Wednesday, October 9, 2013

My Family and Mental Illness (Part 2): The Father I No Longer Knew

Sheldon's note: This is part two in a continuing series about my father's struggles with mental illness, and how it affected my family as a teen, for part 1 (click here). Please read that post, if you haven't already, before continuing to read this post.

After receiving the phone call from the owner of my dad's company that he had went missing from work, my mom tried to regain her composure, but she knew she was still too shaken up to drive, she didn't necessarily like driving from the Illinois suburb we lived in across one of the bridges across the Mississippi River in the first place, fighting all the traffic, and she knew she was definitely in no shape to try it at this point.

A longtime neighbor who lived across the street at the time drove us across the river to my dad's company in St. Louis, about 15 miles away, the building was about two blocks from of the buildings on the campus of St. Louis University.

We went across the Poplar Street bridge, down Highway 40 into St. Louis, and as we pulled up to the building, my mom sternly told me to stay in the neighbor's truck, she would handle this.

She went into the building, not knowing what to do from there, she had already called St. Louis' police department on her cell phone, she was transferred to a detective who said that unless there was proof that he was in immediate danger, had been taken somewhere against his will, etc, that there was nothing they could do for us but let us file a missing person's report 24 hours from that time. My mom tried to explain the circumstances to him to no avail.

She went into the building, and came out about 15 minutes later with my father. She had told me that she had found him the break room with a co-worker of his who was waiting for her to show up, they were just as surprised and confused about what was going on as we were. They had all known him for most of their adult lives, since he had worked there for so long (25 years), it was a small company (at most would have around a dozen people on staff at any given time), and there was a core group of men that had been there almost as long as him.

They knew something was wrong for up to a year before this day, the signs had been slowly building, but like us, they had no idea what had been happening to him. The co worker waiting in the lunch room said that he had walked in shortly before she arrived, and said that he had been trying to walk to the pharmacy owned by their union to pick up some prescriptions that were in for both him and her, but he had gotten lost along the way, and had to come back.

That seemed highly strange, since the pharmacy was only about 10 blocks away, and he had walked to there, (and before then drove there), many times over the last 3 years or so before this time. After he had said this to his co-worker, he just shut down, wouldn't talk to anyone, seemed highly confused, as if he didn't know where he was or who he was, and he had this strange glassy look in his eyes.

My mom had to guide him to the truck, and help him into it, he looked so dazed and confused, I saw in him a look I had never seen before. I had never seen him so lost and helpless, he always knew what to do in any given situation. and I had always looked up to him for protection and guidance in life, and looking at him now, I didn't know what had happened, it was if someone had erased everything in his mind about who he was, who we were, and replaced him with someone else, a man who could no longer think for himself, or care for himself. I felt like my father had died.

He became the father I no longer knew.

 To be continued in post 3


  1. Hope these posts will help you a lot Sheldon. Its tough remembering hurtful memories.

    Sheldon BTW you forgot the link "always knew what to do in any given situation (use text to link to post 1)"

  2. I read your pain.


  3. It must be extremely difficult to relive these memories. Keep up the good work. Thanks again for sharing.

  4. Writing these posts was torture, but I'm OK with them now that I've been posting them. It's helped me to make peace with aspect of my past.


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