As a woman who has suffered with Clinical depression for years, and never been all that willing to accept it, sometimes life kicks me in the ass, and situations make me stand up and acknowledge the reality of who I am. I am in that place right now.
Some of you may remember that this past January, my father was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. He is only 64 years old, but there is some conjecture that his Alzheimer's is progressing at an increased rate due to his exposure to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War, and whatever cause "Gulf War Syndrome" as he suffered from that as well. My father has always been one of the lights of my life, and my hero. He has always been a positive force in my life and one that can make all of us laugh when we have needed it the most. Needless to say, the idea of losing that connection and personality is terrifying to me.
Most of you also know that my mother was diagnosed 10 years ago with Multiple Sclerosis. This was an equally devastating diagnosis because of all of the unknowns. I had never known anyone that I could think of (other than Montel Williams) that had been diagnosed with MS. As it turns out, my mother has "Relapsing Remitting" one of the more slowly progressing forms of this terrible disease, and as a result, a weekly shot and a few times in the last 10 years she's had a few days of IV steroids, but really, not much worse off, especially now that she knows what causes her symptoms to flare up and is very vocal about it when those things start to happen.
All-in-all, my sister and I have decided that we're pretty screwed in the brain department, but there's not much that we can do about that. The thing is though, that the gravity of a father with Alzheimer's and a mother with MS just really hit me in the head this morning, and with the clinical depression I've struggled with for years, I feel like I have taken a huge hit. My mom can't devote her time 100% to taking care of daddy, because she has to take care of herself or risk ending up in a full-blown MS exacerbation. Daddy can't take care of mom like he has the last 10 years, because quite frankly, while he's still in pretty good shape mentally, he is struggling to some extent with remembering the little things that he did yesterday, so if he promised mom he would do something, it may or may not happen. As their daughter I feel like I need to step up in some meaningful way to help my parents navigate this mine-field of aging with neurological disorders, but I feel wholly under-equipped for the job. I work full time, I have 3 kids, and a husband, and a house and a life of my own. This isn't to say that I don't owe to my parents to help out, I absolutely do, but how? when? Thus the feeling that I have fallen down a hole. My brain is overwhelmed with what my reality is at the moment, and I just really don't even know what to do about it at this point.
Yes, I know the simple and obvious answers, make sure I'm taking my medicine and maybe talk to a counselor, but that won't change my reality and the fact that I have two parents with major neurological disorders for which there is no cure. I also need to get back to exercising, because I could really use some of those endorphins. Sometimes being an adult just sucks. I've always said there wasn't enough money in the world to make me wish I was young again, but at the moment, teenage ignorance of what was to happen 20 years later (now) sounds pretty damn good to me....