You always hear and see those posts where they talk about how mental illness isn’t real because you can’t see it or it’s not important because it’s not physical but you’ve got that all wrong. I never knew though it can go both ways…
Back story: my dad’s multiple sclerosis relapsed and progressed this past week, finding new lesions on his spine in three places. It’s affected him from the waist down and now needs a walker to do any movement. I went home for a couple days to help so my mom could go to work. When I tell you this has thrown my life upside down and backwards im not kidding and my dad and I have a closer and more special bond now than we ever had. Yeah, I cry randomly all the time now, I feel guilty for not being there more, I feel like it’s my job to take care of him. I’m protective of him and am super picky who is helping him. Over those couple of days though we had many conversations and cries together, I’m never looking at anything the same again.
We spent a lot of our time together talking about how his legs feel and how he really actually doesn’t feel them. How he’s been thinking about what if this is it. What if he can’t drive anymore or plant the garden. I brought up how my worst fear is him not being able to walk me down the isle or have our daddy daughter dance. Him knowing me we started talking about how people say they understand this is difficult for him. He voiced his concern that no people really don’t understand what it feels like unless they experience it and how yeah I tell him I understand and I sympathize with him but I don’t truely get it. I made the comment yeah but… and he cut me off saying I know you worry about me and I said well yes but that’s not what I was going to say. I told him how he’s right no one knows what’s it’s like unless you go through that but it’s the same with my mental illness. I said you telling me I don’t need my medication or that I’m actually fine to just stop worrying, is like the same when people tell him I know what you’re going through. This is when things got way too much for me to handle.
This man who I’ve looked up to my whole life who I was now taking care of looked at me and said, you know I’ve actually been thinking about that a lot lately and I know I don’t know what you’re going through. I don’t know what it’s like for you. Then he started crying. Which made me cry so we stood crying together (I was holding him up so he didn’t fall.) As I’m helping him back to his chair he says you know all I want is good things for you and the best for you and I feel like I can’t help you with that. I worry about you.
All I could say was dad I’m fine, we need to worry about you through choked back tears. Guys, this man who just found out his debilitating illness has progressed and his life changed overnight is over here worrying about me and my mental health. When I say my jaw hit the floor it did.
I’ve been fighting my inner self for days now. Being needed for work, for school, for Terry, for my family, for Terry’s family, for my dad. I know there’s isn’t 5 of me but damn it I wish there was. I feel guilty for not being closer to home. I feel guilty I’m not here for Terry, I feel guilty I have to miss parts of class to care for my dad, I feel guilty I have to work and not be able to help at home. Dad told me not to inconvenience myself and worry about work and Terry and not him. I’m 27 and I never thought I’d be sitting here saying that it’s my job to care for my parent this young. He spent 20 some years caring for me and now it’s my turn.
My mental health has taken a huge drop while in nursing school. Every semester something has happened to family mine or Terry’s. 2 months and I’m done and that’s one of the reasons I’ll be glad to be done. My family needs a break. We need time to process everything that’s happened in the past 20 months. I need more family time.
Ellie has no idea what’s going on. She’s so confused why dad can’t get on the floor and play or why he can’t just go outside all the time now. Or why he has this scary looking thing when he walks. Why she can’t sit with him for hours on end because he needs to continuously reposition himself. She sits and stares at him nonstop. She stares at us when we help him. 5 years that dog has been his best friend and they’ve been inseparable. Ellie misses her best friend the way he used to be… well Ellie I miss him too.
Life isn’t fair. It never will be. You pick yourself up and you keep going. Praying that one day something will happen and make it good again. Dads been pleading for good news from anyone he sees and has been getting angry when someone says bad news. He wants happy in his life and I can’t blame him. I would too if I woke up one morning and couldn’t walk. Remember it doesn’t matter if you see it or don’t, you don’t really know what someone is going through unless you’ve been there yourself. Be understanding and patient. Love them. Pray for them. Help them how they need it.
Peace and love my friends.. ✌🏻💕