Gladys sat at her desk, looking out of the window. She wasn’t looking at anything in particular. Her mind was elsewhere. She was thinking about last night when Edward and she were together in her flat. He had stopped by in the evening and after they had dinner, they retired to the living-room.
When they were sitting on the sofa, he told her about Cate. Cate had suffered from a nervous breakdown. The signs had been there–getting angry easily, irritability, withdrawing from family and friends and uncontrollable crying. One evening, he went over to her flat, rang the bell but Cate wouldn’t let him in. He could hear her moving about inside. He went to the landlord and got him to open the door. Cate was sitting on the sofa, crying uncontrollably. He hurried to her side and held her until the sobs subsided.
When he drew back from her, he reached for her hands and were alarmed to see fresh scratches and scars on her arms. He got up from the sofa and went over to the window. Pulling out his cell phone, he called 999. While he waited for the ambulance to come, he sat with Cate on the sofa. The ambulance came and when Cate became agitated, Edward soothed her and told her that he wasn’t going to let her out of his sight. He went with her and stayed with her until their parents arrived. He had called them on route to the hospital.
When they got there, he told them everything and they spoke to the doctor in attendance, giving him permission to take care of their daughter. They stayed at the hospital until Cate was admitted and reluctantly left after reassurances that she would be well taken care of.
“I know it’s tough this is very tough for you,” Gladys told Edward.
“I wish that I had done more to help her,” he sighed.
“We always feel that way. We always feel that we should have done more. How are your parents holding up?”
“My father is in a terrible state because Cate is the apple of his eye. My mother believes that Cate will get the best treatment possible.”
“I agree with your mother. That hospital has an excellent reputation for helping people who have suffered from a nervous breakdown. Cate is in very good hands.”
“The doctor said that the the average length of hospitalization was 10 days.”
“10 days isn’t a long time.”
“The stays are longer when patients are taken to dedicated psychiatric hospitals than when they are sent to regular hospitals.”
“They will keep her for as long as is necessary.”
“Yes. I’m going to see her this evening.”
“I’m sure she will be happy to see you.”
“I hope so.”
They talked more about Cate, prayed for her and then, Edward left. Gladys sighed heavily now. She hadn’t said anything to Derrick. He didn’t need to know. His marriage to Amelie was on the mend and the last thing he needed was to learn that his ex-lover had suffered from a nervous breakdown. Gladys felt sorry for Cate and hoped that she would have a full recovery.
Edward leaned against the wall of the underground garage of his condo building. He was on his way to the hospital to see Cate. Yes, the signs had been there. That night when he had gone to her flat after she had bumped into Derrick and his wife, Amelie and Cate had been in terrible emotional state, he had planned to call his friend who was a therapist but the following morning Cate had seemed to pull herself together. And after having breakfast with her, he had left. He called her everyday until he no longer was able to reach her.
Concerned, he had called his parents to find out if Cate had been in touch with them and when they said that they hadn’t heard from nor seen her in a while, he went over to her flat. That was the evening when he knew that she was there but she didn’t open the door when he rang the bell and pounded on the wood. When the landlord let him inside her flat, he was shocked to see her. She was on the sofa, crying uncontrollably, her hair, unkempt and hanging limply about her pallid face which seemed very thin. Yes, she had lost a lot of weight, looking almost anorexic which alarmed him greatly. It was as if she hadn’t eaten in weeks. And, then, those scratches and scars–sure signs that something was seriously wrong with his little sister.
And now, she was in the hospital, diagnosed as having suffered from a mental breakdown. This had never before happened in their family. As far as he knew, no one had suffered from any mental illness. This was the first time. Depression was the cause for Cate’s breakdown. Seeing Derrick and his wife together had been too much for her. It forced her to accept that she and he would never be together again because Derrick would never leave his wife. It was too much for her to accept and her mind eventually splintered.
He blamed himself for how he dealt with Cate’s feelings regarding Derrick and his wife. He could have been more understanding–more sympathetic. His mother blamed herself for being hard on Cate because of what she had done to Boris and the embarrassment she had caused everyone. His father blamed himself because he hadn’t visited Cate and talked things out with her, let her know that he loved her regardless of what she had done.
Aunt Hyacinth blamed herself because of the cold treatment she had given her niece after learning that it was Cate who had been cheating on Boris and not the other way around. When she heard about Cate’s condition, she dissolved into sobs. It took a long time for Uncle Phillip to console her. It distressed her that such a thing could happen in the family. “If it hadn’t been for that man Cate got herself mixed up with, she would have married Boris and we wouldn’t have mental illness in our family.”
Edward grimaced. Mental illness wasn’t something to be ashamed of. People couldn’t help being mentally ill. What they needed was love, support and help. That was all Cate needed and that was what she was going to get. He moved away from the wall and walked to his car.