Each spring, as snow melts into sunshine and the crocuses emerge through the cold earth, I am reminded by Mother Nature of the incredible power within all of us to rise again from the dark, dormant recesses of our lives.
My sister Chitra is a miracle! She is a testament to the healing power of resurgence. And, I salute her for her courage to rise from the debilitating depths of schizo-affective disorder to a life of significance.
I have always marveled at Chitra’s comic streak and envied her carefree spirit. Although she is two years younger than me, she has always mothered me, comforted me, and made me smile, even through my tears. I wish I could be more like her. Growing up, our father used to call her “Charlie” short for Charlie Chaplin. Chitra had his incredible talent to mimic anyone and make us laugh until our stomachs hurt. But, all that came to an end when schizo-affective disorder ravaged her mind, body and spirit. For nearly a decade when the phone rang, I didn’t know if she had succeeded in killing herself, or was confined in a psychiatric ward under seclusion and restraints. Over a span of eight years, she was hospitalized ten times, endured thirty-two sessions of electro-convulsive therapy, hundreds of hours of psychotherapy, and tried thirty-five different medications. Ultimately, when faced with the reality that she may be committed to a state hospital, she dug deep within her soul, and decided to transform her life, if not for her, for her children’s sake.
Today, as the proud mother of two wonderful boys, and a highly regarded teacher’s assistant in her local middle school, she empowers children struggling with autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, Attention Deficit Disorder and other learning disabilities succeed in school. Each day she helps them get organized to complete their homework, teaches them time management skills, and prepares them for quizzes and tests. Most of all, she shares her indomitable spirit with these wonderful children, and inspires them to overcome obstacles and realize their fullest potential—just as she has done.