These past few months have been difficult for me and my family. For me, it has been the anniversary of several years of regret... For the family as a whole, it has been hectic. Not just with the coming of Christmas and New Years... What with my mum preparing for college and my daddy doing his thing with art... We are having high stresses... Each night is a battle, each day a war with addictions and shame. I haven't been much use for my family. I know this. And though I have tried so hard to measure up to my own expectations of what a good daughter SHOULD be... I must say I am failing miserably. I keep falling into depression, which leads me into falling prey to my lust and self injury habits. I talk back to my daddy, and regret it almost instantly... Even before daddy makes a response, I note that "I shouldn't have done that..." I hate that I keep doing these things. I keep doing what I hate... When I repent of what I have done, with a broken spirit then I just slip right back into it... Am I really repentant? Am I really sorry? Will I ever be different... When I apologize to my daddy he often responds coldly, "Well, if you really were sorry you'd stop..." I'm sure he doesn't mean it to be cold, but that is how it comes across... If that could apply to apologies... would it not apply to repentance as well? If I really was repentant, I'd stop....
I hate that I always argue, that I cause the peace in the home to be challenged... I hate that I keep going for comfort in what I know will only leave me empty, aching, and hollow. I hate that I can never keep my promises... And I hate that I cannot back up my apologies... Part of me just wishes I was never born. I don't wish to feel like this, but I do. Recently, all I can see and feel is a seemingly never-ending tunnel that will only end with death... I feel hopeless and as if there is no way out of this pit. I need help... And personally I do not care who started the arguments, nor who did what... I only want to work out the restlessness, I just want to be held... I just want to know that there can be hope. I just want the arguments and restlessness to end. And Part of me feels that if I died, they'd be better off... And I feel like all the restlessness and anger and arguments would die with me. But with friends telling me that things would be worst and not better without me and painting mental images of where it could go afterward, I still push through to stay alive, and keep trying... To be honest, though; I'm tired of trying... Normally, I am the one to encourage people, the one who comes to the aid of others... but now I need that to be done for me... Because, I'm afraid that I will never get to my goal. Which is to become a stable, obedient, willing and able, sane, and respectful daughter for my parents and to stop falling prey to my addictions.
It's that time of year. People all over FB have been posting what they are thankful for. Some are the normal things like family, children, jobs, etc. We are supposed to be thankful these things. Me? Well, I'm thankful for my husband, for my children, for the opportunities I've been afforded in my life, my church, my job, and for my Christ. These are things I'm thankful for. I'm thankful for the autumn wind, and the colors of the leaves on the trees, and a place to live, and food to eat, and friends
I also have some pretty abnormal things to be thankful for, and if you don't have to be thankful for these things, that's so wonderful, and I'm thankful for that as well.
I'm thankful that my daughter hasn't gotten involved in drugs, or sex, or illegal activities, because so many children with mental illness get involved in these things. Thank you, Lord, and help me be more thankful for these gems.
I am thankful that my mentally ill daughter has not committed suicide, even though the thought hasn't been absent from her mind. Thank you, Lord, and help me to not take that for granted!
I'm so thankful for stability, even though it is elusive and never stays long. The fact that it is ever here is a sign of progress. Thank you, Lord, and let it happen again and again.
I'm thankful for medication because even though there are side-effects, they work, even if they don't always continue to do so. Thank you, Lord, because one hundred years ago the mentally ill were cast into terrible places where they had no existence. Because of this, I get to have my daughter with me, improving slowly but steadily.
I'm thankful that today there is less stigma concerning mental illness, even though it's not where it needs to be. Thank you, Lord, and I pray for more and more progress!
Last, but definitely not last, I'm so thankful for the hope of Christ that gives me and my daughter a future, and a glimpse of heaven beyond where there is no illness. Help me to always be thankful for the hope of Christ, and for all the blessing I have, regardless of the difficulties presented.
Last week I wrote about how the drama from my mentally ill daughter was affecting me. It was truth, and it was the nitty-gritty aspect of being in a family with someone with mental illness. However, I have to say that my post, although true, was written in such a way that it hurt my daughter. There are certainly aspects of the disease that are devastating to a family, but I want to emphasize that the characteristics of the mental illness that she suffers from is not her fault. She didn't ask to have this malady thrust upon her. And although stability is part of her responsibility, there are outside forces that dominate her ability to work on stability.
When my husband or I think about running away, there is more than just each other or our youngest daughter keeping us from doing so. There is also the fact that Arianna NEEDS us. She needs our stability, our understanding, and our acceptance. No matter how we may feel at any given time about the burdens that mental illness gives us, we do love and accept Arianna for who she is, despite the mental illness that we despise.
Perhaps we should focus on her many gifts, and how those gifts impact us from day to day. Perhaps we need to work harder on separating the symptoms from the rest of her being. Then maybe the burden I'm under will not be so great. There is always hope in the darkness. There is always light in the darkness. We just need to look.
Sometimes, in my daydreams, I fantasize about having children that are productive members of society: college graduates, productive job, living their own life in their own place. I'm ashamed to tell you this. By now I should have expunged those dreams from my mind and my vocabulary. I should be relishing the fact that I get to commune with my children for a little while longer. I should realize that the older two need me right now, especially my daughter. I long for a peaceful home that doesn't have drama everyday. Sometimes the drama gets very old. I know that my husband would like to walk out of the situation. It can be so hard for him to bear. Honestly, I feel that way sometimes. Lots of things keep both of us here. Mostly each other, and our youngest child. I look at the situation, and I feel like I'm in a no-win situation that will never end. The thought of being in it much longer sends disappointment shuddering through my being.
The drama. Oh my, the drama. Every little thing is magnified exponentially. The mentally ill can be so preoccupied with themselves in a most unhealthy way. It drains the listener so much that it can be difficult to be sympathetic, and sometimes can cause the listener to want to avoid the mentally ill person. I understand that more than I care to admit. It makes it hard for the mentally ill subject to find and keep friends. However, I so admire and appreciate those friends of Arianna's that come back day after day to be there for her. They are so good at helping her put things into perspective, and focus on more meaningful dialogue. I so appreciate those friends! I wish I could be more like them. Of course, those friends aren't living with her day in and day out, and definitely aren't responsible for her care and well-being. Of course, I'm supposed to be responsible for her, but her friends don't have to be, but they choose to. I applaud them. I applaud anyone who takes the time to know someone who suffers from mental illness, because they can see the special part of that person, and they appreciate it. And in the meantime, they can take a little of the burden off of the family that lives with it 24-7.
This isn't to say that I don't love my daughter. I do, with all of my heart. I appreciate her gifts, and her abilities. She can be delightful to be around. And my hope is that one day she will be all that all the time. But in the meantime, I need to learn ways of dealing with my inner turmoil, and not let it affect my relationship with a daughter who, although she suffers from a mental illness that drains everyone in her family, has some mighty gifts. I just need to maybe focus on those instead of the other things.
There is so much that I do wrong as a mother and wife. I handle stress badly. Yet I allow stress into my life willingly, it seems. Being the sufferer of my own mental illness, specifically ADHD, I always have to have things busy. Even my relaxation has to be busy. I must be actively listening to something, actively watching something, actively doing something, or I go stir crazy. I cannot just sit and do nothing. So I cram all types of things into my life, and add more and more until I'm so stress with all the stuff crammed into my life. So many people tell me that they are amazed at how patient I am. They especially told me these things when my oldest two were young. I was always amazed that they would believe that. Still am, really. Whatever I felt like inside, something totally different was showing on the outside. I was never patient. And this wasn't a mask I put on. How do you put on a mask of patience? I never could. Another thing people tell me all the time is "I don't know how you do it." To me, that is just not helpful because so often I don't think I'm "doing" it very well. I "do it" by doing it poorly 90% of the time.
As you go about your day to day activities, take a minute or two and reflect on how you deal with those mentally ill people in your sphere of influence. Do you try to run away like I would want to? Do you look more like the friends who see the best in the person, and deal with the rest willingly? How do you feel about your responses to those people? What can you do to be there for the parents of the mentally ill? Leave your comments below. I'd like to hear from you.