Posts Tagged ‘madness’

So Patricia had spent many months in Weskoppies. She had deteriorated even more and was at the point where all she did was sit and stare into space. The doctors told my mother that it would be best for her to forget about the fact that she had a daughter and leave Patricia be. She was the equivalent of somebody that was brain-damaged, who would never amount to anything.

My mother would never accept that though and insisted on the hospital releasing her daughter. The doctor asked my mother to reconsider, but she would hear nothing more about it.

It was a tough time for all of us as a family now that Patricia was home. I was petrified that she would go all crazy on us again and rip up the furniture. That was not going to happen though; Patricia was close to catatonic that she could barely move a limb. She literally sat in a chair all day long and stared at the ceiling.

My mother was in a desperate situation and tried everything in her power to bring Patricia around, but it was hopeless, she would not respond. My mother had to help dress and bath her in the beginning, until eventually she could at least do that much.

There was nowhere to take Patricia during the day and my mother had no idea what to do with her. My mother had to go to work and she did not like the idea of leaving her at home. So she decided to take my sister to the Avril Elizabeth home for the disabled.

The staff at Avril Elizabeth did not take too kindly to the idea of my sister spending time there, but my mother begged them to have her. They agreed on the grounds that if there was any trouble Patricia was to leave immediately.

So that was where Patricia stayed during the day. The first few months my sister did very little other than stare into space. There were several good nurses on staff at the home and they encouraged Patricia daily to try and help them with a few small things.

Gradually Patricia responded to the patient love she was shown and started helping out at the home with a few things.

As the time passed Patricia slowly progressed back to her normal self. She started assisting with the mentally handicapped children and before very long she became an asset to the home.

My brother, Grant suffered with cerebral palsy and also attended at the Avril Elizabeth. My mother used to fetch Patricia and Grant from there in the afternoon and Patricia would always go on excitedly about how she had helped the children.

So when the doctor tells you that there is no hope for your son or daughter, always remember that the hope that you have for your children is all the hope that they will ever need.


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I was spending an afternoon at a friend’s house after school and my sister Tracy was also visiting a friend. When I arrived home late that afternoon my mother was busy vacuuming the carpet. Patricia was home and lay on the couch with her feet up against the wall. She was behaving strangely as usual and swore at me as I walked inside the lounge.

Quite suddenly I noticed that the curtains had all been cut in half. I was so nervous around Patricia I never noticed it at first. Then to my horror I noticed that all three of the windows in the lounge had been smashed. Like somebody had missed the main centre window trying to break in, and had smashed both of the side windows by mistake.

Patricia insisted that somebody had broken into the house before she had come home and that it was already in a mess when she arrived there.

To make matters worse the lounge furniture had also been slashed to pieces with a scissors. It was sheer vandalism and my mother knew very well that Roslyn had convinced Patricia that that was the right thing for her to do in her twisted way of thinking. I was feeling really afraid and had no idea of what to make of my sister’s strange behaviour.

Tracy arrived home shortly after me and she looked horrified at the sight of the lounge. She confronted Patricia about what had happened but Patricia flatly denied having anything to do with the mess. My mother was unsure of how to handle the situation and decided to report the incident to the police. They arrived about half an hour later and my mother told them that her daughter was very ill.

Patricia disappeared into her bedroom, realizing that she might be in serious trouble. In her mind we were all plotting against her, and she believed that we wanted to see her destroyed.

One of the policemen knocked on her bedroom door and asked if he could have a word with her. She screamed out loudly telling the policemen to go to hell. This was when they realized that she was not well.

The policemen in charge immediately phoned for an ambulance and they must have arrived at our house in about fifteen minutes. Patricia was dragged out of her bedroom literally kicking and screaming. One of the policemen joined her inside the ambulance to try and keep her calm. I felt quite sorry for the poor man, my sister was a handful.

The ambulance siren sounded deafening as the vehicle rolled out of our driveway.  Patricia was off to Weskoppies mental institution, a hospital where patients were locked up for their own protection. I breathed a big sigh of relief as I watched her go.

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I argued with my mother and demanded that she must take my sister away from us. I told her that Patricia was mental and that she might even try and murder us. My mother was obviously upset and told me to keep quiet. We waited in anticipation for Patricia to return home. I wanted to run away, but there was nowhere for me to go.

Patricia never returned home that afternoon and my mother was starting to panic. Patricia had made a new friend a couple of weeks back and her name was Roslyn. My mother had heard that Roslyn had recently been looked up in jail for petty theft and other minor offenses. She was a big woman in her mid-twenties and she was a bad influence on my sister in her current state of mind. My sister was only a teenager.  It was bad enough that Patricia was full-blown psychotic, now she was mixing with the unstable people as well.

The term psychotic tends to place fear into a person when they are not educated about mental illness. Usually when a person is gentle by nature, the worst that they do when they are mentally ill (psychotic) is become verbally abusive and violent. Violent meaning they may break things. Or they may overdose on tablets with the belief that they are invincible. A common occurrence with people that are schizophrenic or bipolar is that they may even develop the God complex during an extreme high. They believe that they are superhuman, and that way they become a danger to themselves. I am no expert on the topic; I only speak from personal experience.

My mother was desperate and searched the neighbourhood for my sister. After a couple of hours she spotted Patricia outside a small shopping complex up the road from us. She was sitting next to Roslyn and my mother could hear the swear words flying. My mother felt as though she was the enemy and called Patricia to come with her. Roslyn whispered something into her ear and they both grinned.

When Patricia arrived back home it went from a bad dream to a nightmare. She was extremely paranoid and afraid of us. Believe me we were much more afraid than she was. I was shaking with fear. She would scream and swear at us and smash her dinner plate against the wall. Then when she had had enough of us she charged out the front door. My mother screamed after her, demanding that she come back. My mother was desperate and did not know how to deal with her behaviour.

Patricia marched off to her friend Roslyn again, and this time my mother didn’t try and stop her. The next day we all went to work and school, my mother didn’t sleep at all the previous night, she was in a state of shock. We were all confused and did not know how to deal with things. 

“Living a life of integrity is one of the greatest missions we can undertake.” Greg Anderson

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I was 11 years old and had a couple of years to go before I would reach high school. My sister, Patricia, on the other hand was in her first year of high school. She used to struggle at times with her school work and my mother wasn’t exactly the most patient of people. She managed OK though, but did a lot better with her sport at school.

It must have been a few months into the year when Patricia met up with her first boyfriend. She was 13 years old and she thought that he was simply the greatest. After dating for a while my sister went to visit this boy over a weekend in a town called Vereeniging. My mother was fine with this because my sister had one of her female friends along with her.

Nevertheless Patricia returned home on Sunday night looking distant, and she never spoke a word about her romantic weekend or about anything at all for that matter. None of the people that she was staying with cared to say a word about the weekend either. 

“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to reach my destination.” Jimmy Dean

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Now that we were living in the Gauteng region, my real father lived in Johannesburg which was very close to where we were staying. I had never seen him before and my eldest sister, Tracy had so many good things to say about him. I was all revved up and excited about finally meeting my real father.

As we all went through to my grandmother’s house I was having mixed feeling about seeing my dad. I mean why did he get rid of us in the first place? I don’t need him in my life. It was only when we got there that things changed, in fact I was quite devastated by the reality of it.

It turned out that my father was a good for nothing freak. It was like reaching deep into a dark closet and dragging out all the old dusty bones one by one. My father suffered with a chronic condition called schizophrenia. He behaved differently to normal people, and I decided to keep a distance from him.

This wasn’t going to make a difference in my life anyway, was my response, so there was really no need to care really. Or was I mistaken?    

“Dreams are but thoughts until their effects be tried.” William Shakespeare

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The four of us children enjoyed a peaceful upbringing with my mother in a small three bedroom house in Germiston, on the outskirts of Johannesburg.

We were very interactive as a family and we all helped to do the dishes and general house cleaning.

Our house had been newly built and I can remember our garden looked like a jungle. There was no grass there only plenty of weeds. It stands out in my mind because I hated working in the garden. To my dismay we all were roped in to weeding the garden and planting grass. It was tough at first but after a while we all enjoyed watching the garden develop. Needless to say, I became the chief grass mower.

Besides having the odd fight with my sister, my life was fairly peaceful and pleasant. I had a few good friends at school and even had my first girlfriend when I was eleven.

The thing I have learnt about life is that nothing lasts forever, be it the good or the bad times. 

“People become really quite remarkable when they start thinking they can do things. When they believe in themselves they have the first secret of success.” Norman Vincent Peale

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