Friday, December 26, 2008

Psychotic Christmas


Our house is very quiet tonight...Gabriel was admitted to the hospital last night. For the first time in two months, there is not the sound of hysterical laughing, high-pitched gibberish, or pacing feet. I feel a bit guilty saying it, but the calm is something of a relief. Here is how it came about...

To say our Christmas was low-key would be putting it mildly. For only the second time since I adopted Jesse, we didn't have a tree. With all that's gone on this year and my recent bout of severe depression, the holiday season has hardly registered on my radar. So there were no lights, no stockings, no tree, no hullabaloo. Frenetically, I did my rather limited shopping (tight budget this year after missing so much work and still paying hospital bills) in the last two days.

So on Christmas morning, it was a far cry from Christmases past. When all the kids lived at home, we gathered around the den, passed out the gifts, and then went around the circle, opening one gift at a time. I had wanted the kids to take the time to admire and appreciate each gift. But with dwindling numbers, that tradition fell by the wayside. This year it was even less ceremonial, as Gabriel paced back and forth through the den and kitchen, opening a present, sometimes seeming to forget what he was doing. Soon it was time to get ready to go eat at my mother's center. Gabriel required frequent reminders to brush his teeth and put on some deodorant. I gave up on trying to get him to change clothes.

At my mother's we had a delicious buffet. The meal went fairly well, though we continue to get quite a few stares when we show up for a special meal. I guess we seem quite a spectacle to some of these old folks. Gabriel hardly spoke during the whole meal, of course, as he now rarely speaks to anyone unless it's to ask me to take him to some fast food place. At some point he left the table, and I figured he'd gone out front to pace in the parking lot and listen to his radio on the headphones (this is how he tries to drown out the voices).

Back home, he was withdrawn and morose. The laughing was gone, giving way to a very depressed state. He went from room to room, spending some time lying on Marcus' bed while Marcus watched TV, lying on my bed, sitting silently in my computer room while I worked and watched TV. He didn't interact, but seemed not to want to be alone. Much of the time, he sat with head in hands, the picture of misery. I asked him how he was doing, was he hearing voices, etc, but he flatly said he was OK.

But a few minutes later, about 11 PM, he came to my room and asked me to take him to the hospital. I admit that at first I was reluctant. He'd been to the psych ER 3 times in recent weeks and all they did was adjust his medication once and send him home. I figured it would be the same this time. But when he said "I'm scared," I decided he should go.

Amazingly, we were the only ones in the waiting room. I was relieved to see that the doctor who was there was the best one we've dealt with in the past, a very kind person I first met at the dog park a few years ago. He talked with Gabriel and with me, and I couldn't believe my ears when he said he was going to admit Gabriel and left to do the required paperwork. Gabriel had been in much worse shape during his previous visits, but had never been admitted. Then it dawned on me that the difference was that Gabriel himself had asked to come...it was a voluntary admission, not a commitment...at least for now.

I didn't go see him today. I felt bad about that, but for one thing, I knew we would just sit there in silence while he hallucinated, and for the other thing, I was afraid that if I went he would want to leave with me and, since he's there voluntarily, they'd have to let him go. I'll go for a short visit tomorrow, probably, and take him some clothes and toiletries. But today I took advantage of the quiet and calm to unwind from the tension of the last two months. Aaaaaahhhhhhh.....

4 comments:

Thom said...

You deserve calm without guilt. I think you have done far more than most people would ever attempt. It is a heartbreakingly difficult situation... allow yourself to take a breath.

Joy said...

Oh Galen, please do not feel guilty. I do not know how you've done it on your own all these years. What you have done with your life is nothing short of heroic.

Elizabeth said...

I wish you strength. Or the memory of it, because you have it.

Galen said...

Thanks, Thom, Joy, and Elizabeth, for your kind words of support. They mean a lot.