This would probably turn out to be a self-absorbed, nay, self-obsessed post, but it is being written to clarify the muddled head. It could also be a bare-all kind of post, so consider this fair warning.
My gynaecologist, who is also a very good friend, once told me there is a superstition in the medical community that all emergencies come in three’s – the day she told me, she had to tackle two cases of rather rare ectopic pregnancy and was afraid of a third within the next few days. Since then, I start looking for threes of bad news too, especially within healthcare, it has become a bit of an obsession with me.
Two weeks back, my uncle-through-marriage (79 years old) was diagnosed with prostrate cancer, needing surgery, radiation and the works. A couple of days later, my neighbour cried to me about her mother’s newly diagnosed stomach cancer, followed by a strenuous surgery and the works. I am tight-wound since then for a third announcement of the stupid monster that can’t seem to be killed no matter how advanced medicine has grown.
Last week, a distant cousin and childhood playmate of mine, called to say that her father is in deep dementia/Alzheimer, can’t remember anything, even peeing, and is on catheter. It gave my stomach quite a turn because this distant uncle of mine was a terror when I was growing up – dynamic, authoritative and what not. I can’t even imagine him as being a baby, as she says he is.
A couple of days later, my father’s brother (80) had a dementia-induced nervous breakdown. I would rather not go into the details of the breakdown more because it is exhausting to even recollect it, but he still continues to be like a cat on a sanity-insanity wall, ready to jump to either side at will. We take him to the psychiatrist today, who will prescribe medicines, I am sure. But knowing his tempramentallity, and my aunt not taking anything seriously, I wonder if the medicines would even be consumed – we can only lead the horse to the water.
I wonder if there will be a third case of dementia.
But that is not the fear I have – at least not the main fear. A nagging doubt that has been doing its rounds in my head is this – have I inherited the insanity gene, that seems to fly around in my paternal family? In each generation, I know at least of someone who has gone completely off the rocker – at some stage of their life or another. My great grand mother was supposedly prone to hysteria that she had to be locked up. My grand aunt was also hysteric, it seems. My uncle seems to be on the way to going raving mad. My father refuses medical help for his depression. Another uncle lived and died with Parkinson’s. I have a cousin, in whom, I can see shades of insanity – he already has the beginnings of persecution complex and it scares me to talk to him.
Considering that my PMS mood swings (they no longer swing, they seem permanently in the high of anxiety) last longer (they start with ovulation and last until aunt flo visits), could I be the next manifestation of the madness? The most disturbing thing for me is that as I see/hear of all the mad things my uncle has been doing this past week , I can actually understand what was going on in his head. I can often feel that restlessness and confusion in my head too , I merely don’t translate them into action, like he did on that day. How long before the walls that separate thoughts from intention and action break down?
I have a very good control over my actions now – even when I am seeing red, I can smile like there are daisies inside my head. Now and then I yell (especially nearing aunt flo) at the kid for something trivial. But I do feel a lot of anger, worry, anxiety, and fear inside, even if I don’t show them out. Is that the start of the madness, which will finally come out when the veneer of civility breaks down? Would I also breakdown and cry and laugh hysterically the next minute, and pace up and down the house like a caged panther, the way my uncle did?
Or as usual, am I overthinking this? That everyone has thoughts and emotions cruising through their head, and what they make of them is what separates the sane from the insane? I read somewhere that pain is inevitable, suffering is a choice. My meditation mentor tells me the same thing – the stomach’s function is to digest, the lung’s function is respiration, the brain’s function is to think and feel – you cannot live without them. It is detachment from them, or being aware of them that makes the difference.
So, perhaps I am not on my way to la-la land, despite the hormones wrecking havoc inside as I type this out and there is hope for me yet. But my uncle’s breakdown is an eye opener for me. Whether or not I have the gene, it is my choice to keep my brain healthy. More reading, more writing, more meditation and more exercise are the only paths to take henceforth.
The buck stops with me.