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The Caregiver Roller Coaster

Sometimes when writing or blogging I will use the term roller coaster… As a parent or caregiver of someone with a mental illness it is a term a lot of us use. A very fitting term if you ask me. There are lots of different roller coasters throughout the world. One of the top ten being the Bizarro (formerly known as Superman: Ride of Steel) in Agawam, Massachusetts USA. My favorite, possible because I have ridden it, is the Ghoster Coaster. It’s a small wooden one in Canada’s Wonderland in Ontario, Canada.

When things are relatively calm than I say that we are riding the Ghoster Coaster. It’s still a roller coaster but not nearly as many ups and downs or twists and turns as any of the bigger ones.

Currently my son and I are riding the Bizarro… Again.

The struggles of dealing with positive, negative and cognitive symptoms, behavioural issues, medication compliancy, and doctor’s appointments to name a few is one of the roller coaster rides that we find ourselves.

However the roller coaster ride that I would like to discuss today is the emotional one that caregivers are riding, daily. As our loved ones are riding there’s we are riding our own. To be more precise we are straddling them both. As we are aiding our loved ones on their journey we are navigating the ups and downs and twists and turns of our own roller coaster ride. A gamut of emotions ranging from love to hate, hope to despair, anger, frustration, dismay, shame, regret, fear, confusion, powerlessness and on the good days pride, wonder and yes even joy.

Today my gamut of emotions include but are not limited to: love for my son, regret that I couldn’t get and keep him stable, frustration at a system that stops me from getting my son the help that he needs, powerlessness and last but not least, anger. Anger at schizophrenia and addiction for taking my son away from me yet again. And let’s not forget hate. Yes on days like today I hate schizophrenia and addiction. I hate what they do to my son.

Since my son was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in 2011, I have had a love-hate relationship with schizophrenia. It gives him qualities and strengths that I truly admire. When we are riding the Ghoster Coaster I see a beautiful soul who is able to give and receive love, with an open and quick sense of humor and the possibility of a future. On this ride I look on from my own roller coaster of emotions that are wonder, hope, joy and pride.

I don’t know how or why but I blinked and we are now riding Bizarro… It’s scary when I find us on this ride and I want to find the ticket master and ask for a refund. Put us back on the Ghoster Coaster. It may be a roller coaster but its ups and downs are nothing compared to the peaks and drops of Bizarro. I don’t want us on this ride, again. I don’t want to lose my son to schizophrenia and addiction, again. So as he is riding his… I’m on my own Bizarro. A ride filled with remorse, grief and despair.

As a parent and caregiver I want to say that all of these emotions while painful and sometimes overwhelming are nothing to be ashamed of. They are what motivate us to keep fighting. Sometimes they shield us from feeling the grief that if we let out just might consume us. It’s ok to grieve. It’s ok to be angry. It’s ok to feel each and every emotion that you feel. Why do I say that it’s ok? Because each and every one of these emotions is because we love. The stronger the anger, regret, remorse and confusion… The stronger the love.

We can’t get off our roller coaster anymore then our loved ones can get off there’s. So hold on tight because we are in for a long and bumpy ride but hopefully we can talk the ticket master into keeping us on the Ghoster Coaster. I like the Ghoster Coaster!

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