Sheldon's note: This will be a long story, and one that is very difficult for me to write, so I will be splitting it into a series. I have alluded before to my father's struggles with mental illness in past posts, but I have never gone into detail as to what his health conditions are, or how it profoundly changed my life as a teen. This series will change all that.
This series will probably be as hard for me to write, so please, bear with me as write this. It's been over 10 years now since my father had to quit his job due to his health conditions, but beginning to write this is dredging it all up again, and my emotions feel almost as raw as when it happened.
I was 14 years old when one day, there was a call from the owner of my dad's company. I was busy working on my ACE coursework, as a hard working home school kid, the same ACE coursework that I had in the fundamentalist private school I was in until the 4th grade.
I was full of dread of finding out what this call was about, but I didn't know if my mom would be happy with me leaving my coursework for a moment, (she was at the house of an elderly neighbor of ours, and this neighbor could tend to talk for quite a while). After my father's boss called several times, about once every 30 minutes, to see if he could talk to my mom, I knew it couldn't wait. I walked down to the neighbor's house, and as I thought she would react, she wasn't happy at first, and was demanding to know why I had stepped out of the house.
I had told her about my father's boss repeatedly calling, and that it apparently was important, because he refused to tell me what was going on, and was insisting to talk to her only. She tried to hide her fear, and pull herself together, because just like me, she knew something wasn't right.
You see, there had been a lot of strange occurrences and patterns in his behavior leading up to this time. For about a year before this day, his normally good memory had been failing him at times, and he wasn't able to understand some things that he had been very good at figuring out. All his life, he was the problem solver, his mind could think through any problem, large or small, and he could react with ease, figuring out the best course of action, whether it was a major decision in life, or how to put something back together that had come apart.
Those skills were failing, however, and his personality was rapidly changing. He was growing increasingly more frustrated with himself, and with everyone around him, when normally, he was a happy, easy going man (other then when my mother would be constantly trying to pick fights with him for no good reason, she loved drama). He would get very confused sometimes, and then several hours later, be back to his normal self again.
His mind kept getting worse, and he kept getting more frustrated by the day, especially since he could no longer drive, since my mother insisted on him giving up his driver's license because he had been falling asleep at the wheel due to his sleep apnea (she tried to get him to quit his job, since that would be dangerous at work as well, but the only concession she could get from him was giving up driving).
She knew something was wrong, and she knew he was getting worse, but she didn't know who to turn to, and all his doctors would do is give him strong anti-depressants, which strangely enough, made his mind even worse. She was at her wit's end, and she started planning for the worst, saving up money in the bank account each month, and insisting on no unnecessary purchases for the time being. I suppose she knew that these circumstances would lead to him eventually giving up his job, and she wanted to be prepared.
She went in the house, and called back the owner of my dad's company, and he told her that my dad had walked off the job that morning, and had been gone for a while, and no one knew why he was gone. When she told me what had happened, you could just see the life drain out of her, she knew it, the day she had long been dreading, and fearing had finally come.
To be continued soon.....
(Update: part 2 has now been published.)