“There is a particular kind of pain, elation, loneliness, and terror involved in this kind of madness…The fast ideas are far too fast, and there are far too many; overwhelming confusion replaces clarity. Memory goes. Humor and absorption on friends’ faces are replaced by fear and concern. Everything previously moving with the grain is now against– you are irritable, angry, frightened, uncontrollable, and enmeshed totally in the blackest caves of the mind. You never knew those caves were there. It will never end, for madness carves its own reality.” – Kay Redfield Jamison
“A sick thought can devour the body’s flesh more than fever or consumption.” – Guy de Maupassant
Saturday, December 6th
Tonight I got the call that no one wants to receive. To be more accurate, my Mom left me a voicemail while I was in bed sleeping with my littles. I woke up an hour or so later and called her as soon as I got the message. She had that tone in her voice – scared, sad, and disjointed.
My older brother was in the hospital after ingesting too many sleeping pills. He passed out outside of his apartment and when he came to, he went next door to his neighbor’s house and asked her to call 911. He was taken to the hospital where he was flushed out to remove the medication, and placed under observation in the Psychiatric unit.
My brother has had longstanding struggles maintaining his mental health, and it has been a learning process for my family to be there for him in the ways that he needs. There have been stages of enabling just as there have been stages of empowering. It is a helpless feeling to see a family member unpredictably cycle in and out of control. It is even more humbling to know that we cannot save him, neither from his illness nor from the actions he might take in the midst of it. We have to find new ways of being present with him. Following his cues.
I can only imagine this is exhausting for my parents. My Mom said it was like parenting a child. Perhaps that is the best analogy for her. It is very much not like parenting a child because my brother has adult life experiences and the fallout from years of adult mistakes.
And so I am trying to help from a distance. I’ve sent correspondences to two close friends in Canada – one whom is a psychiatric nurse and the other whom is a friend in the mental health system herself. Already, I have learned gained a great deal more insight into how I can help get my brother the support he needs. What have I got to lose? Well, someone very dear, in fact, so any knowledge gained is good at this point.
If you or anyone you know has been extremely depressed or had suicidal thoughts, call for support. You don’t have to bear this on your own. The phone number for the National Suicide Prevention Line is 1 (800) 273-8255.