Mom’s still in the hospital. They have her in a psychiatric unit due to the intensity of her delusions. Sometimes I come in and she has an amazing team taking good care of her. Other times I walk in and no one seems to know who or where she is, or how she’s doing, and I find her crying in her bed, terrified. This is a good hospital, and a fine unit, but they have their limits, they don’t know my mom, and she doesn’t know or trust any of them. To be honest, I find that trust hard myself in an environment where the pace is so fast, staff is so transient with their constant shift changes, caseloads are huge with new patients coming and going every day, and it’s impossible for them to have much depth of knowledge under those circumstances.
So I’m feeling a lot of pressure to be there with her more often than feels healthy. She’s so grateful when she sees me, grabs onto me, and tries to get me to call the police so we can “escape” together. She thinks they’re putting poison in her food, that they’re slowly killing her, and it’s part of a large plot that everyone there is in on. This is the state she’s been in for a week, with sometimes a few hours of respite when she sleeps, but often the meds give her nightmares.
I felt like I had a lot of support until she went more “crazy” than she already was from regular dementia, and ended up in a psych unit. You find out who your real friends are when you’re the only family member and you just can’t do it all anymore.
Two friends I could think of will be at ease in such a unit, even if my mom is out of her mind and agitated when they see her. One is out of the country right now, and the other is leaving for an out of state trip this weekend. I asked the latter friend to visit tomorrow, and though it hurts me to know I won’t be there to witness Mom’s suffering and try to ease it a little, my life at home is completely neglected and I’m losing touch with myself.
I don’t know how much of this pain to share with family and friends and how much to keep to myself. Sometimes in the past when I’ve shared, I’ve later felt frustrated that people don’t seem to understand (how could they?) or to know how to help, and I’m too exhausted to connect the dots for them, and scared that I’ll ask too much or overwhelm them in this state.
I also don’t know how much of my mom’s suffering I can share from this point on- where I might have to draw the line to keep myself intact. It looks like this could go on for weeks, months, years? Nothing they thought would ease her terror is working. More meds, less meds- no matter what they do she’s surrounded by bombs, danger, and spies, 24/7, she’s not eating, and she’s exhausted from fear. At the beginning I could distract her a little with walks outside to see the birds and flowers, or by bringing her ice cream, but now nothing will work and she’s unable to enjoy my visits because I won’t summon law enforcement for her.
I’ve been doing this caregiver thing for 3 years now, and yet I feel like I have absolutely no idea how to help her or myself right now. Feels like taking the blindest stabs in total darkness.
So I’m staying home tomorrow, letting a friend be the witness (thank god for that one friend who’s not daunted by the rawest, roughest situations), and hoping that a day away trying to take care of the home front and myself a bit will shed some light on all this overwhelming confusion.