Part one of ‘A Life Cut Short.’
When I started blogging, I was not sure which direction my blog would take, and unfortunately did not pay too much attention to the way I related the sequence of events. Today someone asked me a few questions and I realized that I need to summarize the sequence of events that were my son’s life.
Our son, David was drafted into the military in the fall of 1990 with the highest medical profile one could attain and was keen to enter a combat unit. A stressful event in the army is what probably triggered the start of his mental illness, yet he completed his military training at a desk job. In the fall of 1993, he finished his three-year training and received his discharge papers. My soldier boy, who had entered the military filled with hope, ambition and a sense of duty toward his country, was listless, withdrawn and apathetic. Physically he seemed to be with us, but mentally, he was missing in action.
David held his head in his hands saying: ‘They won’t leave me in peace.’ ‘Who are They?’ we asked. ‘The ones who hound me. They talk about me all the time. Talk, talk, talk. I no longer have any peace,’ he said, cradling his head in his hands.’ My head is scrambled.’
My husband and I stared at one another. ‘You have to see a psychologist,” my husband told him. He did. The psychologist recommended a psychiatrist who prescribed medication.
‘What’s wrong with David, doctor? How will medication help him? ‘Well,” the doctor replied, ‘It should calm him a bit.’
The following day I found a note from my son, written in zigzags
THEY enter stealthily
in the dead of night.
The storm inside of me turns to fear
What do THEY want from a pauper?
I pray for peace of mind, peace of mind, peace of mind.
‘Why are you both against me? Why are you working with THEM?’
Written by your son, David.
Things got worse. ‘It sounds like a drill going through my head.’ Eventually, David agreed to hospitalization where he was kept under observation. We had faith in modern medicine yet knew nothing about mental illness. My husband turned to me and said; “Don’t look so upset. David is ill now, but he will come home well. That’s what’s supposed to happen, isn’t it? You enter the hospital ill and exit well.
Our immediate family was invited to take part in family therapy sessions once a week but they did not help. Once, I heard myself tell them; “David’s illness is all consuming. It dictates our schedules so that someone must always be available for his visits, his phone calls and his crises. Do you think that we believe this is a healthy way to live? Help us help our son and then we can sort out our lives again.’
He was released after spending months in the hospital and on our return home, it didn’t take long for us to realize that he had not been cured. We would have to learn how to cope.
David accused us of planting microphones in the house. He accused me of poisoning his food. He said we were against him. No amount of persuasion could get him to see that all this was his paranoia and his illness talking. Eventually he was diagnosed as suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, one of the more serious mental illnesses.
He attended a day clinic where he refused to take part in group therapy, but chose to play table tennis or eat falafels at the café opposite. He never missed an appointment to meet with his therapist though. One day David announced out of the blue; Anyone who thinks that dying is the worst thing that can happen in the world, doesn’t know the first thing about life.’ Soon after that he was released from the clinic.
One of our daughters got married and all my husband wanted was to dance the night away with me. He was as happy as could be. I was worried in case there would be an incident. There wasn’t. I spent the rest of the night thinking of the next generation but my husband told me very sensibly; ‘Let it go and move on. ‘I’m trying,” I told him. ‘But what if schizophrenia is a wrinkle of nature in our family?’ ‘You can’t spend years worrying about something as remote as that possibility.’ ‘I know that. I even consulted a geneticist as I didn’t want to worry you with that.’ ‘Well, what did the learned geneticist say?’ ‘That I can’t stop living when tragedy strikes. He told me how many illnesses there are in the world and he would not recommend refraining from having babies because of them. His advice to me was the same as yours. Let it go. The children will decide what to do.’
Then my husband kissed me and said; ‘ I have no doubt that one day we are going to have the most beautiful, healthy grandchildren this world has even seen.’ And how right he was.
In part two, I will try and summarize the rest of David’s story.