My father has been suffering from mental illness since the beginning of 2018. It has been an up and down journey due to his stubbornness and his denial of his sickness.
The Beginning of My Father’s Mental Illness
At the beginning of 2018, my father began having anxiety after he experienced acid reflux, which is a digestive disease in which stomach acid or bile irritates the food pipeline. His anxiety symptoms included pacing back and forth in the house, crying, insomnia, and feeling “empty in this head.” At first, my mother and I thought his breakdown was temporary, but a few months later, he still he has it.
It’s been a hard couple of months because my father is a stubborn man. He goes to therapy and takes his medications inconsistently. He has yet to realize that mental illness is not something that you can fix with a magic pill. Preferably it is a combination of taking medication, attending therapy and using what you learned in therapy to get better.
I’m not going to lie; it’s been a tumultuous year so far. I feel that my father has retrogressed from the sixty-year-old plus man to a now spoiled five-year-old boy. He is afraid to be alone and clings to my mother like a preschooler on the first day of school. If my father wants something, my mom gives it to him because she wants him to stop whining or crying. I am quite upset by it because I feel that my mother is just making his mental illness worst rather than just helping.
My father does have a psychiatrist, which he goes to monthly. He consistently takes his anti-psychotics, but he’s quite on and off with his anti-depressants. Therapy, as I said earlier, is a different story. I feel that therapy is a difficult sell for my father because it’s abstract and the effects of it take awhile to see. I also think it’s difficult to sit there as a therapist explains that the behaviors you’ve been using over your lifetime are maladaptive, and you need to change them to become better.
My empathy for my father is on and off. Before my father became sick, he teased me for taking medication. He’d jokingly ask me for one of my medications since he was “stressed.” When he drove me to my psychiatrist’s appointment, he’d comment how all of the patients looked “high” or “zoned out.” Now that he has a mental illness, part of me is like, Well, you deserved it after teasing me for so many years. Then another part of me tells me not to be so vindictive and petty. Everyone makes mistakes; everyone deserves compassion no matter what they’ve said or done.
The Temporary Caretaker
Starting next week, on June 11, my mother will be off with her friends to celebrate a reunion. That means I’ll be my father’s primary caretaker until she comes back on the 23. I’m nervous because I’m at a loss on how to support my father. The way my mother has helped my father is giving in to his wants, in which I find enabling. She finds me to be harsh, and I can see where she’s coming from, but I don’t want my father to believe that just because you have a mental illness, it means you have carte blanche into getting what you want. Yes, having a psychological illness sucks, but it doesn’t mean throwing a fit to get something.
I guess this is what it means to be on the understood.