Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I Don't Need To Be This Needed

Really, I'm not that good a person. I don't have enough patience, enough compassion. If you'd asked me a year ago, I'd have said that I do...but I'd have been wrong. Because this life is wearing me out before my time. My stomach and my head always hurt, I'm more tired than is justifiable, and "irritable" does not begin to describe my state of mind.

We've been to just about every doctor we can, and they're all coming up empty as far as a diagnosis for Alex, except that "probably" his bipolar disorder has morphed into a different form of the disease than what it has been for most of his life. I'm not really buying it, but what I do know is that he is miserable almost all the time. The rare smile or laugh I can manage to elicit is a huge victory. We're beginning the disability process, which is depressing in and of itself.

I'm very, very worried about how he will fill his days now, because the more he isolates, the less active he is and the more depressed he becomes. He's already checked himself into the hospital for depression once this month, and talked about doing it again earlier today. He seems to really need order and guidelines and a solid routine, but how is he going to get that at home alone every day?

I'm also torn about how much help to give him. He's capable of a good number of things--he feeds and tends to the animals, and helps get Bella ready for school in the mornings, for example. But other things (confoundedly to me) seem beyond him, like preparing even simple meals for himself. I worry about him going hungry, which he does pretty much every day if I don't feed him. It doesn't seem to be a matter of can't as much as a lack of will, if that makes sense. When Bella begged him the other night to make his special spaghetti, he gave it his all and did a darned good job. So the ability is there, somewhere. The therapist we were seeing suggested that I might be doing too much for him, so we've been having a kind of standoff about lunches...he should be able to put together a sandwich, darn it. Instead, he goes without. All day. And then has fast food on our way home from picking Bella up from school, because he's famished...and then expects a full meal to be prepared later that night after Bella goes to bed...at which point I balk in a big way, because, as I've said, I'm just not that good a person.

Complaining that you can't believe you have to go to bed hungry elicits the following response from me: "I can't believe you're going to bed hungry, either." Our freezers, pantries, and fridge are FULL of food. What they are not full of, I suppose, are completely prepared, ready-to-serve meals. But you know what the components of meals are? FOOD. So yeah, it makes me a little bit crazy to hear, "There is NOTHING TO EAT in this house," when I can walk 10 feet and put my hands on fruits, vegetables, nuts, fish, poultry, meat, cheese, etc.

I guess I'm going to need to start packing lunches as if he were the one going out of the house, instead of me. I can't really think of anything else to do, to avoid having the same stupid fight every night. And I'm just selfish enough that it really galls me to have to work that into my schedule. See? Not that good a person.

I'm really having a difficult time with the transition from partner to... partner/caregiver, or whatever you want to call it. It's too easy to get all whiney and I-didn't-sign-on-for-this-y, so I try not to do that, but gosh, it's hard. And it's especially hard when the person you're doing it for seems to be angry with you about 80% of the time. I love him, you know? And I love him enough to understand that his anger comes from frustration--a well-earned frustration with the brain that is betraying him--and that he's not really angry at me, he's just angry, period, and I'm...well, I just happen to be here. But you know what? Understanding it does not making it easier to experience it. And it doesn't stop those occasional fantasies of running away from it all, leaving the crushing responsibility behind and just starting over.

But I could never do that, no matter how bad it gets, because, I suppose, when you get right down to it, I'm not that bad a person, either. No, wait, I don't like how that sounds. Because I would not judge someone who felt they couldn't withstand this burden, and chose to get out from under it. I think of that old hokey song, "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother," and it almost applies. Because my husband's problems? Well, they ARE heavy. Really heavy. But he's my husband, and I love him, so I own them too, and they're mine to carry. I just need to devise a better yoke.


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