Saturday, July 28, 2007

Breaking the Ice

Hello out there. I haven't checked my comments in a while, and didn't realize people were inquiring about me. I sincerely apologize for seeming to ignore you all. I am truly touched by your interest. Believe me, reading your blogs every day has been a lifeline for me during the past few months.

It's hard to talk about painful events. Everyone has enough pain in their own lives and I figure nobody needs a play-by-play commentary on mine. Nevertheless, here's a little background to explain my long absence.

My daughter was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in April, at the end of the school year. She has been battling depression since her last year of high school, with baffling recurrences every spring and fall. We thought that for some reason she just couldn't stand the pressure of exams, never suspecting bipolar disorder because we never saw her in a manic phase. Until now. Lithium makes her sick. They're still trying to find the right medication.

As she was in no condition to take on a summer job, she couldn't renew the lease on her apartment in Kingston. She has moved back home, putting her furniture in storage and her education plans on hold. This arrangement is far from ideal. The quiet lifestyle that we enjoy here has limited appeal to a young woman in her twenties. Besides, living with her father's health issues is stressful in itself, and that's not a level of stress that she's well equipped to handle at the moment.

Her psychiatrist is in Kingston. You can imagine the awkwardness of that in a family with no driver's license and a $50 taxi ride from the nearest bus or train station. Let's just say life has gotten expensive, but we have been blessed with great friends who help as much as they can.

This has kick-started us into a decision we've been putting off for years: to sell our house and move to a city that has better transportation and medical facilities.

We've known for a long time that we would have to move one day. At the very least, we need a more handicapped-friendly house for my husband. He's no longer able to manage stairs, and he's not able to tolerate extreme temperatures, so air conditioning is becoming a must-have for summer. He also needs to be closer to a good hospital. However, he's always resisted change of any kind, even little changes like switching the furniture around. Up to now he has refused to consider even the possibility of moving. The seriousness of Alex's condition has finally convinced him to make the effort. Having made up his mind to it, he's become enthusiastic and is looking forward to it now, so that's one huge obstacle out of the way. As a Queen's graduate, he knows and likes Kingston. Ottawa would have been an equally acceptable choice, but the price of housing there is far beyond our budget, so Kingston is where we will be house hunting once we get to that.

We decided on this way back in early May, and hoped to have the house on the market sometime in June, after doing a thorough house cleaning and a few repairs, aiming to be out by early fall. It's all taking a lot longer than expected.

So many little home repair jobs were postponed over the last couple of years while we lurched from one crisis to the next. Now they all had to be done at once. Summer being the the peak busy season for workmen, getting professional help for some of the jobs proved impossible. I still have two doors that need hanging, and a loose stair railing that needs securing. I seem to have spent the entire summer on a ladder, with a paint roller or a screw driver, a drill or a staple gun; or else on my hands and knees with a scrubbing brush, or hauling huge loads of garbage to the curb.

I must say, the house has never looked so nice. We've finally reached the stage where we enjoy it, between sweepings and moppings. The windows are clean, the floors are clean, we are clutter-free. My pictures are hung on the walls instead of being stuck behind the furniture.

The cats are not so pleased - they are locked out of the bedrooms for fear of getting the new bedspreads all haired up.

The downside for me is that all my art supplies were stuffed into a closet, and there's no corner of the house that I dare to mess up enough to get into anything interesting. I'm looking forward to getting settled again, but have no idea when that will be. We haven't had any offers on the house yet. Of course, fall wasn't the ideal best season for selling, but there was no way to get the work done any sooner. We're now expecting to be here all winter at least. At some point we'll probably slip back into normal living, which will mean another big clean-up effort next spring... I know, it's useless to try to look that far ahead.

I did try to keep up my daily sketching, and succeeded (at least sporadically) into July, but then lapsed for a couple of months. In December I started dabbling again. The watercolour above is an attempt to capture a snowy day. I think it looks more like rain.

It feels good to get this posted. When you've neglected a blog as long as I have, you wonder what you can possibly say to start off again. If anyone is reading, Happy New Year.


Bonny said...

Hi Agnes!

It's so nice to see you back! One could wish it were in better circumstances, but it sounds as though you are making decisions going in the right direction.
I hope that in time and with the change coming up for relocation and better medical facilities, that both Alex and your husband will get stronger.
Sometimes the very change we dread is enough to kick start a more positive outlook on life and routines allowing for easier improvement.

Good Luck to all of you in 2008!

Bonny in BC

laureline said...

Dear Alice,
Your landscape sketch looks perfect to me--amazing that you could leap in and paint fluently after such a long hiatus and all that you have been through. I know firsthand what it's like to live with someone with bipolar disorder (my former husband) and I KNOW it's not easy for the person so afflicted, or her family. I wish you all the best with your move and I hope fervently that Alex finds the right medication for her. Once she has, life will miraculously improve. Hold on and take care.

Agnes said...

Bonny, how nice to hear from you. Thank you so much for responding so quickly. I didn't dare think anyone was still out there. Thanks for your good wishes, and good luck to you and your family in the new year as well.

Agnes said...

Hi, Laura. LOL, I didn't publish my first drawing, but waited until the initial kinks were worked out, which took a few weeks. Even so, "perfect" is an awfully flattering word coming from an artist of your accomplishments. Thanks for your encouragement regarding Alex. It truly is a comfort hearing that other people have been through this and that there's light at the end of the tunnel.