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No this is not an advertizing campaign for celebrities who seem to want to be seen to be compassionate and so fly off and pick and choose babies to adopt.

And no it isn’t an exchange program where we all get to swap our kids.

[Hm that reminds me of the first time I saw a sign on a supermarket door saying ‘Baby Changing Room’.

I couldn’t help picturing numerous babies inside in baskets and frustrated parents going in with their own crying, agitated baby and simply changing it for one less agitated or noisy!

See you will never see one of those signs in the same way again now will you? LOL]

But I digress,  actually the title is part of an answer gave a year or so back to a friend of mine from church who when meeting my mother and I for coffee (my mother was visiting me in Ireland for the first time) asked my mother the question, “So tell me, what was it like having Kevin as child?”

“What was it like having Kevin as a child?” My mother considered the question as she sipped her coffee.  “Well I’ll tell you,” she replied, “I had three boys and a girl and each were different but with Kevin, well with Kevin it was like having a different child every few days.

Now my mother didn’t mean any harm, embarrassment or offense to me.  She is one of life’s formidable women who will tell it to you straight.  If you are walking like a duck, sounding like a duck and acting like a duck then  “Stop acting like a duck you fool your a human!” is her approach to things LOL.

No she meant no harm, embarrassment or offense and the fact is that she was right.  But then mental illness can do that to someone can’t it, especially a child and especially a child whose mental illness was never acknowledged or medicated.

Let me explain and to do so let me explain using a simplification of what can take place…

For every child or person there is in any relationship a set of normal or expected behaviours.

Simply put any time that child or person behaviours within those expected or normal behaviours we consider them to be ‘being his or her self’.

But when that child or person’s behaviour is outside of that recognized or expected or even acceptable area we consider something to be wrong.  “I am not sure what is wrong with Kevin, he just isn’t himself today.”

How far away from (or outside of) his or her normal behaviours he or she is will often dictate the level of concern expressed.

Add to this picture positive or negative opposite connotations to the two poles (A and B) such as Bad & Good or Down & Up or Depressed and Manic and the whole thing takes on a totally different complexion doesn’t it?

The fact of the matter is that my mother was perfectly right in her answer and description of me as a child because that is exactly what I was like.  I was (in a very  simplistic explanation of it all) experiencing fluctuating mental states and in response to that my behaviours were fluctuating.

Are but if you were “a different child every few days” how did they set that ‘normal or expected behaviours area’ you talked about?  I hear the more observant of you ask.

Well the answer lies in the opening words of my mother’s answer and incidentally mirrors society’s approach to this.  My mother said, “Well I had three boys and one girl and each were different, but Kevin…”

The ‘normal’ or ‘expected’ behaviours area was not set on what I Kevin did but on what my brothers and sisters did.  My behaviours, as demonstrated by the “but Kevin” were outside of this norm.  And after all, how do we as a society measure extreme behaviour?  By how far removed or away from the norm it is.

And so it wasn’t any wonder that I was (as my mother described me) “a different child every few days“.

All very logical and simple so far isn’t it?  I agree.  BUT what about the knock on effect that has on relationships?  If I was – to all intents and purposes – “a different child every few days – which child (or which person if this happens in later life) do you have a relationship with? And how can you form or maintain any progressing and sustaining relationship?

Let’s introduce a partner, a lover, a wife into this scenario…

I wonder how many of us who had mental health issues before meeting our partner, fully disclosed the presence or even the extent of those issues to that partner before any marriage or serious commitment was made?  After all, isn’t it perfectly natural to think such thoughts as, “if I show him/her just how messed up I am there is no way he/she will want to go out with, date, marry, live with me?”

And what happens when mental health issues enter into a relationship after the relationship has been formed?

We meet, form and develop relationships with the people we love by getting to know them.  Part of that getting to know them is our formulating an understanding of them through their characteristics, attitudes, AND behaviour patterns.  And sharing in those is a fundamental part of that togetherness.

So when one person starts to be continually outside of those expected behaviours that togetherness is strained  and ultimately can be lost.

And this can have a devastating effect on a relationship and especially where both parties are outside of the normal behaviours area and not together.

And of course this doesn’t only happen in respect of mental health.  It can happen with physical health and other things as well.

Of course all does not have to be so bleak.  With the right approach or with the right medication the potential for harm to a relationship can be drastically reduced, often by the movement away from and outside expected or acceptable behaviours being greatly reduced or the expected behaviour being achievable again.

As I said earlier, this is a simplification of what can happen but it is no less valid as a result of that.

Sadly, or so it would seem to me, relationships and the effects that mental illness or poor mental health are all too often overlooked in our approach to mental health issues.

And I for one can testify  that my own mental health has impacted my relationships so very much in the past and to no small degree because for these very reasons.

So I thought I would share those simplified thoughts with you and would be very interested in your comments and feedback on them.

 

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