“Sweet Dreams”; Marilyn Manson
Let me know if the video isn’t available.
This is going to be a series of posts on what is without a doubt the one subject most likely to cause me to consider suicide as an option. This is about clinical depressions. Superficially it’s about money… and my total lack of it. But it’s really about a whole lot more… it’s about my relationship with my mother, her parents, my father and his parents. It’s about the help I’ve been offered in my Recovery and in my Life by each of them, how little there has actually been offered and the guilt I feel surrounding the whole freaking mess.
I was in the car with my grandfather a few days ago. We were driving to his assisted living place so I could “work” on his computer. He bought a PC from a strip mall vendor four years ago and it recently had a total system failure. And, surprise, the Windows software was pirated so he had to buy all new stuff which meant I had to explain to him how to use it…
As we were driving he started asking me questions about apartments in my Little Village. I think he was asking because he can’t get to my place anymore because the staircase is too high. There have been a lot of renovations here lately resulting in some very nice, high end apartments. He asked why I wasn’t putting my name on any lists… I reminded him I only get so much money from the government and I was very lucky to have found a place so large and so cheap.
Which is when he started telling me I needed to get a subsidy. The first two times he said it I thought he meant government assistance. But he has a hard time lately with getting the right words out in the right order so it wasn’t until we were halfway to his apartment that I realized he was saying he was willing to subsidize my rent.
Working on my grandfather’s computer is something I do every other week… it’s not so much work as me giving him a software tutorial because he has forgotten how to delete emails, how to save documents or he keeps getting update notices from Norton. It takes five minutes, he takes notes and then we talk about some of the construction projects he worked on.
This time my mother was in the room. As I was setting up his newly installed Windows XP Home Edition he started whispering to mom about paying me by the hour. He started at $60/hour because that’s how much the guy who fixed his computer charged. A minute later he was down to $25/hour because I don’t have a staff. I was smiling to myself… this was my subsidy. He had talked himself down from paying my rent to giving my mother $20 to buy me some groceries…
Later on, now in the car with mom, I told her about my grandfather suggesting he was willing to pay part of my rent… then I made a joke about how one minute my rent was going to be paid, the next I was getting five bucks for two minutes of work.
And she flipped… suddenly she was very defencive because it wasn’t five bucks, it was $25. And the more I said “I know” the more emphatic she got about insisting I did not actually understand, because it wasn’t five dollars… and the more I said “I know” the angrier she got… because, obviously, I didn’t “get it” because I was making a joke out of the situation and I should be grateful.
And that’s probably the biggest monster in the room. The angrier she got the more it reminded me of how I’m supposed to be grateful for Every Tiny piece of support my family gives me… and how tired I have always been of having to be grateful for the handouts from my family… the $20 from my millionaire grandparents. The guilt wrapped in a $20 bill from my mother.
I’ve lived in extreme poverty for most of my life. In the Collective I grew up in poverty was a virtue, sacrifice proved loyalty. Most of the members worked out in the community, but the paycheques went into the projects run by the Collective. Everyone received a weekly allowance based on need, not want or desire. To each according to need, from each according to ability and all that…
After escaping the Collective my mother raised my little brother and myself with absolutely no help from my father or his family. We lived without heat for most of every cold day and without Anything New for about eight years. She also received no help from her own parents… I’ll get into all that later. Basically we were poor.
I worked during the summers from the age of 13 until 18 as a farmhand so I could afford crap like pizza and cassettes. But in the summer of 1988, while I was working in the Medium North as a fishing guide, my manic depression symptoms became ever more apparent and when I came back home in the fall I quit school, and because I couldn’t sleep anymore I couldn’t work anymore. This just created more tension in the house, which is something I’ll get to soon, so I left home again and was on welfare at nineteen.
Social Assistance in this province at the time got you rent plus $120 for the month. I lived like that from 1989 until 1997, when I graduated from College. One of the symptoms of mania is spending money like there was an unlimited supply… but $120 is extremely limited. There were times where I’d get the cheque on the last day of the month instead of the first, and by the first day of the month it’d be gone. I never managed to make a cheque stretch more than eight days.
It was all the calls home for money… I would wait until there were no other options, then call home late at night asking for money immediately. Then there were the moves… every six months a new apartment and for most of them mom was the driver. Every time I asked for help I was told it was the last time. Every time I called and asked for help moving I was told it was the last time. Every time I asked for $20 to tide me through the month I was told it was the Last Time.
Every time I asked she told me I had to find Alternate Means. As though I had options and was only using her because it was easy. So every time I’d wait a little longer, go without just a few days more, before calling her so every time I needed Whatever just that much more…
And there she’d be, on the other end of a telephone line, crying because I’d just called to ask for $20 at 11pm… and it was always $20, I never asked for more. Mom never really understood the Disease. She only knew the disease through watching me, she never knew how to help me.
So there was my mom, finally starting a career which paid her real money, in a new marriage with a wonderful human being and finally moving past her past… with me on the phone once a month asking for money.
That’s the monster in the room… that’s what is most likely to send me over The Edge. That’s why I fell to pieces over this past weekend. It’s my Guilt for ruining whatever Life she’s got going, balanced against her being unable to provide the support I’ve needed.