I have the honor today of sharing another guest blog post here on The Bipolar Writer blog. The bloggers name is Laila Resende and she is sharing a story here on my blog.
You can find her blog and her work here: thoughtinventory.home.blog/
HOW MY MOTHER’S DEPRESSION TAUGHT ME ABOUT ACCEPTANCE
Growing up, I wasn’t familiar with the concept of mental illness. I would always spot my mother crying “for no reason,” or see a fair bit of pills on the kitchen counter and brush those off as natural occurrences. After all, if it happened on a daily basis, it should be normal.
As a child, I remember being my mother’s shadow – that’s what she used to call me. Often, I would cry myself to sleep at the thought of losing her. She used to be my refuge, her legs a hiding spot from strangers.
I was an introspective little girl with a lot of insecurities. Unbeknown to me, I was looking up to an adult who had just as many, only hers were more mature than mine.
Inevitably, I ended up developing a Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) at 14 years old.
Before getting diagnosed, the excuse to my groundless fears would always refer to laziness or irresponsibility by those who had never suffered from anything similar. All labels were unrelated to an actual problem. And they all were my fault, apparently.
That, among other things, was what made it so hard for me to accept that I had the disorder. However, the biggest contributor was my background.
I come from a family that’s pretty acquainted with mental issues if you will. I have a depressive mother, a bipolar cousin, an agoraphobic sister, an anxious health aunt, and a brother with ADD. There are more members, of course, some whose conditions I’m unaware of.
I used to be mad at them, mad at the fact that I didn’t choose how and where I would be born and that I had to bear their weight on my back throughout my entire life, even though I didn’t want to. All I wanted was to have a normal family.
Still, I can recall one particular attack that made me forget about feeling like I didn’t belong for a while. Seeing that the condition was more serious than I had expected, I was determined to find treatment, even if reluctantly.
My mother stood by me all the way, from scheduling therapy appointments to psychiatrist visits, to combine counseling with medication as an efficient recovery method. And I trusted her, considering she has been through her fair share of hard times and survived them all.
A LOOK INTO MY MOTHER’S STORY
My mom lugs a lonely and tumultuous past.
Raised by an alcoholic father, a busy depressive mother and having to witness frequent money-related fights between them, she had only her two sisters to turn to in moments of hardship. However, they too bore their own personal issues they would rather not share with one another. It was pretty much each to their own at that stage.
In her late 20s, her marriage to my father has always been bound for disaster due to their divergences.
Dad was raised in a strict Catholic family, whereas mom was an avid reader of Allan Kardec’s works. Her late-night visits to her spiritist center of choice brought him a lot of suspicions, which in turn generated Homeric fights at home. As a result, she was separated from her faith in exchange for a pseudo-healthy relationship.
The previously mentioned events have undoubtedly contributed to the early outset of a depressive disorder. The recurrence of those rendered her incapable of dealing with the mounting tension on her own, thus causing her to resort to a dangerous combination: alcohol and medication abuse.
As any other substance abuser who’s deep into their addiction, my mother wasn’t acceptant of her situation. Admitting that there was, in fact, a problem present, was too much for her at that point. She wanted to feel normal by avoiding it, which made the consequences harmful.
In one particular night of heavy drinking, my mother collapsed and convulsed. She was immediately sent to a hospital.
The next morning, she realized the immensity of what she went through. Thereby, by her own desire, she decided she wanted to get treatment in a mental health institution.
One huge, life-threatening breakdown was the price paid for a mother to yield to her pride. Had she acquiesced to it earlier, she’d have saved herself a lot of trouble.
See, some people shove real problems aside on account of their – and others’— misconceptions about mental health. They wait for a major disaster to take place to finally pay heed to what that illness has to present to them. I, for instance, waited for an overdue panic attack before seeking help to address an actual problem.
Whatever the mental issue is, it isn’t any less worthy of concern than a physical problem. In fact, they may even manifest physically as a result of negligence, like the time I developed psoriasis due to extreme stress.
If people took their time to search deep into their troubles, they would notice the mind might be responsible for more than they could imagine.
THINGS TOOK A TURN
My mother hasn’t been the same after leaving that mental hospital.
The meds the doctors put her on are supposed to “rewire” her brain chemistry. For that reason, she has become laconic, doesn’t have the same old sense of humor and needs help remembering things. The person she used to be is long gone. It’s been well past 6 months, and I wish I knew how much longer this will last.
In a way, my fear of losing her came true.
It feels as though we’ve switched roles, though. She is now the little girl who hides from the world, who needs company to go to the most ordinary of places. Whenever that happens, I grow into the version of myself who does her best to quiet the anxiety down for a moment and takes care of her, just like she looked after me when I was a kid.
She’s getting used to being herself again, while I’m getting used to exploring a part of myself that is stronger than any type of anxiety.
Could I have avoided the current state of things if I had been born someway or somewhere else? Of course. But I’ve also learned that I’m fine just the way I am.