Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Holidays Part 2..

so the holidays are over. It didn't turn out as I had planned but it never does, I guess that's just like life, never turns out how we think it will. my dad stayed with me over Christmas eve but it almost didn't get to that point. I called him on the 23rd and he was complaining about his bad back and how he is a "cripple" and is tired. He wanted me to come up to him( I live a hour away). He eventually calmed down and I said I would take him back anytime he wanted to go back. We planned to go out to eat with his sisters on Christmas eve and to my uncles on christmas, I didn't think we would make it to the Christmas day part and I was right. I picked him up around 3 p.m., he was asleep in his bed. I woke him up and we left. He had his bag in hand. He didn't say much on the car ride to the restaurant, he just looked out the window. As I predicted the restaurant was pretty over stimulating for him, he was upset about the long drive. "why can't I be closer?", he said, I told him we are trying and there isn't much we could do, the process just takes time. Some days my dad likes where he is at and some days he doesn't, this was one of those days that he didn't like it. I bought him "real cigarettes" for Christmas usually I just roll them  so we can save money. I went outside with him as he smoked, "you are the love of my life, Mike." I didn't know what to say back but my heart sank. He continued to complain about being far away but my mind was kind of drifting thinking about what that meant? I was mad, sad and heartbroken all in one. People with serious mental illness usually don't hold back and my dad never did with me. I kind of wish he would...sometimes.

We had dinner and it was weird since I never went out to eat on Christmas before, my mom always had dinner at our house. My dad made a toast to my mom, something like."my wife is looking down on us today" something like that, I was kind of in a daze. We finished dinner, opened presents and went back to my place. He liked my apartment. We were watching Miracle on 34th Street( ironic watching it with a mentally ill person). He fell asleep on the couch for a few hours. Woke back up about 12 am had a smoke and some coffee and went back to bed, in my bed which I gladly gave him. 

The next events will be burned into my head for the rest of my life. We walked upstairs and I showed him my room. He laid down in my bed with all of his clothes on, shoes on and above the covers. I said, "dad don't you want to change?". He said, "no I'm fine." I said, "at least take your shoes off." He did. As I was leaving, he said  "Mike can you leave the light on in the hallway and leave the door open." I did and was heartbroken again. He was scared, alone and broken. I felt an unsettling wave of sadness the rest of the night. I was the father and he was the son. I was my mom but she was gone, everything was wrong, it wasn't Christmas. I was so sad a disease had made my dad sleep in his clothes, in my bed with the hall light on. I cried... I grieved for my mom, my dad and me, everything that we had lost all seemed to take hold of me in a matter of hours as I stayed awake during the night.

I felt I needed to double my efforts in that second to make the conditions for the mentally ill better, everything needs to be better, that's what I kept thinking.Seeing him hobble around my apartment, I was saddened because I felt like he wouldn't be around for much longer, he's gone through so much and maybe this is the ending. I don't know but that's what I felt. He slept for a few hours to about 3am, got up had coffee and his smokes(outside). I  was pretending to be sleeping on the couch and he keep saying to go up in my room and sleep, so noble. He wanted to take the couch, so noble. He gives his smokes, coffee and snacks away where he lives..hes a good man and this is such an unfair fate to be trapped in a body that gave out on you years ago. To watch your wife die and be away from your son and daughter for that matter.

I made him cereal and about 5am he wanted to go home, so I took him back. When I dropped him off I said goodbye and I love you, he cried. It felt like another goodbye. I have said a lot of those over the last year. Everything came rushing back over those two days, my mom's death, my dad's illness and the great hole that's in my life that hasn't been filled since all of this. People keep telling me I hope you can find peace but I haven't  yet, maybe more time will help, but I feel like I'm at war. As we have seen in the news recently people are dying because of mental illness, my mom died young and what about my dad? I think they can both be listed in the body count. I think the system is broken, I think we can change that, I think if we have it on our power to make things better, we have the duty to do so. At the same time I know you can only fight so hard and so long before you burn out and get tired. I had this dream a few days before Christmas that my dad was healthy, maybe my hope is just that.. a dream.

So that was my Christmas....haha... Merry Christmas everyone..

Mike McCarthy

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Holidays..

The holidays can be a stressful time for anymore but when mental illness is involved it's always a bit tougher. I have always just kind of wanted them to be OVER. Let's get it done and move on. Not that I don't like Christmas but it's anything but relaxing and it has always been that way. Schizophrenia doesn't make good dinner conversation. My mom loved the holidays and always had our house decorated very nice, but having people over always made me super anxious and I'm still the same way I don't really like having people I don't feel understand me in my apartment and my dad doesn't even live with my anymore. The anxiety really isn't for me because I was used to my dad's behavior but for everyone else in the family. They had no idea how to deal with my dad or what he was like in our home. I was worried how others would react to his outbursts or him talking to himself, you would think this wouldn't make me so anxious since these people were family but to me they seemed liked strangers. I just wanted to say, "can you all just leave my house so I can relax and be at peace." I think my mom even felt the same way, not that she was embarrassed of my dad or anything but just didn't feel real comfortable having others  seeing my dad in an unstable state.

Not that my family had the cops called or my dad was causing fist fights or anything like that, more like something is a little off here and no one is saying anything. One of the things about my dad's schizophrenia is that his cognitive abilities are impaired i.e. he gets things confused a lot, dates are off and asks the same question over and over again. He thinks I lived in New york city for a year, that never happened, I visited new york for an audition( it was about 3 days long). So he is prone to talking about the past, well the past he thinks happened. That can make conversations awkward and confusing for people that don't understand mental illness. The other factor that make the holidays tough is people ask a lot of questions, for someone with schizophrenia that's not really good. It's hard for the unwell brain to process all this information coming at them at once, that can make things unclear and threatening even if it's not supposed to be. Can we also not talk about  controversial topics( not politics, no religion, no money)? My dad is obsessed is talking about money, I have noticed this with other mentally ill people, they seem to always be worried about income which is understandable since they really don't have any. I almost guarantee my dad will ask what happened with my moms insurance money, he asks me this almost every time I talk to him. I say, "dad your brother is taking care of it" "everything is fine." I hate talking about money, I just want to eat my ham and go that brings me to this year.

I'm having my dad stay with my this year, One day over Christmas eve to Christmas day. We will see how this works out and if it can be done ever again. I live in an urban area, somewhere my dad has never lived. He chain smokes and has a broken back so it's tough for him to get around sometimes. I'm really hoping he doesn't smoke in my house or pee in my bed. that would not be good, haha. I'm hoping he doesn't yell at anybody and we can just eat our ham and go home, in peace, well as peaceful as we can be.

Mike McCarthy