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Schizophrenia: My Other Mother

(Page 2 of 3)

Already as a young child, I knew I had to “play” my mother like a chess game, carefully placing each piece on the board, for I was fearful of what would happen to me if I was incorrect. On rare occasions I felt brazen enough to tell my mother the truth as to “why” a particular individual had tried to call upon us. I would usually say something logical, like “They stopped by because they’re family or because they are a dear friend.” This was not the correct answer, according to my mother’s paranoid rational. It would be at this point when she would realize that I was really on the “other” side, the side that was against her, the side on which the visitor belonged, and we were all really up to something. We were all conspiring against her, and for the next couple of hours, I was treated like a prisoner of war, being interrogated as to what I “really” knew about the visitor and why they had really come to our house. After many tears and cowering in the corner, I was allowed to go to my room, and she would go to bed because my “antagonism” had exhausted her. This was one of many different, strange customs I was put through while growing up, and these incidents worsened after the death of my father. I was scared to death to be left all alone with only my mother as my parent. I was able to confide in my father, some of the strange things that went on while he was away at work all day. He would simply offer a big hug, and make me feel validated by taking me out for ice cream or to an amusement park; some place far away from her, so that I could forget for a while.

Almost 30 years later, some things haven’t changed. After years and years of trying to get my mother medical and psychological help, to no avail, mentally and emotionally exhausted, I finally moved 3,000 miles away so that I could tend to the needs of my own family. My mother lives in California, where people with mental illness are not allowed to be kept by a facility for more than 72 hours, even if something is found to be wrong with them, and medication can not be forced upon them, only merely suggested. In physically distancing myself, I was hoping to emotionally disconnect a bit, and also to make sure that my own children weren’t exposed to their grandmother’s mental illness as I had been at such an early age. Sure enough, 3,000 miles wasn’t far enough away. She’s always on my mind, and I always worry about whether she’s eating or if she’s physically okay. You see, my mother owns a lot of property, and has made some savvy real-estate investments over the years because of her extreme intelligence, however, the shame of it is that she is unable to enjoy any of her small fortune, because she lives like a street person. My last “major” incident with my mother and her mental illness came to me via a phone call that woke me up at 3 am. I was half asleep when I answered, but once I heard the hysterical voice of my mother on the other end, I was bolted into a waking terror of reality and trauma. She could barely breath, and she was whispering at points, and then shouting for her very life at other points, all the while, talking so fast that I couldn’t piece anything together.

At first I thought that she was being attacked during a home invasion, because she kept referring to “them” and “they.” She screamed into the phone, “Wake up, because I don’t know how long I have, and there’s a good chance that I will be killed tonight! They’re here. They’ve been here for a long time, and I was afraid to let anyone know, because no one would understand! Here are the names of the banks that I have accounts in; are you getting a piece of paper to write this down on?!? Hurry, hurry! They’re coming for me! I’m afraid I won’t make it to the morning if they have they’re way.” My blood ran cold, and it was everything I could do to keep myself calm, trying to figure out what I could do to get my mother immediate help from authorities even though I was 3,000 miles away. My family was awake, and everyone was hovering around me. The kids wanted to know what was wrong with grandma, and my husband wondered if he should try to call authorities from his cell phone, while I was still on the line with her. We decided that this would be the best action to take, and as I was telling my mother that my husband was calling authorities to her house, she pleaded with me for him not to do that, because “they” would definitely kill her if “they” knew the authorities were on there way.


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