2011 over/out

resolutions. AHAHAHAHA! that was easy.

looking back over 2011, what stands out for me personally here in the wasteland of death and dying, is: my trips out of here to PA, and death memorial events. yay. and still under a roof not in debtors’ prison. so all in all, not a total loss.

so that about covers the year in review. now, to the serious business of drinking out another dead year. l’chaim! ah, the irony of that.

someone remind me what looking forward to stuff is like.

may this new year bring some relief and sense.

belated eulogy to mr. tom

it occurs to me that i neglected to say a word about the demise of mr. tom waits the cat. in mid-november, at the shelter, he was diagnosed with feline AIDS, and euthanized. he, and other cats he could have passed it on to in the future, were better off this way. but i still miss him. he was the closest i came to having a cat friend in this wasteland. RIP, mr. tom waits the cat.

killing time, not myself

ok, i don’t usually do two in one day, but i felt i needed to elaborate upon the subject of time-killing.

i am very aware that there are many people out there who are not only caregiving for multiple parents/ in-laws, with little or no reimbursement or help, but are also working at least one job (if they can find any), caring for their own family at the same time, and managing all the other business and maintenance of a household and career. many have to commute long distances to do all the above. this is actually a more normal scenario, compared to mine. i have no idea how they manage all that and stay sane, but i acknowledge their challenge and give them a lot of credit.

if i were one of the above persons, i would be baffled and outraged by my previous post. ‘wow, it must be rough to have all that idle time on your hands, and not be running around like a crazy person all day.’ yes, it actually had occurred to me—like all the time— that i am relatively fortunate in that regard. i’m pretty certain i would not have even made it this far with some shred of sanity left, if i were being torn in ten directions, like millions of people in our dysfunctional system. and that’s leaving aside the billions of people in the world who just scrape by to survive with essentially nothing, and then die. i make an effort to balance my bad attitude with awareness of how much worse it can get.

but there is another side to this paradigm which is just as real, and just as incapacitating, for people who are compelled to take on the full-time caregiver role. time can be killed in many ways, all of which can be validly destructive. it isn’t a privilege or a desired goal. it can be busily or passively used up, and it’s still lost forever. it’s just that in my case, instead of cramming too much activity into too little time, i’m confronted with empty hours between caregiver tasks that i can’t consistently offer a hypothetical employer even if one were hiring. more significantly, i contend with the increasing depression and weariness that overwhelms many people who find themselves in tedious, isolating caregiver roles. you become marginalized, cut off from life as you knew it, and lose touch with your own sense of identity, value, or purpose. you don’t visualize any future beyond survival and aging. you go through months and years of nothingness, punctuated by crises, with not much to look forward to. at least that has been my experience, and all the caregiver sites warn of it, so i guess i’m not totally delusional, yet.

i also haven’t forgotten the years of freezing or broiling my ass off in labor-intensive hort jobs, just so i could pay for a cheap, mildewed apartment while helping to maintain employers in their comfortable lifestyle. there were days when i longed for the luxury of just not going to work all day in the freezing rain with the flu in order to survive and afford health care. the grass wasn’t always greener. it wasn’t ideal all the time. i didn’t necessarily have a better future ahead of me. sometimes i was even running around like that proverbial crazy person, killing time, doing stupid things i’d later regret. now i have all kinds of time on my hands in which to do the regretting. but what i do miss is, doing normal things with family and friends, the knowing what i was supposed to do each day, the sense of accomplishment and sometimes even creativity, however insignificant, and the little events i looked forward to now and then. most of all, i could spend time on my own terms, support myself as best i could, and maybe even have a lifeboat when the ship went down. now it feels like it’s all going under, and me with it.

i admit i’ve always been prone to depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. it all began right here, in this house, school district, town, and state. i spent years running from it, only to come full circle, back to where i began, and not by choice. well, technically i could have chosen to be irresponsible, and let the old ship sink on its own. so, not really a choice there. so just when i was finally starting to get my life in order, and trying to undo some of the damage of the past, here i found myself once again. yeah, some anger there. and lots of time to confront it, with no relief valve such as co-workers to take it out on! (just kidding.) no, i’m not in jail per se, i could theoretically walk away, but not really. doing time grinds you down little by little, until you forget how to function on the outside. i am not being melodramatic. it is the way it is.

there, i think that’s it for now. as long as i’m just waiting, i might as well practice typing to myself. that’s about as productive as it gets right now. if this were a book, even i wouldn’t read it. but it’s not, so i can whine endlessly into the void, and anyone can feel free to disregard it. and just to balance the negativity, there is still a roof over the room with the clock ticking off the hours i while away, for which i am grateful.

stages of mind-losing

just like the so-called stages of grief, i think caregiving must have its own set of stages. or maybe it’s a long, protracted version of same.

anyway, i seem to be in the one where you become totally paralyzed and marginalized. symptoms: spending whole days just waiting, doing basically nothing but kill time, listening to the clock tick away the remaining hours of your life. nothing you can think of interests you in any way whatsoever, except things you can’t achieve. you know you should be making the most of the idleness while you still can, but you literally can’t motivate. you feel like you’re way out in some surreal parallel universe, unable to reconnect to anyone or thing. you feel like you’re coming apart and losing reality, a piece at a time, but you don’t have the wherewithal to find help. you just relentlessly drone on and sink deeper into isolation. the resentment is still there, along with the resignation, but there’s no energy to channel it into something productive or creative. anxiety and worry build up to the point where it’s hard to sleep, or eat right, or work it off in any way. you’re just waiting for….nothing. dreading what comes next, and paralyzed by just the whole horror of doing nothing but maintaining demented, dying parents for years. your own health is affected prematurely, only you know when it comes your turn, no one will be there for you, and you would rather die than to impose this hell on anyone else. which isn’t a whole lot to live for. suicidal thoughts are normal, but you know you won’t consciously do it, because it would only complicate things for other people. not that they’d miss you, just the unenviable role you performed so someone else wouldn’t have to be paid an impossible figure to do it. your excuse for a life will quickly fade from memory.

this is just the tip of the iceberg of what it’s like, but i thought i would at least make an attempt to describe it to anyone out there who would be masochistic or bored enough to read this. i.e. myself. (my one confidant/ hapless victim is busy doing something productive and useful with his life, so i’m minus my usual outlet. which i certainly don’t blame him for.)

ok, that was fun. what shall i do for an encore?