Some of my closest friends don't even know about my relationship with my dad in fact I had one friend after many years say I don't think I have ever heard you say the word, but this fathers day instead of hiding in my pain I am going to share my unique father daughter experience because I am sure in fact I know that so many others on this day like me have mixed emotions.
There are many reasons for me hiding my story, for years I was ashamed and also wanted to protect my dad from strangers judgement which in this age of blended and broken families feels stupid and two it is very painful to tell you see its not the typical my dad was a drop kick father who shied away from responsibility story, It was the opposite I remember always feeling loved by my dad and he never missed an opportunity to tell me.
My mum and dad were not together long before I was born, I was essentially a love child but my mum and dad have always had a great relationship and I have only ever heard each of them say the nicest things about each other.
When my mum was pregnant with me, My dad was involved in a car accident and has never been the same since. His mother suffered from schizophrenia and when my dad was younger as a result of this she ended her life. It can be a hereditary disease and after my dad was in the car accident he was never right again he developed the disease and I have only ever known my dad this way.
When I was younger I remember always feeling safe around my dad he was apart of my life. I loved going to his house, I remember he bought me a whole heap of cabbage patch dolls and was so fun to be around, but sometimes I wasn't allowed to go to his house because he wasn't well from a young age I was told dad was sick and sometimes his mind didn't feel good. As a child this made perfect sense to me I remember feeling sad for dad because I loved him but I understood he had an illness in his mind.
I never once saw my dad as crazy to me he was sick. Schizophrenia is a scary disease for the person their mind is literally working against them it can also be scary for those around them when they are having an "episode" but I never once in all my years felt scared or threatened by my dad in fact I have only ever felt love and compassion for him during these times.
When I was growing up my dad was in and out of my life and I know wholeheartedly this is because of his disease when he was capable of being there for me he absolutely was and is he would show up to see me and write letters when he was feeling good.
I will never forget when I was in year nine, I had just started at a new school and we were heading off to camp. Dad had showed up the day before to see me he travelled overnight on the train he said he missed me and want to make sure I was okay we spent the day together. It was so nice I asked him where he was staying and he said he had it sorted and not to worry. The next day I was on the bus on the way to camp when we passed a park and there on the bench was my dad sleeping, my heart sank the thought of my dad out there in the cold alone made me so sad but as a teenage girl who was at a new school those thoughts soon turned to embarrassment.
I didn't want anyone to know my dad was homeless and I especially didn't want my new friends to think he was crazy. So I never spoke about it but the image of my dad sleeping on that bench has always stuck with me he probably used the last of his money to come and see me and he didn't ask anything of me or let me know how hard he was doing. Instead we spent the afternoon talking all about me because he wanted to know everything going on in my life and make sure that I was okay even if he wasn't.
The thing about mental illness is it effects your ability to live a normal life its hard to hold down a job and when you are unwell it effect peoples ability to do simple tasks like pay rent and even remember to take your medication, and on top of that its incredibly isolating because unlike most other physical diseases when the person is at their sickest they are shunned, physically assaulted, arrested or even laughed at.
When I was 20 I got a call from a hospital to tell me my dad was a patient in a random coincidence I was in the town he was admitted to hospital in attending university. I immediately went to see him I could tell he was unwell.
He was very medicated but despite all that he was so happy to see me over the next couple of weeks I visited my dad everyday. I hid it from my housemates and boyfriend at the time because again I didn't want the judgement. There were times when my dad was really unwell we would be chatting and he would calmly explain that he had to write numbers on a chalkboard or that he had to go outside because he was being told to.
It scared him he told me he wished his life were different and he didn't hear the voices it broke my heart. He was very self aware of what was going on.
I soon learned he was way behind on his rent and that someone had taken advantage of dad and had his disability pension put in their account after some scary phone calls with scary people I sorted it but it made me so sad that while my dad was lying in hospital he was being taken advantage of. I spoke with the nurses about what would happen to my dad when he got out of the program and they didn't seem phased I told them that he had trouble taking his medication and he would probably end up back there.
I asked if there was anyone who could help me to check in on him they looked at me and said if I had a lot of money yes. I was a 21 year old uni student working in an Italian restaurant at night I didn't.
For a while dad was good until I lost all contact his phone was disconnected and no one at the caravan park had seen him for a while this is the cycle I have to accept and whilst its hard at times I cant even imagine how hard and isolating it is for my dad.
He calls me when he can and he is always so happy to speak to me even with everything going on in his life and mind he always remembers every detail of my life I tell him.
Even though as I type this it has been a while since I have heard from him I hope he is okay and I know I am loved I have never doubted that my only hope is that the love and kindness he has always shown to me is shown to him when he needs it the most.