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  • She referred to it as her “episode” and that’s how it has stayed filed in my memory. Apparently it began during a psychology lecture at college. She stood up and started accusing her professor and others of some kind of conspiracy. My father was called at his office and they brought her home where he waited. He found that all the light bulbs had been unscrewed when my Mom looked for recording devices.

    It was some time later that they would diagnose the “episode” as a result of too much Dexedrine. Years later in Berkeley, I met several people who suffered similar breakdowns after “dropping speed” for weeks at a time. At that time in the early ‘60’s it was common for doctors to prescribe Dexedrine for women who wanted to lose weight. My mom was very committed to dieting – almost as much as to the breads and desserts she loved. Her plate was additionally filled with the myriad tasks in raising three sons and getting a master’s degree. She probably saw the speed as a wonderful, doctor-recommended multi-vitamin.

    I don’t know how long the episode lasted. My dad thinks six months. I imagine less. The whole time she continued to do all her “Mom things,” making lunches and dinners, carting us around, making the rules. I don’t think my brothers and I even knew she was sick. There was a time we took a little vacation and stayed at a motel that had a surreal, low ceilinged room in their basement adjacent to a parking lot. There were strange, scowling faces painted on the walls and stacks of plates you could throw and shatter against them. I remember my Mom doing that and then I followed suit. There was a day at home when she pointed to a wall in our dining room and told me that there were some tape recorders inside. But it sounded plausible to me as a ten year old….because it was Mom who said it.
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