest is too young and secondly my other daughter still harbours so much resentment towards her brother she can not put that aside for a moment to offer her mother a bit of comfort. So I go home and felt very much alone with no one offering me a hug, a drink or something to eat. How utterly selfish of me I guess, yet, I would offer my help to anyone I loved regardless of my own feelings. Why is this so emotional for me, that it causes tears to flow as I write? It is not as if my life has been any different than now for the past 20 years. It is not as if I have ever been loved deeply by anyone other than those who are blood related to me. It is not as if my life has ever been easy. So why am I so sad, why is it not just the status quo and I can manage to deal with things without the unnecessary complication of sadness and loneliness? I must be damaged or just not meant for this world, this society, this life.
I digress, sorry! So the relatively good news is that my son had no drugs or alcohol in his system upon getting to the hospital and all drug tests came back negative. So that has helped things being looked at a bit more seriously, as to just how seriously, that remains to be seen. We are nearly three weeks into his hospitalization and as yet the weekly reviews with the psychiatrist focuses mainly on medication, but also how my son is feeling. Luckily, because my son has developed such a high tolerance for many substances, the medication doses are not enough to sedate him as perhaps other patients seem to be. Also even though he was fortunate enough not to have any drugs or alcohol in his system, he was still using both as and when he could. If he would not have been in the hospital these past 19 days, there is no way he could have stayed away from alcohol, substances or over doing his prescribed medication for this long because he would have believed he needed it or he would get a seizure! Maybe the longer he stays in there he may just start believing that, in fact, he does't NEED to use or over medicate! However, that is not to say my son is not an addict and he will still need to face his addictive tendencies and find healthier ways to cope with his emotions and stressors. I take my son out of the unit about 4-5 times a week and unfortunately now that he is quite lucid, he often wants and does get a drink while he is out, because the belief is still there that that one beer will somehow help him. I will let him have one small or average bottle of beer, but on a particularly upsetting afternoon when he tried to buy a 750 ml bottle of 6.6% Leffe beer, (mind you we were only going to out of the hospital for an hour) I had to put my foot down and start giving him ultimatums. It worked and he put it back, however his mood towards me was not "good".
Unfortunately, my son in this short time of hospitalization has been rejected, once again, by his father, witnessed the resuscitation of another patient when discovered after attempting to hang himself, the confirmation that his only friend and relative is me, as well as being told that in light of this hospitalization he will be indeed evicted from his supported housing scheme because they can not offer him the level of support he needs. Well done! Good support strategies! Though I was at first relieved that he is at least "safe" while on the unit, now I see that they are not really that safe at all from harming themselves. And while I thought that a hospital stay on a mental health unit without any drugs and alcohol in his system would help his housing situation, in fact it has damaged it and now we have the fear of homelessness one again! This kid never seems to get a break! Life does not seem to improve for any of us, and I feel ultimately responsible. A woman who can not support children financially, a woman who has failed in her own life to successfully create a loving and supportive family, a woman who is clearly unwanted, a woman who has children who are addicts and self harmers is one fucked up person and clearly had no right to bring three children into her lonely and messed up life. The world is not lacking in dysfunctional human beings, and it seems that I have added to the global force of messed up individuals.