Family, Food, Mental Health

Day 3 with Takkin

IMG_2846Time is an interesting thing. It goes fast and slow. It creeps up on you, and then recedes, slinks away into the shadows. Time is a flat circle. Nah, just playin’. But time sure is a son-of-a-bitch. For one thing, my time in Virginia feels never-ending.

We spent almost the entire day out. Takkin didn’t have any “tutors” today, so it was just me and him. We got coffee, I took him to get a haircut, then headed to Hartwood Foundation for an intake assessment.

Hartwood Foundation is a respite home that provides services to people like Takkin and their families. One can stay in the home for up to 21 days to allow for the caretakers to have a break and the individuals with mental health problems to sort of reset and spend time with others like themselves. They also offer drop-in services, where service providers come to the home and help the individuals with things like going out into the community, learning to cook and clean, balancing budgets, and other activities meant to promote health and safety. In order to qualify for this type of help, we first had to have an intake assessment. I knew my parents could never convince Takkin to go, so I gave it a shot, and amazingly enough, he went.

We were there for an hour, and in that hour, he drank 5 bottles of water and went to the bathroom every 10 minutes. He stood up and walked around the living room every 7 seconds. He shook hands with his caseworker 16 times. And I was on the verge of tears thrice. Numbers. Time. Timing. Sometimes they are small and sometimes they are big.

The intake specialists asked a million questions, ranging from “what’s your daily routine?” to “do you ever fall down?” to “what kinds of foods do you like to eat?” He answered as best he could, and deferred to me when he could not find the words. Finally: what’s your diagnosis. A term he was unfamiliar with. So I stepped in and tried, though I was unsure of the answer too, as are his parents, as are his caseworkers, as are his doctors.

Bipolar. OCD. Anxiety. ADHD. Developmental delay.

With each passing one, the world around me moved in slower and slower motion. I saw the women sitting around the table set their pens down and pause taking notes, their mouths growing ever more agape as the severity of his situation dawned on them, became more real. The fidgeting was bad enough, the retelling of every encounter with the police, the sad truth that he has no interests and can’t be at home because he gets bored but can’t be outside because he has severe agoraphobia–but this panoply of prognoses was too much for even these trained professionals.

And then it was my turn to be overwhelmed. They passed over 20 sheets of paper that needed to be filled in, they told me he needed a TB test, doctor’s directives, a copy of his prescriptions, this, that, the other, and more. I knew I couldn’t get it all done in the 10 days I am here. And I know if I don’t do it, no one else will. So here we are. It was all for naught. And we are stuck forever in the same cycle of day-in and day-out nothingness.

After the intake assessment, we went to Taco Bell for lunch, and then to my friend Scott’s house. Takkin shoveled the tacos into his mouth and after less than an hour said he couldn’t stay anymore and wanted to go home. On the car ride he expressed frustration about going to the house and how he was going to be bored and what was there to do there anyway. I am Sisyphus. He is the boulder. The mountain is each day. And I am so very tired.

We had dinner at my uncle’s and now we are home again. But first we stopped for ice cream at an empty quick mart. Well, it was initially empty. As soon as he got out of the car, a man walked by and Takkin fist-bumped him. The man obliged but walked away looking perplexed and uncomfortable. At that moment, I wanted to drive away, so far from there, so, so far away, and forget I ever had a family at all.

We were almost home when he said he had to pee even though I told him to pee at my uncle’s. “I’m peeing myself,” he said. And then he did, a little. And I am not even phased. Because in time he can change his pants. A small and simple thing like urine does not upset me when there are so many worse things to shed liquid over.

This morning, on our way to his haircut, we decided to take a detour and drive past two of our old houses–ones we lived in when Takkin was in his early adolescence up to about 20. I call it “the time before.” He rambled on about old friends, about taking the bus to different programs and the data entry and Trader Joe’s jobs he had during that time; he recalled living in a home with his mother, living in a home with his father, and our old dog Tiger. He remembered all the things about his past life, before his illness set in. The time before.

And I wondered–am still wondering now–how can time stab you in the back like this Tak?


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