|"I've been here all day, praying for you. Help me get up. My legs are locked. I'm being punished."|
That's how my mom greeted me after school. She was kneeling in front of the human sized crucifix she'd hung in the living room. She was like that when I left to catch the bus in the morning. She was still like that after band practice at dinner time. She cried. I tried to tell her that things were okay, but she said she saw the devil in my eyes and would do anything it took to win my soul back.
My Dad had her sent to the hospital soon after that. It was the eighties and the hospital was a terrible place. I always felt it was my fault that she was put there. She came home between the electroshock treatments. When she was on the medicine they gave her, she was like a zombie. My Dad said if she didn't keep taking it, he would leave her. She said she couldn't hear God's voice anymore and wouldn't take it.
He set her up in an apartment, gave her some money, kept her on his life insurance, and checked in on her once a week. Sometimes we'd get to see her, but just for a few minutes. Even then it was hard. She wasn't always like that. She was funny, a long time ago, and danced. She'd made great baklava. She'd bought me my first drum set. Everybody she loved got a baklava. Everyone she thought was special in some way.
She stayed in that apartment, praying on her knees or going to the hospital to fight the demons, for fifteen years.
My Dad heard about the Carson Center and convinced Mom to give it a try. There were new meds to try and a group. After six months, I saw her laugh again. They even had therapy for us, for Dad and I, who had watched the mystery of mental illness take our family to terrible places far apart from one another.
Mother's Day has always been hard for me. But this year, I went to see my mom and she made me a baklava like you wouldn't believe. I saved some for my Carson therapist, but mom had already brought her some. And for the group.
By JAC Patrissi