I walked out of my bedroom clutching a little bag of everything I thought I might need for the hospital. A bottle of water. Chapstick. My phone. Kleenex. My health card. I had to inch past the pile of Jeremy’s laundry in the hallway then around zir boxes of stuff outside the closet. I didn’t want to see the living room, even though Jeremy was thrilled about something.
“Look what I bought!” zie proudly proclaimed as I walked into the room.
A large shelving unit, complete with glass doors, sat in front of me. It blocked most of the entrance to the kitchen and a good chunk of the front hall. The rest of the hall was blocked by an old side table, the kind with a separate shelf for a corded phone.
“They’ll help me clean up,” Jeremy added.
I looked past zir to the bins of tangled wires, tumbles of computer parts on the couch, and piles of plant pots, loose screws, and other odd bits strewn across the kitchen table. I hadn’t been able to sweep the floor since Easter. At least I’d washed the dishes the day before so the counter was clean. I’d had to wash them, we had no clean dishes. Jeremy was supposed to wash them while I was at work but zie was sleeping through my whole shift and doing them after work interfered in zir computer time. Besides, it wasn’t fair in zir eyes that zie did the dishes while I sat. Work didn’t factor into zir equation because zie didn’t see me work so, in zir mind, it didn’t exist. It certainly existed in my mind. I came home almost too tired to eat. Dishes were beyond my ability.
I couldn’t help zir clean either because I “didn’t do it right”. And cleaning it for zir meant months of zir ranting that I’d messed everything up, put it all in the wrong place, and broke zir things by throwing them into the closet. This comment was usually followed by zir raging and throwing zir things into the closet. Zie’s never seen the irony in this. Plus, if zie couldn’t find something, it was guaranteed zie’d need to search for it long and loudly at 3am… knowing I needed to be up at four.
There wasn’t any time for me to clean at this point. Karen was waiting for me downstairs and I didn’t care much if I ever came back. From there I went to my parents’ house and Jeremy assured everyone that zie would clean up and adamantly refused my Mom’s help. My Mom was upset that I said to let Jeremy handle it. Meanwhile I didn’t want to put her in a situation where she’d driven her 70 year old self over to have Jeremy put a chain lock on the door and threaten to call the police on her. Jeremy has a great love for zir collection of assorted components and wires, apparently more so than for the flesh and blood people in zir life.
And zie did clean. Not completely but a decent amount. Meanwhile I collected all eight loads of zir laundry to wash, dry, and fold then came home briefly to wash a week’s worth of dishes from zir. And then, finally, I came home.
The next day Jeremy angrily informed me zie couldn’t see why zie should care about me being suicidal. After all when zie was suicidal and crying because zie didn’t want to wash the dishes since there were sharp knives and Jeremy was scared zie’d kill zirself with them. Apparently I told zir to suck it up and wash them anyways.
To be fair, I did tell zir exactly that except Jeremy never said zie was suicidal and wanting to self-harm. I knew zie was depressed, got zir help, and regularly touched base with zir… asking Jeremy to tell me if zie ever had a plan or specific thought on how to kill zirself. Jeremy never did. I knew zie was scared of sharp knives, zie has been for years, but Jeremy also knows that zie doesn’t have to wash them. They aren’t even put in the sink.
My issue with the dishes was that zie wasn’t doing them. Every day brought a different excuse. Too tired… too hungry… too stressed from school… sad from school… why wasn’t it my turn… but zie’d washed a load two days ago. Then I’d spend my day off tackling Mount Dishes. So when zie’d complain (again) that zie was crying because zie was stressed while I was sitting on a crowded bus after an 8 hour shift, I wasn’t exactly sympathetic.
I watch Jeremy as zie cracks jokes, plays Minecraft with zir younger cousin, and cuddles with the cat and then I watch the other Jeremy who threatens to destroy my computer if I throw out any of zir broken stuff and wakes me up (while I have a stomach bug no less) to rant about Anita Sarkeesian’s speaking fees. I’d never heard of her but apparently she charges $20 thousand per engagement. Good for her.
And then I have to deal with the external judgments. I just never taught zir to clean. I must have done it all for zir… or never cleaned at all. I must cave in to zir all the time and never taught zir the word no. Zie’s been hearing “no” zir whole life. I know zie acts like it’s a newly discovered word each time but that doesn’t mean it’s new. Depression isn’t known as a time of positive thinking so every round of criticism occurs on top of the self-criticism I’m already heaping onto myself.
The hardest part is I know Jeremy’s depressed. I know zir medication isn’t working. I know zie needs help. I know zie’s having mood swings. Our family doctor is out of his depth and he knows it. He’s a general practitioner, not a psychiatrist, and he doesn’t feel comfortable prescribing anything further. Which is why he sent a referral to a psychiatrist. And then said referral got lost (on top of apparently having the wrong number). At this point I have no idea what’s going on with Jeremy’s referral.
If I was a better mother, I’d take my anxious, depressed ass and start phoning people and networking and get zir help. But I’m not. I have no idea where to start or who to call. I don’t have some magical insight into the mental health field, let alone a file of numbers to call. I know suicide hot lines but that’s it. And, ironically, I couldn’t even call a hotline for myself because that meant picking up a phone and dialing.
I have an appointment on Tuesday with someone who says she’ll be my case manager, whatever that is. Hopefully she’ll be able to help.