Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
comic strip overdue media

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

This time last year

I was finishing up an excellent evidence-based course for the family members and loved ones of those with mental illness (called Family-to-Family) presented by our local chapter of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness). I subsequently underwent training to teach it, and spent most of the summer doing that.

Yesterday brought all that learning to the test, and not in a theoretical, academic way, but rather through real-world crisis. As I suspected, our lesson on communication was absolutely the most important one for dealing with someone endangered by their illness. The knowledge I had learned about illness, medication, and the mental health system also helped a great deal. In the aftermath, self-care became important as well, as yesterday was all about the other person’s needs, and I didn’t take any medicine, get much rest, barely ate, and only managed to get a shower late in the day. Today was about trying to get back on track and rest.

In retrospect, the main things I might have done differently was 1) contact the specific healthcare provider in this situation and alerted them to the episode. Instead I tried to handle it on my own, which, while making sure things didn’t escalate, perhaps the person would have been safer, and 2) stayed with the person for the duration of the episode. I did actually leave the person sleeping for a couple of hours to facilitate an agreed-upon option we had discussed. The person was asleep, and was the entire time I was gone, but in hindsight, I shouldn’t have left anyone in that situation alone, even for a bit.

But hindsight is 20/20, of course. I’ll learn from this. Crises of this type are thankfully, few and far between, and I think I have a better sense of the triggers and situations that contributed to it and can therefore be on the lookout for future problems.

I am very thankful for my boss, who came and asked me about how I was doing today. I’d e-mailed both bosses that I was having a family crisis and would most likely be back today. I explained what had happened. She was very supportive and reiterated the need to take care of myself.

Today has been a bit of a blur. I went into work early. My blood sugar was high from not taking my insulin yesterday (and I’ve been trying to stabilise it over the last few days anyway, as I’ve had some issues). I went out of the house today without the long-acting insulin, so that didn’t help. I’m not used to it being so high, and felt very torpid and had trouble feeling awake and alert most of the day. I did manage to do the most pressing things at work, but barely. I will have to play catch-up on my data entry tomorrow. When I got off work, I had a little trouble driving home—my blood sugar was a little high, but mainly, I was just that tired. I felt utterly drained. I came home, took my insulin, ate something, and then took time to get some rest, sleeping from about 6 pm to 8 pm. I feel marginally better.

So now I’m charging my phone, and I’m considering tackling the kitchen dishes and straightening up there a bit, because while the house is in better shape than it has been, it still needs some work. I arose from my nap feeling pretty decent; in the hour I’ve been up, I’ve gone back to feeling tired and spacey. I think I’ll go check my blood sugar and see if it’s okay, and then go from there. Maybe I should just put on some soothing music and relax. Emotions ran high yesterday, and while I was able to put them aside to some degree and function, I think there’s a rebound where what could have been sinks in and all the fears become absolutely real. My mind keeps going to the ‘what ifs’. Funny, in the game, in a difficult situation, I often freeze, afraid to make the wrong decision. In real life, I often go ahead and deal with the situation at the time, making decisions that may or may not be best, but which are utterly necessary at the time, and then I fall apart later. So today has been a sort of frenzied panic now that the situation is improved. Even last night, I was ready to run out of the door in shorts on a cold night due to a dropped call, where I thought the situation had escalated again. The only thing that allowed me to sleep was plenty of Loreena McKennitt music. So I think I’ll go try to relax, listen to the rain, and some music, and be glad that things stabilised, rather than playing the ‘what if’ game in my mind.

Good night.

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