Living with Someone Else’s Mental Illness – Caris’ Story

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I Have to Try

 

It’s the dreams that remind me how much I’ve been affected. The frequent dreams where I am yelling, but it’s hoarse. Where I’m trying to explain, but no sound comes out.

I rage and yell and cry, but I stammer and the worlds barely squeak out, and it’s so frustrating. It’s like the dreams I have where I put my contacts in but still can’t see. I can talk but I have no voice.

I wake up shaken, feeling as though I’ve been through battle, but of course I haven’t. Nothing has changed. I’m still affected by my past, my present, and she has no idea.

The daily habits I grew up with, the events that make my memories aren’t even blips on her radar because they didn’t matter to her like they mattered to me.

She is the center of her own universe and I orbited her, pulled in by a force I couldn’t seem to resist.

Coming to realize that I grew up in the shadow of someone else’s mental illness made me realize that my normal isn’t everyone’s normal, that my normal wasn’t normal or healthy or safe.

My dreams – even nightmares – remind me that the panic and fear I grew up with are still in me, and maybe they won’t ever be rooted out.

They are a reminder of how hard it is to claim my voice, of how hard it is to fight the fear and the darkness.

But if having a parent with an undiagnosed mental illness has taught me anything, it’s that I know I have to try.

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CarisProfilezoomCaris Adel is a recent transplant to the Tidewater region of Virginia. She homeschools her 5 kids, and is on a constant search to disrupt her status quo. She writes at www.carisadel.com and tweets @carisadel

  • I grew up with a mentally ill mother as well. I resonate so much with “Coming to realize that I grew up in the shadow of someone else’s mental
    illness made me realize that my normal isn’t everyone’s normal, that my
    normal wasn’t normal or healthy or safe.” I was blessed with my other parent being an ultra-stable ROCK, but even with that, the way I remember feeling like life was literally spiraling around me is still a close memory. When an old therapist told me that in some ways my childhood involved neglect – it was this terrifying and liberating word. I didn’t want to find any fault in the parent who had been the rock, but in acknowledging that even with doing his best, my childhood involved trauma was a way for me to start to heal and identify some of the darkness and swirling world.