Friday, February 29, 2008

Friday’s Child – What Did You Say To Her?

I’ve been re-running these Prozac Palace posts with the hope that anyone who needs to read this sort of thing will find them. It’s occurred to me that readers may wish to comment, but not know what to say. You’re under no obligation to say anything. If you want to, but are at a loss, may I suggest this simple phrase: I read it.

From Thursday, May 24, 2007

What Did You Say To Her?

Ever watch anyone go mad?
I’ve had that pleasure.

I watched my sister madness grow. It took her over, and my parents and me were along for the ride. I was in my teens and still in school so clearly there’s nothing I could have done about it. Nor should I have. It was never my responsibility.

Our parents did not do anything for quite some time. In fairness, there wasn’t a lot they could do. We lived on a farm 10 miles from a village and 35 miles from the nearest medical doctor. Psychiatrists were in Edmonton, more than 100 miles away.

My sister’s insanity was diagnosed in 1976 when I was 17 and had just graduated from high school. She’d been home slowly going insane for about 18 months. Compulsive hand-washing was the chief indication. Her temper was as random and explosive as usual although she did cry more frequently.

It was frustrating to watch because she obviously needed help and my parents did not appear to be doing anything.

Granted, I’ve no clue what they could have done short of having her carted away to a psychiatric hospital. I would have happily made that call myself, but I knew I’d never get away with it.

Dad almost did something once in the spring of 1975. He’d made an appointed to talk to a medical doctor about it, but then one of his brothers came for a visit so he cancelled the appointment. I see the logic in that. What he didn’t do was reschedule. Ever. I didn’t see the logic in that.

As for me, well, in November of 1975 my sister stopped talking to me. This was a treat initially. She’d wanted to borrow money from me so she could buy me a birthday present. Because this seemed absurd, I said no and I stuck to it. I rarely said no to anyone in those days and I decided if I was ever going to stand up to her I’d best get started.

She did as she always did and stopped speaking to me. Usually I’d let this go for a few days then I’d say something to her and it would be okay. But this time I decided she could make the first move. I was done with caving every time.

It took her two years. Okay, I’m stubborn. I get that. But in my mind I was making a point. Two years of her silence wasn’t much of an issue for me, but it sure was for our parents. On at least two occasions my dad took me aside and asked, “What did you say to her?”

No matter what she did nor how many times I told them what happened, it was always, “What did you say to her?”


the Bag Lady said...

One has to wonder; if she had received the help she needed way back then, would it have made any difference?
I can remember your dad talking to my dad about the problem - your dad was very upset and didn't know what to do. Unfortunately for all concerned, his confusion led to inaction. Sad for everyone involved.

Terrie Farley Moran said...

df Leah,

It is always so easy to look for a trigger. ie, what did you say to her? because if you can see the trigger the response makes sense. This is a situation that is beyond sense.

Take this hug and share it.{{{}}}


Leah J.Utas said...

dfbag Lady - I often wondered if dad talked to any of his brothers about it. I assumed he did, but had no proof.
It might have helped to a degree. It certainly would have helped me.

dfTerrie - I see your reasoning and understand it. Thanks for the hug.

Dawn said...

Families, eh!

But I can see a story in it all. Strangely - something like "The Secret Life of Bees" although I can't explain how I see any similarity. But I can see that style of story coming from that type of experience.

That type of money would be nice too!

Leah J.Utas said...

Dawn - I'm sure there's a tale to tell. Money for it would be nice.

Michael said...

As Terrie said, it is a situation beyond sense. I've been there, only I was the one who went crazy and my family had to deal with it. Fortunately, I was able to get the help I needed and learned some ways to cope with my symptoms. It's still a struggle at times, for everyone involved, but I believe things are better than they might have been otherwise.

Most often, it seems, hugs really are the best medicine. I'll give you one you can share too.

Leah J.Utas said...

Michael, it's good to see you here.
I'm glad you got help and things are better.
Thank you for your perspective on it, and thanks for the hug. They're always welcome.