Every Friday morning, I drive down to the local coffee shop to meet up with my Dad. We drink our coffee, eat our chicken chorizo breakfast sandwiches, and start warming up with our guitars.
It’s the only time I see him smile.
My Dad and I have been playing guitar together since I was thirteen. From what I remember, raising a rebellious teenage daughter came with its challenges, and when we didn’t see eye-to-eye, playing music together kept us in tune.
There isn’t enough white space on this page to write about how amazing my Dad was.
He was everything a good father should be.
But severe OCD, PTSD, and manic depression have all crippled his spirit. The monsters of mental illness have stolen him from me.
It’s not going to be easy, but I want to tell you about one of my favorite people in the world.
It’s what brought me to Medium in the first place.
My Dad, The Superhero
A strong, clean-cut man standing tall in his police uniform will forever be the image engraved in my mind.
Nothing could ever change that.
If my dad wasn’t playing guitar with me, he was suiting up to save the rest of the world one shift at a time. As a kid, I was in awe of his blue Superman-like uniform, and the thick braided Batman-like belt that held heavy metal gadgets. I remember his badge twinkling under the kitchen lights on his lunch break and his starched uniform shirt scratching my cheek every time I ran up to hug him.
He was my Knight in shining armor, who slew mobs of fire-breathing dragons with his bare hands. He was my hero and a force to be reckoned with.
My dad was always there for me, almost to a fault. As far as I was concerned, the only thing missing was his red cape.
OCD (a.k.a — Kryptonite)
I will never forget the day my dad needed help.
I was scared. I wanted to help him the way he had always helped me.
He had been up for three days straight in a Zoloft-induced manic state.
Checking, locking, washing, counting, and pleading with his demons to break the cycle and go to bed. The man who saved me from drowning as a kid was now the one flailing helplessly in a green ocean of kryptonite.
My mom knew he needed help but wasn’t strong enough to make the call. My Dad’s illness had worn her down and strangled the life out of her too.
So she called me.
I walked down the hall to my bedroom — where my kids couldn’t see me cry. I fell to my knees and called the Police.
Three cruisers pulled into the court with precision and urgency. It looks like a movie scene in my head.
I can still see the red and blue lights flashing in slow motion.
I never felt fear as long as my dad was around. He was the hero who saved everyone. But that day he was scared to be on the other side. My heart still feels heavy for calling the police on the police.
Sometimes I wonder if I did the right thing.
I didn’t know what else to do.
I remember walking him up to the emergency room doors with my arm around his thin waist. Scared and sobbing — I could feel the tension in his back as we approached the front desk.
My Dad, weak and unstable? Was this really happening?
They must have the wrong guy.
It was happening.
First, my Dad was treated for blisters at the hospital from standing in one spot for too long.
Fuck. Talk about heartbreaking.
One mental health evaluation later, he was 51–50-ed and placed on a 72-hour psychiatric hold.
My heart shattered into a million pieces that day as I watched my hero get stripped of his superpowers. The strongest life-force I had ever known was ripped away from me, and there was nothing I could do about it.
My Dad’s anxiety is so bad sometimes that he lies in bed for days. Weeks go by without him showering because he can’t. His panic attacks are monstrous when his OCD gets a hold of him.
That, too, is heartbreaking.
This piece is so heavy for me. I’m going to have to stop the story there for now.
Seeing my dad fight for his life every day makes me want to fight for mine even harder. It scares the shit out of me to not take care of myself.
He is my inspiration to love myself and make mental health a top priority.
Playing guitar together has healed our spirits for many years. The OCD stops, and I get pieces of him back one note at the time.
He will always be a rock star to me, and me his number one fan.
Thank you for listening. ❤ D
A few more stories you may enjoy:
The Bright Side To Having An Overprotective Parent With OCD
Ever since my Thin Line piece got published I’ve been feeling guilty about not telling you the whole story.