Mental illness runs in the family. My grandmother had schizophrenia and so did one of my uncles. I have another uncle who is an alcoholic and has also been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. My older uncle has suffered from depression and my mother is chronically depressed, one of the reasons being she was the one who took care of all the people mentioned, while no one really took care of her. She remembers quite nasty stuff from her early years, including being kicked out of the house by my grandmother, who failed to recognize her and called her all kinds of names for everyone to hear, and picking up my bipolar uncle from jail whenever alcohol and mania got him into trouble. As for my schizophrenic uncle, he died young and he’s kind of the taboo in the family. When he was called to go to war in Africa in the 1960s, everyone begged my grandfather, who held a relatively high position in the military, to manipulate things in order to have him doing some clerk work instead of going to the battle front, because they knew he was mentally ill. But no, my grandfather’s sons had to be real men and fight the war. That obviously didn’t turn out very well. My uncle came back in a catatonic state and died shortly after. My grandfather passed away at 88 and all those years he lived he was never forgiven by my mother and surviving uncles.
As for the new generation… well, let’s say I take after the neurotic side of the family, and my sister takes after the psychotic one. We’ve been estranged for more than a decade now, ever since she snapped/lost it/whatever and held a knife against my chest when I was 20 (she was 24). My parents pretended nothing happened because… well, just because, and I decided I didn’t want someone like her near me. Two years later, on an occasion we were both with my mother, my mother said something about me, and my sister yelled she wanted to see me dead (words that my brain was kind enough to remind me of when my neurologist uttered the words “multiple sclerosis” – and before I knew no one dies of multiple sclerosis, but still).
I understand, I’m the bad guy. I was born and a couple of months later my grandmother passed away and two years later my parents got divorced. For my sister’s 5-year-old brain, not only did I take from her all the protagonism, but I also drove daddy away. So I was bad news and someone to hate for as long as she lives. You can imagine therefore how I’ve been feeling about her wanting to take me on summer holidays with her.
Now, don’t be fooled. She isn’t trying to make things up. She has been dumped by her boyfriend (you can imagine she is a difficult person to live with), so she’s feeling lonely and doesn’t know what to do with her free time. She has been calling and e-mailing me, asking me if I know where I want to stay, and my anxiety levels have been soaring. Not only I’m the kind of person who finds it hard to say no to people, but she can also be very persuasive and manipulative (which she got from my father’s side of the family).
But really, the only thing I can think of is whether she’s actually planning to kill me in my sleep.