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I knew that the sick man who filled up notebooks with grandiose ideas and inventions in cramped illegible handwriting was not the same man who sang Bollywood songs from the 1950s and 1960s, his angelic voice rising clear and deep, when he was well.
I knew that celebrities, such as Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys and Syd Barrett of Pink Floyd, had been geniuses that struggled with the disease. The world had definitely changed since I was a child growing up in the eighties. Within the Pakistani-Muslim community in the United States, the attitudes towards mental illness have remained as negative as ever.
“I think it’s pretty, the way Daddy’s hands glow and the smoke climbs in to the sky,” I said to my older brother. He stops talking, smokes all day and then it gets bad. But he’s so sick that he can’t be our Daddy right now.” Schizophrenia is a word I learned even before I could speak properly. But I knew the word I could barely pronounce was attached to Daddy. Outside of our little apartment, for the outside world, for the aunties clad in satiny salwar kameez or cheap wool pants and ill-fitting sweaters, who would take the train down to the Fort Hamilton Parkway subway stop to visit my mother, for them the diagnosis was simply depression. God wouldn’t have brought my parents and my brother and sister from Pakistan to New York, only to leave them in darkness. He would get better and then we would carry on with the hopes and dreams that my parents had originally imagined in their little North Nazimabad house, in the humid coastal city of Karachi.
“It’s not pretty,” Kamran replied curtly, only ten years old but already aged beyond his years, the unfortunate side effect of being the only boy sandwiched between two sisters, the unwitting man of the house when my father sat with his thoughts. “He lost his job and we have all of these bills, of course, of course he’s depressed,” Mummy said. He wouldn’t have brought me into the world just as Daddy’s mental illness began to spiral out of control, when he was still a young man, not even 40 yet. Daddy’s depression simply hit the pause button on those dreams. The label of depression made complete sense to our immigrant community. Lying became ingrained in my DNA for almost 40 years.
I would never hide from anything that made her who she was.
It was an acceptance that I had never really been able to give my own father.
She tells me about all the wonderful things in the world,” she said. He makes me see red.” My heart suddenly stopped as I looked up from my book. ” I asked her, attempting to keep my own voice neutral even as a dull thudding sensation began to spread from my temples to the back of my neck.
My husband, who came in behind her, quickly walked over to me.It is the corrosive suspicion in my heart that makes me question not only the innocuous actions of my loved ones but also myself for any signs of illness.It is the source of the anxiety attacks that have plagued me since I was a teenager.God wouldn’t have done all of that if he didn’t plan on making it better. How many of our uncles and aunties, having left behind good jobs and respectable homes in Pakistan, grew depressed and disheartened when the American Dream did not embrace them right away. It became a comfortable shawl that I wrapped myself in even though I had no rational reason to do so.I was educated and knew the medical reasons behind schizophrenia, how it was an unfortunate gamble involving genetics and environmental stress factors in which the loser had to pay with his sanity.After my father passed away in his sleep almost seven years ago, part of me thought we were finally free of the stigma, finally free of fear, finally free of the isolation we often felt.Tags: Adult Dating, affair dating, sex dating