At the moment, I’ve got one tiny new family member, and a very frail old one who are both very much on my mind. Neither of them is closely connected to the emotional difficulties I have with my family (least of all the new little one), so I find it easier to feel caring towards them both.
My 80 year old grandma was taken into hospital on Friday. She bounces in and out several times every year, and each time I worry that it will be the last. Her health has declined quite rapidly over the past year or so, and in particular, her mental health has gone downhill in the last six months.
She hasn’t been diagnosed with dementia, but her behaviour is very regressive. She’s being increasingly childish; self-absorbed, demanding and bad tempered. That’s really out of character for her and it’s taking a big toll on my grandad, who is her main carer.
My theory is that she’s extremely depressed. She’s got a history of mental illness, having had a major breakdown when my mum was a child. She was admitted to hospital and given ECT. That ‘treatment’ led to a fast recovery, although my guess is that she just forced herself to seem OK so they wouldn’t do it her again. In the summer, her GP stopped her antidepressants and didn’t replace them with something new. It seems likely to me that she’s had another breakdown, but it’s being dismissed as her just not coping well with her physical symptoms.
So that’s worrying me. I hate to think that she’s suffering so much. And now she’s been hit with another bout of pneumonia, as well as a suspected pulmonary embolism, so she’s in pretty bad shape. I can’t go and visit or help my grandad, because I’ve got a nasty cold and it would be bad news if I passed it on to either of them. It’s hard not being able to be with them.
I want to be there, because they don’t have my mum helping either. She’s away visiting my sister in Germany. That’s where the new family member comes in; I now have a beautiful baby niece. This cold has also meant I’ve had to delay meeting her, but I’ve got a flight booked for Wednesday and I am excited about seeing her for the first time.
This new baby is bringing up a lot for me, and some of it feels very difficult. I did make a bit of an attempt to untangle that stuff in therapy, but I just ended up crying a lot and feeling very vulnerable. And now that therapy has turned into a bit of a shitshow, I think that will just have to be paused for a while.
For now, I’m trying to push it away, so I can hold on to some of the light this little girl is bringing. I want to focus on the massive love and warmth I feel towards her, and how she’s created this little bit of hope for the future that is pretty alien in my world.
Photo: Joe Lodge, Creative Commons.