It’s A Family Affair
Sometimes I feel sorry for my kids, particularly the two who aren’t firmly attached to any one significant other right now. Actually, the one I REALLY feel sorry for is the new love interest they bring home to meet a family in which—as my younger daughter so delicately puts it—there are some ‘irregularities’. Actually, what she told her new boyfriend was that her dad’s got cancer, her mom is bipolar, one sibling’s doing well, one brother is doing God-knows-what, and the other brother is married to a fella. Nope, nothing to see here, move along please.
Which reminds me that this Friday marks the two-year anniversary of my diagnosis. During that initial evaluation, the consultant psychiatrist whom I’ve come to call Dr. Awesomesauce asked me a pointed question about whether there might have been any mental illness in my family of origin. Fiercely loyal to a fault even though almost all of them are long gone, I remember denying it, and rather vigorously at that: ours was a GOOD family. We were upstanding citizens who paid our bills and voted Republican. We had no skeletons rattling around in our closets, and if you didn’t believe it, all you had to do was ask us.
It never occurred to me then to think of my relatives with depression and anxiety as “mentally ill”. I didn’t see the family members who popped pills and drank like fish, the grandmother who spent time in what was politely called a sanitarium following a nervous breakdown, or the mother whose moods were every bit as mercurial as my own as “mentally ill”. I also didn’t understand that being MI has nothing to do with social status, or give myself credit for having the courage to become the first in my family to be labeled as such.
Now that I’ve had a couple of years to get used to all this and logged a whole lot of hours on Dr. A’s couch, I can see not only the crazy in the mirror, but the crazy that goes back generations. Better yet, I can forgive it because I know NONE of it is anyone’s fault. We were dealt some bad genes, and some of us didn’t do much to help ourselves when John Barleycorn called our names. But like Maya Angelou said, when we knew better, we did better…..today, both my sister and I are in therapy and on medication, and while the process slips from time to time, life has improved considerably overall.
I wish the one son who’s got mental health problems would extricate his cranium from his rectal cavity and do something about them, because I spent the better part of fifty years fucking things up so HE wouldn’t have to. But I suppose we all have to learn the hard way, and with the combination of his mule-headedness and his youthful stupidity, he’s got a looooooong hard road ahead. I can’t save him from it; hell, he hasn’t even spoken to me in five months. Even blocked me on Facebook. He knows what I have to say, and he doesn’t want to hear it. End of story.
In the meantime, this bag of mixed nuts will just have to keep doing the best we can to get through life without encountering too many disasters……or scaring the bejeebus out of the poor girl or guy the kids want to bring home to meet us!