Melanie: Understanding Her Father Lived With a Mental Illness

Melanie admired her father, Gordon, who she considers to be her most nurturing parent. She reflected, “I was really close to him. He was a wonderful person. I respected him a lot. He had a lot of really good qualities.”

As a young man, Gordon served in the military during World War II, becoming a military policeman and going to New Guinea to guard prisoners. Apparently, he had an “episode” while in New Guinea. After being sent to a hospital in Missouri, he was treated and given a medical discharge in 1945. Gordon had married Darlene previous to joining the military and their first child was born in 1946.

When teenage Melanie visited her father in the hospital, she began to realize some of the challenges that her father and family faced. She noted her father’s physical changes including drooling from medications. She “tried to carry on as normal of a life as possible.” Following hospitalization, Gordon became stable and was able to return to work, a job which his employer held for him while he recovered.

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