2 years ago
Apecave
in English · 24,143 Views
likes 28clips 6comments 2
A perspective: Growing up with a parent who suffered from mental illness.
I always remember family asking me when do I remember there being something wrong.
There was always something. I could never put my finger on it, I think I thought it was normal. Parents were embarrassing. That's just how they are.
I don't know when I knew something was wrong. The first time I remember being aware of my parent not being quite right was in middle school. I could never please my mother. She never let me just be a kid. I had to do a million things before I could go out to play and even when I did them I never did them quick enough or well enough. Even when I had straight A's my mother would not go to conferences. See, she was not only schizophrenic but she also suffered from depression. This was my only parent. My father - the little I knew of him, lived in Texas. He would try to call me once a month and send Birthday/Christmas cards. He later passed away in high school, by the time it happened I felt so distanced from him I didn't feel the effects for years.
Many times I had to deal with my mother doing things I don't think other parents did.Hiding my belongings, for silly reasons such as those colors were not good for my skin tone, not allowing me to do after school activities because she didn't know where I would be for sure, being extremely jealous of my cousin who only tried to help by taking me school shopping and getting me out of the house to carnivals and other fun activities. It was hard being a kid and having to wonder if my mother would harass me about leaving a window open or if I could find my favorite shirt the next day or if the laundry basket mysteriously ate it.
Dealing with her jealously within the family stressed me more than loosing my belongings. I often times longed to live with my father, even though I had almost idea as to who he was as a person. He'd tell me he loved me every time he called and only came to visit once on my 7th birthday - so of course he seemed more desirable then what I was left to deal with.
My main point here is that I'm fairly intelligent, I persevered. Without a mother to wake me up everyday for school I almost always woke myself up. I even snuck myself into after school activities. I craved knowledge. I loved school, besides the occasionally bully. Probably because I had teachers that became role models. There were very few things I learned from the words my mother actually spoke, most of the things I learned was from the things she didn't say or couldn't say. I grew up quiet, always listening to others because I never wanted to interrupt and think I knew it all, as I had seen my mother do daily. I learned to let things go, possessions are not the world - although I still have complications with this which I think stem from having such little support. Sometimes, I think possessions will make me happy in lieu or not having anyone around, or a family to teach me otherwise. My mother held on to her possessions dearly, even the things I think had outgrown their use. She could never let go. Even if things were filthy or ruined she would think she'd be able to save them even though we both knew she would never ever get around to cleaning it.
The hardest part about these types of things is not feeling like you lost out on your childhood but realizing in this world sometimes all you really have is yourself. You can't always rely on a parent to show you the way because sometimes they, themselves have gotten lost along the way as well. I wish I knew more as to why I never got the mother I truly deserved. I was a good kid who listened and knew the value of a dollar but I will never know what went wrong inside my mothers brain. As a child she was very stubborn which lead to some drugs and some testing I am told. I can only assume whatever experimental drugs/testing that happened in the 70's permanently damaged something and that is something that will forever be a part of my life. It's been such a huge struggle. Her parents have let her do her own thing, mostly because she is so stubborn. I understand because I too have done the same. She is pretty much a child to me. I just wish my grandparents realized she needs more help than her child can give her and to not take her words personally. It would have been less of a burden for me if they realized the burden I had to deal with of having the mother I needed and could have had stolen from me.
My biggest worry is always: I hope she is still alive. She has not had a permanent home since I was in high school. After fighting with me and saying she would refuse to sign my fafsa for college. I moved out for school and she has been "couch surfing" with family and random friends ever since. I am nervous for the days where she is too elderly to take care of herself, because she already doesn't take care of herself. With her poor diet, dental hygiene and lack of care for how she strange her apparel is I wouldn't know what to do with her. I can only hope my grandparents will leave this earth with some sort of plan left behind, because that too is a whole other huge can of worms I am terrified of. I am sure it will be strange when she's gone. I wish I could be more selfless but sometimes we all just want someone to tell us it's going to be okay. Usually that person is a parent, but for me, that was always me telling my parent that so I guess, in the end, I will have to be the one to tell myself it's all going to be okay.
If I ever have a kid I am going to make sure they're allowed to be a kid and let them be a little weirdo, because I never got to. I'm going to play with them and act like a kid myself because that's all I ever wanted from my mother until I realized, mentally she was a kid. I am going to make sure I am there when the teacher can't stop bragging about them or complaining about them. I am going to share my own experiences with them and show them sometimes we don't know and we just have to figure it out as we go. Finally, I am not only going to tell them but I am going to show them, it is going to be okay.
2 comments
This is really, really inspiring. Good for you for persevering with a confident face even though I'm sure it wasn't easy all the time (or ever, really). And as for the future--I am sure there are plans and people out there who would be willing to help a family like yours, so don't lose hope.
2 years ago·Reply
10
Wow, you were really brave to share all of this. I know that there are so many people out there who lived and are living through this, and seeing as how you realized your mothers faults you're already on your way to being an incredible adult, teacher, and future parent!
2 years ago·Reply
10