Sometimes I go post journal entries about my military kids at GoArmyParents.com. When David was diagnosed with his disorder two years ago I added some thoughts about what he was going through. When I updated my journal this morning, I decided to add some of those entries here. It certainly has been a wild ride.
At the moment I'm busy working on my LAST paper (due next week), and dealing with David's mixed episodes that have been fairly intense, but he's slowly doing better.
Sep 22, 2007
I had intended to keep this journal just for the military kids, but I think that on occasion I'm going to talk about David and the battle we are in for his mental health. I find that I'm responding to this much as I do when my boys are deployed—disbelief, grief, worry, small joys, the need to find out everything I can about it, etc. It feels like another type of roller coaster ride.
I went with him to the Dr. again on Tuesday after a bad weekend and my b-day, and after the Dr. consulted with the clinic psychiatrist, he left some meds for David at the reception desk. After 1 1/2 days of dragging his feet, and several discussions about why he needs them, he picked them up!! I know it's a little thing, but I'm DELIGHTED! I just hope he'll take them, and they'll help. He goes back to the Dr. in 2 weeks for a consultation, and we'll see what happens then. I went to my bishop and he gave me some needed counsel and comfort, and I managed to survive a magazine class writing assignment and mass comm law test, so life is looking better today.
Jeff called Monday, just as they were leaving Hawaii for the trip home! He sounded happy, and he and Jon were having a good time together. (They were on the last leg of a deployment, and the "Tiger Cruise" is when a family member can join the ship in Hawaii for the trip to San Diego.) The captain left one of his much-appreciated recorded messages about leaving Hawaii as a full rainbow appeared over Diamond Head, and a list of some of the activities they have planned for the trip home. I can hardly wait to see my boys again!
Oct. 20, 2007
David and I went to the psychiatrist on Wednesday, and he was diagnosed with bipolar type 1 disorder and ADHD. That means that he has the type with extreme mood swings happening often (like every day). He's coming to terms with this illness, and is taking some meds that are really helping so far. He also likes the dr., and has been talking to me a lot about what's going on in his mind, and the bishop gave him a blessing, which helps. I'm truly grateful for all the help and understanding from our congregation members who know about this. I've been collecting info about this disorder, and in the near future (when I can figure out how to coordinate schedules) we're going to have a family meeting about what's going on with their dad, and how they can help. Jon has been an absolute angel about spending time with his dad and checking up on him regularly. It's a real comfort to have him only 5 minute away from us.
My job has also been extra stressful with preparing talks given by Church leaders 2 weeks ago for publication. As stressful as it is, though, there's a lot of comfort found in the messages. Said one leader: "It is our faith in Jesus Christ that sustains us at the crossroads of life’s journey. It is the first principle of the gospel. Without it we will spin our wheels at the intersection, spending our precious time but getting nowhere. It is Christ who offers the invitation to follow Him, to give Him our burden, and to carry His yoke, “for [His] yoke is easy, and [His] burden is light” (Matthew 11:30)."
March 5, 2008
David got his disability approved today!! I can't even express how REALLY excited I am! This means that because David has a mental illness, I'm legally in charge of the money and can use it to pay bills—we can even meet our obligations. It's a long story about why I'm so thrilled, but it's a huge relief. He's been struggling badly with anxiety and depression with worrying about the family finances (if he only knew . . . that's one of the hard things about having a spouse with a mental illness. There are some similarities to being a single parent, especially where money is concerned, and I hate that), and Katie's 18th birthday. He went into deep mourning about it because she's his baby girl and he's having a hard time with the idea of her growing up and leaving home before too long. I'm hoping that with at least one thing taken care of he'll calm down a bit. I personally rather enjoy the idea. The 2 dogs and the cat make up for the lack of children at home and keep us entertained.
April 30, 2008
David is hanging in there, but he isn't taking his meds right now, and I'm a little anxious about how long it'll be before he crashes again. Brittany suggested I grind his meds and put them in his drink. (Seriously tempting idea!) I've decided it's similar to raising another teen; he's going to have to take responsibility for his condition and deal with the consequences.
June 30, 2008
It has been a crazy month. Lara came home for a visit from Oaxaca, Mexico. I'm so happy to see her again after 3 long years since they moved there. Katie graduated from high school (our last, and it's so nice to be done with public schools after 25 years!)
We had a party at Jon's house, but David wasn't feeling well, so he stayed home. When we got back, we discovered that he had been throwing up blood, and he FINALLY agreed to go to the hospital. At the same time, Riley cut himself on something outside, was bleeding, and needed help. Lara took charge of Riley, and while David was getting ready to go to the hospital I called Wes (our son-in-law) and Ben, who were still at Jon's house to come give David a priesthood blessing. No sooner were they done, when David threw up more blood and collapsed! Ben called 911, and Wes performed first-aid for shock (that military training really came in handy). Lara and Brittany went to the store to get first-aid supplies for the dog, and when they got back, the ambulance was there.
It turned out that David had a bleeding ulcer, ended up in intensive care for the night. They ended up having to do emergency surgery, and his psychiatrist came in the next day and adjusted his meds to a coated lithium. He recovered without complications, but he's awfully weak still.
Jeff and Nikki came home, and we had a small reception for them. It turned out to be a nice event. Now it's vacation time: to Idaho to see my family and go rafting on the Salmon River!
August 26, 2008
It's 1:30 a.m., and I really should be asleep, but we just heard about David's dad's passing. He and Jonathan are with his mother, and it's very fitting that they should be together, but I can't sleep, and thought I'd unwind a bit by writing. We will miss Grandpa, but I know this must be a relief for him, and I don't doubt that he's having a grand reunion with his 2 children and other loved ones who have gone before him. I feel really sorry for his brother---he lost his only sister in May, and now in 2 days time, both his only brother and one of his grandchildren. David is handling this about as well as can be expected. He's been doing much better with his moods ever since he had that bleeding ulcer and Ben and Wes gave him a blessing of health. He still has bouts of depression and anxiety, but he's learning how to handle it better, and I'm grateful. His stomach is still giving him problems, but he's resisting going to the doctor---just like a man!
Sat. Oct. 4, 2008
We've survived the last month all right. It was one of those times in life when you wonder how you'll get through everything, and breathe a huge sigh of relief when things finally calm down. David ended up in the hospital with viral meningitis the same weekend as his dad's funeral. Unfortunately, the meds and the meningitis didn't play well with the bipolar, and it was really tense (with another "wandering" episode) before we realized that the narcotics he was on for the meningitis pain was causing hallucinations. He simply cannot have that kind of medicine any more. He's finally doing better, and as he says, he'll never be "normal," he's at least back to where he was emotionally. The change in weather is always hard for him, but he's pretty good about taking his meds.
The funeral was a bittersweet experience. Lara left for Mexico the week before, so she couldn't be here, but both Jeff and Brian were able to come. In the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit that I wasn't at my best. We planned the funeral Tuesday, and it was an all day episode. I kept saying that I'd call the boys when we were home (because I left my address book at home, and couldn't remember their numbers), but we got home later than expected, so I left a message for Ben to call Brian, and I made a 2 minute call to Jeff (we had to go to our night job, and I was in a hurry). He ended up texting Brian about getting emergency leave. Poor Brian! He told me later that was the absolute worst way to hear about a death in the family. It WAS good to have them here for the weekend. They both look wonderful, and it was so nice to have them home.
My only excuse was that I was under extreme stress with the funeral, and David's illness. In addition to that, school started the same week! I ended up only taking the blogging class (very fun), and I'll take the last one in the spring. I also had to move out of my office to the secretary's desk. Very, very upsetting! I'm finally settling down again. I've learned that during high-stress times that after I stop whining (and I do spend more time whining than I probably should), if I will focus on what I can do, and leave the rest up to God, I can survive and learn from the experience. I do like my job at the teen magazine, and the people I work with are amazing. I'm looking forward to my trip to Ottawa, Canada, in another 2 weeks. We've been working hard at improving the magazine's website at www.newera.lds.org.