I joined Twitter a while back but I originally had no idea how to navigate it. I mostly used it to lead people to my blog website just as I did on Facebook. I am not sure if I ever got any takers from Twitter, but I kept my link there in a fantastical hope that one day a publisher, director, or bookseller might view my writing and then reach out to me to talk about getting my work to a larger audience. I can dream like anyone else.
My blog has never really caught on beyond few loyal readers who appear to like most of what I write.. I know that I have lost some of my most ardent followers because I chose to write political tracts that offended them in some way. I won’t apologize for my views because at least for now I remain in a country where i have the freedom the express myself.
I still have my infamously unpublished book which I believe to be of merit for a wide audience. It’s not that I don’t want the public to see it, but true to the form of my life, something dramatic always seems to happen just when I have the time and the funds to get my work ready for a launch. This time it involves my sweet father-in-law who is newly widowed and recently undone by emergency bowel surgery and a life threatening case of Covid-19. Needless to say I have put the book on the back burner for the time being, but I am more and more often feeling guilty for making so many excuses for not presenting it to the public because it is a story that becomes more and more important over time.
Lots of people are talking about mental illness these days. What they don’t often discuss is how difficult it is to get help for family members who need it. The first step is finding someone willing to take a new patient. There are so many blockades to that process that it is almost impossible to describe. Insurance defines who gets which doctor. Of late many of the most prestigious psychiatrists only take cash. Some practices are full. Getting an appointment is frustrating and then comes the battle with the person who is sick. Not all mentally ill persons go gently into the good night of therapy.
When my mom was her sickest I cried, pleaded, screamed, and one time even slapped her in the face to persuade her to accept help. I am not an abusive person. I abhor physical violence, but I could not watch her deteriorating for another moment. When she balked and refused to keep an appointment with her doctor I lost it and found my hand on her cheek as she snarled the poisonous and psychotic mania of her bipolar disorder. It was a low point in my life, but it worked. I got her to the help that she needed and for a time saw my sweet mother once again.
I feel for families dealing with a mentally ill relative. It becomes an unwanted and exhausting task to keep a noncompliant person as healthy as possible. Over and over again the same battles arise and there is always a temptation to simply walk away from all responsibility. Only love is a powerful enough motivator to fight the system and the person who is sick. There is always the hope that one day the illness will somehow magically disappear, but that so rarely happens.
I am proud of how things worked out with my mother. I think that in the end she understood that my intentions were always good in caring for her. I have found notations in notebooks indicating that she really did know that something was very wrong with her that she was unable to control. It was a sad way for her to have to live her life because by nature she was a delightful sprite whose heart was open, caring and lovely. We always knew she was getting sick when she sat in the dark brooding over manufactured beliefs that someone wanted to pin a crime on her. The person who emerged during those times was the antithesis of my mom.
Mental illness is a scary thing and it is behind the rest of medicine by decades, maybe even centuries. There are still people who are spooked by it or think that it can be cured with a good attitude or lots of prayer. There have been few people on this earth as devoted to God as my mother was. She read her Bible daily and prayed earnestly. She was always kind and willing to give her last dime to someone that she thought might need it more than she did. Prayers were not enough to cure her, but they did give me and my brothers the patience and comfort that we needed to push her to accept medical help.
Life was mostly good with my mother but the specter of mental illness always loomed large. Her bipolar disorder was chronic. The chemistry in her brain went awry in a cyclical fashion that marked the seasons of our lives for over forty years. It was a painful disease for my mom and one that affected my brothers and me as well. It distressed us to see her suffering over and over again, but I would tell anyone who is dealing with such misery that keeping our mother as well as possible was one of the most rewarding things we ever did. My book documents our journey. Watch for A Little Bit of Living in the near future. I just have to get a few things in order from my father-in-law and I’ll get serious about presenting a book that I really believe will bring hope to many folks. My failure to launch must surely end soon.