So, where do I begin? I guess I’ll begin with the diagnosis. Essie was bi-polar and schizophrenic, and she had a very low IQ. Life with her was certainly interesting if nothing else!
For about a month, I basically lived alone with Essie. By that point, Beloved had been removed from the house, so Essie was the only foster child in the home. My family was gone more than they were there and that left the schizophrenic and me. I don’t mean to make fun. I really don’t. It’s just that, until you’ve lived with a mentally delayed, bi-polar, schizophrenic, you just haven’t lived.
After about a day alone with Essie, I was already losing it. She talked non-stop, and most of the time, she did not make much sense. By the time she went to her room at night, I was so happy for her to go.
You’re going to think I’m terrible, but I have a confession to make. When daylight savings time started, I changed the clocks a little more than I should have. Essie said she could not read time, but I did not want to take any chances. I set the clocks back two hours instead of one. I figured she was already confused from the time change, so it wouldn’t matter. By setting the clocks back, I made it where Essie really went to her room for bed at 7:00 when she thought she was going at 8:00. Call me diabolical, but it was a matter of self preservation. By sending her to her room, I gave myself an extra hour of peace and quiet. Handling her from about 3:45 when she got home from school until about 7:00 was all I could do. Don’t look at me like that. You have no idea how bad it was.
One morning, Essie came to the table with her hood of her jacket pulled up over her head. When I asked her to put it down, she refused. Finally, I talked her into putting it down. When she did, I saw that her entire head of formerly blond hair was now bright red. I asked how in the world she had done that, and she said she used a Crayola marker. And, just a helpful hint, in case you are considering using Essie’s beauty techniques, Crayola marker is really permanent in hair. It faded to bright pink when she washed it, and it stayed pink for weeks. It was lovely.
When I went into Essie’s bathroom after she left for school that day, I found red marker all over the room. She had colored her toothbrush. That was just one of the nasty things she did to her many toothbrushes while she lived there. The child went through a toothbrush a week, because I kept discovering her brushes in gross places with gross things on them. Once, I found it in her toilet that was unflushed. Enough said. I’m pretty sure Essie used her toothbrushes for just about everything except brushing her teeth.
Personal hygiene was definitely lacking for this girl. She did not shower, and when she did, she did not use soap or shampoo. I talked to the social worker about this, and the social worker started a series of lessons for Essie and a few other girls from the other house who were suffering with the same issues. Throughout the classes, Essie insisted that she washed her hair daily. When I said she did not, she got mad at me. We had reached the point where I had to dispense shampoo in a little paper cup because Essie kept dumping whole bottles down the drain. So, the social worker asked me to start collecting the cups to see if the shampoo had not been used. I collected a full cup of shampoo every day for two weeks. I’m pretty sure the soap did not get used either.
Now, here’s the kicker. Essie was a hugger. She wanted to hold on me and hug on me all the time, and she called me, “Mommy.” My own kids didn’t even call me, “Mommy.” Just hearing her voice say, “Mommy,” was enough to make me want to set the clocks back even further.
Essie told me that she was hearing voices. I figured this could not be a good sign, so I had the social worker make an appointment with the state appointed psychiatrist. We went to see him and went through the whole appointment with no mention of the voices. Finally, I asked Essie if she was going to talk to the doctor about the real reason we were there, and she said no. I asked her why not, and she said she didn’t want him to think she was crazy. Since I thought it wouldn’t be nice to say that the ship had already sailed, I just looked at the doctor. He asked what was going on, and she said she was hearing voices. Then, he had a conversation with her that made me wonder if I was the crazy one. He asked her what the voices sounded like, and she said they sounded like Essie. He asked her if the voices told her to do good things or bad things, and she said good things. Then, the doctor looked at me and said, “She’s fine.” I asked him, “Really? We’re trusting to schizophrenic to decide whether the voices are good or bad??” He said we were. And then I remembered that this was my tax dollars hard at work. Thank you, doctor.
Essie was confusing at times. She had an incredible vocabulary and could come across as very mature and smart. Then, she would run into traffic without looking. In fact, that happened so many times that I threatened to get her a monkey backpack. Sadly, she said she wanted one, and she was serious.
When I asked Mr. Everything if he could remember any funny stories about Essie, he said there was absolutely nothing funny about her. He said she was scary, and he was pretty-much right.
When we made the decision to leave the children’s home, Essie was moved back to a house where she had already lived. The mother of that house was so upset about getting Essie back that she would not even speak to me. I didn’t blame her. She was probably so happy when she escaped the insanity of Essie, and then she got sucked back in.
Essie lived in our house for the two and a half long months that we were there. For the last week, she was joined by Margarita. I’ll tell you about her next. –Al