Last year, as we were preparing for Mad About Art, I wrote about my Dad’s battle with mental illness:
After witnessing my father’s first seizure, and contemplating whether to save him, it soon became clear that the anger and rage I had experienced (from him) throughout much of my childhood, may have actually been the result of an internal Jekyll and Hyde meddling with his beautiful mind.
It’s no secret that many of America’s prisons and homeless shelters are populated by the mentally ill. My dad is one of the lucky ones. He lives a simple life with his girlfriend (who also has mental illness) and communicates with his family and grandkids several times a week. He knows that he is loved and not forgotten.
It is with a heavy heart that I write this year’s letter. But I feel it’s important to show what can happen when our loved ones battling mental illness don’t receive adequate care and support.
A week ago my Dad went missing. A routine morning errand run became an all day affair lasting well into the evening. When he hadn’t returned home by 9, my Dad’s girlfriend (also mentally ill) called my mom. After calling around, my mom found him in the surgical unit of Suburban Hospital. We all breathed a sigh of relief and then were left to fill in the missing pieces.
Patient confidentiality laws can present serious problems often leaving the family and friends of a mentally ill patient in the dark. Fortunately, the male nurse on duty was kind enough to fill in some of the blanks. From what we understand, my father walked into a bank, had a psychotic episode, and someone knocked him out shortly before calling 911. He landed in the surgical unit with a black eye and smashed up face. Unfortunately, this is one of several episodes my father has had over the past year since going off his meds. He has lived independently (with his girlfriend) for twenty years and suddenly with this recent incident has been served an eviction notice. Where will he go?
If my Dad were in New York, I could give him hope with Fountain House. But for now, he remains in the psych ward of a Maryland hospital with an undetermined fate.
My hope in sharing this is to put a face on this ever-present epidemic of mental illness. For me it’s my father’s face. For some it may be a brother, a sister, a parent, a friend. We all know someone whose beautiful mind has betrayed them.
Join me, and this year’s honorees William Louis-Dreyfus and Frank Maresca by supporting the legacy that is Fountain House and Bringing Hope to Mind.
Reserve your tickets or make a donation today at http://www.fountainhouse.org/get-involved/events/upcoming or contact Amy Kurfist at 212.582.0341 x317 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you (in advance) for supporting this worthwhile endeavor!
YOUR SUPPORT NO MATTER HOW LARGE OR SMALL MAKES A DIFFERENCE.