The turn around in my father's health in the last year has been nothing short of miraculous. In large part, that's because of the group home where he lives, which has given him top-notch care and enabling him to get back on his feet. I am incredibly passionate about sharing this story, and am thrilled to share it with the far-reaching audience at Vice.
"You father is all set to be released tomorrow," the social worker said, her voice cheery, as if this were good news.
And yet, as I heard those words, I was overcome with nausea. I sat in the May sunshine outside my New Hampshire home, pulling on new blades of grass, focusing on the small physical details of the lawn as I tried to maintain my composure. I lived out of state with an infant, and was unable to take my father in for both practical reasons (he would lose his Massachusetts state-sponsored medical insurance) and personal ones (I couldn't care for an ill father and an infant at once). My three siblings, all in their teens and early 20s, were just starting their lives—living abroad, launching a business, and going to college. None of us were equipped to handle our father's needs.
In that moment, my biggest worry—that my father was going to die—was replaced with a new, more pressing concern: Where would he live if he survived?
PLEASE read the rest of this important story on Vice, and share. People with mental illness are our loved ones and they need our advocacy.
Today is Harriet's second birthday, and my father's 53rd. She is currently outside running around with her Papa, a testament to the change she has brought into his life, and all of ours.
My daughter’s first birthday—my father’s 52nd—was celebrated in the psych ward. There was no candle, and a nurse held the knife used to cut the cake. I had to call and plead in order for the baby to be allowed to visit my father, speaking first with a nurse and then with the unit manager. Normally, children aren’t allowed beyond the locked doors that mark the start of the psychiatric wing.
“Please,” I begged. “It’s their birthday. Both of them.”
My father was my sadness, and my daughter was my light. I couldn’t celebrate the joy of her first year without thinking about the deep sorrow that year had held for my father. I couldn’t bear to celebrate another melancholy birthday with my dad, or find hope for his future, without the healing balm of my baby’s smile. After all, without the baby, we may all be forced to confront the lunacy of singing “Happy Birthday” to a man currently hospitalized for depression.
Read the rest of this story in Brain, Child Magazine's blog.
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