Probably the hardest thing about admitting to myself that I have a problem (Hello, Al-Anon training!), is not that it’s “a” problem, but that it’s “this” problem. I wish it could be something simpler like “porn addiction” or that disease that makes you pull out your hair (I keep thinking trichamoniasis, which is NOT that disease, but a lovely STD. Forgive me for not researching further), because then it would not be my worst nightmare come true. It would be something simpler, at least for me to handle.
When you grow up surrounded by mental illness, there are a few things that happen to your development.
One, you associate all of the “bad things” that happen to your parent with something unrelated, a bit of magical thinking if I may (and I always may), i.e. Mom is sick because the house is dirty. Of course, this carried over into my adulthood, and maybe I’m not the most fastidious housekeeper on the planet, but my house is usually fairly clean, even on bad days.
Later on it occurs to your childish brain that maybe, just maybe, the reason for her illness is because YOU did something wrong. Kids, apparently have a knack for guilt rivaled only by the Catholic Church. This, too, carries over to your adulthood, and you find yourself blaming YOU for any little thing that has gone awry i.e. it’s obvious (to you) that it’s YOUR fault that the dog crapped on the carpet because you’re such a bad pet owner (and not the more logical “the dog crapped on the carpet because he is an asshole”).
I was once told that this is the way children of alcoholics feel as well, so let’s just give your Aunt Becky a double whammy here: my parents are BOTH alcoholics, too!
And lastly (this is a brief list here), children who have a mentally ill parent become absolutely phobic about turning into this parent (in this case, my mother). Admittedly, no one wants to turn into their mother, because ew! but I can assure you that it’s that much worse when your parent is completely unbalanced and unstable.
WHO would want THAT to be their aspiration?
(Please God, let me turn into someone who alternately screams or cries or looks comatose at a mere change in the breeze. Let me be unable to get out of bed for weeks at a time, and let my kids raise themselves until I can get my medication regime right. Please, please, please, please?)
Not so much fun, right?
So let me assure you that I do mental health checks daily (if not hourly) to make sure that I am not Going Off The Wheels On A Crazy Train, and to check whether or not my reactions to situations (pleasant or unpleasant) are normal enough. Dave informs me that this is one of my better features, as it leaves me pretty stable most of the time. I rarely fly off the handle at minor infractions (real or imagined), I approach (most) fights as logically as I can, and because I am prone to think and rethink issues, I’m fairly level.
Shit, I just wish it wasn’t this problem, y’all. Really, I do.
(is it weird to want to bargain with God to give me an STD instead of PPD? Don’t answer that.)