The memory of 7th grade has always been rich and well-cemented in my head, and not because of any reasons of happiness, love or fondness. I had liked 7th grade well enough, had a few crushes, done well in my studies, but the reasons for remembering the time so well is linked to the fact that it was the first time I witnessed one of my mother’s depressive episodes. The last one had happened when I was a child with feeble memory, so what all happened during my 7th grade had been life-changing.

My sister and I had come from school, and on the face of it, everything seemed normal. Everything seemed normal even when my mother kept talking of delusions and how she knew walls could listen and prayed the whole evening. I was too distracted to pay attention that something was fundamentally wrong, but after my father came home and things came to a head, the entire confusion and vagueness became clearer. Delusions figured centrally in my mother’s depression, whether it related to her devotion or to people. The coming weeks were all but the strangest of my life, as my mother’s parents filled our little home and I noticed my mother staying in bed all day and showering five times a day.

During those three months, I treated school as my place of refuge, trying to block out whatever disturbing thoughts came into my head. What’s stranger still is that it’s my last memory of being truly happy, the sort of happy you are when you’re a child and get ridiculously ecstatic at the smallest of things. After that it’s the thought of waiting for something great to happen, something beyond me, and wishing for it over and over again. I wonder if that was the implication for witnessing something as my mother was going through.

When I look back upon it, I know I changed into someone different, perhaps into someone more mature, who didn’t get disturbed on the face of mental disorders and dysfunctional families and so much more. There is growth in going through things like this, and better when you go through it with your family, because, as small as our four member family is, we somehow became more tightly knit after that. I learned to talk to my sister more, my father became kinder, and my mother learned to identify her illness and control it before it plunges upwards. I became equipped to trying and handling people going through something similar, and I’m somewhat grateful for it.

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