I grew up in Alfred Cove watching my mother suffering from
debilitating schizophrenia. Mostly it was tragic and disturbing,
though at times I found it almost marvellous. Even the maddest of
worlds has its' own sense of logic. You see, most people have
this common instinctive fear of the unknown. A fear so great,
they refuse to see the good. The line between creative genius and
self-destruction is whisper thin. My mother alone proved that to
When I was little, she decorated me the most beautiful children's
room. It was indescribable, indefinitely inviting. It was a real
life doll house. Despite her unstable, wrangled and often even
fragile mind she was an utterly creative genius. She painted my
walls with the most marvellous mystical creatures, so delightful
that other children would have been envious. I would compare her
to Da Vinci, possibly even Picasso, and I dreamed that one day,
she would get there.
In many ways we were alike. Both curious and carefree, we shared
the same child-like sense of humour and used to scrutinize every
detail. I'd analyse everything; scratches on window panes, the
texture of water, the smell of oranges, the taste of pineapple,
even the feeling of sand slipping between my fingertips.
Naturally, I became inquisitive about my father, or a mere lack
of one. I asked my mother what had happened to him, and she
answered me abruptly, explaining that his presence still
remained. She mentioned hearing his voice around sometimes. I
liked that and anticipated the day I'd get to as well. That day
Throughout my childhood, I was on the move. My mother constantly
searched for new inspiration; something that took years to get
used to but eventually became an object of my own desire.
My mother liked to paint. Her paintings seemed to hold her
unstable emotions; like an hour glass, her paintings gave her
more time. Her success was a personal process and she eventually
became well- known for her unique and disparate artwork.
I took up painting, but my drawings were never as good as hers.
She could draw buildings and skyscrapers with such ease that it
seemed to take a mere flick of a wrist. My mother was able to
draw so intricately, she could create a city full of light and
love and power, a city bursting with life, all but with one
single paint brush. I longed to be like her.
Eventually, she began to deteriorate. But as her deterioration
advanced, as did her striking abilities to create unique and
marvellous things. It was a struggle I fought eternally with; the
difficulty of knowing if a change within her should be sparked by
something curative or if her deterioration could bring about
something remarkable to the human eye. I was uncertain. I didn't
know how to go about the situation. My thoughts in disarray, I
chose to take no measure to alter her decline. Perhaps I was too
young, certainly curious.
I was asleep one night when I was startled awake to the sound of
sudden screams. Not a scream of intense pain or grief, but one of
joyful excitement; like the ring of a child's laughter when
pushed on a swing.
I reached for my nightgown by my intricate white bed stand, its
corners engraved with my mother's initials. I reached for the
light switch and turned it on; the light was so bright that it
burned to me as brightly as the sun. The fading paintings on my
wall glistened mysteriously and the moon beckoned at me through
my window. Following the sounds, I raced down the stairs, over my
polished white tiled floors and found her speedily in the back
There she stood in the shimmering moonlit garden, with a look of
unbelievable excitement etched on her face. She was reaching up
to the clouds in the sky, dancing and grabbing at the empty air.
Claiming she saw creatures like the ones she painted, I barely
noticed her near naked body. There was nothing there to be seen.
At first I tried to help her, but as I neared closer to her, she
screamed intensely. I was frightened and I couldn't comprehend
how this could happen so suddenly. Having no alternative, I
reached in my pocket and dialled Grandmas number.
From that night on, my mother was never quite right. Eventually
she became so troubled that she had to be locked up. I visited
her many times in the first year, but she would barely speak to
me. Her room was bleak and devoid of colour. At night I would
toss and turn; my mind hopelessly replaying every strange thing
I'd ever witnessed her do.
By then, I'd lost the will to paint. As I walked through the
hallways of the institution, screams of delightment and pain
would fill my ears acting as obscure reminders of the dreaded
night I lost my best friend. An incessant pang of emptiness
filled me as my world was turned upside down.
I decided to visit her one day and brought with me an easel so
she could paint, I knew that was what she needed to revive and
sustain herself just that little bit longer.
After I moved out of home, and to the bustling city, ironically I
felt, as if the whole world was barren. One dull Saturday
morning, as I sat on a train, watching someone talk to
themselves, this ever-present urge began to crawl its way deeper
into the crevice of my jumbled mind. I was infatuated to the very
point of distraction. As I reluctantly left my seat, and
impulsively strode to my apartment from the train station, ideas
began to fill my head. Even the persistent noise of congestion;
which drifted past me in a hostile manner and the swift movement
of busy feet couldn't lift my mind from the place it clung to.
As extensive research began to fill my days, I never lost sight
of my purpose. My desire so immovable, that I began to avoid
everything else in life. Over the next two years, my progress
began to inch closer and closer to the truth. My dis-satisfaction
with life grew, but giving up was not an option. When I was 25, a
cure was inevitable. After years of effort; trying with all my
heart to make my dream my reality, it came true.
I'm sitting in the hospital wing; my mother is in ward C, just
down the hall. Even though she sits there with a new insight to
the world, the person I once knew isn't quite the same. Something
is lost in her; her ability to paint.