Mental illness left us to deal with things we could never have imagined; touched every aspect of our lives; strained all relationships, at home and out.
For 16 years, I ate dinner with schizophrenia hovering in the background.
Once, my son’s paranoia made him throw a jug of orange juice that I had freshly squeezed, onto the stone floor where it shattered.
On another occasion David thought that there were microphones under the platter of chicken and roast potatoes that I’d placed on the dining room table for our Friday night dinner, so he got up, grabbed the platter and dumped it into the trash bin.
At lunch one day, sure that his Dad was in league with Them and The Establishment, David grabbed a family heirloom, the statuette of an African Head, and flung it in his father’s direction. He missed. I collected all the pieces and put them into a box on the highest shelf in the kitchen. All our lives, like that of the statue, had been shattered by this illness. Many years later, I pieced the shards together and today, the piece stands in our living room, a reminder of what can happen to a human mind.
Reasoning with David did not make his delusions disappear, so we learned to move on.
There were times when I admit that I had to make a tremendous effort to continue loving my son; and I did; while hating schizophrenia. It took a long time to accept that mental illness had been woven into the fabric of our lives.
It took a long time for me to learn that David’s needs did not always come first; that we had lives to live too.
The only thing worse than being talked about, is not being talked about – by Oscar Wilde