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I need to be heard. Will you listen?

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
Some of you are already aware that in July, my friend's Dr. put me in charge of her care. At the time, she was suicidal and very, very depressed. She started electro-convulsive therapy ("ect") in August, and basically moved in with me for the duration. Her illness was so severe that her ect was extended out 3 additional treatments. I have done everything I could think of to help her through this; she has whatever I can give, any time, all the time. Her ect is now in what's called the maintenence phase, where the treatments are spread out over time, and therapy is slowly reintroduced to continue what improvement has occurred.

We had been making headway; her meds were starting to work, she was in talk therapy, and she was visiting her family on the weekends in another city. I was getting some time to myself from Friday night through Sunday afternoon, and things were starting to balance out.

Then, a week ago last Sunday her husband's aunt died. It wasn't unexpected, just very, very sad. About a month ago, one of his other aunts died, too...so it was a bit of a blow to him and to my friend; my friend, you see, liked these two Aunts-in-law very much. She wasn't talking much about it, so I figured I'd make mention of it to her Drs so they can work it through with her. The appointment was for last Wednesday.

Last Tuesday, she gets a call that her first husband's father had suddenly passed away, as well. Completely unexpectedly, and again, it was a hard blow for my friend. I tried to get her to talk, but it wasn't working. I was on my guard, but still, I missed the signs.

Apparently, while I ws taking my bath (which can be a lengthy process if I'm in need of some private time, some relaxation moments) my friend left the house, went to the pharmacy, and got an RX filled (all meds are under lock and key here, so she didn't have access to those). I got out of the bath, and there was something odd about her demeanor; something hidden and elusive. Something furtive and sneaking...I couldn't tell you even now what I saw, but I saw something.

I confronted her. She told me she had the meds, but she wasn't telling me where she had hidden them. She was in shorts and a tee shirt, her jammies. I tossed some of her stuff around, and she then told me "you'll never find them." Not wanting to continue this game, I grabbed her by the wrist, and told her to grab her shoes and socks, we were going to the hospital. She fought back, of course, but I'm a bit taller, and a blackbelt. I took a few hits but she couldn't get away...and out to the truck I dragged her, her shrieking and me tugging away. I basically tied her to the seat - there is rope always in the car, and I was crying the whole time. I had to tie her in; she's tried to jump from the car before, and I needed to be able to drive the car and not worry about her too much.

I called the hospital where she gets her treatment, told them I was coming in with her, and to get some people ready to help me once I got there. They were, and we got in right away.

Guards were posted at the door, and she's now so withdrawn I can't get her attention whatsoever. Of course, the ER staff saw the handprints on my face from her, and called the cops. They took a report, and I told them I was NOT going to be pressing charges, that they needed to understand she is sick and it was her illness, not her control at all. I got ice and ibuprofen, and she got ice for her wrist...she had some serious bruising from my hand there.

The Psychiatric Evaluator came in around midnight, and put her on involuntary hold...which means she was hospitalized against her will. The ambulance came about 3 am and transported her to the psychiatric facility where she remains until at least the day after Thanksgiving.

I know in my head that I did the right thing; the end result is that she's breathing, and anyone can do anything as long as they're breathing. She has been rediagnosed as bipolar. She will be starting new medications on Thursday. And I visit her daily, several hours a day. She tells me that I did the right thing...and again, in my head, I know I did.

So why...why do I feel like I've failed her? Why do I feel like I've fallen short of the mark, and didn't meet the expectations (whose expectations I don't exactly know...). Why do I feel like such a failure???

And I have been the conduit between her, her Drs, and her family for the last week, and tonight her husband, who is rightly scared, hurting, and panicky, went sideways at me, yelling at me on the phone for about an hour. I was able to not take it too personally; after all, he is experiencing some things which most people aren't asked to go through. His anger was misplaced, but he can't yell at her...so it was me. He promised me that he'd call the mental health provider he has on his insurance and get some counseling right away...but still, the poor guy. But he yelled at me....

I've been trying to sort that through for the last week...I am so drained, so tired. My brain just doesn't want to process information. I am tired in my bones. I can't sleep well, and about the only comfort I get right now is my cat crew. I go from one to the next for love and cuddles, and even Pengy knows something is wrong; she, surprisingly, has been in the Papa-san chair for the last - 4? days, letting me know she's there.

It's just so hard. So hard. And I feel like I've failed. I'm not sure what to do about these feelings...but they're really placing my head in a vise.

Thanks for listening. I appreciate that you've read this far, and that you've heard me. I so needed to be heard. Thank you.

post #2 of 29
I just wanted to say that I am so sorry you have to go through this right now. It is very obvious that you love your friend and that you are doing the best you can for her. Her husband's misplaced anger has to hurt, especially considering how you've stepped up and taken this very serious responsibility. My heart goes out to you. I hope your friend is able to get the help that she needs.
post #3 of 29
You are doing a great thing for your friend, and I know you just asked to be heard and didn't ask for advice...but I feel that you may be over extending yourself a bit. Are you the only person providing care for your friend? Is her husband helping at all? While I realize he probably needs to sleep and work, the rest of the time he should be there caring for her and giving you some time off.

The thing is that you have to be sure to take care of you too, or you won't have anything left to give your friend. There are support groups for caregivers of all kinds, if possible try and get into one. One other thing, it is very dangerous to transport psychiatric patients yourself, next time please call 911 and get an ambulance. God bless and keep you.
post #4 of 29
I'm so sorry you feel this way. I'm happy that you've saved a loved ones life and that you've put yourself in the downward spiral so to speak, with your friend. I bet she feels alone and just knowing that you're there helps her ever so much!
You're a fantastic friend and I feel privilaged to know a true angel like you!
post #5 of 29
Failure, Michele? No. Not by a long way. You cannot make her get well. You cannot CAUSE anything to happen in this situation. There are things you CAN prevent. You CAN be present, be supportive, be the cop, supply the tough love, etc. And you have done so -- for months -- in spades -- almost certainly to your own detriment. You have been the best a friend can be. The fact that this has not produced the result you hoped for does not make this a failure.

My heart aches for you when I read this account. I hope your friend gets the treatment she needs, and makes some progress. I worry for you with this burden -- you need respite. You can't keep on keeping on forever. You said it yourself -- "tired in my bones". I hope you will take these few days, and be just as kind and gentle with yourself as can be. It won't be enough to put you back together, but perhaps it will be enough to relieve a little of that utter fatigue, and give you a deep breath.

post #6 of 29
You are fantastic for what you had the courage to do. It was absolutely right. Where would she be now if you hadn't? And she sees that in her lucid moments. Sadly, no one could have avoided the triggers for this behaviour but you managed to prevent serious consequences. Good luck to you and to your friend - I hope the new treatment is positive.
post #7 of 29
Wow, Michele, you're amazing. Truly amazing.
post #8 of 29
Michelle, what you are doing and what you have done for your friend are incredible acts of compassion and love. Failure? Not even close. You saved her life on probably more than one occasion. If that's not a success, I don't know what is.

God bless you for what you are doing- you're an angel on earth .
post #9 of 29
I just wanted to tell you that i feel exactly the same way, except i can tell you one thing You AND I DID NOT FAIL!
Unfortunately people like your friend and my mother cannot be helped furthermore.
It HURTS, i know it does, seeing a loved one being tied up, battling with them wanting them to get well.. Watching them being locked away in those hospitals.

I know why they dont let under 16 year olds into those hospitals, to watch those people who are suicidal, all on some sort of drug to battle with life.
No matter what age it is, its sickning to see those people who are so drained, have no goals and just look dead!

As it may sound cruel, i sometimes think they deserve the peace they want, although it will hurt everyone else around them. And i feel selfish for not letting them go.

Dont ever stop loving your friend, although she may not show it now, she appreciates how much you are helping her and being there for her.

We cannot do anything more to help them, except to take care of our selves,and so as much as we can for them.
Only time can tell whether they will get better or not.

post #10 of 29
You have gone waaay above and beyond what most people would do for a friend. There is no way you should feel lke a failure. Sometimes no matter how hard we try, and no matter how much we want them to, things just do not go the way they should. Fate dealt that family a hard blow, losing 3 members in such a short time, and that is not your fault. Her husband had no right to be angry at you, you took over his responsibility in caring for his wife. I hope that once she is stabilized and can see clearly, that she will realize what a great friend she has in you. People that are willing to step up and take on the immense responsibility of caring for someone so ill are few and far between. I wish I had a friend like you.
post #11 of 29
Wow, Michele, you are amazing, just amazing! You are going above and beyond and repeated proving yourself as a remarkable, true friend no matter what! I'm praying for you, and for your friend. Bless you both.
post #12 of 29
Being bipolar myself, perhaps I see things differently. I too have mulled over suicide a lot. Often a week doesn't go by without me thinking about it, and I've attempted once. My father was also bipolar, and he did commit suicide. My uncle (dad's brother) committed suicide as well.

I'm going to sound a bit rough, but I feel you need to hear some things -- truth be told. What's going on with her family? Why the hell aren't they around, especially the man that married her? And why did you get hooked into the position you are in now? No offence, but perhaps you feel you get something in return for "saving" her. I hate to say it, but it's inevitable that she will kill herself if that's what she genuinely wants. I would advise you to distance yourself from her a bit. You can still be a good friend, but you have to take care of your own needs first. She NEEDS to be in the hospital for a long time, especially considering the new diagnosis and treatment that will ensue. If she's released anytime soon, without proper medication (mood stabilizers) at the correct dose, she's going to attempt again. And why didn't the docs think she was bipolar before if she's had suicidal ideation and extreme mood fluctuations for so long? It's obviously not depression, and when bipolar people are given antidepressants alone, they may start to rapid cycle, meaning the severity of mood fluctuations worsens due to the antidepressants. That's what happened to me, and how the docs realized I too wasn't suffering from depression alone. At any rate, I hope this time she will get the proper medication for her newly assessed condition. Some docs are just idiots. But still, they are the ones who should be working with her, not you. You take care of yourself. Good luck and all the best.
post #13 of 29
Oh, Michelle-
You're not a failure. Certainly, your friend is ill, and you are doing what is in your power to care over her, and that includes having the emotional strength to be tough in the face of your friend's illness. She can't help being out of control, as much as you can't. what you are doing, though, is showing her that you give enough of a damn about her, to make sure that she gets help. It's hard being the shoulder, the ear, and the cop, and it is emotionally very draining.

You did the right thing, of course. She needed you to watch her, and take care of her, and you did. You've done more than a friend, and, not to slight her husband, but more than he could do either. This is perhaps where his stress lies. His wife is uncontrollable, he had to put her in your care, and the result is not what he hoped for. His family is passing and his wife is unavailable to him. I realize that this is not your fault, but it is a train even in the best of situations to not have your life companion with you. In situations like these, the strain must be unbearable. That doesn't make it right for him to have yelled at you, but he was perhaps calling out for help.

You should be tired. It is natural to be emotionally drained when so much heartache fills your daily life, but none of it is your fault, or even in your control to change. I'm so sorry. I might suggest grief?(I'm unsure if this would be correct) counselling for yourself, even the caregiver needs a shoulder from time to time.

You're an angel for taking all this upon yourself. Use this time as a way to unwind and relax a little, sweetheart!
post #14 of 29
You are taking so much abuse, for trying to be a good friend. I see you as an angel. Please don't let this woman and her husband destroy the special glow that is you, inside. For your OWN sake, you need to distance yourself from her and her problems. You have to think about YOU for a change. I wish I could come over to your house and give you a BIG HUG. You need some love given back to you for a change.
post #15 of 29
Thread Starter 
Thanks so much, everyone. I slept about - oh, 4 hours, and just can't seem to be able to stay asleep when I get there. Sigh...

Vespacat, I need to clear a thing or two up. One, you're not being too hard on me. You're giving me your opinion, and your love. And I thank you for that. Her husband can't care for her because a)he's about as screwed up as everyone else in that family, b)is very selfish and demanding (the fight last night was based in his fear that there won't be enough money to sustain a 5 bedroom house and lifestyle in San Diego...and that his credit would get wrecked [his words]), and c) it's a different city, and my friend can get better care up here (at least, what we thought at the time dealing with a different diagnosis). Add to that the ect treatment requires 24/7 care and he can't take the time off work, and, well, there you go. I can take the time off (but it's financially really rough right now...), and so I did. She needed the care, I could care for her, and there you go.

I know it will be a dicey time for a while when she gets onto Depakote (the new meds). It will be hard, but she's finding some serious help in the hospital. They may decide to keep her for a few weeks while she stabilizes on her meds; that's still to be determined. I know that the groups she's attending are very, very good for her...and I also know they have a "day program" which she will go to once she's released.

I know she will suicide if that's what she really wants. But I also think she can get the help she needs to start to see the beauty that is in life (which I have to go find today...). But she won't suicide here. Not if I can help it. I might not be able to help it...but I'll give it the best go I can...you know?

But oh....I'm tired and tired and tired. There isn't a word for the tired I feel - it goes beyond tired into a realm not often experienced, I don't think. I've called my therapist from years ago, and hope to get an appointment with her tomorrow...or later today. That will help. I hope. Maybe it will help my head shut off long enough for me to get a good night's sleep, at least.

As for the hugs and love you all have sent, I soooooo very much need them and appreciate them. I know you all care- and that makes it easier to care for myself. I've not slid down my own slope, but I can see it happening...and talking to you all distances me from the slope. I can't thank you all enough for the love - hard and soft, mind you; all the love - you have sent.

It matters. She matters. I matter. And all of you - well, you've made a bit of a dent in the strain and stress I feel. Thanks for that.

I'm going to go try to sleep some more...I just wish it could be a long, quiet, restful sleep. It will be a nap, 'cause I've got things to handle around here, and that's only if I get to sleep at all.

You guys are all so wonderful; and Hope, I may just decide to take a drive over the hill and get a lunch with you at some point soon. How nice would that be? Very nice...

Hugs back to all...and thanks.

post #16 of 29
Originally Posted by noni
Thanks for listening. I appreciate that you've read this far, and that you've heard me. I so needed to be heard.
you don´t need to say Thanks....
that´s why are the friends! ....
post #17 of 29
Originally Posted by KitEKats4Eva!
Wow, Michele, you're amazing. Truly amazing.

you are and amazing person
post #18 of 29
I certainly can't add anything new except to say that you are a friend in a million and you are cared about and loved by a load of us folks here. Any time you need to "talk", we'll "listen" and understand and support and love you.

What you are doing for your friend and her family, to the detriment of your own health, is beyond the call of duty. I'm so glad you didn't take her husband's anger personally, because heaven knows he should be down on his knees kissing your feet and thanking you for doing this for his wife and him.

Michelle, God has something very special planned for you I'm sure, as you are a truly amazing, giving, loving, kind, compassionate and all around wonderful person. I wish I could just sit by your bedside and hold your hand and pass some calming feelings to you so that you could get some solid sleep to revitalize your body and mind. Hugs from us to you and know we're here for you.
post #19 of 29
Michele, what more could you have done for her? You've basically given up your private life/comfort zone, financial security, and peace of mind to help your friend. Not just for a few days, either. It angers me that her husband could lash out at you in that manner: He's not willing or able to take off from work to be a full-time caretaker, but he expects you to do so, and to succeed where he, and others, have failed? Does he know how much you've already sacrificed?
I find myself hoping that your friend will be admitted for a long-term stay, where she can be monitored practically every minute of the day (huh - I know that's impossible; wishful thinking), and there are several people to care for her. Why? Because I worry about how this whole thing is going to impact on you. And maybe, just maybe, an effective treatment will be found for her.
You didn't post here for a long time, which was understandable, but I hope that you will come here whenever you need to vent - everybody needs an emotional outlet, and given the stress you've been under for so long, you probably need it more than many.
You didn't fail your friend. You saved her life. You've shown more care and concern for her than her own husband.
post #20 of 29
Michele, you are a walking angel. I cannot imagine a more difficult, more painful task than what you've been doing for your friend. What a deep, true heart you have.

I used to work at a psychiatric hospital, so I have a little bit of background here to draw upon... and for what it's worth, I think your friend's illness may be too severe for you to deal with, especially now that they've diagnosed her bipolar. Trying to care for her yourself is an overwhelming responsibility that carries constant stress and anguish. Over time, it's bound to erode your own emotional wellbeing to a dangerous degree...and in my own experience with something similar, I found that physical and emotional exhaustion eventually diminished my ability to make good judgments, too.

When you are her sole caregiver, I imagine your personal relationship with her complicates the dynamics of her treatment. In a clinical setting, with multiple caregivers whose relationship to the patient is professional, no single individual is "to blame," in her mind, for whatever restrictions may be applied.

The world is full of professional caregivers -- but a true friend is a rare treasure. I think she probably needs you far more as a friend than as a nurse.

Please give yourself at least equal consideration and care, for your sake AND for hers. You can't help your friend find peace of mind if you yourself no longer have it. It's like when you fly -- in an emergency, you have to put the oxygen mask on yourself first, and THEN help the person next to you.

Bless you for all you've done for her. Everyone should be so lucky as to have a friend like you.
post #21 of 29
OH sweetheart I*m sorry you're going through this. It's a really tough call to do what you've been doing - and you're just so incredibly courageous and strong for having taken on so much. You may feel like you've let her down, but you really haven't at all. I think you feel bad because somewhere you think it shoudln't have come to this. In the end though, this really was the very best thing to have done to get her to the hospital. She really needs this treatment in order to recover, because as much as you love her, it's not going to get better on it's own. You've relaly done the best you can and I really admire you for that.

While she's in the hospital, visit her like you have been, but also remember to take a little time-out for you because it's really draining on you too.

Love and hugs
post #22 of 29
Originally Posted by noni
You guys are all so wonderful; and Hope, I may just decide to take a drive over the hill and get a lunch with you at some point soon. How nice would that be? Very nice...

Hugs back to all...and thanks.

Anytime you want to have lunch, just let me know. Maybe we can even go to the infamous deli where Paul hangs out at. Now, that would be fun, don't you think?
post #23 of 29
I can't possibly say anything that everyone here already hasn't. Please take some time for yourself becasue YOU are important and deserve it.
post #24 of 29

You have taken on such a tremendous responsibility and there is only so much you are able to do. I only wish I was able to take some of your burden for you. You do need to find a way to get some rest because fatigue distorts your judgment. I pray that you are able to find some calm and revitalizing energy. You are truly a magnificent person.

post #25 of 29
Failure??? You are a hero in my eyes. The only fault that I could find in your entire story is taking such a risk (driving your friend to the hospital rather than calling an ambulance).

You have no control whatsoever over your friend's imbalance nor her recent losses.
Hopefully with the correct diagnosis, meds, & therapy, she will get back on her feet soon. Bipolar disorder is more common than you realize. My mother, aunt, and future son-in-law all suffer with it.

Time will heal her husband's heart and hopefully he will see that he owes you a big apology!

You've been giving your all to your friend - now you need to go do something for YOU!

Take care.
post #26 of 29
Thread Starter 
Just back from visiting with her...and she got put on the new meds today. She is still resisting some of the group therapy, but is doing well otherwise. Her husband has not called me, nor sent me an email, and I frankly don't expect him to. He's all wrapped up in himself right now...and hopefully he comes to his senses before permanent damage is done with his wife. They are "speaking", sort of, but not much. He's been to visit her once.

Tomorrow is ECT...so I'll get her from the facility (already sedated), bring her to the other hospital, she'll get her treatment, and then, again sedated, bring her back over the hill. While I know what danger it was to drive her before, this time she'll be a bit groggy and won't be a flight risk.

For those who've asked about why I drove her last week it was simply because the cops wouldn't take her (unless she is an immediate danger - i.e. a gun in her hand, or waving a knife around; and even then it's not a pretty sight), an unprepared ambulance wouldn't be able to accomodate her, and the County's Psychiatric Evaluation Team would be more than 2 hours before they could even start my way. I had checked all that out once before, when I thought I might have to hospitalize her, so I was prepared. I don't ever want to do that again...not with an angry, not functional person.

Phew. I'm a tired cookie. I've been doing well on my diet, but decided that a fast food burger, fries and a chocolate shake was something I "needed" tonight, so I got that for dinner. And I've got a hair appointment for late next week, so I'll treat myself to an updated color and cut. As for rest - well, that will come when it does. I'm actually going to take something to help me sleep tonight - not something I like to do, but it's been a week since I've had a good night's sleep, and I really, really need it.

Thank you all again so very much. I'm still hurting about all of this, but all of your reassurances that I'm not a failure means a great deal. While I still feel like I should have been able to do/be/think more/something/other, and that the decision I made would affect her life for the rest of her life and I should have done more to prevent her from getting hospitalized, I did what I did, and while I'm not sure I'm not a failure, it helps to know you all don't think of me that way.

I really, really appreciate it. I'll just keep muddling through...and maybe the light will shine again. It has to, doesn't it? It has to.

Best, and thanks from my heart-
post #27 of 29
Originally Posted by noni
While I still feel like I should have been able to do/be/think more/something/other, and that the decision I made would affect her life for the rest of her life and I should have done more to prevent her from getting hospitalized,
Don't beat yourself up over this. Everything happens for the best. I think your friend needed the professional help that she is currently getting. It will all work out.
And for her husband - although he needs emotional support (as he is grieving), his wife is in no way, shape or form to be there for him right now.
Maybe your friend is better off without him, and this will be the start of a new life for her.
post #28 of 29
Oh Michele, you are doing an amazing thing. Reminds me of Lauries case.

Lots of positives thoughts coming your way.
post #29 of 29
My wife and step daughter are both bi-polar, not quite as severely as your friend, but both have shown suicidal tendencies in the past. I have seen first hand what the wrong meds can do to a bipolar person. If you had not intervened when you had, the result could have been far worse. You did not fail; you likely saved her life. If SHE says you did the right thing, that's one thing she's right about. Is her husband getting any counseling, sounds like he could use some. The one thing I've never done is give up on my wife, that could be disasteous. God bless you Michelle, and good luck in the future.
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