Stolen World, Stolen Life Print
Written by Yuyu   

Hi Paul,

Thanks for getting in touch. The username Yuyu is fine. Thanks for asking about my situation too, I really don't know where to start, so much has happened, it's a bit of a blur and I'm actually starting to feel quite numb to it all now.

I am 26 years old & live in London with my parents. My father is mentally ill/severely depressed. There have been two serious episodes with his illness, the first when I was very young (approx 2 years old) which escalated with him strangling my mother, severely beating my brother (approx 6 years older than me) and throwing me around the room by my hair. Essentially he tried to kill us all but fortunately he stopped. He then ran out of the house and threw himself under a train. He didn't die but he did lose an arm. After this incident my mother tried to cope as best as she could with two young children, having no support from friends or family - in a foreign country (she is Japanese).She found it almost impossible to survive while my father was in hospital and even more so when he returned home. She has never forgiven him or forgotten what he put her through all those years ago & even now it's a very raw memory for her. What happened then damaged our family severely but whatever her reasons she decided to stay with him. 'For the sake of the children.' - isn't that funny?!

Throughout the years, their marriage has been turbulent to say the least. My father doesn't cope well with stress, finding it hard to communicate. Often he turned to violence to express his frustration mostly towards my mother, sometimes towards my brother. My brother actually moved out at 16 and we have no real contact with him even now. I was left alone to live with two very volatile, fragile and angry parents and I can tell you now that it was far from easy. I feel I had to stay with them rather than leave as from a young age I've always known that I was the 'peace-maker'. The serious incidents often occurred when I wasn't at home & I just returned to witness the aftermath. Both of my parents have told me individually that the other one is 'better' when I'm around, it's actually true even now.

I have seen & heard so many bad things from such a young age, I've always had to be the strong one in the family - never causing trouble, always supportive & balanced - trying hard to reduce the stress. It's a strange thing to say but because of this I feel like I don't even know who I really am.

The second episode was triggered by my father's redundancy in February of last year. Again, he started to withdraw but this time rather than expressing it through violence or using his temper he started to stay in bed longer - refusing to participate in family life. It gradually worsened & eventually he took and overdose in July of last year. My mother found him on the landing covered in urine in a terrible state (I had gone away for the night). Again he did not die and there were no long term effects from the tablets but to this day my father is convinced that the overdose rather than the mental illness/depression causes his behaviour. He believes that the tablets somehow stopped his brain from functioning, making him unable to cope. He holds onto this belief strongly regardless of what anyone says or even when a brain scan proved different!

Since his attempted suicide my father has been in and out of hospital, often staying for months on end. The majority of the time he leaves home saying he's going for a walk and then just doesn't come back, we then get a phonecall in the middle of the night to say he's returned to the psych ward & wants to stay. While in hospital, I have been to meetings for him, I have taken him changes of clothes & money, kept his house running and do you know how he repays this on his return?

He steals money, he smokes in the house when asked not to, he tells lies and makes excuses for his behaviour, he tells me if I hadn't gone away for the night he wouldn't have tried to kill himself, he told my boyfriend that if he'd been around more he wouldn't have taken the overdose, he leaves urine trails from his room to the bathroom, he leaves the house knowing that he has visitors or phonecalls from the hospital coming for him without telling us, he gets straight into bed when he returns from the day centre, he does not brush his teeth, shave, wash his face, take baths or wash his hair. He doesn't change, wash or put away his clothes. He doesn't even open the curtains or windows claiming that he can't cope or function, refusing to pay bills, yet he can write out cheques to the local shop for cigarettes and he can lie and make excuses with absolutely no hesitation - I don't get it!! My father has so much support around him - us, the day centre team, the hospital staff, the crisis team, his social worker & he even took on a solicitor! My mother and I have no-one that can help or support us, no-one that can give us advice or listens. The balance is hugely in his favour yet he does nothing to change himself.

As we have absolutely no income coming into the house & my savings have now disappeared the only solution is to sell the house, pay off the debts and for my parents to go their seperate ways. The reason my father's behavior is especially frustrating for me is while he's been in bed moaning that he can't cope or function I have been paying the bills, taking care of the finances, cooking, cleaning, supporting my mother. To prepare the home for sale I have paid for a new driveway, a new hob & oven & to have them fitted. I have painted the entrance, the stairway, the landing, the dining & living room, my bedroom, my father's room, my mother's room, the bathroom, the kitchen and fitted new flooring. During this time I became ill with Bell's Palsy, so to top it all off - the left side of my face has been paralysed for months!

My mother has crumbled under the stress and in some ways is as much of a burden on me as my father, she relies on me heavily and doesn't really take responsibility for anything anymore - it's all been left up to me, basically without me nothing would happen or progress.

There is an immense amount of pressure on me, taking care of my parents as well as their responsibilites gives me almost no time to look after myself. There is no-one to share the burden with, no-one who really 'understands', no-one that can just take over even for a short while to give me a break.

As much as I understand that my father is ill, I don't feel I can forgive him or even forgive my mother for the life they have given me. I have their responsibilities & more to deal with ON MY OWN. I feel like I am the one being punished for their weakness, I'm tired of being the strong one. Tired FULLSTOP. I don't know why I was born or when I'll have the chance to actually live my life - I really feel like everything has been stolen.

I just have to remember that there is ALWAYS someone much worse off... Thanks for taking the time to read this,