How Mental and Physical Illness Can Affect a Family: Gary's Story

Reviewed Aug 15, 2016

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Summary

Mental and physical illnesses are a part of life.
 

I grew up in a small town in the Midwest. My dad was a high school teacher and my mom was a bank secretary. When I was 3-years-old, my dad got an infection on his brain. He was partially paralyzed afterward. Not only did he have problems physically, he had issues with depression and paranoia. Dealing with him like that as a child was hard. But it made me stronger in ways I would have never known at that time.

My father’s struggle

After Dad got home from the hospital, I realized this wasn’t the same daddy. There was a lot of rehab and change for him. His right arm no longer worked and that was his dominant hand. He needed a lot of help from me and my family. This included everyday things such as buttoning his shirts or cutting his food. Many times he’d try to do it himself but he’d most often get upset. He would end up screaming or breaking things. He also had seizures. We would find him on the floor having convulsions, which was pretty scary for us. 

After the brain surgery, he had a large sunken spot on his head where they cut the bone out to remove the abscess. He was always self-conscious about this and thought people were looking at him. He stopped going to church and to the store. When he did go out he would never take off his fedora hat, even inside a restaurant while eating. Because of the way he looked and how he acted, my sister and I were embarrassed and tried to keep our friends out of our house.

Dad became the thing to be avoided. He was very depressed most of the time and suicidal sometimes. He also became paranoid. One time he got very agitated and aggressive when he thought the birthday cake my sister made for him was poisoned. He was hospitalized once for wanting to take his own life, but Mom told us it was for his seizures. 

Growth from experience

Because we had to deal with both physical and mental issues, I became pretty good at knowing how to deal with people on the edge. I learned how to notice people’s moods and how to value the struggles of someone with physical handicaps. I also developed coping skills and ways to deal with stress. I was better able to help him as I got older. I was also better able to accept his mental and physical illness for what they were—just part of life. 

I realized that all families deal with different kinds stress to varying degrees. I learned to deal with people who were dealing with both physical and emotional issues. While I was in school, I decided to pursue a career as a physician and then a psychiatrist. I truly feel that my boyhood prepared me for life. It also helped develop a strength and resiliency in me that I might not have now if I hadn’t been challenged at an early age.  

By Gary Proctor, MD, Regional Chief Medical Officer, Beacon Health Options

Summary

Mental and physical illnesses are a part of life.
 

I grew up in a small town in the Midwest. My dad was a high school teacher and my mom was a bank secretary. When I was 3-years-old, my dad got an infection on his brain. He was partially paralyzed afterward. Not only did he have problems physically, he had issues with depression and paranoia. Dealing with him like that as a child was hard. But it made me stronger in ways I would have never known at that time.

My father’s struggle

After Dad got home from the hospital, I realized this wasn’t the same daddy. There was a lot of rehab and change for him. His right arm no longer worked and that was his dominant hand. He needed a lot of help from me and my family. This included everyday things such as buttoning his shirts or cutting his food. Many times he’d try to do it himself but he’d most often get upset. He would end up screaming or breaking things. He also had seizures. We would find him on the floor having convulsions, which was pretty scary for us. 

After the brain surgery, he had a large sunken spot on his head where they cut the bone out to remove the abscess. He was always self-conscious about this and thought people were looking at him. He stopped going to church and to the store. When he did go out he would never take off his fedora hat, even inside a restaurant while eating. Because of the way he looked and how he acted, my sister and I were embarrassed and tried to keep our friends out of our house.

Dad became the thing to be avoided. He was very depressed most of the time and suicidal sometimes. He also became paranoid. One time he got very agitated and aggressive when he thought the birthday cake my sister made for him was poisoned. He was hospitalized once for wanting to take his own life, but Mom told us it was for his seizures. 

Growth from experience

Because we had to deal with both physical and mental issues, I became pretty good at knowing how to deal with people on the edge. I learned how to notice people’s moods and how to value the struggles of someone with physical handicaps. I also developed coping skills and ways to deal with stress. I was better able to help him as I got older. I was also better able to accept his mental and physical illness for what they were—just part of life. 

I realized that all families deal with different kinds stress to varying degrees. I learned to deal with people who were dealing with both physical and emotional issues. While I was in school, I decided to pursue a career as a physician and then a psychiatrist. I truly feel that my boyhood prepared me for life. It also helped develop a strength and resiliency in me that I might not have now if I hadn’t been challenged at an early age.  

By Gary Proctor, MD, Regional Chief Medical Officer, Beacon Health Options

Summary

Mental and physical illnesses are a part of life.
 

I grew up in a small town in the Midwest. My dad was a high school teacher and my mom was a bank secretary. When I was 3-years-old, my dad got an infection on his brain. He was partially paralyzed afterward. Not only did he have problems physically, he had issues with depression and paranoia. Dealing with him like that as a child was hard. But it made me stronger in ways I would have never known at that time.

My father’s struggle

After Dad got home from the hospital, I realized this wasn’t the same daddy. There was a lot of rehab and change for him. His right arm no longer worked and that was his dominant hand. He needed a lot of help from me and my family. This included everyday things such as buttoning his shirts or cutting his food. Many times he’d try to do it himself but he’d most often get upset. He would end up screaming or breaking things. He also had seizures. We would find him on the floor having convulsions, which was pretty scary for us. 

After the brain surgery, he had a large sunken spot on his head where they cut the bone out to remove the abscess. He was always self-conscious about this and thought people were looking at him. He stopped going to church and to the store. When he did go out he would never take off his fedora hat, even inside a restaurant while eating. Because of the way he looked and how he acted, my sister and I were embarrassed and tried to keep our friends out of our house.

Dad became the thing to be avoided. He was very depressed most of the time and suicidal sometimes. He also became paranoid. One time he got very agitated and aggressive when he thought the birthday cake my sister made for him was poisoned. He was hospitalized once for wanting to take his own life, but Mom told us it was for his seizures. 

Growth from experience

Because we had to deal with both physical and mental issues, I became pretty good at knowing how to deal with people on the edge. I learned how to notice people’s moods and how to value the struggles of someone with physical handicaps. I also developed coping skills and ways to deal with stress. I was better able to help him as I got older. I was also better able to accept his mental and physical illness for what they were—just part of life. 

I realized that all families deal with different kinds stress to varying degrees. I learned to deal with people who were dealing with both physical and emotional issues. While I was in school, I decided to pursue a career as a physician and then a psychiatrist. I truly feel that my boyhood prepared me for life. It also helped develop a strength and resiliency in me that I might not have now if I hadn’t been challenged at an early age.  

By Gary Proctor, MD, Regional Chief Medical Officer, Beacon Health Options

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, quizzes, and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, health care, psychiatric, psychological or behavioral health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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