Mummy got sick again. This time she left and did not stop at packing bags. R & papa were in charge of safety, I of mitigation. We know recovery isn’t linear. Recovery is like papa’s ECG graph when he got a heart attack. During lows, I wake up in the middle of the night to calm down my aggravated mother, and stand by as she breaks things, hits & cries. During lows, I wonder where to draw the line on verbal abuse? When do you stop saying “Schizophrenia isn’t easy. It’ll pass.” What is the deadline on hope?

During lows, it is tougher to love mummy. I am sore from the hurt of her words & anxious from their volume. It is hard to see R & Papa suffer through them. It is hard to sustain sanity in face of threats & blackmail. I feel exhausted. I wait to fall numb. But numbness evades me, my mind races, imagining different ways to get rid of the problem, even if it means getting rid of the perpetrator.

We coerce sanity. We run decoy missions to talk to her doctor so she doesn’t find out. The decoy missions give me anxiety ulcers & hair fall, papa a higher blood pressure & R anger issues. The doctor doesn’t help much. Every medical change brings hope & fear. We are always right to fear. Fear has become a way of life. R says it’s like living next to an active volcano. I say it’s like building Maslow’s hierarchy like building a house of cards, it tumbles & you begin again at the bottom “remember to eat”.

On days that we are higher up, she’ll give you a hug, peel shells & give you beans to eat, cut papaya for you & feed you one tiny piece at a time. We will laugh at Amol Palekar jokes & go on long drives with Goldie. I try to soak in every bit of them. The next day she may be little, lying in bed scared she is going to get sick & hurt someone. Her medicines affect her heart, and her cognizance of things, she takes them anyway & asks me to sit next to her while she tries to sleep. She says she can’t sleep, bad thoughts haunt her. We listen to Kishor Kumar songs late into the night, she tells me stories of Madhubala. Distraction suffices for good health care support.

Every day I love her a little more. I want to protect her happy spirit. This makes the low harder to bear. We continue to live in our fertile jungle near the volcano. It’s like walking with a tumbler full-to-the-brim with boiling water. And I am exhausted! of being vigilant all the time, of sniffing conflict, and mitigating recovery while hurting. Nothing reduces the ache. Nothing assures the fear. Medicines and people try. Medicine makes her dull, reduces paranoia. Mine makes me hungry like I could eat elephants, and reduces distress. It thins papa’s blood, reduces heart attacks, and helps him sleep.

We hold each other close, like a tensegrity structure, one lending more when the other is in need and repeating like a yogi repeats his mantra helpful sentences our friends said (let my fear from past not shadow my hope from modern medicine, Nice people too sometimes tire, new parents want to throw away their baby after 8 days of sleepless nights), helpful things other sufferers wrote (On this level nothing less than full and complete acceptance will serve-not tolerance and not sympathy) and on bad days we think of papaya and peas fed lovingly, Amol Palekar jokes made sillily and remind ourselves: This is not a bad life, it just has bad parts.

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