The prettiest smiles hide the deepest secrets.
The prettiest eyes have cried the most tears.
The kindest hearts have felt the most pain.
by Pankaj Gandhi
- When our son, David was ill many years ago, and in a psychiatric hospital, I felt that I was the only one who had a son with a mental illness. I knew nothing about it, nor did I know anyone else in the same position.
- I had the distinct feeling that people did not understand me nor what we were all going through, which should not have surprised me as no one in our family fully understood what was happening either. But, I needed people to understand.
- When I mentioned some of the things to friends that David had said or done, I felt that they were sure I was making it up. It must have sounded even more bizarre that it really was.
- Some friends assumed that I was managing as they said that I always looked alright. (what exactly does that mean?) Now that so many years have passed, I wonder why I never took up acting instead of English teaching as I do tend to come across as if everything is fine with me: maybe because I made a conscious decision to choose to live rather than slip into a depression.
- Frankly, in those days, I did not feel that I belonged with normal people any longer. but then, I looked up the word normal – this time I used Webster’s Thesaurus and this is what I came up with: ordinary, run of the mill, typical, routine, orderly, regular, methodical, sane, lucid, wholesome, right-minded, rational, reasonable, showing no abnormal bodily condition, in good health, whole, sound.
- I came to the conclusion that my son was seriously ill with a hidden illness and until he developed tardive diskenesia, he looked the same outwardly as the rest of us. If a person failed to see the piles of pills he was taking, no one would have known that he was suffering from a hidden illness, one that carried such a heavy stigma with it.
- I don’t think that David should have been treated ddifferently by people in general. He needed and deserved the same tolerance, understanding, sincerity and genuineness that they used in their other relationships.
- I have always been a compassionate person, but David’s illness taught me to be even more so than previously. Until we found a support group run under the auspices of ENOSH (the Israeli Mental Health Association), we had nobody to turn to and I suppose that’s why I spend so much time helping individuals who need an empathetic person to talk to. Parents of children who have a mental illness need to talk to someone who has been there and who knows exactly what they are going through; and not only someone who quotes from their textbooks. Psychiatrists help where medication is concerned, but it is so very easy for them to lose concentration and think of something else. After all, they hear versions of the same stories every single day and I do understand how difficult that must be. However, because I have been through the agony of watching my son suffer for so many years, I listen to every word, return every single phone message, reply to each heartbreaking email that arrives daily.
I found myself saying the following to a psychiatrist after we’d had a disagreement:
“Going to a synagogue, does not make you Jewish any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.”