I started out my journey with my father in a manic state. I will never forget pulling up into his driveway almost 3 months ago to find him smoking two cigarettes at once. Tobi Keith blaring from his running Jeep telling me He’s in love with a bar. The site was bizarre and almost hysterical. My senses were on overload that afternoon. My father was dancing, sweating and wearing compression socks he had gotten from the hospital as part of his attire. I distinctly remember sitting in my car and reading his lips as he pulled both cigarettes away and blew his smoke towards me. “There’s my daughter! There’s Chan!” Yes, yes dad here I am. I have been a part of my dad’s manic episodes before, yet this time was different. I was there as first responder. First on the scene as he’d just been removed from the local high school and apparently fresh on the scene right before he was just about to take off and go on the run.
So, here we are now. Considering that for at least a decade my father has been living pretty much a life of solitude, he’s in a better place living in my home. However, I’m finding that as having the role of his caretaker, I have extremes in my very own emotions that I never knew would surface.
Having left my job in order to be with him 24/7 I am now realizing the complete sense of overwhelming responsibility. When I say this, don’t get me wrong, I don’t feel burden. I don’t feel like I’ve changed my life for the worse. What I do feel though, is that I have a responsibility to “fix” him and if I’m being honest with myself, I should know better.
The constant thoughts, ideas and the complete sense of chaos has come and gone. We’re in the “existing” stage as I like to call it. There are no thoughts, no engineering plans on how to change his Jeep into a self sufficient camper, no grand ideas of turning my huge garage into a dance hall, no urge to buy anything. I don’t find myself guessing each day what in the hell he’s going to do. I know exactly what he’s going to do and that is hard. No matter what I try to do or say, he’s not going to shower and he’s not going to leave the house. I feel like I’m failing. I feel lost. This story isn’t about me of course, but for those reading who are bipolar themselves or perhaps a caretaker themselves, I think this is an important part of this cruel disease to recognize. This disease doesn’t only hurt the patient, it is absolutely heart wrenching on the loved ones as well.
I miss my father talking to me. I miss him telling me that I’m a wonderful daughter. I miss him singing good morning Ms. America to me each morning. I’m lonely. I’m mad.
Today I was trying and trying and trying to get my father engaged in a conversation and he just sat there. Empty. He finally said something that was pretty profound. Simple and odd, totally out of the blue and random, yet made me understand.
He looked up at me and asked me if I remember a movie from twenty years ago or so where this little boy rode on this fluffy animal like a dragon only it wasn’t a dragon. I replied YES, excited that he was talking to me… The Never Ending Story. Here we go now, we’re talking.
He said, “Yes, that movie. I wonder if someone bipolar wrote that? There was a place there called The Nothing. The Nothing is where I am, Chan.”