Sunday, July 7, 2019

Mental Illness in the family

I have just been reading Enumerations by Maire Fisher,  an excellent  book about a boy with OCD. It gives a clear and informative insight into how it must feel to be a sufferer of this condition. It also gives a graphic account of the devastating effect on the boy's family. 'Yes," I thought, "It must be so hard for parents to come to terms with a mental illness like that." Then I thought again. "But I  had to live for years with mental illness in my family. Not only Alcoholism, which was bad enough, but Schizophrenia as well. Those parents I was feeling so sorry for had it easy in comparison. They felt lonely in their affliction. The school wasn't much help to them and their friends were inclined to be judgmental and blame them for their son's condition.  I had experienced the same reactions, but the mother and father in the book had sympathetic psychiatrists and health-care workers to assist and encourage them. It was only after several years of coping on our own that we were able to get treatment for the mentally ill family member. Looking back and comparing myself to the mother in the book, who seemed to be falling apart under the strain, I am filled with admiration for the woman I was then. There I was, holding down a full- time job, running a household which included a preschooler grandson and three girls going though the  problems and traumas typical of teenage girls,  and at the same time coping with an alcoholic and a schizophrenic and getting no professional help from anyone  I was a bloody marvel! How on earth did I manage? 

My present GP asked me when I  first consulted him for my shortness of breath, whether I was not very sorry that I had smoked cigarettes. He was surprised when I said," No." 'I explained that  I am sure that at many occasions in my life I would have had a complete break-down of some kind or another if I hadn't had the calming effect of nicotine to help me. And then of course, there was my faith. It was the Lord's love and guidance  more than anything else that got me through the hard times.

[In later years, my daughter was correctly diagnosed and put on medication, the other girls became  more understanding and became a great support to me. Then my husband stopped drinking and life took a turn for the better.]