For years I harbored a secret. It was something that took a long time to understand myself, let alone explain to someone. On the outside to friends and teachers, I appeared normal. I performed well throughout school, excelling at schoolwork, music and sports. But inside, I felt ANYTHING but normal. I had a secret, a heavy shame I carried from an early age due to mental abuse and emotional anguish I experienced regularly at home.
I was raised by my mentally ill mom. Mom was diagnosed as bipolar and exhibited many paranoid schizophrenic tendencies. She had extreme mood swings, hallucinations, delusions, paranoia and would often go into catatonic states. It was frightening and heartbreaking as a child to watch my mom exhibit these symptoms, but also confusing, painful and traumatizing to endure through at such a young age. Her symptoms grew worse over time. She eventually succumbed to her illness by taking her own life at the age of 71.
Sharing my story
I spent a lot of time debating whether to write this blog or not. I kept thinking,
“Who is going to read this? Will anyone really care?"
But, I came to the realization that what's important is to be authentic and share my story. The right people will come along for the journey.
As a child of a mentally ill parent, I know the firsthand effects of emotional trauma.
It is isolating.
My hope is this blog will serve as a safe place where others who have had a mentally ill parent or loved one in their life will know they are not alone. Maybe through sharing my journey, experiences, feelings, how those experiences have shaped me and as well as my emotional growth, it will help others. I pray someone reading will feel connected, understood and encouraged to heal.
I want to remind us all of four important truths:
1. You are not alone.
I've been there, too. We are bonded in a way that those who don't share our experiences can never fully understand. I am not alone. You are not alone. We together have a similarly shared experience only each other can understand. Knowing there are others that understand you can build community and support.
2. You are not weird.
Isolation can bring on feelings of insecurity, inadequacy and self-doubt. I always felt like an oddball and an outsider because I didn't have a "normal family". And then paired along with a low self esteem, I felt I wasn't deserving of a good life or happiness. You are unique, gifted and beautiful.
3. It is not your fault.
You didn't cause the strange behavior or the pain. You are not the reason for the heartache. You could not and cannot fix fix your loved one or change them. You are not in control of other people's behavior. Your loved one had or has a medical condition and needs help.
4. There is hope for growth and a positive life.
There is hope. The trauma at times seems unbearable. But that doesn't mean we have to succumb to it or stay in a dark place. There are people, organizations and resources to help. I had a little help from many walks of life, from health care professionals, friends, family, and my faith. Getting help didn't automatically fix things, but it started a journey to healing. You don't have to stay stuck where you are emotionally and mentally. You can grow, find joy and meaning in your life.
I'm glad you're here
Yeah, I know, pretty heavy stuff. But while my focus in this blog is to share my experiences, I’m also hoping to sprinkle encouragement, growth, lessons on grace, faith and love in there, too! Because where there is darkness, there is hope.
I pray this blog allows for connection and healing for you or someone you know.
Feel free to tell me what you think in the comments section or send me an email, email@example.com
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