When I arrived to visit L tonight, I spotted her father’s car in the car park. Generally my heart sinks a little. I want L to myself, but I am also aware that tension between us can impact on L. And I do feel tense. When he is there, L never talks about how she really feels. She smiles and laughs at her father’s jokes. The other day, he asked how I thought she was and I told him how worried I was about her unhappiness and depression. He looked puzzled and replied, “L’s never like that with me, I think it’s because I play cards with her and always cheer her up”. Am I over sensitive to think that this implicitly tells me I am the miserable cow that allows her to “wallow” and “choose to be upset”, to use another phrase of his.
Today, she saw the consultant psychiatrist at the unit. I really wanted to know how this had gone. However, this seemed to interfere with her showing him how to download an app to his phone. But as she did this, she explained everything the doctor had said. He has prescribed medication and has assessed her as depressed and displaying obsessional behaviour. “Oh,” her Dad says,”I have obsessional behaviour too, I like to put brown sauce on things all the time”, and he laughs in a mocking, ‘aren’t I funny’ way. L laughs too, but it doesn’t seem to reach her eyes. I resist the urge to stand up, walk across the room, shake his shoulders and ask is it too much to ask that when his ill daughter is telling him about her psychiatric treatment, he might take it bloody seriously? Of course I don’t. I grit my teeth, ignore him and carry on talking to L.
Perhaps L needs this as light relief. I don’t know. She is right to be fiercely loyal to her dad, who absolutely adores her. But I find his approach incredibly frustrating. He turns up, plays cards, or falls asleep. He rarely knows what her weight is, he hasn’t read the treatment plan and as I wrote earlier, he seems to think all the difficult issues can be swept under the carpet. Is this a different approach and we are both right. Perhaps no one knows. I will carry on gritting my teeth and being who I am and let him deal with things his way too.