I've mentioned that I've dealt with mental illness in my family - that was my mom, who battled Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder for decades. She was a typical horder - off her meds, she would fill her home with garbage.
Last week, she went to the roof of her 3-story building (owned by her sister and husband) and jumped off. She had her name written on a piece of paper, and her sister's phone number, taped to her clothes. She left a simple note on the inside of her apartment door, stating that she had killed herself.
She had survived breast cancer about two years ago, but was convinced that her psych meds would interact with her chemo (despite assurances from her doc that was not the case) and stopped her psych meds. She lied to the family, and said the doc had stopped them. In hindsight, I suppose I should have checked with her doc, but she was stubborn and wouldn't have taken the meds anyway. And the way the law is, you cannot force treatment unless the patient is an imminent threat to themselves or others.
She had been depressed lately, and had lost a lot of weight due to loss of appetite. One of the reasons was because I told her that I could not have her around the kids in her non-medicated state. I hadn't seen her since the New Year, though I had spoken to her on the phone a few times only a few days before she jumped. Her sister told her she needed to go back to see her psychiatrist and get back on her meds, as did I. She jumped the day before she was supposed to go - seems she just didn't want to go back.
I feel angry that she did this to herself, that she caused everyone so much pain, and that she robbed my kids' ablity to get to know her. Then I feel guilty for being angry. And even though the person that was my mother really died a long time ago when her brain was overtaken by the disease, I still feel sad. A big emotional stew right now.
Growing up with her was tough. You're supposed to love your mom, but I don't know if I really did. I know you cannot hold someone accountable for their actions when they are mentally ill, but some of the blame goes to her stubbornness. It's hard to separate one from the other. And at times, she could be downright mean and even violent.
It's going to take some time to sort this all out. In the meanwhile, my kids and work will be a welcome distraction. When all the paperwork clears, I will be taking her "home" to be buried with her father in Italy.
I guess one of the lessons learned here is one that I came to realize after much hearthache with her...you cannot help those who are unwilling to help themselves. Still doesn't make it any easier, though...