Scary Shing Shing
My good friend is losing her mind. While she slowly drifts further into madness, I struggle with my guilt and impotence because I can’t help her and I can’t stand to see her the way she is. I don’t know how to deal with the deterioration of the mind of my mentor. She has always been strong-minded and reliable, but now she doesn’t always make sense and she often gives advice that seems bizarre. In spite of my education, my work, and all of my years of friendship with her, I don't know how to deal with her in her present condition. My guilt stems from my avoidance of her. I want to call her, but I can’t make myself, because contact with her drains me emotionally. I want to visit her, but I am afraid to find that she is worse now than she was the last time I saw her. I can't excuse my cowardice and treachery, but I can't be around her either.
My friend tries to hide her paranoia and fear, but anyone who knows her can see that there is a very different look in her eyes, a kind of wildness and uncertainty has replaced her sage, calm visage. She is irrational and new acquaintances would be kind to say that she seems eccentric. The truth is harsh - she seems crazy.
Some weeks ago, her brother came home late one night to find her wandering down the street, clutching one of her cats to her breast. When he asked her what she was doing, she told him she was going to the apartment manager's office to find out what time the Halloween party was being held. He had to explain to her that it was after 11:00 PM and the management office was closed, and then he had to direct her back to her home. She has two cats (thankfully only two) and her world is revolves around them. She saves her meals at restaurants to take home to feed them and she tells her friends she does not want to leave them alone in the apartment because “it upsets them.”
Her symptoms are varied and worsening with each passing week. Exhibiting extreme paranoia, she has accused several friends of tapping her phones, spying on her through her TV set, hacking into her computer and tampering with her bank accounts. From week to week, her paranoid delusions shift from one friend to another. I was one of the accused, and she called me crying and begging me to “make it stop.” She now tells me she no longer believes that I am responsible for her misery.
Recently, she became extremely manic and started staying up all night and obsessing over a woman she says she is in love with. Her lesbianism is a surprise to all of us (especially her family). The obsession with her friend, turned into stalking and harassing her. Understandably, they are no longer friends. Now she mourns the loss of this person in her life, and still professes her love. Her uncontrolled mania also lead to her leaving her home in the middle of a driving rain storm at 4 AM to go to a cat show that did not start until 9:00 AM. Although the cat show was only about 8 miles from her home, she became disoriented in the storm and ended up lost miles from the cat show venue. In her diminished state, she picked up a hitch hiker named "MJ," gave him the keys to her car, and asked him to drive her to the cat show. MJ then spent the day with her at the cat show, received food, cigarettes and money from her. I don't have the stomach to ask if she requested that he drive her home, too. She told me that while at the cat show, she caused an incident that resulted in security and judges being called to the booth where her friends (who are cat breeders) were stationed with their cats. Her friends screamed at her and security guards asked her to leave. Ultimately, her friends intervened and she was allowed to stay till the end of the show.
Thanksgiving week her daughter came into town and after Thanksgiving, the daughter and my friend’s brother had her committed. A few days later they helped her discharge from the psych ward against medical advise, because they felt that the psychiatrist was a quack. Her car keys are being held by her brother, but she is living alone and can otherwise come and go as she pleases.
This saga has been unfolding for months and I know her condition will not improve anytime soon - she's in a downward spiral. I thought somehow writing it all out would make me feel better, but my quilt is not assuaged. I feel useless,helpless and treacherous and I can’t make peace with the inevitable.