I was tired of the chaos. Up and down, happy and sad, angry and controlled. I didn’t have an answer for how to respond to Matthew’s moods.
How much more of his anger could I take? The stress of having Matthew happy one day and unhappy the next left me continually on guard. The constant pressure of trying to figure out his mood drained me of energy.
No parents look at their child and imagine what could go wrong in their life. Instead, we see hope for the future. We dream that our child will be perfect and love us the way we love them. We don’t ever imagine that our child will be harmed by others or tormented by his or her own mind. Nobody is perfect, and our child can’t be perfect either, but we are prepared for imperfection. No parents are prepared to learn that their child has been abused and may have something seriously wrong with him or her that could change their inner core, their ability to love, their ability to empathize with others. These were things I faced with Matthew. He had changed-was changing-into someone I didn’t know. I wanted to help him, but he blamed me for helping him. I knew keeping him alive, even if it meant he hated me, was my only option. I was willing to do whatever it took.
There are no words to describe the fear that gripped me day after day, the absolute knowledge I had that if I did not react quickly, my child would be dead by his own hand; of this I was absolutely sure. I wanted to flee from my life and the course it was taking.
I haven't spent much time thinking about what it must be like for a sibling to watch their brother or sister suffer through a mental illness. I have tried to protect my daughter from the chaos of our lives, but I didn't think about all the ways it could affect her until I read a blog that was posted after Robin Williams died. Shannon O'Dell, who wrote the blog, described what it was like to be the sister of someone with a mental illness and it helped me to appreciate the difficulties my daughter has been through with her brother. Her final sentences sum up how most people who are living with a loved one who has a mental illness feels, "I know that I want to give up sometimes. I know that I want to blame. I know that I want to scream try harder, do better, stop hurting yourself. I know that I am making mistake after mistake."
To read the full blog click on the link below.
We go through life trying to get ahead, trying to be the best, trying to survive. What we need is to understand, have compassion, and empathize. Only then will we get ahead, be the best, and thrive, not just survive.
RECOGNIZE, REEDUCATE, REDUCE the stigma of mental illness.