I saw mum’s phone bill today. FML, sideways.
It’s no biggy. Well it is kinda big, but it’s only money. It’s something more than that which made me think ‘FML lengthways’ when I saw it. Let me explain.
I wrote a blog post a while back where I explained about how my mum has anxiety issues on top of other complex health problems. When discussing these with the GP mum said;
“It’s his fault” pointing at me. “I’ve worried about everything since he was born. It’s hard being a single mum and I’ve worried about everything as it was just me and him”
I’ve also tweeted about how hard it is sometimes to deal with her anxiety problems. She’s had a psychiatric assessment and there is some movement towards a course of CBT, but I’m not sure she’ll cope with it. I think her stroke has caused her to react too emotionally, if that makes any sense, so all rational explanations for those things that panic her go out the door.
If I leave the house mum calls me. Here’s what happens, if I’m out seeing friends for example. Friends know of my mum’s issues and are happy to talk to me about them but it goes like this;
‘How’s your mum’
‘Ach. Same old. Meltdowns and panic attacks, hospital appointments. Hard but I hope I’m making a difference. I think she’s improving a bit.’
Then she’ll call. Where are you? What are you doing? Who are you with? What are you doing? Where are you? She’s confused. Not thinking. She knows where I am but she’ll panic and all this information about where I am, which I’ve told her, will go out of her head. 10 minutes later she’ll do the same thing. Same questions. Confused. And then again. And then again.
It feels like an invasion. It feels like an invasion of my time and then I feel mean thinking about this. Sometimes I can’t pick up the phone. So she’ll ring and ring and ring and ring until I do. Sometimes I just can’t pick up the phone and sometimes I just don’t want to.
This is an example of how many times she’ll call in one morning.
The phone bill lists over 350 phone calls to my batphone since the middle of April. And that’s why I said, in my head, ‘FML. Vigorously.’ And these phone calls are made when I’m out, and quite often I DON’T go out as I CAN’T go out. I’ll have to stay in to head off a meltdown or deal with one which will last for hours. I’ve cancelled more things recently than I care to think about. Arrangements have been made and then I’ve had to cancel them at the last-minute because mum is stressing, anxious, panicky. I’m glad I have such understanding friends otherwise I’m sure they’d give up on me.
I’ve tried getting mum to do breathing exercises to calm down, but the panic takes hold of her with such strength that she can’t. Or won’t perhaps. Perhaps she just doesn’t know how to be calmer. Her stroke, undoubtedly, has affected the area of her brain which helps her reason but then she’s always been like this. As long as I’ve known her. Because it’s my fault, as she explained to the GP.
I looked at the phone bill and calmly pointed these calls to my mobile phone. She refused to acknowledge them. ‘I didn’t call you that amount of times Spencer.’
I asked her what she thought was happening. Why she would call like that. She said she didn’t. I decided, recklessly, tough love was in order. I said I’d change my number so she couldn’t call me.
And then she crumbled. She’s not a tactile person but she grabbed me, held me tighter than she has in years and wept. She begged me not to. She begged me not to change my number and her sobs were coming from a place of pure fear. Please Spencer, don’t. Please please please please. Promise me you won’t. Promise promise promise promise promise…
How can I? This wasn’t emotional blackmail. She was trembling and scared. And how could I do that to her? If it makes her feel better to do this then I guess that’s okay, right? I shouldn’t object.
But the thing is I don’t think it does make her feel better. And I don’t know what will.
We’ve made a deal. I’ve promised not to change my number and she’s promised not to call me. Let’s hope that works.
But she’s made me promise not to change my number over 20 times in the past half hour.
And so it goes on…
Thanks for reading.