mental illness in the family

I’m with Crazy: A Love Story (Ep7-Part 2) Living & Loving Crazy

In part 1 of my conversation with my brother Ross, I learned lots about how different perspectives can be, even if siblings grew up surrounded by the same crazy. Today’s podcast is a continuation of the last episode.

It’s been enlightening for me – and it’s dawned on me that this is really the first time my brother and I – NOT being in the thick of madness with our mom or our little sister – have actually sat down as siblings to chat about our experiences – those shared and those that are unique. One thing is for sure – Humor helped us cope and still plays a major role in our relationship.

For me listening back to this unscripted and unedited recording, I’m learning lots and becoming aware of memories and misperceptions and each individuals’ way of looking at their circumstances. What a gift…for me, that’s been the magic in reliving some of our madness. I hope it means something for you, too.


Subscribe on iTunes Listen on Soundcloud


Hi, and welcome to Madness To Magic, and my podcast, I’m with Crazy: A Love Story. I’m your host, Paolina Milana, author of “The S Word”.

This show is for those of us who find ourselves surrounded by madness and wanting to find the magic within. We’re going to come together here as caregivers to those who have been diagnosed with a mental illness. Maybe it’s someone in the family we’ve been born into. Maybe it’s someone we love. Maybe it’s someone we work with. Maybe, even, it’s ourselves. Whether we’ve been thrust into this caregiver role or taken it on by choice, this podcast is where we’re going to share our stories and learn to realize the magic in all the madness we may have been experiencing. I promise you, it can be done. So let’s get to it.


Paolina Milana:                 Hi everyone, thanks for coming back to hear part two of my conversation with my brother Ross. Today’s podcast is a continuation of our last episode, where we were talking about siblings, our joint experience with both my mom and my little sister having mental illness. I will tell you that, this has been super enlightening for me. It’s dawned on me that this is actually the first time my brother and I, not being in the thick of madness with our mom or our little sister. It’s the first time we actually sat down as siblings to chat about our experiences, both those shared and the ones that are unique to us.

Paolina Milana:                 One thing for sure, humor helped us cope and still plays a major role in our relationship, as I’m sure you’re hearing. Again for me, listening back to this, totally unscripted, totally unedited recording, I’m learning lots and becoming aware of memories and misperceptions. Each individuals way of looking at their circumstances, even if their circumstances are the same as what you went through. It’s all again perspective. What a gift this has been for me, and that’s been the magic in reliving some of this madness.

Paolina Milana:                 I hope it means something for you too, so without further ado, here’s part two of my podcast with my brother Rosario.

Paolina Milana:                 Right.

Rosario:                                We talked about that the other day, how the sewing machines back then-

Paolina Milana:                 They were peddled.

Rosario:                                … you had to peddle it to get it to do anything. I mean it’s a totally different world.

Paolina Milana:                 Yeah, and so when Vinny came around, and do you remember when Vinny had her first, you know?

Rosario:                                Yeah, for me it was when she thought she had a boyfriend.

Paolina Milana:                 No, it wasn’t. It was when, do you remember when I called you? I came home from my cruise, I was on a cruise vacation. Right before I left, she had wanted to talk about this boy and everything. I was like, “Vinny, I don’t have time, we’ll talk about it later.” I come home and I open up the door and mom looks like hell. I’m like, “What the hell is going on?”

Rosario:                                Yeah, but this one’s the same thing. You called me, because she had wandered somewhere going to church.

Paolina Milana:                 Wait, so when mom says, “Something is wrong with Vinny, we’ve got trouble,” then Vinny comes down and starts talking about how she’s getting married to this guy. How everything is ponies and bunnies, and I’m thinking, “This doesn’t even make sense.” Then she ran out, that’s when I called you.

Rosario:                                Yeah, and then we had to go find her.

Paolina Milana:                 What do you remember?

Rosario:                                Yeah, you called me and then we had to…

Paolina Milana:                 What did you think when I called you? Did you have any clue that Vinny was going down this bunny hole?

Rosario:                                Well…

Paolina Milana:                 Vinny was 24, no. Yeah, Vinny was 24 right, I was 26, you were then?

Rosario:                                30, I was 28.

Paolina Milana:                 28.

Rosario:                                28, no 29, because dad had died at 28, so 29.

Paolina Milana:                 Right, it was right after, yeah, so somewhere around there.

Rosario:                                Yeah. No, there really wasn’t, she just seemed to be an individual who… Yeah, she was a bit slow if you want, developmentally slow.

Paolina Milana:                 Delayed.

Rosario:                                Delayed, yeah.

Paolina Milana:                 I mean there were issues that were not caught.

Rosario:                                Exactly, when she was a child.

Paolina Milana:                 Whether it was learning disabilities or something even more extreme.

Rosario:                                Exactly, or something else, not having oxygen. Remember she had pneumonia when she was a baby, so she was in essence I think at two years old, she was hospitalized for quite sometime. Separated from family, parents, so that traumatized her, and again having a child mom was how old at that time?

Paolina Milana:                 39, 40, I think right?

Rosario:                                Yeah, so again.

Paolina Milana:                 42 maybe.

Rosario:                                Your eggs go stale in the refrigerator too, so that could have been it.

Paolina Milana:                 Okay, so wait. I call you. Wait, I just want to get clear on something. I’m gone for like… Were you living at home? I can’t remember.

Rosario:                                No, I had my place downtown.

Paolina Milana:                 Oh you had your place downtown, okay. The entire time you didn’t know that anything was going on, right?

Rosario:                                No.

Paolina Milana:                 Okay, so I call you…

Rosario:                                Did you up until that point?

Paolina Milana:                 No, I mean Vinny was always Vinny right?

Rosario:                                Exactly.

Paolina Milana:                 Remember dad had to send her to Italy because…

Rosario:                                Yeah, which I kept saying was a mistake and I remember.

Paolina Milana:                 For those listening, so our little sister had rage issues, let’s just call it.

Rosario:                                Really bipolar.

Paolina Milana:                 Yeah, very, I swear it was very much bipolar, but we didn’t even know that, that might be what it is or anything. From those listening, you can tell, there’s a lot of loudness in our house. A lot of behavior that while we may have thought it was normal, now hindsight, you realize maybe it wasn’t. It’s not like there were things happening where we were like, uh-huh, that one little isolated incident is an issue. It was a snowball, an entire kind of domino effect with Vinny.

Paolina Milana:                 I don’t even remember how old she was, but our father thought, his relatives, his sisters still lived in Sicily. That it would be a good idea to have her experience something different. Get out, and a change of scenery. That I do believe in that, that helps.

Rosario:                                She wanted to be as normal as ever. She wanted to be dating. She wanted to be doing all kinds of things, but again, she was borderline. Emotionally she was very stunted, number one. Intellectually, she was very delayed.

Paolina Milana:                 Well honestly she was like a bit of a savant in many ways, because remember she knew all of the music, all of the lyrics. There were things that she did know.

Rosario:                                I wouldn’t call that a savant.

Paolina Milana:                 No.

Rosario:                                I mean think again, she was a younger version of mom locked down 24/7.

Paolina Milana:                 Yeah, that’s true.

Rosario:                                Unable to do anything, go anywhere, under very disciplined minded parents.

Paolina Milana:                 Right, that’s true, and because she was the baby, everything was done for her.

Rosario:                                Yeah, exactly.

Paolina Milana:                 Instead of her really even learning how to tie her shoes, our mother wanted to maybe keep her a baby. Anyway, lots of issues, but on that day when I call you and I’m like tearing, choking up and saying, “There’s something wrong here, you need to come and help,” I don’t remember you calling me back. I just remember you showing up.

Rosario:                                No, I just left and we didn’t have cellphones at the time if you recall.

Paolina Milana:                 Oh that’s right.

Rosario:                                Yes.

Paolina Milana:                 Oops what, yeah. Okay, so you show up.

Rosario:                                I got into my DeLorean, and I went back in time, no. I show up and then you and I go driving looking for her.

Paolina Milana:                 Okay, so I’m trying to take you through and relive it.

Rosario:                                I don’t know, I’m just thinking that she…

Paolina Milana:                 You showed up and you come to me, don’t you think like I’m misunderstanding something? You showed up and you were like, “Oh yeah, of course, she’s like off her nut.”

Rosario:                                No, it’s like, “Where did she go? Did she run away? Where did she go?” Then you show me this picture that she took, standing there like she was a pit bull.

Paolina Milana:                 For those who are too young to know, there’s a camera called a Polaroid, there’s a song about it. She had our mother take a photo of her and the picture…

Rosario:                                Pre-selfie.

Paolina Milana:                 Pre-selfie, yeah. The picture was a bit frightening. She was trying to show herself that she had lost weight, that she was attractive whatever. The picture was a very Simpson’s like, take the picture kind of thing. I show you that picture and then what are you thinking?

Rosario:                                Well and I didn’t know that she had dated or she had called some, I don’t know where they found…

Paolina Milana:                 I didn’t really know much about that either.

Rosario:                                No, I don’t know how they even found each other, stole the newspaper or something.

Paolina Milana:                 I don’t really know.

Rosario:                                Again, this was pre Craigslist.

Paolina Milana:                 Internet, [crosstalk 00:09:34].

Rosario:                                Pre internet, so somehow she met up with somebody and he had come over to the house, I heard that after the fact.

Paolina Milana:                 I don’t even remember that.

Rosario:                                Yeah, he had come over and they sat on the, this is what she told me, they sat on the porch, not on the porch.

Paolina Milana:                 Wait, but you’re going too far ahead. Right now we’re at the moment where you come and you’re like, “What? Did she run away?”

Rosario:                                I’m just thinking she ran away, that’s what I’m thinking.

Paolina Milana:                 Then what? Then we got in the car.

Rosario:                                Well then you show me that picture and I said, “Well, God, that’s just strange.” We went.

Paolina Milana:                 I must have told you the stuff that she said.

Rosario:                                That she was going nuts.

Paolina Milana:                 Yeah, that she was getting married to him. Did you believe me?

Rosario:                                No, I didn’t believe it, but again, I just thought she was so angry she left.

Paolina Milana:                 Okay, so then we get in my car.

Rosario:                                Then we get in your car, and we go driving around. We find her walking down the road from the church. She has a pamphlet of some sort, and she says…

Paolina Milana:                 Pamphlet.

Rosario:                                That’s the thing, is she starts pointing to us and saying, look what this guy wrote about her and love and all this other kind of stuff. The only thing I remember is my slamming my fist on the dashboard and yelling at her.

Paolina Milana:                 “No, it’s not real.”

Rosario:                                In a more forceful way.

Paolina Milana:                 Just to be more clear.

Rosario:                                Right then and there, I said, “Let’s go to Elgin,” which was the hospital.

Paolina Milana:                 Well, okay so hold on.

Rosario:                                I said, “I ain’t doing this again,” or something like that in my mind.

Paolina Milana:                 Some people listening are like, “What the hell?” [inaudible 00:11:08] we get in the car, we go look for her. She’s coming down the road, she’s got pamphlets in her hand. You open the car door and she says, “No, no, look.”

Rosario:                                She sits on the front sit.

Paolina Milana:                 “Look, on the pamphlets, it’s written about me, me and Collagetal,” was the guy’s name.

Rosario:                                I’m sure he used a different name.

Paolina Milana:                 “We’re getting married, we’re in love.” Yeah, Jeff. Anyway, so and at that point I think is when you realized, “Holy shit, here we go again.”

Rosario:                                Yeah, because she’s gone nuts, that’s why I said, in my mind I said, “No, this ain’t happening again.” When she was going on and on in the back seat, and I slammed my fist. I think I said other words other than, “I believe you’re incorrect.”

Paolina Milana:                 No, you slammed your fist on the dashboard, and you said something like, “No, that’s not real.” Then I think we had called Saint Joseph before she got in the car.

Rosario:                                We had tried to figure out something, yeah, we did.

Paolina Milana:                 Told them, “Hey, this is what’s going on,” and they told us to bring her over there. We told Vinny though, again, another story, to get her to agree to go.

Rosario:                                Well, no, I think I remember saying, “Let’s just go.”

Paolina Milana:                 “They’re going to help us understand what you’re trying to say.” I think it was one of those kinds of things.

Rosario:                                When I yelled, she became very quiet.

Paolina Milana:                 Yes, she did.

Rosario:                                Very quiet, and we went there and there was no commotion when we got in.

Paolina Milana:                 No.

Rosario:                                That’s when we basically got her in there.

Paolina Milana:                 Curious, that thought of, “Oh holy shit, here we go again,” is it in a way… For me, in a way it was like, “Okay, been here, done that. I know what we need to do.” In a way it was almost like being grateful for having had that first experience, because we knew what we were looking at. We knew a little bit of what had to happen. Do you feel that same way or were you more like…

Rosario:                                Well yeah, I understand that we had been through it. It’s like anybody who does anything, you do it the second time, you get a little better understanding. Yeah, we figured out, okay, instead of going through all the crap from before, let’s find out. We knew more the medication, because our mother was on medication. Perhaps this is something that could help. I’m sure all these thoughts were going through our minds, but we just said, “Let’s just act, let’s just go and do it.” That’s how that came about.

Paolina Milana:                 All right, so now she’s in there and they tell us we have to stay away for a period of time, I can’t even remember what it was, eight or whatever.

Rosario:                                Maybe that brings her back to when she had the pneumonia, and everybody abandoned her. Dad was the only one that was able to go there, because he was the only one who could drive. We had an uncle that lived with us, who couldn’t drive.

Paolina Milana:                 Possible. I don’t know, but do you remember then the first time?

Rosario:                                Well they knocked her off. What they do is when they bring you in, they load you up.

Paolina Milana:                 With medication.

Rosario:                                With medication, first to calm you down, because she I believe had to go into the quiet room.

Paolina Milana:                 Quiet room, yeah.

Rosario:                                Be strapped down.

Paolina Milana:                 What’s the quiet room?

Rosario:                                It’s just a bed with straps.

Paolina Milana:                 Well it was a bed, it was like a rubber room, like they can’t hurt themselves on the wall.

Rosario:                                No, they’re strapped to the bed. She was strapped trust me.

Paolina Milana:                 I remember looking at the monitors, she wasn’t strapped, she was standing and talking to herself.

Rosario:                                No, not at that point.

Paolina Milana:                 You mean in the very beginning?

Rosario:                                At the very beginning they put you down and load you up so that they can at least restrain you without having to restrain you physically. They want to dull you, let’s put it that way. Then it’s the process of figuring out what meds work and so on and so on.

Paolina Milana:                 The first time, it was you, me and… Wait it was you, me, Cathy and mom. Cathy being our older sister who went to go see her. What do you remember about that first visit?

Rosario:                                No, that basically yeah, it was a mental issue. It’s hereditary obviously. I remember reading that it happens at around the age of 26, predominantly in women.

Paolina Milana:                 Even though for our mom it was in her 40s and 50s.

Rosario:                                Well looking back you could say that it was…

Paolina Milana:                 She probably had something and nobody…

Rosario:                                She had something there and again the family that they came from how many kids, 11?

Paolina Milana:                 I don’t even know. Well some died.

Rosario:                                Yeah, but still.

Paolina Milana:                 I guess what I’m trying to get at is, so we go to visit Vinny. Paint the picture, what do you remember of that first visit?

Rosario:                                It was no different than when we visited mom at the bunch of these places, where I remember going to Charter Berkeley Hospital, where our mom was. In my mind I was living one floor over the coo coos nest. I’m sitting down and some big individual, big guy sits down next to me who I thought was Chief from the movie. Then there was another woman who standing in front of the TV, blocking the TV from another patient, because she’s angry with the other patients. I’m thinking, “This is just…”

Paolina Milana:                 I don’t think I was with you.

Rosario:                                No, you weren’t.

Paolina Milana:                 Okay, so when I was asking you about the mom memories, what was that? I don’t remember.

Rosario:                                This is again, she had gone through all these different hospitals and that was prior to meeting-

Paolina Milana:                 Dr. Bernstein.

Rosario:                                … Dr. Bernstein at Evanston.

Paolina Milana:                 Yeah, what was that? That was the height of when she was…

Rosario:                                Yeah, that was when she in essence had to be medicated, but not with in my opinion again I’m not sure, but more mood altering. Where they would calm them down, not as much affect the psychosis that she was going through, if that’s what it is. I don’t know what you would call it. They have all these people in the room, and it is, it’s what you expect a mental facility to be. Just a bunch of people wandering around, watching television, doing nothing. There she learned to make this, what do you call, Pillsbury dough pizza thing. She was doing things there, functioning, but again…

Paolina Milana:                 Well, I don’t remember that at all.

Rosario:                                Yeah, remember how she would then take the Pillsbury dough that comes in the roll thing, where you open it up? That’s when she started making those pizzas-

Paolina Milana:                 Well I don’t remember that at all.

Rosario:                                … instead of making that little dough, yeah that is where she picked that up.

Paolina Milana:                 How old were you with the Charter Berkeley thing?

Rosario:                                Well I could drive.

Paolina Milana:                 I don’t remember that at all.

Rosario:                                She had been to Billings, she had been to University of Chicago, she had been to Charter Berkeley, Northwestern, Evanston.

Paolina Milana:                 How do you think it was for mom to realize that, I mean in essence this was all hereditary, right? How do you think that impacted her to realize that she gave this to Vinny kind of?

Rosario:                                Well I don’t know. I don’t know if…

Paolina Milana:                 Do you ever think about that?

Rosario:                                She could have. No, it would have been a good question to ask her.

Paolina Milana:                 Did you ever worry that you, because I know I worried that I might get it.

Rosario:                                I never did.

Paolina Milana:                 I was like, “Please God, let 30 come.”

Rosario:                                I never did because…

Paolina Milana:                 Really?

Rosario:                                No, I never did because I honestly thought it was, for me, I thought it was more because she was locked down, she couldn’t get out. Again, you’re in that house and maybe that’s why I was always out, maybe, subconsciously, I don’t know. To me it was more you’re at home and there was nothing you can do for yourself. Our mother wasn’t one to go on a walk something like that or bike.

Paolina Milana:                 Well, except to escape the voices that were killing her.

Rosario:                                Did she ever knew how to ride a bike, remember?

Paolina Milana:                 No.

Rosario:                                Yeah, so you don’t know how to do the most basic of things.

Paolina Milana:                 Because you weren’t allowed unfortunately.

Rosario:                                You weren’t allowed, yeah, I mean that’s the whole thing is…

Paolina Milana:                 Well she did say, she was the one who was forced to make the pasta for everybody.

Rosario:                                She was the youngest.

Paolina Milana:                 Then had to stand in the corner until they all ate.

Rosario:                                Again, I’ll give you an example. I knew someone who, so this is just tell you about the ethnicity of what we’re talking about. I knew someone who was from Mexico, and his girlfriend, and this is only within the last 15 years. His girlfriend who was more recently from Mexico, she would do the same thing. I came over there once for lunch, she prepared the food. She served us and she stood in the kitchen corner until we finished.

Paolina Milana:                 Wow!

Rosario:                                It’s that mentality, it is probably more of a Latin mentality, but it maybe also in other cultures. I have no idea, but I can tell you I’ve seen it. That’s the thing, she had no out, she had nothing.

Paolina Milana:                 Neither of them, really.

Rosario:                                Well our father, what do you mean?

Paolina Milana:                 No, I mean mom and Vinny, right?

Rosario:                                Oh Vinny, yeah. You drove, Cathy drove, I drove. You were in school stuff.

Paolina Milana:                 School.

Rosario:                                Cathy was in school stuff, I was in school stuff, everybody did sports.

Paolina Milana:                 When mom was sick like super sick, Vinny got stuck being the one to stay home.

Rosario:                                Who knows what she had, that would have been a good question to ask her.

Paolina Milana:                 Yeah, we have no idea, yeah.

Rosario:                                “What did you see? What happened while you were at home?” Was she verbally assaulted? Was she physically reprimanded? Who knows what happened while she was there.

Paolina Milana:                 Yeah. Getting back to Vinny’s first time in a hospital, which I’ll be honest, that shook me big time. I mean it was one thing from mom, because it was almost like we grew up with it, and there was dad around. This was a whole different story. When we went to visit her that first time and we saw her in the room, like they brought her in, what do you remember of that?

Rosario:                                No, she was just like almost comatose, like a walking dead. I mean in my opinion, that’s what I saw.

Paolina Milana:                 You don’t remember when, so she started to tell us that she was going to have her wedding. You don’t remember this?

Rosario:                                Yeah.

Paolina Milana:                 Then you said, “No Vinny, no, that’s not happening.” Do you remember that she put her head back, opened up her mouth and there was supposed to, I don’t mean to get upset. You don’t remember this, when she had that big like opened her mouth and there was like a scream that should have come out, but it didn’t, and then she just started bowling?

Rosario:                                I remember she started crying, I remember that, but again, to me it was like, okay, finally she understands that it wasn’t going to happen. That’s why even in the car for me, when I yelled at the car and she literally didn’t say another word the entire trip, I mean I think I can be intimidating when I want.

Paolina Milana:                 Yes.

Rosario:                                To me it was sort of like, okay, she understands it now, so let’s do this medication stuff and make sure it doesn’t happen. When she was on her meds, she had no problems, other than obviously she still wasn’t active. She had motor skill issues, but when she took her meds, she was delightful. She was funny. She was all these kind of things, but that’s the problem. People who are on medication, they in my opinion do not follow what they’re supposed to do, take their medication.

Paolina Milana:                 Yeah, but who does? I mean be honest. I know if I go to the doctor and I’m given a vial of pills, and they say, “Take until the entire vial is done.” When I start to feel better, there are times when I either forget to take it or I choose not to take it. Why should they be any different?

Rosario:                                No, and that’s what I’m saying, people don’t do that. Here’s the thing, you know you have an issue, but you’re talking about a health issue in terms of physical health. We’re talking mental health, to me it seems like…

Paolina Milana:                 That could never go away.

Rosario:                                That could never go away. It’s like someone who takes heart pills, those people usually don’t forget. Something that can kill you, if it’s a cold or something or whatever it is, yeah, you’re like, “Yeah, I feel better.” I’m glad that people in my opinion again don’t rely solely on the medication, because I think that’s created a whole set of different problems, where people rely on medication as you see now. I’ve had a couple of operations and I have never taken pain pills. Even though they’d been prescribed to me, I’ve never even gone to pick them up.

Paolina Milana:                 Don’t you think, I mean because I don’t like to take meds at all. Don’t you think that that is sort of like the fall out of having lived a life with people who, it was like a pharmacy in our house, all the drugs et cetera. For me I know it was a conscious, no I’m not going to take that. No, I’m not like them so to speak.

Rosario:                                Okay, you’re going to think this is strange, I like pain. I really do, I’m totally serious.

Paolina Milana:                 Okay, so the mental illness has continued in the family tree.

Rosario:                                I think you have to have some of that, so for me I enjoy that sensation. Not that I would sit there and say, “Oh yeah, my arm’s broken, let it heal itself.” The pain pills are maybe if you want to call it a stepping stone to whatever, but again, we’re talking about pain versus mental. I think there’s a different thing, you don’t know. If you have a mental illness, both in mom and in Vinny’s case, you don’t think anything is wrong. You think, “Oh this is normal. I’m hearing voices, I’m doing this,” so you had no clue, and it’s taking over your entire-

Paolina Milana:                 Reality.

Rosario:                                … reality. When you’re in pain, you’re not thinking, “Oh it’s a computer who broke my arm,” or whatever. You’re thinking, “My arm is broken, I need to take something to get it fixed, get a cast or whatever. Okay, if I have to take pain pills, I take pain pills.” In terms of mental illness, you don’t know the difference. You think that is where you are.

Paolina Milana:                 Right, true. Let me ask you this, you were in several relationships. You got out of one that was pretty serious, and everybody had thought it would lead to like a marriage. Everybody thought, “Oh you’d make a great dad,” et cetera, not a great husband, but you know.

Rosario:                                That’s only one that you know of, I had like three of those.

Paolina Milana:                 Okay, but the question here is, did our dealings with crazy, because look, honestly, 99% of other people, if they were in dad’s shoes would have been like, “Screw this, I’m getting out of here.”

Rosario:                                I told him that.

Paolina Milana:                 Yes, but he didn’t do it.

Rosario:                                I told him I said, because the reason that I had no intention of getting married, is because I wasn’t sure I could do what he did and stick through it. I wasn’t going to take that chance, not only for myself, but for whoever. I don’t have a problem putting myself in difficult situations. I’ll do whatever I want to do and if it costs me, that’s fine, that’s my problem. When you’ve got a family and you’ve got kids, your goals, your ego, your this. If you want to make it work, you’ve got to put it aside.

Rosario:                                For me it’s just something I never really wanted to do. The only reason I even thought about it was because I thought it was the old school thing to do. Oh you get married. It’s like what everybody tells you, “You’ve got to get married, you’ve got to have a family.” If you want to get into a discussion of how corporations control people, we can get into that, but that’s how I, you know.

Paolina Milana:                 What do you mean? You opened the door, so.

Rosario:                                Well that’s what I’m saying. I mean that’s how businesses, corporations own you. Once you have responsibilities, once you have kids, once you have a family, they know they own you. They know you can’t leave. They know that you’re going to have to stick it out. They can treat you like crap, they can do whatever they want to do, and you have no choice. You cannot leave. Look at what we’ve been watching over the weekend.

Paolina Milana:                 [inaudible 00:28:12].

Rosario:                                Yeah.

Paolina Milana:                 Yeah, that’s true.

Rosario:                                He can’t get out. If it was just him, he would have skipped, he would have been gone.

Paolina Milana:                 Right, so do you think if we didn’t grow up in cray-cray, and that thought… Like for me it was the thought of, “Holy shit even your kid.” It may not come to you, but it could pass a generation, even your kid could have it. I knew for myself there is no way I could do it a third time, especially when it would be my kid. If we did not have any of that, do you think…

Rosario:                                No, I never wanted it.

Paolina Milana:                 You don’t think that impacted you?

Rosario:                                For me personally, no, I just never wanted it. I just didn’t want it. That’s just me, again. It wouldn’t allow me to do, again, and I’ve done stupid things. I had ideas of things of things I wanted to do, some panned out, some have not. If I had gone that route of having the family and those kinds of stuff, I would have been so miserable for me personally. Just because it’s a hell of a responsibility.

Paolina Milana:                 I want to go back to a couple things, because maybe kind of, of interest to people. We do make fun or make jokes or whatever. I remember when Vinny, so our sister died. She was in an assisted living center. One that used to be a senior center, and then they had to in order to increase funds, they made some of the floors accommodate people with mental illness. Anyway, long story short, we were able to get her in there. When she died, it was kind of like a freak accident, where she was sleeping.

Rosario:                                Chocked on a peanut.

Paolina Milana:                 She chocked on dry, roasted peanut.

Rosario:                                She was eating in bed, lying on her back watching TV eating peanuts.

Paolina Milana:                 Then she tried to get up her legs wouldn’t support her, she fell or she smashed her nose, blood. Who knows, it was heart attack, whatever, but at the end of the day, she died. She was 42 right, 42? I remember when we were in the funeral home, because we had her cremated that, do you remember what you said?

Rosario:                                Yeah, I sure I did.

Paolina Milana:                 There was the box.

Rosario:                                What?

Paolina Milana:                 No, so she’s in like a cardboard box.

Rosario:                                Temporary.

Paolina Milana:                 They put the temporary to put her in the, yeah, and you walked over to the box and you went, “Shoe size 12.” Do you remember?

Rosario:                                Oh I didn’t remember that. No, I don’t remember that, but I’m not surprised, I’m not surprised.

Paolina Milana:                 I bring this up because there were a lot of points where humor got us through what we were dealing with.

Rosario:                                I’m always in a good mood, unless I don’t have to be.

Paolina Milana:                 Well that’s not true, because you got into trouble when I think Vinny was in some, like lock down facility.

Rosario:                                Yeah, that’s why I’m saying. No, she wasn’t on lock down, she was in school. Oh over there.

Paolina Milana:                 No.

Rosario:                                Yeah, but that was because she had wanted to meet…

Paolina Milana:                 What was the story?

Rosario:                                Yeah, she wanted to bring…

Paolina Milana:                 Where was she?

Rosario:                                She was at the other place, I can’t remember Maplewood.

Paolina Milana:                 No, it wasn’t Maplewood.

Rosario:                                She wanted to go to Woodland to see her then boyfriend.

Paolina Milana:                 You’re right.

Rosario:                                She wanted to bring him lunch.

Paolina Milana:                 You’re right. Vinny had a boyfriend who also had a mental illness.

Rosario:                                Yeah, so she wanted to bring him lunch. I guess because when she goes there, she would tend to cause problems, they won’t allow her in. I basically said that, “Just let her bring him this lunch.”

Paolina Milana:                 Well you had taken the time and driven all the way out there. Then to find out that they’re saying, “No, she can’t,” you kind of went a little bit ballistic.

Rosario:                                I did, I did where they had to call the cops.

Paolina Milana:                 What did you actually do?

Rosario:                                Nothing, like I said, okay, people are intimated.

Paolina Milana:                 You couldn’t have done nothing and they wanted to call the cops.

Rosario:                                That’s what they do, that’s their first reaction is to call. I mean I yelled at them.

Paolina Milana:                 Right, I think that’s why.

Rosario:                                Again, I’m rather a larger individual and these are like tiny little people, and so it’s like little [inaudible 00:32:50]. They get afraid, they don’t know what’s going to happen. I do raise my voice, and even if I don’t try to raise my voice, maybe it sounds raised.

Paolina Milana:                 If I can interject, at this point in my opinion, because of having to deal day to day, because then you had become the primary caregiver of both mom and Vinny. Something happens to you because it’s too much, it’s overwhelming.

Rosario:                                No, this was just a lunch. It was just bringing a subway sandwich to someone.

Paolina Milana:                 Correct, which should not have even been a big deal.

Rosario:                                No, but wait, but look at what we’ve done in the last few days, where someone just does something stupid. Where they tell us, “Oh you have to go see customer service.”

Paolina Milana:                 That’s right, I have to complain about that stuff.

Rosario:                                Yeah, but those are the kind of things where you just deal with stupidity, and it’s like, “Come on guys, this is a sandwich.”

Paolina Milana:                 Yeah, but normally you can deal with it. Like even when I escalated it, it still was on a level of civility. Here you were not on a level of civility, and my only point being, so hear me out. When I wrote the S Word and people read it, some people came back and said, “My God, I mean your father didn’t know how to handle anything. You guys were a bunch of idiots. Why did you do this?” All of that is true, right, but walk a mile in those shoes when it’s going on, you don’t know what to do. Especially at a time when it wasn’t okay to tell people that there was an issue. Or you tried to keep it hidden. With the mom and Vinny thing, when you were the primary caregiver, I think you also experienced more than what…

Rosario:                                It’s a lot of stress, because you’re taking time away, but trust me in this case, and I can tell you with many instances that had nothing to do with family. I’ll show up for something because, again, I’ve been in many bars and I’ve noticed in people’s faces there’s, like my friends are getting into a confrontation. I will show up and I will see in the other person’s face, and this may sound boastful or whatever, I will see sheer terror to God’s honest truth. That’s happened so many times…

Paolina Milana:                 What do you mean sheer terror for what?

Rosario:                                Of me and it’s over, and the whole thing ends. Everybody walks away. It’s happened many, many times, and I don’t know, again, I can’t see myself but I remember one time… Again, we were living on Cadeville and I was playing in six softball leagues every week. We had an issue where an umpire obviously to me was making the calls to benefit the other team. Okay, so this has nothing to do with mom or any, so I’m at him all game long, all game long, because I know what he’s doing. As you know I can tell people, I read people very well, so I can tell what’s going on.

Paolina Milana:                 So you think.

Rosario:                                No, I can tell what’s going on, I see it. At the end of the game I take a baseball bat and I start to approach the umpire, because I’m going to crash his skull, it’s figuratively. I have to go through the other team to get to the umpire, because the umpire is conveniently with the other team. My team sees me going towards the other team, and they think I’m going to start to riot. That’s what I’m saying is, people think I’m going to do something even though I wasn’t going to do it, but intimidate.

Paolina Milana:                 Well, your intent is to make them think.

Rosario:                                Exactly.

Paolina Milana:                 Okay. All right, so let’s bring it back to that day.

Rosario:                                That day, I was just pissed because it was just a subway sandwich.

Paolina Milana:                 What did you do?

Rosario:                                They said, “No, she can’t come in here.” “Okay, give me the sandwich I’ll give it to him.” “No.” I said, “Are you serious? You’re not going to allow me to bring this sandwich in here? How stupid.” Most people are stupid, so you’re basically telling them they’re stupid. They then become offended and then they think, “Oh my God, this guy is going to start throwing things,” and all kinds of stuff. Then they call the cops, that’s what they do.

Paolina Milana:                 That’s what they did, they called the cops on you?

Rosario:                                That’s what they did, they called the cops. I said, “Okay, I’ll wait.” “Oh you better wait here.” “I’m not going anywhere, I’ll wait right here.” “Well you know, they’re going to find you.” I said, “Look, they don’t have to look for me, I’m going to wait right here.” I did, I waited for the cops, two of them showed up. I smiled to them, they went inside. They said, “You know they just prefer you leave, they don’t want to do anything.” That was it. They just panic, that’s the problem, people panic.

Paolina Milana:                 Well they’re also dealing with a bunch of mentally ill people.

Rosario:                                They are, and who knows what goes in there. I’m sure there are cops that go in there daily.

Paolina Milana:                 Right often and you look normal.

Rosario:                                No?

Paolina Milana:                 Yeah.

Rosario:                                Comparatively.

Paolina Milana:                 Well shock yeah, comparatively.

Rosario:                                Then if you start raising your voice, that’s their thing. “Oh don’t raise your voice.” I said, “Trust me,” I remember saying, “Trust me, this isn’t raising my voice. You’ll know if I raise my voice.” “Well you know we don’t like that around here, we have to maintain, we have to do this. We have to do that.” I go, “Screw yourself.”

Paolina Milana:                 You had started to say, yeah, when you’re dealing with a lot of stress that takes away, that’s when…

Rosario:                                It takes away time. It takes away time.

Paolina Milana:                 For people are dealing with this kind of thing, and who maybe they haven’t told anybody, or maybe they have and you’re not getting help. Or you just kind of feel alone or whatever it is, or nothing’s working. I often think about those parents and this sounds crazy. Every time that I see on TV like something happens, a shooting or this or that, and I see how everybody is so quick to point the finger at the family. Why didn’t they know? Why couldn’t they stop it? When you’re in it, it’s a whole different ball game. The question for you is, you’re actually as crazy as you are in your own right, not certifiable yet. You are pretty…

Rosario:                                No offense taken.

Paolina Milana:                 You are pretty level headed, objective. You’re opinionated yes.

Rosario:                                I think brilliant is the word you’re looking for, no.

Paolina Milana:                 Definitely not looking for that word, I’ve found it and discarded it, but you…

Rosario:                                I like to say functional.

Paolina Milana:                 Yeah, functional, okay.

Rosario:                                Functionally crazy, that’s where we should start.

Paolina Milana:                 You’re really a whole new thing.

Rosario:                                The only thing, functionally crazy, yes.

Paolina Milana:                 A lot of people would sign up for that one, but you mentioned how at that point it just got too much. The stress was even too much for somebody like you.

Rosario:                                It wasn’t the stress. Here’s the thing, again, I was running my own business, so to take time away from that for me, that was the thing. If it was something, I mean the fact that I went to pick her up to bring her to deliver a sandwich, was no brainer. I was like, “No big deal. I’m going there, I’m going to go to mom’s anyway, okay, fine. Well let’s go do this.” To have some pinhead, some little piece of crap tell me, “No, you can’t give a sandwich to somebody,” it just shows the incompetence of the industry, of the medical or the mental health industry in my opinion.

Rosario:                                Again, I know I don’t have to deal with people on a day to day basis, so I’m sure that’s a stress. I’ve told people who work in those institutions, “I couldn’t do what you do. I don’t have that capability. I don’t know how you do what you do.” I give them all the props for that. It was a subway sandwich that we were delivering. Even I said, “Hey, I’ll leave it with you, just give it to him.” “No, we can’t take it,” so come one.

Paolina Milana:                 Now you had said earlier, I said if there was one thing that you would have done differently growing up, you had said?

Rosario:                                Programming was the first thing, get into [inaudible 00:41:19].

Paolina Milana:                 No, not schooling for yourself, I mean you had said you would have just gotten out.

Rosario:                                Well I would have left home. Remember I left at 21, and you can’t leave much earlier than that. Remember, to me even going away to school I had been planning for, for a while trying to think of where to go, this and that. Yeah, I would have taken off.

Paolina Milana:                 Is that the advice though to people?

Rosario:                                I don’t know. No, not really.

Paolina Milana:                 Like you’re finding yourself surrounded by crazy just leave, abandon?

Rosario:                                No, that’s why I said, that’s why I told dad, I couldn’t do what he did.

Paolina Milana:                 He has an obligation to stay?

Rosario:                                Well and again that’s the same reason for me, if you have pets, you take care of them. Just like, I don’t want to equate them to children, but you make that commitment.

Paolina Milana:                 Your priority, yeah.

Rosario:                                You follow through. If that’s what you’re going to do, if you want to have kids, if you want to have a family, then follow through. Do what you have to do, but I think it gets tougher and tougher each day, because there’s a lot more choices out there, a lot more things that can entice, can manipulate. For me it’s more, if I want to do something, when I was a kid… Here’s the thing, maybe if I hadn’t done what I wanted to do, maybe if there were more restrictions on me, maybe that would have been, I probably would have been a huge problem.

Rosario:                                Again, I was willing to accept. I think that’s the thing, people aren’t willing to accept the consequences. I was always willing to accept whatever it is, I’ll take the punishment if that’s what comes with it.

Paolina Milana:                 One of the times, and you had mentioned it.

Rosario:                                Push the envelope and if you get in trouble, deal with it.

Paolina Milana:                 Yeah.

Rosario:                                I’m sorry.

Paolina Milana:                 Well there’s a saying that I like, it’s better to ask forgiveness than to ask permission. If you ask permission most people are too afraid they’re just going to say, “No, no, no.”

Rosario:                                Yeah, that’s a good point.

Paolina Milana:                 If you just go ahead and do it, nine times out of 10 they’ll take the credit afterward right?

Rosario:                                True.

Paolina Milana:                 When it’s done correctly. You had started on a story and it was about, because Vinny also on top of all the mental illness and all of the being isolated and being a bit slow. She was also bullied and she was pretty much friendless. You had started to tell the story in high school when she was getting bullied.

Rosario:                                Again, remember how towards the end, Vinny never stood up for herself.

Paolina Milana:                 Never.

Rosario:                                Then at the end, she stood up for everybody else.

Paolina Milana:                 Yeah, that’s true.

Rosario:                                Remember, so she gained confidence.

Paolina Milana:                 Right, true.

Rosario:                                She didn’t know how to control it. She didn’t know how to handle it, so it became bullying on her end in a way.

Paolina Milana:                 Well more bullying on…

Rosario:                                To help other people.

Paolina Milana:                 To help right.

Rosario:                                It was like, what was that movie, My Bodyguard, where the kid hires somebody. For the longest time, yeah Vinny would get bullied, and I think she was a freshman?

Paolina Milana:                 I think so.

Rosario:                                That makes me-

Paolina Milana:                 In high school.

Rosario:                                … a senior I think, right?

Paolina Milana:                 Right, yeah.

Rosario:                                No, that puts me in college. She was a freshman in high school, so that makes me maybe like a sophomore in college or something like that. I guess there was some kid who was bullying her, giving her a hard time. Now we’re talking 30 years ago, 30 plus years ago, a whole different…

Paolina Milana:                 Major bullying.

Rosario:                                Yeah.

Paolina Milana:                 Do you remember what he had done to spark you?

Rosario:                                No.

Paolina Milana:                 She came home and he had stubbed her in the hand with a lead pencil.

Rosario:                                Oh yeah.

Paolina Milana:                 Remember?

Rosario:                                That’s right.

Paolina Milana:                 I mean that’s pretty severe bullying.

Rosario:                                Yeah, that is.

Paolina Milana:                 The fact that the teachers just pretended not to see it or didn’t care.

Rosario:                                I showed up, the names and places have been changed to protect the innocent. I said, “Okay, fine. You be at school at this time during whatever period,” I can’t remember, “I’m going to be there.” I go in, show up, I wait outside her classroom. She points out the kid, and I throw him up against the locker. I tell him, “If I ever hear of anything, ever, ever,” him talking, touching, doing anything like this, I’ll break his neck and I’ll do a few other things to him as well. I remember this other little punk coming up, and I told him, “Just wait your turn, after him you’re next.”

Rosario:                                I guess when I went home, the police were calling to try to find me. Now again I understand nowadays it would be a whole different animal, but back then I did what I had to do. She was never bothered again. In fact, I think she told that I think they met or she saw the kid or he saw her a few years later. There was nothing even back then, nothing. He didn’t do anything or say anything. I’m so sick of the political correctness that occurs now. Unfortunately I understand why back then, again, like I said, I’ll do what I have to do and that’s it.

Paolina Milana:                 Growing up, whether it was with mom or Vinny or whatever, where there people, were there authority figures, where there times when people should have stepped in and should have seen and should have helped?

Rosario:                                Well we knew when Vinny was two years old and the teachers wanted to hold her back, when she was in second grade I’m sorry.

Paolina Milana:                 Second grade.

Rosario:                                The teachers wanted to hold her back, and our parents thought it was an embarrassment. Nowadays it’s, you know.

Paolina Milana:                 No, I don’t know.

Rosario:                                You look at what’s the show, Everybody Loves Raymond, same thing happened there. They thought it’s best for the kid to hold the child back, but in our case it was considered an embarrassment. With the three of us that never happened. I mean we were all very pretty good at school.

Paolina Milana:                 Yeah, luckily.

Rosario:                                Our parents are probably looking at that same, why is this kid not where the other ones are? That would have helped her. Then as she gets older, and she’s falling behind more and more, because that’s how the school system is in my opinion. It’s just pushing people through, get them past. Then she ends up in a school and you probably know better, were she’s in a special ed room or something to that effect. She sees other kids banging their heads against the wall.

Paolina Milana:                 Well the problem is in those days, they had special ed classes, but really they were behavior disorder classes. It wasn’t like she was getting any education.

Rosario:                                No.

Paolina Milana:                 As a matter of fact, she was in a room with worse people. When you are boarder line, so it’s like that limbo between heaven and hell. There is no place for you.

Rosario:                                It gives that validation that, “Okay, so I’m nuts.”

Paolina Milana:                 Right, that, “Something’s really wrong with me,” yeah.

Rosario:                                The whole school system was BS. At the time again, not knowing mom’s medical issues, but that’s medical advancement so that played a role in her situation. Again, there’s a lot more out there. Maybe the people aren’t experiencing those kinds of traumatic details.

Paolina Milana:                 Maybe, I don’t know. Okay, so going back to that question you didn’t answer, the City Slickers, Bruno Kirby, what’s the best day of your life? What the worst day of your life?

Rosario:                                Wow, of my life?

Paolina Milana:                 Well yeah.

Rosario:                                Well, let’s see, what’s the worst day? I would say probably dad dying, because I considered us buddies. We did a lot of stuff, the hunting, all those kinds of stuff. I would say that, that probably was, because I was 28 so that was early. I think that was in all honesty, I would put that one on the medical establishment because of his issues.

Paolina Milana:                 Which were?

Rosario:                                Well he had a bladder cancer. When I advised, and I had my father agree to put an internal ostomy back, because he didn’t need both, he just needed the bladder one. The doctors for whatever reason, convinced him to do with an exterior bag. I said to the doctors, “You have no idea what you’re doing here. This is a very active guy,” which he was. Gardening, biking, this kind of stuff. “It’s not going to work.” “Well we’ve had more experience.” I said, “I understand that,” and sure enough, I think that’s what killed him. The frustration of having to wear the diapers, of the bag leaking, all kinds of stuff. When he died that was probably my worst. My best for me, wow, that’s a tough one too.

Paolina Milana:                 Well before we go to your best, on that worst what do you think…

Rosario:                                I’ve had so many of them.

Paolina Milana:                 What was the aftermath of that worst day? How did it change you?

Rosario:                                Well mom was now again, think about it, she never knew how to write a check. She didn’t know anything about money, so in essence it was something that got piled up on top of her as well. Even at the time you weren’t living at home, were you?

Paolina Milana:                 Yeah, I was.

Rosario:                                Oh you were living at home, so Cathy was married, yeah she was married. Vinny was there, so I was living on my own.

Paolina Milana:                 That’s when it got worse for me.

Rosario:                                Of course, because now you had to do bills for mom and now you had to deal with everything, the grocery shopping.

Paolina Milana:                 Right, because he was gone, yeah.

Rosario:                                Again, I would think most dual parent homes, both one or both does the shopping. That alleviates some, one or both does maybe the cleaning or whatever it is. Now we’re talking about I don’t know, our dad who maintained the home, that’s gone so we had to do that. You had to do everything on the interior, the grocery shopping, et cetera, et cetera, the bills. Basically, it was just more stuff thrown on top of the pile that unfortunately…

Paolina Milana:                 Do you think for you even personally, because I remember one of the things that surprised me about you. At that time you were very, well you always have been confident. At that point, you had started I think, if I remember correctly, your own business. Or you were climbing, you were climbing your own mountain. What I remember was, just a few days before he died, you bought your first brand new car.

Rosario:                                A brand new car.

Paolina Milana:                 Then dad dies, and boom, you go into almost a hiding.

Rosario:                                Oh yeah, I think for two months that wiped me out, because then I thought, “All right, the car, because we had that red car, you had a car. Did you have a car?

Paolina Milana:                 The red car was, yeah, right.

Rosario:                                Did you have a car?

Paolina Milana:                 A heck…

Rosario:                                No you didn’t have a car.

Paolina Milana:                 You know what, I did, I had the little Ford Escort.

Rosario:                                That little white thing, that’s right, because I broke the sit when we were going to the, that’s right. Yeah, the red car was also, so I thought, “Okay, why buy a new car? I’ll turn it back in and I’ll just use the red car.” I went from a nice sporty car that I liked, to a red Bohemian.

Paolina Milana:                 Station wagon.

Rosario:                                Piece of garbage, station wagon.

Paolina Milana:                 Yeah, but there was, something shifted in you.

Rosario:                                Yeah it did because I thought, you said, what’s my worst day? To me that was it, because it’s just, it was too soon. I remember I had bought some property and I had to go to a hearing at the Orleans Court, and it was at night and it was packed. My father or our father sat in the, I was up at the front having to answer questions. My father was at the back, he was just sitting in the audience. After it gets approved and everybody’s leaving I get up, but he gets up first. The commissioner says, “May I help you?” He says, “No, no, no that was just my son.” I thought, “Well that’s kind of cool. He probably thought he had some pride, so that kind of stuff. I had plans in my head of what I wanted to do. Actually the property I bought in Crystal Lake was to build them a house.

Paolina Milana:                 I knew you wanted to build that.

Rosario:                                Yeah, and I wanted to build them a house, let them have the house because there was three properties. Build one house for them and the other two, so that was always my goal. I always had ideas. Building those houses on those lots where dad said, and I was trying to convince our father, he could take out a second mortgage. We could buy this huge piece of property for $60,000. I said, “We could build 30 homes on there and that would be heck of a moneymaker.” He looked at it and he said, “Oh no one will ever buy homes that small.”

Rosario:                                Well, a few years later, somebody buys it. Builds 30 homes, 33 homes on there just like I was saying. I remember driving past that and dad saying, “You know, you were right about that land.” “Well damn it, I told you I’m always right, listen to me.” Those kind of things, that would have helped the issues that we had. I mean that was my worst, but my best day, that’s funny. I don’t know. I’d say my best day was when I was working downtown for an architectural firm, and I got my apartment on Orleans Court.

Rosario:                                I didn’t tell anybody anything, that was something that I was going to do. Then I was going to spring it on everybody. To get your apartment, and I remember I slept in there the first night, on the carpet because I didn’t have anything. I thought, “Yeah, I’ve got my own place,” and I think I was 24 I think at the time. If I want to add my second worse day, was when I brought everybody downtown, I don’t know if you were there. Mom and dad, maybe Vinny and I was going to bring them for lunch or something to that effect. I diverted, went into the building to show them this apartment. I remember we walked into the apartment and I said, “Oh this is my apartment.” I could see it in our dad’s face that he was not happy.

Rosario:                                My second worse day is when to get paid back at me, he used the toilet and took a dump before I had a chance to. In essence, he squatted on my property and made his mark.

Paolina Milana:                 On your throne.

Rosario:                                It was like you know when animals do that, they mark over each other’s territory. He in essence marked over my territory before I had a chance to.

Paolina Milana:                 That’s very funny. That is very funny.

Rosario:                                Yeah, getting my apartment and realizing, “Okay, let’s go. Let’s see what happens.”

Paolina Milana:                 If you were to say, out of everything that we encounter did, navigated in the realm of mental illness with mom and Vinny. What did we do right? What did we do not so right?

Rosario:                                It was out of our hands at that time. Nowadays it’s a different thing, nowadays get a diagnosis. You can look online and see if you’re feeling these symptoms. It gives you an idea of what to do and who to talk to.

Paolina Milana:                 Yeah, but nowadays nothing has changed. The meds I’m shocked are the same. The entire experimental cock tailing is the same. The stigma, they tried to make it a little bit better, but it’s still the same.

Rosario:                                Yeah, but the meds, that’s how they do it. They don’t know what works and what doesn’t work, because different body chemistries react differently. I’m not going to put that on them. The fact that they acknowledge what the issue is, okay, that’s a plus. It didn’t happen back in mom’s day.

Paolina Milana:                 That’s true.

Rosario:                                It didn’t happen.

Paolina Milana:                 Then, going back in that day, what did we do right even given like you say it was taken out of our hands? Okay, great, so what did we do right that it was finally taken out of our hands?

Rosario:                                Remember, let’s go back to the Kennedy family, how did they handle mental illness? They lobotomized one of their daughters. That was what the protocol was maybe was in 1920s or ’30s, I have no idea. That’s what was the mentality. Then we went from there to at least understanding you don’t lobotomize somebody to whatever it is that they take out of your brain, because they think that’s what’s affecting it. Now it’s more, it went to more diagnosis, they didn’t have the understanding or the medications.

Paolina Milana:                 That’s all like in general. What did we…

Rosario:                                We do?

Paolina Milana:                 Yes.

Rosario:                                Well, we actually went and sort medical help. Again, maybe in Italy they would, you hear they lock up the crazy person in the basement or the attic. I don’t know what they would have done, but you know.

Paolina Milana:                 Maybe hindsight 2020, should we have…

Rosario:                                Maybe done it earlier? I don’t know. You had someone who was very quiet in mom anyway.

Paolina Milana:                 She was very depressed because of Uncle Joe, so everybody thought that’s what it was.

Rosario:                                There’s get out, do something, ride a bike, take a walk, get a dog. Do something, get outside, watch birds.

Paolina Milana:                 That’s your advice to people?

Rosario:                                Do whatever yeah, just get outside. Don’t stay in the house.

Paolina Milana:                 There’s a place here in La Crescenta, I should have taken you to it. It’s called, well it’s not open to the public, but it’s called Rockhaven. In the 1920s, there was this nurse Agnes something, can’t remember her name right now. She had experienced mental health facilities and how horrible they were, psychiatric hospitals, and she decided she was going to do something different. In La Crescenta, she bought up these little properties, and made a little community, where sweetest little cottages and took in women.

Paolina Milana:                 Now in those days, there were women who either had a major mental illness. Or sometimes from what I understand, they were women who the husbands didn’t like how they were behaving. Then they were sent off in there. One of the famous people who stayed there was Marilyn Monroe’s mother who was nuts. I say, I use those terms nuts and crazy affectionately, so hopefully I’m not offending anybody. What she proved was that instead of dragging them up, instead of locking them away, taking them out everyday to grow the rose garden, to actually tame the yard, to actually do things was a huge benefit.

Paolina Milana:                 You’re saying that is your advice to what? To the person who has the mental illness or to the person, because remember, this is all about people who are ‘stuck’ either by choice or not. Some say we all have a choice, but always. What’s the advice to the people who are dealing with a loved one, a neighbor, a friend, a kid, a colleague?

Rosario:                                You’re more compassionate than I am. For me…

Paolina Milana:                 You would just leave?

Rosario:                                No, I won’t just leave. I’m telling them that you try to avoid getting into that situation because I think a lot of times, a lot of people are…

Paolina Milana:                 Okay, wait, hold on.

Rosario:                                Look, if you stay at home and you do nothing, you are going to lose your mind.

Paolina Milana:                 Yeah, true.

Rosario:                                If you don’t figure out something you want to do, something you can do, look at how many people now do mall walking of the senior citizens. I don’t think they ever used to do that.

Paolina Milana:                 Yeah, so there’s that, yeah. I think you are right, but there’s that, but then there’s also the mental illness that just kind of comes on, where nobody really even understands the why of it. For example, let’s say we have two nieces. Let’s say that they were perfectly ‘normal’ until they hit their 20s. Then bing that hereditary gene kind of kicks in, and they get it, what do you say if you were the parent, the uncle, the whatever?

Rosario:                                I say, it is not just hereditary. You know they always talk about, is it DNA or is it society? It’s a combination of stuff. If you are a person who is an introvert that likes to spend as much time as possible sheltered, then get out. Get your ass out and do something. If you’re a parent of a child like that, find out what they like and get them involved. Don’t be like these people that push their kids into stuff they don’t want to do. Everybody’s got something they’re passionate about.

Rosario:                                Stamp collecting for crying out loud. I don’t know, chess club, whatever it is, get involved, do something that you want to do. Don’t force your kid to have to join soccer or band, because it’s going to be great on their resume when they get into a college and all that other bullshit excuse me. Let the kid pick what they want to pick and you might prevent future issues. I don’t know. Again, these kids that commit suicide, there’s obviously something there.

Paolina Milana:                 What do you mean there’s something there?

Rosario:                                It might be a mental issue, but I have a feeling it’s more of a social issue. It’s more of being a recluse. It’s more of being ostracized. It’s more of being an introvert. Then all these kids will have nothing to do. Their parents, are they attentive? Do they even pay attention? Do they want their kid to be the gold star kid that does all these kind of things? Do they care about what the kid likes? I think it starts early.

Rosario:                                I think with Vinny again, you say she had passion with music. Yeah, she had some, but remember when we were kids, we were sent to, I was sent to piano school.

Paolina Milana:                 Dance.

Rosario:                                Cathy went to play the organ, then dance. Vinny never did any of that right?

Paolina Milana:                 No, she didn’t.

Rosario:                                No, she didn’t, so she never had an outlet. Mom you know never had an outlet, because she was basically a house slave if you will back in Italy. I mean that’s the thing is, people have to get out. Parents in my opinion have to realize, do something. It’s not all about money, well unfortunately maybe, to some people it is. To me it’s not.

Paolina Milana:                 Okay, well, so is there anything else that you might want to say on this Madness to Magic podcast? Anything about caregivers for people with mental illness?

Rosario:                                Again, my hats off to you, I couldn’t do it.

Paolina Milana:                 Well you did do it?

Rosario:                                Yeah, but not to that scale. Not to where it’s people again, what is it? Not the meals on wheels people, but the people that go to homes.

Paolina Milana:                 Oh you mean the people who by choice, like it’s not like they have a family member and they have to do it. By choice they actually…

Rosario:                                Even the workers, the workers that do that kind of stuff, man, I don’t know where things would be if they weren’t passionate to do what they do. I mean because I’ve talked to a lot of them, and it’s something they are passionate about. More power to you, you’re better than I am.

Paolina Milana:                 All right, well thank you. For those of you listening out there, we hope that this has given another voice to another experience, another perspective. Has helped some of you out there. We are here and we’d love to hear your comments once this posts.

Paolina Milana:                 Thanks so much for listening to Madness to Magic, in my podcast, I’m with crazy, a love story. I believe we’re all here for a purpose, and I know that this is part of mine. Please share this with anyone you think might benefit or might even have a story of their own to share. You also can visit me at or check out more of my stories including info on my book, The S Word, at I hope to hear from you, and to join forces with what I consider a unique caregiver tribe as we all learn to embrace all of ourselves. To have compassion for others and to come into our full power by the grace that is both madness and magic.

Paolina Milana:                 Until we meet again, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite mantras. Be bold, and mighty forces shall come to your aid. Thank you.


Leave a Comment