Thursday, July 06, 2006

Lunatics and other reminders of humanity

Every time I start to explain my family gene pool, and some of its more questionable spawnings, everyone says "every family has at least one." We have more than one, but that's beside the point today.

I have a niece who fried her brains on drugs -- bad street crack, probably crystal meth, certainly pot, and mushrooms, and so on and so forth -- and though she may have had a predisposition to schizophrenia anyway, that cocktail of drugs certainly sent her well on her way. Now, at 37, she has become completely non-functional. At least before she could survive, and occasionally held down jobs -- an extra in movies, waiting tables, and so on. She does go on welfare and disability (thank the Lord for the safety net here in Canada!). But my sister has had to continually top up her income by at least $200 a month.

She landed on my doorstep a few days ago, and I've asked her to leave. I can handle the gibberish muttering to the ceiling and the raucous laughter as she watches endless reruns of Veggie Tales. But we can't leave the house if she's here alone -- she leaves burners on, lets the dog out, feeds candy and chocolate to the dog, makes endless phone calls to people who have no idea who she is. She wandered over to the neighbour's house and was peering in the windows and knocking on the door. When I went to fetch her, and ask what she was doing, she said she was looking for a car lot.

I said I'd take her to the bus station and put her on a bus for my sister's, but she won't go there. She won't take the subway. She won't find an apartment. She won't go to a shelter, which she used to live in, and where the staff are wonderfully supportive.

My kids like her, though they know she's weird. She laughs at things, and talks to herself. She is kind, and yet leaves her stuff all over the house in a trail like Pigpen's.

I can't work -- she stands behind me as I'm at the computer, talking incessantly and looking at what I'm writing (she's not here now, btw). It takes me six hours for work that normally takes two. My husband works at home too, and he's finding it very disruptive.

She has to go.

And yet. And yet. I feel deeply sorry for her; she is sinking lower and lower on the functional scale (and she can't be put in an institution against her will). I am conflicted about making her leave, for where will she go. I cannot simply say God will clothe her as he does the sparrows.

Some things have no earthly solutions, do they?

1 comment:

Belinda said...

Dear Alex, I feel for you all and for your niece especially. I wonder if you've connected with the Canadian Mental Health Association (probably you have). If not, there may be help there - they may have advice and support for her and for all of you.
Blessings, prayers. Belinda