Jim's struggles with his mental health began over two years ago, the first I knew was the discovery he was using cannabis and solvents. Help was sought and I thought that was a scary time over. I put it down to a teenager experimenting and was glad he had stopped or so I thought.
Over the next year it became clear that Jim wasn't well, and we began the fight to get referred for help for his mental health, it seemed he needed to be suicidal or psychotic to get help. I am not going to write about every episode in detail as this is more about my feelings, how I deal with it (or not!) but to sum up he has been admitted to psychiatric units three times, attempted suicide twice and had one episode where I had to take several weeks off work to care for him. He has tried countless medication combinations which work while he takes them but the side effects mean he often gives up on them or he begins to feel better so thinks he doesn't need them. Then there is the drug and alcohol abuse... Often people asked me whether the drugs triggered the mental health issues or did he self medicate due to how he felt. The answer to that is we will never know.
He has just been discharged from hospital again and the drug and alcohol addictions were addressed along with the depression, psychotic and delusional thinking. His diagnosis has been changed from bipolar to schizoaffective disorder manic type but they are just labels the treatment is much the same. Will things be better this time I'm not convinced right now.
As a Mum this latest episode has been the hardest for me, I don't know why but I have come close to breaking point. The constant worry from the last couple of years became too much, I didn't know how to help anymore, I could see him deteriorating, the drug use increasing but he is an adult and assured me he didn't want or need help.
Work became my escape, I was happier at work than at home and I could mostly switch off for the day and if I couldn't there were people I could talk to, who would give me a hug, listen and understand. There were days I dreaded going home because I didn't know what would be waiting for me, I live with a constant fear that he will die, either accidentally or because the suicidal thoughts become too much.
It's hard watching someone you love struggle so much, knowing they are making choices and behaving in a way that will make things worse and being powerless to stop it. Long gone are the days where a cuddle and some calpol makes things better!
I don't know where we go from here, I hope that something or someone will have an impact on him, help him to see things could be better. That this illness doesn't have to stop him from leading a happy and fulfilling life, that if he just takes care of himself he can feel well and achieve all the things he dreamt of before he got ill.
As for me I am trying to take better care of myself, not put my life on hold, do the things I want to do. Looking for ways to ease the fear and worry that comes with this.
So if I am distracted, unsociable or neglecting friends and friendships it's not because I don't care it's because I am struggling, I'm not good at asking for help, too many years of going it alone as a single Mum but I am going to try... I want 2018 to be better for us all, and the only way I think I can do that is by looking after me so I am strong enough to be there and deal with whatever the next months bring.
Love you all xxxx
Love you all xxxx