I remember getting the call that my father had been rushed to the VA hospital in Phoenix. He had been in and out of the hospital a lot lately and each time seemed worse than the prior. I remember it being late because by the time I pulled into the hospital parking lot it was dark.
I was nervous as a walked through the corridor to the psychiatric unit and asked to see my dad. My parents had divorced when I was 20 so as the oldest child the responsibility of my father had landed on me. This was not my first time dealing with situations with him but it was the first time I felt the weight of it. I had a sick feeling as I was directed into a large room with chairs and a phone on a small side table. I could tell it was a lounge and visitation area for patients and their families but it was empty tonight other than my father who was sitting next to the phone.
As I walked in he grabbed me. This was really unusual because my father never hugged or shown affection towards me. I thought he was going to hug me until he started feeling around my stomach and waistline.
He asked, “Where are the bullet holes?”
Of course I was confused and started asking what he meant. He just kept acting like there was no possible way I could be standing before him and continued to feel around for gunshot wounds. I had to take a step back.
At the time I was young and did not have an understanding of the extent of my father’s mental illness. I proclaimed, “Dad! How can I be dead if I am standing right here?” My father was very confused. He told me about a shootout with the police where I had gotten caught in the crossfire and he saw them take me away in a body bag. It did not make sense to him that I could be standing before him.
Wow, the blow that hit me in that moment! It was as if someone had punched me in the gut, HARD, knocking the wind out of me.
I could not imagine living my life seeing such awful things and believing they were real. I had to stop and consider that losing his children must be one of my father’s greatest fears for it to haunt him so heavily.
Schizophrenic patients will often never be convinced that something did or did not occur. You can spend all your time telling them the voices are not real or that no one is conspiring against them but you will likely never be able to persuade them because to them it is very real. Just like my father who had trouble understanding how I could be standing in front of him at that very moment.
There have been other times like this one. Once he thought my siblings and I were all four killed in a car accident. He said he received a call saying we had all died. At the time my brother was stationed in Afghanistan and the rest of us all lived in different places. There was no possible way we would all be in the same car together. You see, schizophrenia does not operate in logic. It causes the mind to believe what it wants and there is no convincing otherwise. My father had difficulty believing that we were all okay until he spoke with us or saw us for himself. Today he will tell you that all of his children are alive and well.
My father still has hallucinations and moments of paranoia but taking his medication correctly plays a HUGE part in him having good days and keeping them to a minimum.
I used to be afraid when I would get the call from the hospital to tell me my dad had been admitted again. Now getting “the call” is just a normal part of life for me.
I am a mom to four boys and I am married to an amazing man that has always supported my passion to share my heart. I currently stay home with my boys and work from home for a call center. My favorite thing is to travel and see new places. I love to be crafty but don’t find much time for it… instead I scroll through Pinterest day dreaming. I have my Bachelor’s in psychology but my goal is to go back to school and finish my Master’s in Behavioral Science so that I can actually work in the field of behavioral health.