Saturday, March 03, 2007

AMONGST THE LIVING

I finally returned to work Monday after being away for two weeks. As you'll recall, chicken pox kept me at bay for the first week and then we had last week off for mid-winter recess. It felt like eons since I'd been at school and the anxiety I felt Sunday night was nearly crippling.

I know I've mentioned my Dad in previous posts, though I have not really elaborated much. While I grew up in what was 'physically' a two-parent household, my father was never really 'there.' He suffered from severe manic depression. Saying he was World's Greatest Dad would be a stretch.

On March 9, it will have been five years since he's passed away. He died without warning on a Saturday morning from congestive heart failure. I was living with "CCC" (Crazy Canadian Chick) at the time, and was up early getting ready to go to Junior Region Jazz Band auditions when my brother called me.

By the time I got to the hospital, my Dad was already dead. My Mom and brother were there, as was the pastor from my Mom's church. It was all so very surreal.

When I was a kid, I truly HATED my father. I hated not knowing who he would be on a given day. I hated that he never came to any of my events or took an interest in his kids' lives. I hated that he'd go away to hospitals for months at a time. Most of all, I hated him for making my Mom so unhappy.

As I got older and learned about mental illness, I stopped hating my Dad. I tried to be more patient and had learned to lower my expectations (i.e. we'd never be the Seavers) But what started scaring me as an adult was the possibility of becoming just like my father. Mental illness runs in families. And the summer between graduating college and going off to grad school, I had my first taste of mental collapse.

Looking back, I realize it was a pretty normal reaction to my situation. I was leaving the comfort of a life I had come to love; leaving behind friends and family and moving 300 miles away to a school that I felt I had no business attending. During that entire summer I felt numb to life. Since that experience, I've never been the same. I think once you go through a big depression, you never quite recover.

I guess now I am hypersensitive to my emotions... like I'm just waiting to become my father. The textbooks say that it would have hit me by now (Dad was 18) but I am still afraid. And when I had the irrational anxiety about returning to work this week, it all came bubbling back up.

As it turned out, the week was one of my best this year. By Tuesday morning I was back in the swing of things and it was as if I had never been gone.

I still think it would be a good idea to find someone to talk to so I've kind of been thinking about therapy. I think I have some stuff to clear out of my head. How great will it be to have a captive audience? Someone sitting there listening to me talking about my favorite subject [ME] for an hour?

2 comments:

L*I*S*A said...

I think a captive, neutral audience to hear your feelings is a great idea.

Kate said...

wow. we have a lot in common. it was the same with me growing up, except my mother was the one mentally ill. i've been going to therapy once a week since last june and it's been wonderful. you don't know how much anger, guilt, fear, sadness, etc. you have in you until you start letting it all out. good luck.