Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Is the new learning curve called tragedy?

This post comes with a forewarning. Read at your own risk.

1. What happened in Newton, Connecticut couldn't be an uglier, sadder occasion.
2. I am in no way likening dementia to a personality disorder. The only commonality I draw is where they occur, in the mind and it's inherent mysteriousness.
3. My heart breaks into many small pieces in thinking of the beautiful babes who lost their lives on Friday.

The mind. Ironically, it's the place where all we know is held, yet the organ that remains more mystery than fact. As my father's mind slowly self-destructs he loses bits and pieces of himself. The somewhat stoic, hardass business man disappears and is replaced by a chatty attention seeker wishing to make your acquaintance. The man you see before you today is no trace of the man from just three years ago. His name remains the same, he continues to live in the house he built a decade ago, his looks are almost identical (minus a touch of dishevelment). You see, the brain, it's not a simple yes or no, black or white. In fact, it seems to be a big blur of ROYGBIV with a side of metallic sparkle.

As sad as the tragedy in Connecticut is and forever will be, I will be the first to say, the mystery of the mind -and furthermore, treatment of structural and hormonal disorders. And maybe -just maybe- this is what it took. Just as our family needed an altercation, lots of screaming and tears, and a police visit to understand the disturbances taking place in my father's mind. Would we have done absolutely anything to avoid those terrifying minutes that took place on August 26th? Hell yes. In a heartbeat. But instead of focusing on motive, blame, and sadness, we realized we needed -absolutely needed- to rethink dad's treatment with his best in mind.

I spent the most time in the hospital with my father during the four days of his stay. From the moment I saw him in the emergency room, life, as I knew it, changed. He was tired, too skinny, and confused about the happenings of the day. But the thing he knew most, no more medicine. None. No pills, no needles, no supplemental drinks. Just let him be.

And for the first time while sitting three wide on a hospital bed, we heard him. We heard his refusal. Not only that, we accepted it. Instead of listening to the doctors who so wished to keep on keepin' on, we started to choose what dad wanted.

No one else was here that afternoon to see the pain, the terror, the turmoil. But they have opinions. Do something more homeopathic. Try hyperbaric chambers. You really couldn't make it just three more months? You're giving up. But the doctor's said there's a fight worth fighting here. I can't believe you can just let things go like this. Do the meds and he'll live for years. How sad for you.  

I wasn't there in Connecticut. I couldn't even begin to understand Adam Lanza's mind. The terror of those students and teachers is unimaginable. But, from California, I can say, we must learn. It's critical. If we don't learn now, only more terror will meet us. I know because the afternoon of August 26th was not isolated. There were signs, signs gone ignored. Conversations and moments left unattended. It took pure, unadulterated fear in the utmost of our being to hear the cry for help within my dad's soul. How could we have been so dense?

There are 26 beautiful souls who were faced with a fear to which I have no ability to relate. However, I do believe in the deepness of my heart, they would say -teachers and students alike- the man who came wielding weapons wanted -needed- to be heard. As many articles regarding Lanza's mental health discuss, he displayed odd behavior for years. There must be a space opened where honest, non-accusatory conversations can occur in order to best help mental issues.

One day my dad will no longer remain in our care. He will be moved from the home he built into a care facility where professionals, who are trained to deal with dementia, can assist him around the clock. Although we handle many of his quirks and odd behaviors in stride, one day he will be too far progressed for our abilities. It would be an injustice to keep him here in our mediocre care when there are facilities to keep him safe and healthy. So the same goes for other disorders of the mind. A child displaying withdrawn, anti-social behaviors may need professional attention -not due to any parents', teachers', physicians' fault- but because the mind is full of dark, mysterious crevices to which many are not attuned.

Seek help for the sake of your loved one, or maybe even yourself. But also, seek help for those around you. For friends, family, and innocent bystanders who are in touch with you. I promise it will reap benefit and reward in your life, as it has in my dad's, my family's, and mine.

1 comment:

  1. Wow Amber, what a great post! And such a contrast to all the sad and heartbreaking posts about the tragedy rather than from a question of why. Thank you for sharing, very interesting read x


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