Yesterday was one of those harder days for Aradia. I am learning that just about the time she gets comfortable and breathing easy depression and anxiety will sneak in through the back door and sucker punch her. Yesterday was one of those days. It started with an eerie and terrible nightmare that sunk it’s teeth in through the night and stuck with her all day. With some effort and nudging, she got through it, we watched a movie together and she made a short skit with me but I could tell she was not feeling right.
When she can’t put what she feels into words she sends me videos or songs that speak for her. So I watched a sad video about anxiety that she sent mand then went in and laid down and cuddled with her. She asked me if it was hard being her mom and it breaks my heart that she would worry about that. Just when she was coasting along with the job going great, feeling good about things and hopeful about the future, the intrusive, repetitive, negative thoughts come in. Thoughts of suicide, of being useless and worthless, of the pointlessness of life. The logical part of her mind knows those things aren’t true, but this is the nature of the depression and anxiety aspects of the Schizoaffective disorder.
Then come the thoughts of what will happen to her when her I die, which reflect my own internal thoughts that I have not shared with her. Who will help her remember to take her medicine? The importance of exercise? Showers? Getting up? Who will make sure she eats correctly during those periods where she doesn’t care if she eats at all? Who will come in and cuddle with her when she feels like this? How will she hold a job during these times? How many hours are too much pressure? How will it affect her ability to have a successful relationship? Does she tell prospective employers about her illness or hope it doesn’t show up at work? Who will help her navigate through friendships and weed out those who would take advantage of or abuse her? Who will remind her to hope and to dream and to set goals?
I reassured her that she will get through this and that unlike so many others, she has a family that will always be there for her. Her father will protect her but he turns sixty-five this year and won’t always be around either. Her younger and older sister are both strong little women and they will defend her fiercely. IF she tells them she needs help, and therein lies the tricky part, because of her tendency to say “I’m fine” and isolate herself when all the chaos is churning inside. The answer to most of those questions is “I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know.” I feel completely humbled and fumbling as a mother on the harder days.
I reminded her that she is loved and wanted and needed and that it must be just as challenging to have me as a mother. She agreed a little too quickly on that point. On the brighter side, the medicine is still helping the hallucinations. She also met with the education/employment specialist today and he gave her an aptitude test which revealed no surprises. Computers are the direction she needs to go and she is interested in coding. He said with all the adolescents he has worked with, she is the first one to show an interest in it. That seemed to put her in better spirits.
We meet with the Team Leader for her STEPS program tomorrow to talk about the past week and set some new goals. Thursday I will meet with a lady who is holding a local support group for family members of those struggling with Schizoaffective Disorder and other types of mental illness. I’m hoping it will help me know how to handle these inevitable moments and that I can come back with some tips to share with others. How can we help our loved ones better, more, and yes, even when we are gone? I am so thankful for these people that are offering their time and wisdom to help us. How many people out there never seek help? How many don’t even know they need help? How many ask for help but don’t know where to turn on those harder days?
Above is a section of portraits of Aradia that I am working on to sort things out in my own mind. Painting is my therapy.