Posts Tagged ‘mental illness’

Once my sister had returned from her weekend with her new boyfriend an obvious change had taken place in her life. She was no longer the sister that I knew anymore. In place of snapping at me with a clever comment all she did was sit and stare. My mother was devastated by her strange silence and demanded to know what had happened over the weekend.

Nothing was ever found out about that weekend though, or whether some kind of abuse had maybe taken place. Anyway that’s all history, my sister was damaged goods.

I had heard of depression before but nothing this severe. My mother was hoping that my sister’s situation would improve but sadly it only seemed to get worse.

Before very long my sister was admitted to Tara hospital in Johannesburg, where she received treatment.

“Optimism. The doctrine or belief that everything is beautiful, including what is ugly.” Ambrose Bierce


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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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