Mild Apprehension

On Thursday, K and I leave for a visit out to see her family. When she and I first got together, they weren't very supportive of our relationship. They were civil to me, but not too friendly. We then moved many, many miles away and only saw them on the occasional holidays.

K was the first person in her family to move more than 30 miles away, and I believe the physical distance contributed to the emotional distance. Still, neither K, her parents, or siblings seem quite certain how to communicate with one another. My parents, who also live far, far away, call weekly. K's rarely call and she rarely calls them. But that may be how they are. I believe it is the proximity effect. Because when we are within 150 miles, her parents call more frequently. Odd. That said, my mom does the same thing.

Despite their misgivings, they did come to our commitment ceremony, which took place a little less than 4 years into the relationship. After that, things improved slightly. K's heart attack marked the next big improvement in the relationship.

However, the final bit came when they came out to help when K had ECT last October. She was extremely depressed and the anti-depressants weren't doing it. She had recently been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, so she began taking Lamictal. But Dr. X was taking a conservative approach towards the dose to prevent The Rash from setting in. It turned out his conservative approach was fully justified. Meanwhile, K was without meds. Lamictal never did work out, because she kept hovering on the cusp of the rash. Finally, when she hospitalized 5-6 weeks later, Dr. X put her on lithium.

She had heard of ECT in the '70's. Then the psychiatrist I was seeing, for I did go see one for six months to get through this, asked about it. We heard about it a couple other places. K decided it was worth pursuing.

Dr. G, not Dr. X, performed ECT. Dr. G pushed very hard for K to have the procedure done as an in-patient procedure. K refused, but we did tour the psych ward together. As a result, K's parents came out to assist us, and allow me to continue to work throughout all of it.

It was that time last October, when her parents absolutely changed their minds about the relationship. They saw how we interacted and the fact I cared for her and didn't leave when things got so bad. Since then, the relationship has been much easier. Last Christmas, they even asked if we were coming out to see them. Our approach has been to alternate traveling one year with staying at home the next and last Christmas as an at-home Christmas. But it was nice to be asked.

Returning briefly to ECT, K had 7 ECT sessions in total. Her memories for approximately 10 weeks surrounding that period of time are gone. And there have been lingering side effects even 11 months later. It didn't help whatsoever. But, I don't regret that she did it. Driven to desperation, it was necessary for her to exhaust every option. If her fear of ECT had won out, she would have berated herself for months that this proven relief (80% of patients experience improvements) for depression had frightened her too much to try it.

Regardless, we're visiting K's family this weekend. This is the trip that last year marked the last good weekend she had for months. She had done well throughout Summer 2003, and then we had a great time on the family visit. But after her return home, she began to go further and further into the depression, then had the ECT, and finally ended up hospitalized.

It is no wonder that the association of the trip has me concerned. I believe that she is more stable, significantly more stable. Her doctors have a handle on the disease and her meds are under control. But it will be the first big trip in a year. And that type of change may have a negative effect.

I keep reminding myself we'll take it slow and take breaks when necessary. Wish me luck.


At 8:34 PM, Blogger blondzila said...

You've come miles with the relationship with her family, it would seem. That speaks a great deal of the kind of person you are. I'm somewhat similar to K - I minimize my contact with my family, I'm one of four kids and each of us, plus my parents live in different cities, at least 100 km apart. I find family gatherings wind me up: I feel obliged to be "on" the way a performer does. And then of course what goes up must become deranged. So, if this weekend last year was the last really good weekend K had had in a while, just keep in mind that she may also have conflicting motivations, some not even conscious, in dealing with her family. Those breathing exercises you referred to may come in handy. Good luck :-) and safe trip.


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