Updated: Oct 1, 2020
Last weeks of summer holidays - the kids would stay up late and sleep in. I had started my day at 5am since we were going through an implementation at work. It would be a busy weekend. Lilly’s car was in the driveway and all the kids were home. That’s all I ever wanted.
I came up from my office at around noon. The cleaners were complaining that Lilly had not come out of her room yet. It was not unusual for her to sleep in - the side effects of the Seroquel that she had to take before bed. I called her name - in an agitated voice she told me she was on the phone with her psychologist.
Over the years, we had learned to communicate with Lilly. She would spiral the moment she thought she was being attacked or if she felt that she was a disappointment. In a neutral tone, I asked her to take the call in my room since the cleaners needed to finish her room.
I went back to my office for a call. When I came back after an hour - everyone was in the kitchen. She was seated in her usual seat and was eating the previous nights‘ leftovers. I was happy every time she ate at home. Of course, I’d never say anything since it would trigger her to do the opposite.
She was in a heated discussion with her dad. Something that rarely happened. He was frustrated with her coming home late, her rudeness, her lack of respect. We both had noticed a change in her over the past few months. She’d loose her temper easily, would keep ranting, was aggressive, her bouts of depression would last longer and she would avoid family. Over the past month, I had told my husband many times that I thought she was spiralling, probably not taking her medication, and was self medicating. He thought I was being paranoid. She was just a normal 20 year old trying to be independent and discover herself.
We were coming up to the one year mark from the last overdose. It’s normal for a person with mental illness to spiral and be hospitalized every year. Anything could be a trigger - anxiety, feeling worthless, change in routine, a fight with a peer, a text, a snapchat, an instagram post. As she got older, I stopped snooping. I stopped playing detective. It got harder to keep track of her medication schedule, her sleep schedule, her activities. All doctor visits were confidential and I was no longer filling her prescriptions.
The sisters also got into a tiff. Everyone was frustrated with her attitude. She ranted at everyone and headed out the door. I stopped her and demanded a hug. Recently, every time she left the house I would force her to hug me. She rolled her eyes and gave me a tight hug. We were hugging for a good minute and I even sneaked in a few kisses. I remember the softness of her cheeks. As she pushed me away she said “You’re so needy. Don’t wait up for me, I’m sleeping out tonight”. I chuckled and replied “You’ll be home, you love your bed too much”.
My husband finally agreed I might be on to something. We decided to talk to her next weekend after her graduation from out-patient rehab. She was anxious the past few months. Graduating rehab meant she would be out of her ‘safety net’ and be back in the ‘real world’. She had been in and out of rehab the past four years. She was scared of leaving her support structure. I definitely felt like she needed some mental health support. She needed to learn to live a more holistic life. Unfortunately it‘s very challenging to find a place that treats dual diagnosis - both mental illness and addiction.
Around midnight, I heard the door chime and my heart skipped a beat. Thank god she had come home. I was up working in bed and watching TV. I tried to wake my husband up before she came upstairs but he had fallen asleep. She came in our room - “you were right, I love my bed too much”. She was so happy. A totally different Lilly then the one who left the house that morning. She had gone to dinner with a friend that had graduated ‘Step 2’ of rehab. Her friend no longer needed to be in isolation and would now be able to hang out with the group.
Lilly was glowing. I told her she looked gorgeous. When in a good mood, Lilly was very playful and loving. She started swishing her hair over my face and sat on the bed. Chatting away about her day and her evening. She hugged and kissed me good night. Her last words were: “Mum, don’t wake me up, I want to sleep in. Love you”. In the past, I would tuck Lilly in and wouldn’t leave her room till the Seroquel started to take effect. My husband and I would take turns checking in on her. We had stopped putting her to bed and checking up on her since she turned 20 in 2019.
After saying goodnight to me she spent time with Simmi. Simmi had gotten upset with her the day before. Simmi had told her that she expected her to come to her room and say hi. She was always up and wanted Lilly to check up on her. The sisters spent some time together. Lilly took Simmi’s hair products and went for a shower around 1:30am.
What happened between 1:30am and 3:00am? What was she thinking? Why did she have those Roxy’s (OxyContin). Why the self numbing? What was eating her up inside, what was she running away from? It’s very common for people with mental illness to stop taking their medication and start self medicating to feel a sense of normalcy. The medication makes them feel numb and stops their creativity that they feel during the manic phase.
I was up till 4am. Why didn’t I check up on her? Why didn’t I put her to bed? Why didn’t I go to her room and sit and talk to her? I COULD HAVE STOPPED WHAT HAPPENED!