I talked about my Dad in my book ‘Ran Wicked’ and I described him as a polarising figure. I became attached to my Dad when I was quite young even though he also scared me at times. He could be quite loving and gentle and then on those odd occasions became paranoid and aggressive. It was confusing but at the same time, I cherished the good moments I had. When I was around seven or eight my Dad changed permanently. He became strange and distant. I was very upset as I felt I had lost my father for good. At this stage, he had gone from intermittent periods of irrationality to full-time irrationality. As I have also suffered from the same condition as my Dad I can say from experience that he was suffering quite badly during this stage. It is hell on earth and beyond comprehension and normal experience. I never got as bad as he did, but the amount of time I had at this stage was the worst experience I have ever had.
When I was seventeen new drugs appeared that helped people living with schizophrenia and I remember seeing a little glint of consciousness come back into my Dad’s eyes. Because I had had little to do with him for a decade and he had been distant and strange for so long I thought I was maybe reading too much into things. I was desperately depressed about my Dad and his loss. Life was generally a sad affair for me and I wasn’t particularly confident or happy. My one escape was art and unfortunately smoking pot for a few years. I had trouble sleeping and I was always anxious so pot seemed like a panacea. Then it became a nightmare in itself with confusion and mood swings. I eventually stopped smoking it. I still couldn’t sleep, I would disappear for weeks not speaking to anyone and avoiding people at all costs. In a way I was also spiralling quite slowly into the world my Dad had entered. Yet for me, it took a long time to arrive. When I was in my mid to early twenties I confronted my Dad about the past. I gave him a piece of my mind and he was calm and pensive. I had cleared the air and I spent more time with him. I discovered he had a great sense of humour and was a bit wild himself. I was always throwing crazy art ideas with me and my friends and my Dad loved it.
When I was quite young my Dad took me to outhouses. I met all the other mentally ill people and the misfits. My Dad would hang with them but also when they were out of earshot criticise for one reason or another. That one was a gambler, that one was a drinker, that one was aggressive. Even now my Dad knows all of the streetwalkers and misfits around Katoomba. He likes to be around them but not like them. The funny thing is I know some of the misfits in my local area. I give them a wave or have a chat. I know people who have been in prison or had problems with addiction. So when I finally reconnected with my Dad I felt very happy. I had things in common with him. I knew what was going on in the streets of my local area. At the same it was challenging. Yet he wasn’t distant like he had been prior to having medication. He was a bit limited but could still have a laugh at a crazy inspired idea. I discovered his good side. I had a lot in common with him as well. All those years of sadness turned to laughter and giving each other a hand. Now I feel like my constant hope for better days were answered but at the same time there were challenges at the same time. We have a strange connection and it has at times been severed. At least I have some fond memories to cherish going forward after I confronted him and tried to make amends.