Viewing posts tagged mental health

Postpartum life with a family of 5

These past two months have been challenging but not as bad as expected. They flew by so fast, and now that Persephone is close to two months old she's starting to sleep for longer spells during the night time, and that makes mommy VERY happy. During these past two months:

Persephone 

has been as sweet and lovable as can be! Compared to the boys she has by far been the easiest. During the first two weeks of her life she was constantly sleeping, so much so that I had to set an alarm for every two hours through the night to wake her up and feed her. She cries so rarely that I am constantly checking on her breathing to make sure she's ok, and her lucky brothers are getting a full nights sleep every night since she was born, uninterrupted! 

Persephone's eating schedule for the first two weeks of her life were 2 ounces of formula every two hours, right on the dot. Then for the remainder of the first month we increased it to 3 ounces of formula every 2 1/2 to 3 hours, and throughout her second month we increased it to 4 ounces every 3 hours and we let her sleep as much as she wants to overnight. 

Persephone has also recently started turning over onto her tummy by herself, and is attempting to crawl. I put her on one side of the crib and I'll come back an hour later to find her on the far end of the other side of the crib. She does not co-sleep with us, from day 1 she has slept in her own crib. I want her to get used to it so that she will grow up to find sleeping in her own space as the norm. I've done this with all my children and it has worked out very well for us, could you imagine if all 3 kids wanted to sleep in our bed every night? That would be a disaster!! 

Because Persephone is still so tiny and vulnerable, we keep her away from people, especially her brothers. She is so little and still needs more vaccines, so we are VERY careful to keep germs away from her. The boys are constantly coming home with all sorts of illnesses caught from school, and we are constantly wiping their noses, cleaning throw up and dealing with all sorts of colds and viruses. We prevent little Persephone from catching anything by keeping her away from the boys and literally washing our hands every 2 minutes. I remember Valentino's old pediatrician would firmly tell us NOT to take a newborn out anywhere, especially to restaurants- where the guy in the back making your salad could be from a south american country where they don't vaccinate and next thing you know your newborn could catch TB. How funny is he? Like, who says that? THANKS for making us paranoid doc :)

Valentino

does understand that he has a "baby sister." Whenever she cries he looks concerned and tells me that she is hungry and that I should give her some pizza :) He has been adjusting to having a baby sister incredibly well. He sleeps, eats and goes about his normal daily routine really well. Because I have been recovering and preoccupied with everything baby related, hubby has really stepped up to the plate and has handled all things toddler related, therefore Valentino has really developed a special bond with daddy during these past few months. He has also matured a lot during these past few months and takes his daddy very seriously. If daddy asks Valentino to clean his room, he will instantly clean it with no questions asked. With me, on the other hand, he will play and ignore me and not take me seriously. How unfair! 

Caspian

also understands that he has a baby sister, but that's about all he understands. The first day Caspian met Persephone he patted her head and then just went about his business. He's not bothered by having a baby sister, and carries about his day normally. He ocassionally will say "bye bye baby!" His room is adjacent to Persephone's, and initially I thought that would be a problem and interrupt his sleep, but so far so good! Caspian is known as the family parrot because he will repeat everything he hears, and sometimes I even catch him imitating the baby crying! 

Sir Edward

Does realize that another human has joined the house, and seems to be curious and concerned about it. So the rule of the house is that he cannot come upstairs to the bedrooms. Sir Edward knows this and has never set foot upstairs. However after Persephone joined us, sometimes when she cries and isn't immediately soothed, Sir Edward will become very concerned and will run up the stairs and sit behind her gate, as if he is protecting her from some unknown predator who could be the cause of her distress :) 

french bulldog top of stairs

We haven't introduced him properly to Persephone yet, because she's still too little, but he has seen us walking around the house holding her. The nurses at the hospital gave us a worn hat of Persephone's and put it in a ziplock for us to take home so that he can sniff it. I thought that was really sweet of them to think of the family dog :) 

Salar

has just been ecstatic and at the same time exhausted! He continues to work hard at his job and for the family, being responsible for most things toddler related and helping me also with the baby. Literally everything has fallen on his shoulders while I'm on this what we call "medical leave" that will last until May 1st, and then I'll take over all household and children responsibilities so that he can focus on his work more. He has been really enjoying spending more time with the toddlers though, and has developed new and fun routines with them that they all seem to enjoy. Amongst all this craziness he has even managed to get a promotion at work. He very nonchalantly told me this, like it was no big deal......I then started screaming hysterically whilst jumping up and down and just making a ruckus!  He is just awesome! 

Me

I feel a million times better than I felt throughout my entire pregnancy! There is nothing more I hate than being pregnant, and there's nothing more I love than having a newborn. Every time I get pregnant I tell my husband, THIS IS IT! I AM NEVER DOING THIS AGAIN!!!!!! Then after the baby is born I completely forget those nine months of absolute torture and I'm like "hmmmm, well maybeee." 

I have gained a ton of weight as expected. On June 1st me and hubby will start the Ketogenic way of life again to lose all this pregnancy weight. By this time next year I WILL have lost about 50 pounds and I will look amazing. Right now I just look like a fat mom. It is what it is! 

On the mental health front I also feel a million times better than I did throghout the entire pregnancy. This happens to me every time, and every time while I'm pregnant I get paranoid that I'll get postpartum depression....and then it never happens. The only thing that gets me hysterical is the day after the c section where they draw my blood and can't find the vein on the first try. With all three pregnancies I sobbed like a lunatic the day after the surgery while they were trying to draw my blood. The nurses looked at my husband completely shocked and tried to reason with me. All I wanted to do was to scream "B!tCH STOP POKING ME!!" I attribute that craziness to postpartum hormone fluctuations. 

Regarding breastfeeding, that pretty much hasn't been an option for me. I produce 50% less milk than the average person, and my breasts never feel full or hurt. It's like they are the same as before pregnancy. WEIRD huh? The lactation consultants just tell me to pump whatever I can get and to just formula feed. During the first few weeks of pumping this was how much milk I pumped after an entire day of non-stop pumping:

1 oz breast milk breastfeeding problems not producing milk

I really wish I could just breastfeed as constantly pumping and sanitizing bottles is just irritating. Don't even get me started on the cost of formula! And the kids bathroom is overflowing with bottles and baby related stuff. I need a bigger house! 

newborn necessities bathroom

I am very excited to wrap up the 4th trimester and resume my normal daily routines and life. We are still figuring out how to make this work (with three kids and all) but if there's one thing I've learned it's that the seasons will continue to change and everything will eventually fall into place. 

My main goal over the next few months is to figure out how to take care of three kids and a dog at the same time, kick the carbs and enter ketosis to get my body back.

Hold me accountable, ok? Thanks!  

Becoming a Foster Parent in Northern VA

May is national foster care month. There are not many things closer to my heart than foster care and adoption, so this post is dedicated to prospective foster parents, who may have interest in becoming a foster parent but have no idea how or where to start. I used to be a social worker in my past life, and this is my take on the ins and outs of becoming a foster parent here in Northern VA. 

Becoming a foster parent is not for most families. You have to have a big heart, an overabundance of patience, stable home, and thick skin. You have to be prepared to raise a child as your own and then give them back, sometimes suddenly with no warning. You have to be prepared to have your heart broken. Over. And. Over. Again. 

To become a foster parent you must go through foster parent training and be approved by your local social services agency or a licensed child placing agency. Not everyone who goes through the training process gets approved. They have social workers look into all aspects of your life, complete background checks and a home study. 

Once you are approved you can choose which type of foster care you will provide and also the types of foster children you are willing to take. Some different types of foster care include respite, foster to adopt or short term foster care.

Providing respite care means you are providing support to another foster family by watching their foster child for a few days up to a few weeks. Some foster parents need respite if they want to go out of town and cannot take their foster child with them, or if they need a break on some weekends. Respite is sometimes a good option for beginner foster parents who want to test the waters. 

Short term foster care (sometimes called emergency foster care) is sometimes needed when a child is placed in a foster home for a few nights up to a few weeks. These foster families keep the foster child for a very short period of time while the social workers look for biological relatives or a more permanent foster home. 

If you're a foster parent who would like to try foster care with the ultimate goal of adopting, you will most likely get foster children who will not be returning to their biological families. These kids will have a treatment goal of long term foster care or adoption.

On average, children stay in foster homes for up to a year and a half. The fastest I've seen a foster child return home has been 6 months, and the longest I've seen has been up to two years.

However, some children start out with the ultimate goal of returning to their birth families, and then end up being adopted by their foster family due to unforseen circumstances (like the biological parents not being able to get it together). 

When becoming a foster parent, it is important to think about what type of child you will accept into your home. This is kind of a big deal. You need to think about what kind of child will be a best fit for your family. For example, it may not be wise to accept a 17 year old male foster child when you have a 16 year old daughter at home. It also may not be the best idea to accept a 7 year old foster child who has violent tendencies when you have a toddler at home. Keep in mind that you don't always know what kind of trauma the foster child has been exposed to and how that would affect their behavior in your home. Social workers will inform you of everything they know, but that could be very limited. They will usually have team meetings to discuss which foster families they would ask to take in a child coming into foster care. It is not the end of the world if you say no to a placement that you're not comfortable with. The health and safety of your own family needs to always come first. 

Over the years I've gotten lots of questions from people interested in helping foster children. Here are some of the most common FAQs:

What kind of children come into foster care?

Children who have been abused and/or neglected and removed from their homes. They are all so very different. They all have their own strengths, weaknesses, quirks, issues and needs. The majority are teens and sibling groups. Rarely are there newborns or infants. Some of the children are violent, but most are harmless. I've know some who have had to be constantly moved because they get physically violent, and other's who wouldn't hurt a fly. Some have a whole host of medical issues and are constantly in and out of the hospital, while other's may be extremely pleasant and loving but may wet the bed and hoard food in their room. 

One time I was talking to this little girl who had just been placed in a foster home. I asked her what her favorite thing about being in her foster home was. Her eyes lit up and she exclaimed "I have a bed to sleep in!" I asked her to elaborate, and she told me that she was used to sleeping in the "tube." 

"What's a tube?" I asked her.

"You know, those tubes you play inside at the playground." 

My heart then proceeded to shatter into a million pieces.......... 

Anyways, most kids who enter the system are just normal sweet kids who have been dealt a bad hand in life and have been through unfair circumstances. Most of them are frightened. If you have kids, imagine how they would feel going to a strangers home, sometimes in the middle of the night, having to sleep eat and live with people they have never seen before. It's hard for them. Expect some issues to arise. 

How much do foster parents in Virginia get paid?

First off, being a foster parent isn't a job that gives you a steady income. Also, it's not really income; it's reimbursement for food, clothing, enrichment activities, etc. The amount of reimbursement you recieve is not taxable income. Your monthly checks will arrive at the beginning of each new month for the previous month. This is not something you would want to do for the money. And if you are in it just for the money, then shame on you. Most foster families spend all the reimbursement on the foster child and then some more. Social workers determine how you should get reimbursed based on the level of the child's needs. When a child just comes into the foster care system, their foster family will most likely get a flat rate of $1600 per child for the first month they are in care. Some foster parents get excited because that can add up. I had one foster mother recieve nearly $5,000 the first month of caring for three new foster children. However, after that first month the pay significantly dropped after having a VEMAT meeting where the child's needs are discussed and points from a checklist are added up to determine the monthly reimbursement rate. The agency also covers all medical expenses for the child. 

During that first month it is the job of the foster parent to document each and every little thing that your foster child has going on. Do they wake up in the middle of the night, and how often? Document it. How often do they have tantrums? Document all of them. Do they try to run away? Do they not eat well? Are they violent? Are they excitable? Angry? Happy? Depressed? Do they wet the bed? How do they eat? Are they doing well in school? DOCUMENT EVERY LITTLE DETAIL. All of this will be taken into account during a meeting you and some social workers will have that determine the rate of reimbursement. The social workers have a checklist they go through (called the VEMAT) that determines reimbursement rate based on the foster child's needs. 

This is the VEMAT that they will go over with you in order to determine what you will get paid:

http://ftpcontent.worldnow.com/wvir/documents/VEMAT.pdf

Another thing regarding reimbursement, you can't negotiate to get more money. You can't justify getting paid more if the foster child keeps the lights on all day and adds to the electricity bill, or breaks your expensive household items or furniture. If you come across like you're in it for the money then the social workers will question your motives and will probably stop placing children in your home. 

What is the difference in becoming a foster parent through my local department of social services vs a licensed foster care placement agency?

When a child comes into foster care, their local department of social services assumes legal guardianship over them. For instance, if a child is removed from his or her home in Alexandria, then the Alexandria Department of Social Services (social worker) is considered their legal guardian. The department's social workers will look through their own pool of foster parents first to see which of their foster families would be a good fit for the child coming into care. If they cannot find an ideal family from their own foster families, they will send an email to a number of foster care placement agencies detailing what type of family they are looking for based on the child's specific needs. These agencies will then have a team meeting to discuss which of their foster families would be a good fit for the child. Then the Social Services social workers will pick a family they think would be a good fit for the child from the suggestions of the placement agencies.  

Every child entering foster care is assigned a social worker from the Department of Social Services. If you become a foster parent through social services, then your main point of contact will be the department's social worker of the foster child. They will come visit you and the foster child in your home at least once a month. They will also sometimes conduct unnanounced home visits.

If you become a foster parent through a therapeutic foster care placement agency, that agency will assign one of their own social workers to work with you and the foster child. That social worker then reports to the child's social worker from the state (social services) who has legal guardianship over the child. The social worker from your foster care placement agency will typically provide more support and may conduct more home and or community visits. 

Can I work and still become a foster parent? I have a full time job.

Most foster parents I've came across all have jobs. Some have full time jobs, some part time, and some are stay at home moms. You can absolutely hold a job and be a foster parent, but sometimes it can get difficult. It helps if your job is flexible as you will probably have to attend a bunch of meetings. There are treatment team meetings, court appointments, visitation with birth families, assessments, therapy appointments, medical appointments etc. The social workers working with you and your foster child will help you manage all of it. There have been many times where I have provided a chauffeur service just to help out the foster parents. Also, if the foster child is not school aged, daycare is almost always paid for by social services.  

Is there any other way I can help foster children without becoming a foster parent?

Yes! You can become a CASA (court appointed special advocate) volunteer. CASA volunteers are great advocates of foster children. They visit the foster child regularly, gather information on the case, interview everyone important in the child's life, prepare written reports for court hearings, and they participate in court hearings and team meetings.

You can also contact your local social services department (find the list below) or any child placement agency (also find below) and ask how you can help children in foster care. Some agencies have different programs that you can volunteer for or have funds you can donate to that directly help foster children. Most all agencies have some kind of Holiday toy drive, and most all would be more than happy to accept donated items that may be beneficial to foster children. Some items in high demand include backpacks, clothes, shoes, bikes, toys, school supplies, etc. Hygiene items are great for donating to teens such as toothbrushes, deodorant, hair brushes etc. Agencies can also really use suitcases. Mini suitcases and also big ones, because there is nothing more heartbreaking than having a foster child moving from foster home to foster home with all his or her belongings in a trash bag. It is bad enough that some kids have to constantly move homes, but doing so with their stuff in a trash bag just makes my heart sink. 

I hope that by reading all this you have a greater understanding of how the foster care process works. There is such a need for foster parents, and while the job certainly comes with drawbacks, I feel like nothing in the world can be more rewarding. If you want to know that your life really amounts to something- then help a child. 

Here is a list of Northern Virginia's social services agencies: 

Alexandria Social Services: https://www.alexandriava.gov/Adoption

Arlington Social Services: http://family.arlingtonva.us/foster-care/ 

Fairfax Social Services: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dfs/childrenyouth/fca.htm

Loudoun Social Services: https://www.loudoun.gov/index.aspx?nid=1004

Manassas City Social Services: http://www.manassascity.org/195/Foster-Care

Prince William Social Services: http://www.pwcgov.org/government/dept/socialservices/Pages/Foster-Care.aspx

Here is a list of all Northern Virginia therapeutic foster care placement agencies:

Adolescent & Family Growth Center (Springfield, VA): http://www.afgcinc.com/index.php/be-a-foster-parent

ADORE Children and Family Services (Arlington, VA): http://www.adore-children.com/

First Home Care (Alexandria branch): http://www.firsthomecare.com/

For Children's Sake of Virginia (Chantilly): http://www.fcsva.org/

EMBRACE (Annandale brach): http://embracetfc.com/locations/annandale

Northern Virginia Family Services (Oakton): http://www.nvfs.org/

The fourth trimester

I'm past the worst and I've made it. The first three months of Caspian's life, that is. The fourth trimester. 

The fourth trimester is a hectic time. You still feel kind of pregnant, and you definitely still look pregnant. Hormones are all over the place. Being sad, severley depressed, a little psychotic, anxious, etc. is not uncommon. Lack of sleep definitely doesn't help all that. 

I was lucky that I skipped out on postpartum depression, again. That's not to say, however, that I was feeling completely normal either. Two years ago, after giving birth to Valentino, I would cry during every sad commercial or sad movie during the first month postpartum. "But it's really really sad" I would tell my husband, who would proceed to look at me as if I had three heads. Then he would go and buy me roses and chocolates because he would think that it was somehow his fault, that I was mad at him or something. I would tell him over and over again.....it's not you....that commercial was REALLY sad!!! Why don't you believe me??? 

Those commercials would send me over the edge...you know, those damn humane society commercials. Or watching Palestinian and Syrian children suffering on CNN. Or those poor ducks and fois gras. Can we all please boycott fois gras??

With Caspian, the first month postpartum I didn't feel sad, but more anxious. I kept having these unrealistic, (kind of psychotic) thoughts that I was going to get cancer and die. There was a little black dot on my pinky (which turned out to be a blood blister) and I was REALLY convinced that I had skin cancer, that they would have to amputate my pinky, and that I would then die shortly after. I freaked out about this for a whole week until I went to the dermatologist and she laughed at me. I felt so relieved. 

With both babies, the first two months were the hardest. I'd be running on no sleep, recovering from a cesarean, feeling (and looking) like a zombie, and would go days without showering. The house would be a mess, laundry would pile up, and I would live on peanut butter jelly sandwiches.....because who has time to cook? Each child also presented their own challenges during their first months. Valentino had his days and nights mixed up, and would keep me up from midnight to 8am screaming so loud I'd have to wear headphones. Caspian didn't have either of those problems. However, he would absolutely despise sleeping on his back. The only way I'd ever get him content, was to put him on his tummy.....which is the biggest no-no when it comes to newborns. Then Caspian became ill and needed surgery.

This was me:

hectic children stressed out mom

And then the third month postpartum comes along.....and I start seeing rainbows and unicorns. Life becomes SO much better. During this month, my baby decides to become wonder child overnight. It always happens suddenly. Suddenly, I found that I was getting a full night's sleep. Suddenly baby starts sleeping through the night. Suddenly, baby stops crying so much, and instead begins smiling a lot. We almost even have a routine going! It was like this for both babies. 

So I made it through the toughest time, while recovering from a surgery, with a newborn and a toddler. Everything is so much easier now. 

Life is good. 

xoxo

A sucky situation.... (part four)

Click here to read part 1

Click here to read part 2

Click here to read part 3

Fast forward a year…… we find out that I am pregnant. We keep in touch with Sheri and call and give her frequent updates on the pregnancy. She tells us that she will come visit our son after he is born, but that Salar needs to figure out her accommodations. Salar told her that is fine. (YES! I heard him on the phone and he told her visiting was fine) - shocking to some people, I know…..

Nine months pass, and I have a baby boy. We don’t hear from Sheri for a while. She didn't call to congratulate us or send a card or gift (not that we expected one). Months pass, and when Valentino is 6 months old and I am pregnant again, we start receiving phone calls from relatives asking why we don't allow Sheri to see our baby. From the moment we started receiving these phone calls we knew she was having another episode, and it wasn't about seeing Valentino……it was about Valentino being her newest topic of fixation. This is what people have a hard time understanding.

What turned into a few phone calls from relatives turned into a million, all from different relatives in different states. Then Sheri began to call at odd hours, and Salar then blocked her number.

At this point, Salar was at his wits end, angry, and just wanted to be left alone. He was switching jobs and going through a probation period with his new job, I was pregnant, exhausted, and looking after a baby. If Sheri were responsive to receiving help, then yes, we would have helped. But the past proves that she is not responsive to real help. She would lie about taking her meds and seeing her psychiatrist.

We decided not to talk to Sheri, as she would drive Salar crazy and he would lose it and in the end they would just engage in full blown arguments. We decided to cut communication with her for a number of reasons 1) We could not afford to go through what we went through two years ago. This time Salar has a new demanding job and I have a baby and am pregnant again. Things are different when you have two little lives depending on you. 2) in order for her to get what she wanted….to see Valentino, that would have required either us going to London (which was not possible) or her coming here (which would completely cause chaos, have Salar go mad, and result in him losing his job.) 3) in the past, talking to Sheri to resolve a problem would not work. She would simply fixate on an issue, and then jump to another issue. The problem may be resolved for a day, and then the next day there will be another problem, and the following another.

Salar was tired of dealing with his sister. Every time a relative called begging him to talk to her, he would become angrier and angrier. He even thought about changing his phone number so the calls would stop. I had to convince him not to do that. All this started due to an imaginary problem of Salar not allowing her to see Valentino, when that was hardly the case. Salar had never told her anything like that, so you can imagine how surprised he was to all of a sudden receive a million calls from relatives asking him why he is not allowing her to see his son. It was ridiculous. It infuriated him so much that he wrote 2 emails to Sheri and all his relatives telling them why he has issues with his sister. Yes he was angry when he wrote those emails. Does he regret writing them? No. Not one bit. Had he not written them we would have continued to receive a million calls from relatives trying to get us to change our minds and engage in Sheri's nonsense.

Even after writing those emails, we still continued to receive calls from some people. They would infuriate Salar. He would always tell me "WHY ME? WHY CAN'T SHE OBSESS OVER HER OTHER BROTHER? WHY DOES SHE ALWAYS HAVE TO RUIN MY LIFE?"

Then Sheri started to call my side of the family. It started by calls to my mom's house, at odd hours like 5am. She would tell my mom to tell me to convince Salar to let her see Valentino. Then she took it a step further and contacted my other relatives such as cousins and aunts. She told them all to swear not to tell me or Salar that she has contacted them. She would plead for help from them. But whenever someone would tell her that she needs to go to the doctors and take her medicine, she wouldn't like that and would lie and tell them that she does see a doctor and does take her medicine, and that the only way she will feel better is if she sees Valentino.

Then she would tell people that she doesn't know why Salar is ignoring her, as she raised him. When Salar would hear this (as she told a number of people this) he would become so angry that I would see his veins pop out of his neck and his eyes pop out of his head. He would pace back and forth out of frustration at nights screaming "That is an insult to my dad, all she ever did was make things more difficult for me growing up. Tata would have to pick me up every day from school and I would spend time with her because my sister would fight with me all the time!"

Then Sheri started to contact Salar's friends. She would contact anyone who she could get her hands on, including people that Salar hasn't spoke to since he was 8 years old and who live in other countries. She would contact them and honestly I don't even know what she would tell them. Then she started telling people that if she doesn't see Valentino she will kill herself. Upon hearing this we wrote to her psychiatrist about this and told him it's best for her to be committed to a hospital. Soheil did his best to commit her but she would not have it.

Meanwhile, Salar became even more infuriated and was a complete mess. He even asked me if we could all move to the middle of nowhere Africa in the desert with no internet or telephone or anything so he could just be left alone. He wasn't even joking.

And then she killed herself overdosing on pills.

I often wonder, had we let her see Valentino, would she still have committed suicide? Talking to her older brother, she committed suicide shortly after he arranged for mental health services to visit her house a few times a day to make sure she takes her meds.

Maybe if she did see Valentino, by coming here to visit us, she would not have killed herself. But she sure would have driven my husband crazy and they would have constant arguments and I would have become a ball of stress.

And then I think to myself, suppose she did see Valentino, and suppose that were no longer an issue. I guarantee you, the next day there would have been another issue and crisis that she would fixate on and stress over. Just like we have repeatedly seen in the past. It all simply just does not end when she gets what she wants. She does not simply become better and her illness does not go away. This is what some people don't seem to understand.

So right after she killed herself, we started getting phone calls from people we were surprised she had contacted (like my side of the family and many of his friends). This made Salar even more angry, having them tell him the kinds of things she would say about him. Many family and friends blamed Salar for her death. 

Funny how they blame someone who lives on the other side of the world who is just trying to get along with his life and trying to work hard to provide for his family. Is that a crime that he put his family first and would not give in to Sheri's craziness? I don't think so. Salar did more than his share of helping Sheri. Time and time again he would offer solutions to her issues. She would complain about being lonely, and he would beg her to come live close to us and offered to do all her paperwork for her to legally move to the US. He even invited her to parts of our honeymoon. She would complain about people stealing her house and that she needed him in London, he would go and help her. She would complain about not feeling well, he would take her to the psychiatrist and oversee her taking her medicine every day. She would complain about being alone, he would have her visit us and stay with us time and time again. But this last time he just could not do it anymore and he could not handle it anymore. Having a baby, new job, and a pregnant wife is not easy. It is not reasonable to throw your life upside down every time Sheri has an episode just because she refuses to seek real help. People may think a phone call or two or a "ghorboonet beram come stay with me" will make it all better but it DOES NOT. With someone that ill the only thing that will help is being committed to a hospital, regular therapy, and regular medication. All of which she would never do.

Sheri's funeral came and went, and Salar didn't attend. There were multiple reasons for this. He was still angry at her and that anger completely made the grieving process easier. There was no grieving process. Salar would tell me that when he heard of her death, he felt like the shouting in his head had finally stopped. We didn't attend the funeral because I was pregnant and unable to fly, and Salar was on thin ice at work and could not afford to take off. The only time he could afford to take off was for the birth of Caspian, which was fast approaching. And he needed to help me take care of Valentino since it was getting harder and harder for me to lift him due to my pregnancy.  

When I think of this big mess I think of a boyfriend / girlfriend scenario. The boyfriend breaks up with the girlfriend, and wants her to STOP harassing him. Then the girlfriend turns psycho and starts calling all the boyfriends friends and family playing victim. The boyfriend still does not get back with her. Then the girlfriend kills herself. Now people can blame the boyfriend all they want but it's not his fault that the girl committed suicide. The girl committed suicide because she has a mental illness, not because her boyfriend broke up with her.

Anyways, my main point is that sometimes you can try your hardest to help someone who is sick, but when they refuse real help over and over again, and instead seek superficial help, there is not much you can do for them (especially if they are older, stubborn, and live in another country.) Sometimes when it starts to effect you big time, you just need to let it go and concentrate on your own life. That is not unreasonable.

All this being said, it is sad that Salar is still angry about the whole thing. I don't blame him. It's a sucky situation. I feel sad for Sheri that she could have lived such a great life, could have been pleasant and involved in our lives. But her illness blocked any and all paths to happiness. I hope she is finally at peace in heaven with her parents and grandparents. 

A sucky situation.... (part three)

Click here for part 1

Click here for part 2

After a month long honeymoon in Europe, we came back home to receive alarming phone calls from Sheri, stating that people were going to steal her house. Then we started to get really worried. She then began to call us about 5 times a day. Every day we would both talk to her and reassure her that no one was going to steal her house, and that everything will be fine. But then the phone calls began to increase, and on any given day we would get 30+ phone calls, throughout the day and all through the night. She would repeat the same thing over and over, completely obsessed that people were out to get her and take her to court. We could tell that she was hallucinating and she had become extremely paranoid, and that she wasn't sleeping at all.

She continued to call every day and night, begging us to help her. She would beg and plead, over and over. She would tell us that she cannot live like this and needed Salar to come to London. We would reassure her that everything is okay and that no one is going to take her house, and Salar will make sure of that. We would then hang up the phone, and she would call back 5 minutes later saying the exact same things she said during the last conversation. It was like it was on repeat, and nothing you could say would stop it. You could not reason with her, there was no logic. It's like it would go into one ear and out the other.

Then she started calling relatives who would then call us and ask why we are not helping her retain her house. People would actually believe what she was saying to be true, whereas in reality there was no truth to what she was saying.

We begged Sheri to go see her doctor, and we would call her doctor and fax him letters detailing her mental state. She would lie to us and tell us that she went and saw the doctor, and the doctor would tell us that she had not. 

So we decided to go ASAP as she was deteriorating, and booked a next day flight.

When we arrived in London, Sheri was happy to see us, for all of 5 minutes. She would tell us that any day they are coming for her house and taking her to court. All throughout the day she would pace back and forth. She would not eat and would not sleep. She would barge in our bedroom in the middle of the night panicking. We then had to trick her into seeing a psychiatrist. It took 4 people (Salar, me, Soheil and Tata) to get her to leave the house and get into the car. We would have to beg her for hours to get her to come with us. In the psychiatrists practice and in public, she would act okay. The doctor prescribed her meds, which she refused to take. Every day was a struggle to get her to take her meds. At first Tata would try to reason with her and plead with her to. She wouldn't listen. Then I would go and try to persuade her to take them, while being very nice and sweet. Then Salar was always last resort. He would argue with her and they would have full blown fights over this, and she would only take the meds once he threatened to leave and stay in a hotel. Getting her to take her meds took several hours and was always a battle.

After a few days, she suddenly stopped talking about people stealing her house, and started being fixated on something else…..she started to fixate on giving Salar power of attorney for her so that he can handle all her affairs. Every day she would beg him to, and would constantly tell us we needed to see an attorney as soon as possible. She said this was absolutely necessary, and went on for days  telling us this needs to happen. Salar reluctantly set an appointment, thinking he will just get this done so that she may feel better and have a better sense of security since she wanted it so much.

The day arrived when we went to see the attorney. During the meeting detailing power of attorney, Sheri suddenly tells everyone "Why are you making me do this?" "How can I trust Salar?" We all stood there shocked. After days and days of obsessing for this to happen, how can she just suddenly change her mind like that once we are in the process of getting it done? That day, we were in the attorney's office for hours. It was a complete wasted trip.

Salar then told her that he will NOT be taking power of attorney and that is actually the best thing to do.  As soon as he said this, then she immediately changed her mind (again) and begged him for the rest of our stay to make another appointment so that she can sign the papers. Every single day she would beg and beg, pace back and forth, claiming she made a big mistake and now wants to go back to the attorney's office again to sign the papers.

Salar felt defeated, angry and fed up. It looked like the more he would give in to her demands, the more it would backfire and nothing would help. 

That entire trip was a nightmare for Salar. Tricking her every week to go to the psychiatrist and forcing her to take her meds were one thing, but it was completely another thing to have her manipulate other people into thinking that we came just to have a vacation and were not helping her. This would infuriate Salar. While staying with her, we would beg her to come out to buy some groceries or necessities. She would refuse to leave the house. Then while we were out we would have numerous relatives call us angry at us for leaving her alone and not helping her. We would have to explain to these relatives that it was her own choice for not leaving the house and that we had begged her to come with us.

 Other times we would all be going out to dinner together, and right before leaving the house she would call relatives in the US (in front of us) and tell them that we were all going out without her and leaving her all alone. We then would just stand there stunned and speechless.

She did a GREAT job of playing victim and manipulating people.

Because things were so bad, we had to extend our trip. Every day was a struggle to get her to sleep, to eat, to shower, to take her meds, to see her psychiatrist, and to leave the house.

Shortly after we left, she followed us to Virginia and stayed with us. During her stay it was also a struggle having her take her meds in front of us. During this time, she would say mean things that would get under Salars skin and then they would fight. It was a hectic time, and Salar was losing his own mind, and unable to concentrate on his work that was really lagging. During her stay with us, we had a serious meeting with her and her close uncle about her options for moving closer to family. We begged her to move to the US, and Salar told her over and over again that he will do all her paperwork for her and help make it possible. We all talked to her for hours about seriously considering moving here and that we would all help her and hold her hand through it, but again and again, she would come up with an excuse. Then she would complain about being lonely in London.

It was like talking to a wall, you just could not get anywhere and it would just frustrate everyone. 

A few months later Sheri went to Arizona and stayed in an apartment that her aunt sorted out for her. We were going to meet her there to attend a wedding, and she wanted us to stay with her but I preferred us to stay at my relatives home who also lives in Arizona, as we would spend all day every day with Sheri anyway. She then blew this up into a big problem, and we had relatives calling us begging us to stay with her instead of my relatives. Sheri then started calling people telling them to call us and tell us that we have to stay with her. She even called my mom, and my mom would get mad at me and tell me that I have to stay with Sheri. Then I would get into fights with Salar over this, as more and more people would call begging us to stay with her so that she could stop driving everyone crazy. In the end we had to cancel staying with my relatives and opted to stay in a hotel instead just so she wouldn't feel like we were choosing favorites. 

It literally felt like she was picking on her little brother. Salar would get frustrated time and time again, and would often feel like his sister was obsessing over him and loved to pick on him. He would get jealous that his older brother didn't have these issues with their sister, and would often say "WHY ME? I've moved across the world to start a new life and she keeps dragging me into her world of crises! She's ten years older than me! Why does everyone constantly look to me to solve all her problems??"  Living through all this with him and seeing it firsthand, I could sympathize.

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