While the tears poured, I thought how I surely didn’t look like a green healing girl, nor did I feel like one.
Shingles had hit me fast and hard. In the past, I’ve been able to recognize the virus before an outbreak. Not this time.
I had been sickly for several weeks losing a precious nine pounds. I even went to the doctor fearing I had a tick-borne disease, but my doctor said he didn’t think I have one and instead, blamed my symptoms on stress.
I get tired of my health problems always being blamed on stress, but I realize it’s a serious problem, particularly when it’s ongoing.
My mom and I were talking on the phone when I saw the outbreak. I was relieved because I’d rather have shingles than a tick infection.
My son was a resident at a small farm, where I thought he might live for three months. I had gone to visit him two days before getting sick and thought he was going to stay.
He had said he was homesick and sometimes felt pretty down, but after spending more time with him, he said that most of the time he felt good being there. Most of the time is a lot to me, so I encouraged him to stay.
He wasn’t sleeping well at the farm and as a result, was often so tired that he was a little late for the chores and classes. He was trying really hard and the farm’s director informed me that he was improving.
I left the farm after that visit feeling more hopeful than I have in a decade. For the first time since my son was diagnosed with a mental illness, he was at a place where people treated him like a full human being. He wasn’t a ‘case’ to be managed. He was treated the same as the other residents, which meant he was expected to arrive on time for classes.
During the few weeks he was away, even though I had to drive a lot, which was difficult, I had enough time to see what it was like being me.
I was not a full-time caregiver. I was Michelle. I was a single woman. I saw parts of my personality that I hadn’t seen in a long time, such as my sense of humor. I’d forgotten that I have a pretty good one. I had fun.
It’s not my son that I need a break from, but instead is the caregiver role that I don’t have help with.
Two days after our weekend visit together, my son was an hour late for one of the farm’s classes. He said he was so tired that he lied down for what he intended to be five minutes, but then fell asleep.
The man leading that particular class, which was a prayer time, asked him to do a writing assignment. It was a long and arduous assignment. He refused and as a result, had to leave the program.
I am not proud of myself for the way I responded to the situation. I was angry and didn’t handle my emotions well. I needed someone to talk with about the situation. Someone with experience, empathy and a positive attitude. I didn’t have anyone who could offer that.
I told the manager when I arrived that I was sick. I also confided in him that I wasn’t sure how long I could keep going the way I have been. He said they would pray for me and we parted ways.
The six months before my son went to the farm had become more and more difficult for us. I didn’t get a break. I deeply desired and needed help.
My son needs peers and friends, something to do with his time and more activity than I alone can offer.
A few months ago, he was rejected from membership in a clubhouse for people diagnosed with a mental illness. The reason was because he’s doing well and doesn’t have a case manager. They aren’t used to that. I’m not sure their response is altogether a bad thing.
My son talks about recovery and has a reputation in that particular community of not taking medication. Sometimes this causes ripples in the water.
I had begged God for somebody to help me. The director of the farm called to say they would accept my son as a resident the same day that I had nearly screamed at the sky. I thought my break came and it was one that I believed could change my son’s life.
Things simply didn’t work out the way we had wanted. I wish I could go back and respond to this fact differently than I did, but of course I can’t. I can only try to do better in the future.
I feel better now. I don’t know exactly what to do or where to turn in life, but I’ll keep on keeping on. I’ll keep on trying and hoping and praying that there is a way to help my son, that we both can heal and recover, and that perhaps one day our lives will look much brighter.
I learned from the farm experience that I need to work on myself. I need to take time for me. I need personal time, as well as time for healing my own wounds. I want to heal. I want to respond to life in a way that doesn’t cause me illness or worsen existing health conditions. I certainly don’t like responding in ways that bring harm to others, hurt feelings or make the situation worse. All easier said than done I suppose, but giving up is not a good option.
I’d like to say thanks to my blogging friends for the awesome support and encouragement you have given me. I’ve said it before, but I’m proud to be a part of this community! Thank you so much!
Even though my mother will likely never read this, I must say here that I am truly grateful for her love. She sure stands by me when I’m sick and for that I sure am grateful.
I am proud of my son for trying the program the farm offered. He’s a strong young man with a kind and good spirit.
Thanks for visiting Dogkisses’s blog!
Red flowers in the garden, by Michelle and Son.