Tuesday, July 12, 2011

F, A, M, I, L Y part 2

If you haven't read yesterdays post, I suggest you read this first:

A few yrs ago (almost 7) my mothers mental health took a hit and after a roller-coaster of a year, she was dx with Late onset Bi-p,olar Disor.der and a yr after that, they changed the diagnosis to bipo.lar ii. Talk about shocking and pulling a rug out from under my feet. Early childhood, my mother was extremely "us" (my sister and I) oriented. She was kool-aid mom. Loved and encouraged us to make friends, try new things, learn new hobbies, genuine, busy. She Did it ALL. My father was in and out for weeks at a time. She showed us love. I felt Loved. Some where around high school age, I recalled that, although I felt the love and warmth from my mom, I barely ever remember being hugged, dotted on or kissed by her. (nor do I recall my grandmother doing these either)

When my mother's mental health erupted, My sister, father and I had to start questioning my mom's relatives for family medical history. We started digging and found out some very helpful information. We also found out that my grandmother is not capable of dealing with things that are not perfect. She chooses to pretend to be unschooled and dismissive. And I find that approach to life to be insulting and uncalled for. We found out from other family members that my great grandfather (her father) would have been dx with several mental illness IF they actually did that back in the early 1900's based on the things His children (my great aunts and great uncle) have shared w us. They have also shared that they think my grandmother suffers from some darker mental health than she is able to admit to, as well. My grandmother has had a rx for z.oloft for as long as I can remember, but we have always half-joked that she takes it like a tyle.nol or a ba.ndaid. Never ever consistent. I do remember around the death of my grandfather, everyone was helping her remember to take the rx properly for a period of time.

It has been almost 7 yrs and my grandmother still claims that she doesn't understand my mother's mental health. She tries to explains my mom as having frayed nerves and a bit down. We have explained to her over and over again that it is a whole lot more than that but when she wants to discuss it, All she hears is, she is tired, nerved and sad. No matter what approach we attempt, this is all she will accept. I have been short tempered and apathetic towards her less than helpful and accommodating attitude.

Then an A-Ha lightbulb came on. This description is how my grandmother copes with her own demons. This is how SHE feels. She does not even have the complex words to describe her own experience. She is not either being honest or capable with being honest with herself.

The problem with my grandmother's tactics are complete opposite to mine.I have this natural ability to be raw. Honest. Yes, to a fault. I have a hard time ignoring the proverbial elephants in a room. I see no point in it. I am not confrontational, I am just tired of trite,fake, people who are hurting are in need of help and getting overlooked. No one is perfect. Looks are deceiving. The grass is not greener. Some times life sucks and the rose colored glasses need a break and you need to be honest and deal with the matter at hand in order to get things right again instead of adding another vice or picking up more crippling coping skill to the mix.

I write all of this to admit that now my biggest fear in life is that somewhere along the way, I wake up one morning to find out that I was swallowed up by Late on set Bi-polar or Bi-Polar ii and stop being able enjoy the life I had before I went to sleep the night before. There, I said it..and typed it.


Searching said...

I wish I could promise you that wouldn't happen. :( Mental illness can strike anyone and it's not fair. You do have the benefit of seeing it in loved ones, you know the signs that necessitate getting help ASAP, you don't cope in ways like your mom/GM do, and you are aware of the possibility that it may be in your future. Nothing you can do to truly prevent it, but just the awareness and admitting a potential prob instead of burying your head in the sand like your GM is a step in the right direction.

I know it's scary, esp now that you have the kids. Based on bad reactions to some meds the docs say I could have bipolar disorder triggered by any hugely stressful event. I was put on prophylactic antipsychotics. It was a really terrible experience. I decided that it was not worth all the awful side effects to *maybe* prevent something that *might* happen. I see my shrink every 3mo, stay on my wellbutrin, my family is aware of any signs that I might be slipping, I try to get almost enough sleep during extra stressful times. I do feel like a ticking time bomb, but I gave up on living petrified. That wasn't living. It was a very difficult process to accept that, and my closest bipolar relative is a cousin I rarely see, so nothing like your experience. You do what you can. Hang in there!

HereWeGoAJen said...

That would be scary. My family has late onset muscular dystrophy in it and I've always been worried about that.

E. Phantzi said...

These are big, scary, hard things to think about. We have a history of mental illness in our family too - my cousin was bipolar, and one of my dad's cousins is schizophrenic. And there's quite a bit of depression sprinkled around.

It seems to be that being aware ahead of time of what to look out for and being a proactive and authentically honest person yourself will help you deal with whatever comes along - or doesn't! If you were saying "psht, this will never happen to me" then that would be something to worry about!

You are such a warm-hearted, cool person. These people are lucky to have you in their lives!

Barb said...

My Grandmother acts like that with those issues too. Maybe part of it is their era?

Also, maybe knowing all this would help you deal with it if it did come up. It's still scary as hell, but maybe you have one up on the hairy bastard.