He was 38 when he first started hearing voices. He was 38 when he first started to think everyone could read his thoughts. He was 38 when he came to believe his family was under mind control or had computer chips surgically placed in their brains while they were drugged or in comas on the porch roof. He was 38 when he had his first schizophrenic break.
Granted, this is a very late age for something like this to happen. We didn’t know that at the time. We’d had time to form a life together already. We had a wonderful marriage, home, kids. We were each other’s best friends, as it should have been. Then, he got so sick.
So sick that he stopped bathing. So sick that he could eat very little, as he feared his food was poisoned. Not by me, but he was sure the manufacturer was out to get him, too. So sick that he couldn’t go to work anymore. So sick that he spent what little funds we had on devices to debug our house. So sick that he showed up at the kid’s schools, unkempt, unshaven, unbathed and filthy. He had to make sure the teachers knew his children were unsafe and ask if they were the ones who had put microchips in their brains.
The hospitalizations started. Medications were tried. Some worked very well. So well that he was sure he didn’t need them any more. So, he stopped taking them. And had to be hospitalized again. And again. And again. Ad infinitum.
The family tug-of-war contributed greatly to this dilemma. His father and brothers were certain that I had caused this. I’d get him into the hospital. They would convince him he didn’t need to be there and to leave against medical advice. I’d get him back in and somewhat stable on the meds. I’d go to work and when I came home, his med bottles were empty. “Dad said I didn’t need them and to just pour them down the drain. So, I did.” I had to enlist the help of our 12 year old daughter to regulate med therapy when I wasn’t home. She ended up parenting her father at a very young age.
We lost our insurance. The hospital and medication bills mounted. He bought more debugging devices. I worked 3 jobs. We went bankrupt.
The kids started refusing to bring friends home. Then they started not having any friends to bring home. Their grades dropped. And dropped some more.
He was 42 when I asked him to leave. He was 42 when I watched him walk away from our home one last time. He was 42 when he went back to stay with his father again. He was 42 when my life-long relationship with guilt began.
*Note: This all happened over twenty years ago, although I never wrote about it until ’06. Writing this has been cathartic for me and the guilt hasn’t been such a major issue since then. I’ve republished this elsewhere a few times, whenever the emotions get the better of me, and it always helps. I’m better now. Really. :o)