Now Playing @ a TrophyDaughter Near You

Sometimes I wish I could lose my mind. Seriously, like unscrew the top of my head, take out my mind and put it somewhere, the back of my closet or maybe the bottom of the laundry hamper, some place where it would never occur to me to look for it. Just so I could have a few blessed hours of peace from the incessant chatter going on inside it. I don’t know if this is normal. I suspect that it is – that everyone has these ongoing conversations with their Self. But as I’ve mentioned before, my Self is not a very nice person, in fact, she can be somewhat of a bully, always slathering on the guilt and beating up on me. Frankly, I’m sick of it.

Here’s what’s currently playing inside my head.

[Me] I’m disappointed about Jerri’s decision not to enter Caramore’s program.No, it’s more than that. I’m disappointed in Jerri. I can’t figure out if she really isn’t physically/mentally able to work, just doesn’t believe in herself, or is flat-out lazy. No one is going to hand her a better life on a platter. She’s going to have to work for it. If she’s not willing to work for it, then nothing will ever change for her.

    (If you’re behind on the Caramore saga, here’s Part 1 and Part 2).

[Self] Stop judging her! She doesn’t believe she can do the physical labor of janitorial work for 30 hours a week or she doesn’t want to. What does it matter? It’s her life.

[Me] Yeah, it’s her life but how can she stand it? How can she bear to live like she does? In a tiny efficiency apartment, in a dangerous section of town, in a building whose occupants are all way more incapacitated by their mental illness than she is. No transportation. Eating 2 meals a day at the local shelter. Few friends. No purpose. Daily routine comprised of sleeping, watching TV, and healthcare visits. Ugh!

[Self] Give the girl a break! She’s improved a lot but she’s still not cured. She said she’d look into vocational rehabilitation and also into Threshold (clubhouse concept). Threshold also helps people recovering from mental illness get part time work. And they have options that are less physically taxing. You could be a little more supportive.

[Me] Jerri SAID she would look into those but so far nothing. It’s been 6 weeks. She’s not serious about it. She’s bored, yeah, but she’s getting by. She really doesn’t have any incentive to change.

[Self] So make her. Give her some incentive.

[Me] Get real. I can’t control my own hair, let alone my sister. Besides I shouldn’t have to bribe her to take the next step. It has to come from inside her. She has to want that for herself.

[Self] Well, you sure don’t have a problem giving her incentives NOT to change. I mean, look at you. Every time she needs transportation, you rework your schedule and put on your chauffeur hat. Wish I had someone to drive me everywhere I want to go. You take her out to eat every time you see her and pay for it. Wish I had someone giving me free meals. You should make yourself less available. Let her experience the inconvenience of her current lifestyle. You’re just enabling her.

[Me] Wait. Didn’t you just say I needed to be more supportive?

    No comment from Self. She plays with her iPad.

[Me] Fine. Be that way. But A) You do have someone who drives you and feeds you. That would be me. And B) don’t start with the “enabling” BS. You can’t “enable” mental illness. Besides, you know I don’t drop everything when Jerri needs help. I don’t rearrange stuff. I offer up time that works for me and if it doesn’t work for her, she finds another solution.

[Self] Yeah, but you resent it, don’t you? Every time you do something for her, you resent it. And I know it pisses you off when you order a 99 cent burger and she orders a $5.49 one.

[Me] I don’t resent it every time.

[Self] Me thinks thou dost protest too much.

[Me] Seriously? You’re quoting Shakespeare at me?

[Self] You say you want a better life for her. But what you really want, is a better life for you. You don’t want to be bothered with her. You want to do whatever you want, whenever you want. Well, welcome to adulthood, baby. You aren’t the center of the solar system – you can’t even see it from where you’re standing. There are others in this world who need help.

[Me] Yeah, and I’m ONE OF THEM. Jerri is not a bother. She’s my sister. And if I didn’t work 60 hours a week, travel several times a month, have 3 dogs with various health and behavioral issues, have 2 houses to maintain, and a mother-in-law with cancer, I’d feel a lot more charitable with my time and my money.

[Self] So you say.

[Me] Whatever.

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8 Comments on “Now Playing @ a TrophyDaughter Near You”

  1. Denise says:

    Terri, I enjoy reading your ongoing posts about your relationship with Jerri. Especially since I’m experiencing mental health issues like Jerri does.

    For the most part, my family doesn’t talk to me about my mental health issues, so I sometimes wonder what they’re thinking about it all. Yet, I usually don’t bring the topic up because they don’t seem to understand my issues, either. Pretty much my only feedback from them includes my Dad’s comments [before he died] about how he thinks I should be getting off of my meds by now. I’m working with my doctor about my meds and adjustments are ongoing, but I’m not at the point where I can come off of them, and may never be totally off. And I get the occasional comments about going back to work. I’d like to, at least part time some day, but with my physical health issues right now, there isn’t a whole lot that I can do until these issues are taken care of [I may be having surgery sometime in the next few months]. Over the past year or more, I’ve been trying to be more open with my siblings when I’m having a rough time so that they realize that I do experience difficulties with a number of things and am hoping they’re understanding me a bit better… Just this past weekend, all of my siblings went to NYC for my uncle’s funeral [whose daughter also passed away a short time ago and all of my siblings were able to go to that funeral as well]. But due to financial constraints as well as with my pain issues, I was very frustrated and saddened that I couldn’t attend. So I have expressed my frustrations with my siblings instead of keeping them to myself.

    So I do like reading your perspective with things related to Jerri; it gives me some clues to maybe what some of my siblings are thinking and feeling.

    Denise

    • Hi Denise,

      Just want to encourage you to continue sharing your thoughts and feelings with your siblings. Without your input, they will fill in the blanks on their own and (you can see from my posts) there is so much we really don’t get. My own perspective is often (dis)colored by my mother’s interpretation of Jerri – I can’t believe I’m almost fifty and still hearing her voice in my head. I don’t want to think like my Mom but I find it comes naturally and I have to constantly correct the thinking. Don’t know if your siblings struggle with this as well but I suspect they do.) Mental illness was not well understood or accepted by our parent’s generation and they were the role models for your siblings regarding how to think about it.

      There is a part of me that accepts Jerri may never be able to work. I’d just like to see her involved in something – a hobby, social group, volunteering – something that would involve interacting with others. She seems to be existing, not actually living.

      As for medication, I don’t think being medication-free is a realistic or even healthy goal. A person with diabetes doesn’t think about reducing their medication. They understand their illness is chronic, it can’t be cured, and they must manage it for the rest of their lives. Mental illness is the same for most people. Something within your brain or your body isn’t processing or manufacturing the hormones and biochemicals that regulate your mood. There’s a malfunction and the medication doesn’t permanently fix the underlying problem.

      Sorry to hear there may be a surgery in your near future. Also about the tight finances. Hang in there, my friend.

  2. I know you have to pay the bills Terri but I sure wish you would write for a living! You are so talented – you make me laugh, cry and think with your musings.

  3. Linda says:

    Terri,
    You do have a heavy load. Would Jerri be willing to come clean your house to see if she can work 6 hours a day to live at Caramore? Sounds like Jerri needs more exercise to get in shape and to be healthier on several levels.
    BTW, does Jerri still like houseplants? I have too many and I would love to give her some.


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