Not Their Fault


It was cooler here yesterday morning. I took the opportunity to go out and get my hair trimmed. 

I got gas for my car, which I do about once per month. And then I went by the grocery store for a few things I forgot to pick up on Monday.
I go to Supercuts to get my hair cut. I just don't see the point of paying more than $15 for a hair cut.

The woman who cut my hair last time was probably in her twenties. 

We got to talking and she told me they'd just diagnosed her four year old son with bipolar disorder, though the doctors called it something else since the child is so young.

She told me that she has it as well. I could tell she felt guilt because her genes had dealt her child this blow.

She said she was raising him on her own. She told me how difficult it is for her when they kick him out of daycare because of his violent behavior. And she has to work to keep them afloat.

Can't bring a violent child to work to worry over when you're cutting hair. Poor kid. Poor mom.

Mental health care is just as important as any other type of health care. Because there is no quality of life unless there is treatment. 

The "crazy" stigma still holds strong. There's no escaping it.


I think back to when I was a kid. I know there were people in my family with mental illness, because I look back with adult eyes and see all the signs.

But no one, and I mean no one, would ever admit to such a thing. 

It was another time. I do understand that. But those individuals were for the most part isolated and cast aside. Often hidden from view and ridiculed.

And it was not their fault.

But they paid dearly for something they were born with and could not escape. 

Remember the Jack Nicholson movie, "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest?" All those people roaming around the halls of a mental institution, looking dazed.

Cuckoo is just another word for crazy.

Mental illness is not something that can be controlled through will power. Any more than you can control something like diabetes with will power.


Sometimes I wonder about Abi. 

She has gone back to her old habit of crying from the bedroom. It is a pitiful sound. 

I tried your suggestions. I unplugged the pest deterrents. It didn't appear to make any difference. 

Maybe there's a small insect I don't see because she is in the bath tub furiously scratching away like she's possessed.

But I know she can't help it. And I love her so I try very hard to be patient. 

I comfort her as best I can. Because that is just what you do for those you love.



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23 comments

  1. I have a sister with bi-polar illness and you're right it is a stigma. We just don't treat mental illness with the proper attention it needs. I hope your hairdresser will see she has been given a gift and not a tragedy to raise this young man.

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  2. I truly wish mental illness weren't so stigmatized in our society. I can't imagine how horrible it must have been even a few years ago. I have bipolar depression and take my medication every single day because I know the hell that it wreaks on not only me but everyone I love.

    Poor little Abi doesn't even have words to communicate. It must be stressful for her too. All you can do is just love her. Thank you for this post, Brenda.

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  3. I wonder if little abi is in terrible pain and has no other way to express it or tell you? although you say when you go in there she calms down? at least I think I remember your saying that. but the frantic digging in the tub is unusual.
    perhaps there is a gentle med the vet could give you for her when she has it the worst. an anti anxiety med maybe. it's not like she's always done this... so it must be something new that has triggered it? poor little thing. your heart just aches for her. if they could only talk and tell us what it's all about.
    you're wonderfully patient with her. and there will be a day to have to remember and you'll be so glad you were. love triumphs everything. xo♥

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    1. I'm planning to call the vet Monday and see what she wants me to do.

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  4. I do so agree with you Brenda about mental illness. I think it is now being recognized more than ever. I just toured a new part of a hospital near to where I live and they have a section in emergency for mentally ill patients. I have to say the new wing was fantastic, 70% of the rooms for patients are private and no you don't have to pay, its first come first served. All the rooms have a large wall mounted TV and a private shower room! A lot of the rooms overlook Lake Ontario. Having said this I hope I never have to occupy any of those rooms!

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    1. And I hear all the time that Canada's healthcare is abysmal! Obviously untrue when it comes to mental health anyway.

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  5. I see so many with mental illness and they often go untreated. We need to make it a priority in our country. I will say that my Charlie Kitty got a bit crazy as he aged. I think he had dementia. He would do weird things and cry out and be 'confused' and like you I just comforted him as best I could. You are a good person Brenda.

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    1. Abi has always been "different." But I think this may be partly age anyway.

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  6. Brenda,
    I have 5 children and my youngest is on the Spectrum. However, her pediatric psychiatrist was very caution about diagnosing her when she was this young because there are too many variables that could point to something else. I would be VERY hesitate to believe that any counselor or psychiatrist would label a child this young. There are so many resources available to her as a single mother. I went through hell with my daughter who is now 22 years old, but we came through it all and she is a lovely woman. I would encourage her to get another opinion and find a group for that lovely little boy.
    Clara

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    1. You're right. Things can change as a child grows and their brain matures. So they try not to label them.

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  7. Have you thought about getting Abi a Thunder Shirt. It might ease her anxiety.

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    1. Maybe I'll try one. But she hates to have anything on like even the kerchief the groomer used to put around her neck after grooming.

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  8. Brenda, has Abi's Vet checked her eyes for "floaters"? I know there's nothing that can be done about them, but, it might explain why she whines & hides. Mine scared me until I knew what they where. Abi is blessed to have you as her "Momma." Mental illness is the pits!
    Sandy

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    1. I'll ask her vet about that when I call her.

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  9. Yes, mental illness is stigmatized in our society. But your comments, for whatever reason, reminded me of something that happened 30 years ago. My grandmother came up from Florida to live with my parents. At the time of her arrival, I was in treatment for alcoholism. My mother told my grandmother I was in a psych ward for depression. She told me it would go over better that way. I was okay with that, because in that situation it was easier and that "white lie" made interaction easier. There are situations in life in which it is better if others don't know the whole truth.But I did think it funny that a psych ward was more palatable than treatment for alcoholism. All of this being said, after I got sober, I suffered from severe depression, anxiety, and OCD (my OCD did not manifest in odd behavior, It was all upstairs in the "boxing ring." I was doing a lot of changes in behavior and life and lifestyle, and God. But I was suicidal at 12 years sober and knew I better get help or I was going to die. I got medication, and I told friends that, One: Paxil is a gift from God, and, Two: They should have been putting this stuff in my baby bottle. All this to say that my parents and husband would have done whatever it took to help me. However, there were people, "friends," who told me that taking medication was weak and there had to be something wrong with the way I was doing things to stay sober. Had I continued to listen to them, I would be dead.

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    1. Wow, I'm so glad you commented. We can learn a lesson from your story.

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  10. Great post, Brenda. Concerning Abi......Maybe a call to your vet would give you peace of mind. Her habits may be caused by her age. Our son has a 17 year old cat who has changed tremendously. Like people, animals change differently, hence, Abi and Charlie. There are websites that discuss aging pets. I really think talking to your vet will alleviate some of your worry for her. I'm praying!

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  11. So sorry to hear about Abi. My little terrier got really bad before she died. She'd cry and wander around all the time. Hardly slept. I hope the vet helps. Mental issues still carry such a stigma in society and that is so wrong. Great post.

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  12. We have come a long way. This post brought to mind people with dyslexia who I suppose up until this century no one would have understood...

    and that is just one other example of so many things :(

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  13. Our country still needs a lot more progress on mental health issues. Sounds like Abi needs a checkup to see what's going on. Maybe an anti-anxiety med would help her. I am lucky that the girl that cuts my hair only charges $15. She works in one of those salons where each hairdresser rents their own little space. They have several ladies in there that do manicures and pedicures, too.

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  14. Brenda, does Abi like to be held when she's crying and upset? The thought crossed my mind that maybe she'd be calmed if you carried her around in a baby front-pack. Or maybe they make similar carriers for specifically for doggies. It certainly makes babies happier when Mama carries them close to her body. I don't know how you feel about doing that and of course there would be times when you'd need to take her out of the carrier, but if you established a routine with it, she might adapt. I don't know--it's just a crazy idea that popped into my mind. Maybe it's worth a try. I feel so sorry for her distress. She doesn't understand; she just knows she's unhappy or scared or confused. Maybe the vet will know how to help her (and you). You could ask the vet whether he or she knows of any doggie carriers.

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