Imagine being 30 years old, and life is good. You’re healthy, vibrant, and even astonishingly good at math.
But then just a few moments later you can’t make sense of the world. You don’t know what’s real and what’s not.
You begin hearing voices that aren’t there.
Shortly after this you’re put into a “mental institution.”
That’s what happened to my mom. For whatever reason, shortly after I was born, she was stricken with schizophrenia.
(If you’ve ever seen the tv series Fringe, my mom is almost exactly like Walter Bishop, or vice-versa.)
Here’s one story about what this is like for her, and for our family. I have three older sisters, and about ten years ago she was living with Sister #3 (aka, “#3”). For some reason about ten years ago — maybe because she wanted to see if they were still required — mom stopped taking her medication (Haldol). Sisters #2 and #3 told me that mom suddenly had much more energy, and started furiously scribbling down notes.
Then in the middle of one night, mom called 911 and told the police that everyone in the house was dead.
At this time #3 and her husband owned a small neighborhood restaurant, and policemen used to come in there all the time. So in the middle of the night, #3 wakes up when her bed when her bedroom lights are turned on. She looks up and finds a policeman standing next to her bed. Besides being ridiculously startled and scared, it turns out that #3 knows this policeman from the restaurant, so she asks what the bleep he’s doing there.
He tells her that mom called 911 and said that everyone in the house was dead. #3 has two young daughters, so she flies out of bed to make sure the girls are okay (and they are).
It’s important to add that when she takes her meds, everyone that meets my mom says that she’s the nicest person they’d ever met. “Nice, but so quiet,” is a common phrase. She’d do anything for people, and constantly gave out money.
It’s also important to mention that my dad handled this poorly. We never spoke about what mom was going through. I wish he would have said something like: “You know, for whatever reason, some people in life are just a really crappy hand. Mental illness isn’t something to be ashamed of, it’s just something that has happened to your mother, and we all need to support and help her.” But instead, nobody ever said anything. It was never talked about, not until we were all much older. As you can imagine, that made growing up pretty miserable for everyone.
Mom might not like me telling this story, but the reality is that I pay for 95% of her caregiving bills, and I’m running out of money. I was going to start a GoFundMe page for her, but since I pay for most of her caregiving and I already have a Ko-fi page — and they don’t take much out of the transactions — I thought I’d just share this Ko-fi link here. If you feel inclined to donate, any donation is appreciated: