Thursday, August 14, 2008
Residual effects of a lifetime of mental illness
This is a personal story. My uncle, my bipolar mother's brother, died; I went to the funeral yesterday. I saw uncles and cousins that I spent some time with growing up but had lost contact with. A lot of tears were shed, then these uncles and cousins wanted to share phone numbers so we could "stay in touch". I must say that my emotions were overwhelmed by this. My father, brothers and I took care of my manic mother until she died with no help from any family. During the times of the deepest darkness of her mental illness, we stood alone. Where were these wonderful family members when we needed them the most? They were no where to be found. My mother and her illness have been dead for four years, if you are living with someone with a severe mental illness listen up. I know the mentally ill are going through extreme emotional highs and lows and sometimes paranoia and delusions; but so are the family who love and care for them. I hold no grudges against the extended family who now want to be close, I welcome the fact that they are still there and do care. But the message to those of you reading this blog is, no matter how severe your personal mental illness is, do not let it seperate the family. Mental illness by its nature causes seperation. I have read about not having friends because of mental illness, but I urge all family members to bond together and not lose contact due to this bipolar condition. It is not worth it. I always felt like my aunts, uncles, cousins, even my own grandmother, shunned us because of the severe condition my mother was in, I know they shunned us. Even when we asked for help, they would not be there for us, but in my humble opinion I will be thankful in my later life to reconnect with these people and enjoy the "golden years" together. I say thank you to my uncle and cousin from yesterday who stepped forward to acknowledge that idea and implement the welcome change. It is never too late to be a close family, don't waste valuable years to a mental illness.