Sunday, March 30, 2008

porcelain altars, crazy, and Cuba

Ugh. I threw up Friday afternoon... luckily (in a way) I'd been so nauseous at work that I came home around noon, and felt awful in my own bed for a coupla hours before actually doing the technicolour yawn. When I left work, I worried I was just being fooled by a panic attack, that I was somehow regressing to the anxiety of a few years ago, so it was (almost) vindicating to spend hours and hours and hours shaking with cold, and feeling exhausted and nauseous, complete with a prayer to the porcelain goddess. I wasn't panicked, I was actually ill! Very, very ill!

Anyways, I spent yesterday horizontal and feeling weak, and today I'm upright. I've even left the house, although I cancelled my shift at the drop-in centre this morning. Somehow I thought my commitment and its attendant possibility of contagion would not be appreciated, especially considering the whole food handling aspect.

I hope to hell we've now paid our illness dues for the winter. I've had three different bugs in the last month, two of them awful, and Swee'pea and Sugar D have suffered nearly as much.

I'm even feeling strong enough to enjoy some good news. We booked a trip to Cuba! In three weeks! (Yay tax return!)

And even more significantly, our family member who has been of no fixed address for the last two and a half months, moved into her very own one-bedroom, subsidized apartment. This is truly amazing, especially considering the fact that any time I raised the subject of exploring a subsidized apartment (and I'd done it more and more over the last several months), she shut the subject down immediately, coldly, in no uncertain terms.

Mostly, we have the case worker we've been working with for the last year to thank for this. She'd not been able to meet with our family member until a month or two ago, because we figured our family member would be hostile and slam the door in her face. But because our family member was being sheltered in a motel on the Drop-In Centre's dime (yes, the very same drop-in centre that I started volunteering at the same weekend our family member lost her most recent housing), she was able to make contact and develop a rapport. It was the case worker who not only found an available and appropriate (not to mention idyllic!) unit, but who convinced our family member to consider it, and who negotiated terms that were acceptable to our family member. I want to kiss the case worker, or send her flowers or chocolate or donate somewhere in her name, if she can't accept gifts.

I'm also grateful for the contact we made with the drop-in centre. Until I started volunteering there, I had no idean of the range of services they provided. They really helped take the pressure off us during this difficult time, and even provided food vouchers and once a food delivery when our family member hung up on us after telling us she had no food.

The other key factor, I think, is that our family member slipped on the ice several weeks ago and sprained her ankle, which meant she wasn't able to look on her own for her usual kind of housing (a room in a house shared with the landlord -- the kind that has no security and never lasts because the landlords are driven crazy by her crazy-making behaviour). Now, our family member doesn't have to share space with anyone, and has a full apartment with big windows that is walking distance to the places she needs and wants to be walking distance to. I hate to jinx it, but there's a lot more chance of long-term success than there has been anywhere else she's lived in the last five to ten years. Not only that, but she's met the case worker, and trusts her, so hopefully over time that relationship can lead to more help, now that the immediate housing need has been taken care of.

Dealing with our family member is hard, and sometimes makes me feel like "Why me?!?" but it's also taught me more thoroughly than anything else could have that we cannot take our mental health for granted. We all have the potential for mental illness, if we have enough bad shit thrown at us, if our capacity for coping is overwhelmed by just too much to cope with.

23 comments:

jen said...

Cuba? Cuba!?!?!?

sigh.

I still can't believe that I as a Yank can only get there "illegally" wtf, america.

cinnamon gurl said...

Yeah, sometimes it just sucks to be American, doesn't it Jen?

We're just going to a resort in Varadero, but hoping to spend a couple nights in Havana.

slouching mom said...

sorry you were sick! but cuba...that makes up for a lot.

and your family member's living arrangements sound perfect.

flutter said...

Cuba sounds lovely

heather in the `shwa said...

Hope you`re feeling better and so glad that your family member is in a place that will help instead of reduce her stability. I hope it`ll make all the difference. How sweet of you to think of the worker who helped her there. Varadero is awesome, and I totally recommend Havana. Lots of photos just dying to be taken there.

Beck said...

I'm so happy that your family member will now be safe and sheltered.
Cuba! Wonderful!

Mimi said...

Cuba! Hooray. You deserve a break, you really do. Enjoy. Email me, okay? We were in Varadero last May ...

And I'm so glad the housing is working out for your family member. What a relief.

Bon said...

i am so happy for the news about your family member...that's got to be such not only such a weight off your collective shoulders, but hopeful, too, for her and the possibility of a more stable future.

and Varadero sounds dreamy.

Lisa b said...

Yay Cuba!
I hope you have so much fun.

Morrigan said...

Thank you for sharing your experiences with your family member and your own experiences with panic attacks. Your observation that we all have the potential for mental illness if we have more sh*t thrown at us than we can cope with rings particuarly true this morning. I am watching my younger brother struggle to cope with things in his life and am increasingly frightened that there is nothing I can do to help him. He is dealing with depression and anxiety, and seems unable to see a way out. Thank you for reminding me that it is possible to come through on the other side.

mamatulip said...

Cuba!

That's AWESOME!

Please promise to post about it so I can travel vicariously though you, okay?

Kyla said...

I'm glad you're on the upswing! And you have a vacation to look forward to! Yay!

Janet said...

Hooray on both the housing front and Cuba! Vacations are the best salve for a burning winter of illness.

kgirl said...

enjoy the fun and sun! i hope you get to havana - think of the photo fodder.

Denguy said...

Give us more deets on Cuba--I've always wanted to go there.

Christine said...

i was just telling my husband yesterday that i desperately want to go to cuba.

i'm green, just Green with envy!

and i am glad that issue with your family member is working itself out.

hey--got the cards i ordered--they are just lovely!

Aliki2006 said...

I am so suddenly taken with the idea of Cuba--I have to say I never had an inclination to go there before reading your post but now I desperately want to go! I can't wait for your photos...

I'm glad the family member is settling...

Jennifer said...

Cuba is so very high on my list of Where To Go Next. As an American, the how to get there part has to be roundabout, but..shhh...it's not actually too tough. I can't wait to hear about your trip!

I'm happy for the good news for and about your family member. We have a family member we are always worried about for similar reasons and it is all at once difficult, frustrating and humbling. I'm glad things seem to be coming out on the other side for you and yours.

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NotSoSage said...

Sin, this is such good news about your family member. I think it's amazing that the system is working so well for you.

And Cuba? Jalouse...

niobe said...

Sounds like good news all round. You'll take lots of pictures in Cuba, won't you? (she asks plaintively)

Angela said...

I'm new to your site, just wanted to say I'm so glad your family member has found appropriate living arrangements. I know a little about what you are going through, my Mom suffers from mental illness issues and it's so hard sometimes knowing how to help and what to do. Your words really resonated with me"We all have the potential for mental illness, if we have enough bad shit thrown at us" so true.