“The Pigman”, a School Assignment

This was written as a writing assignment for my Grade 9 English Class. We had just read “The Pigman” in school (a book by Paul Zindel) and it is based on both the themes in that book and my experiences with my late Aunt who had schizophrenia. 

“Why doesn’t anyone ever believe me?” she yelled as they ‘escorted’ her back to her room. We just stood there and watched What is there to do when someone you care about can’t look after themselves? Mental illness is a really tragic thing. There are ways to take care of it, but you can only help people who are willing to be helped.

It had been almost three years since she stopped taking her medication. It was a shock to everyone as she had been doing so well. When she finally moved back from the U.S. her mind was filled with elaborate conspiracies and stories that she was convinced were true. Everything that was in the news she knew about and was in some way linked to her. She spent close to a year spinning these tales before anyone did anything about it.

The next day we came to visit her again. She was on the fourth floor in the ‘smoking room’. The room was actually a covered patio filled with people in their pajamas and empty soup cans on the benches for ashes. She was giddy because of the drugs that they made her take and cried when we told her that she wasn’t coming home. What could we have done? The last time she was granted leave it was nearly impossible to get her to go back. This was her home for now and there was nothing she could really do about it.

For the third and fourth visits I stayed home. It was frightening at the hospital and sad at the same time. How had my favourite Aunt become someone that I was afraid of? I was still mad at her in many ways, although I hate to admit it. She had ruined my birthday and I know it wasn’t her fault, but she had. After dinner was when we had gotten the call, she yelled into the phone saying that she was being taken from her home. Nothing seemed festive anymore and everyone just sat there and looked at the floor. We all knew that this was what was going to happen, but no one knew the whole impact of it.

They let her out after a little over a week. The following Tuesday she was supposed to go to the hospital for a blood test to make sure she was taking her medication. She never showed. Five days later they took her back to the hospital. While there they pumped her with even more drugs, sedatives and such. She was in for another week before they let her out again. Another promise and appointment followed her release. This time she swore that she would take her medication. Everyone was proud.

She came to visit us on a Saturday to ask for money to buy cigarettes and food, we complied. We asked her how she was doing, she was fine. After a little over ten minutes she began to tell us another story. Another relation about the persecution that she was under and the money the government owed her. My Mom asked her about her medication, her reply was “Poison.” I asked her if she was taking it, she said no. How much longer until she goes back? Next time they said they were going to keep her for a month, then what? You can only help people who are willing to be helped. If not, the only thing you can do is stand by and watch.

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