So, having been set and accepted the “Questions To a Parent with Mental Illness” challenge. I thought I would jump right in there and answer the first question.
And to make this work. In order for this to be as real as it can and should be. I am going to answer one question each day and to approach each question as if I have just found it stuck to the notice board in my study.
Even before you entered my life I knew that I would one day have to have this conversation. Either with you, or with one of your siblings, or indeed as part of several conversations with each or all of you.
And that should (and hopefully will) tell you something in itself.
I have had my mental illnesses for a long as I can remember. And for as much of my life as I can remember. Certainly long before you came along and blessed my life 🙂 And so no honey, you are not and could not ever be part of the cause of my mental illnesses.
Exactly what is the cause of my mental illnesses? Well nobody has ever really explained that to me. And – since I can’t remember any of my early childhood, and much of my later childhood, – I really don’t know and can’t be sure if I was born this way or if it happened later.
But either way, what I do know is that neither you nor your siblings are a part of the cause of it.
But you and I have promised that we will always try to be honest with each other. And I know, because I know your heart, that this answer is not going to totally satisfy you. And I suspect that part of the question is less about how my mental illnesses came to be, and more about how it effects me now.
Do you, impact my mental health? Does my mental health sometimes worsen or improve as a result of what you say or what you do? Yes of course it does honey. You (and your siblings) are part of my life and part of my heart. So what you (or they) do, or say, is bound to have an effect on my mental health and thus on me.
But isn’t that true of all of us – regardless of any mental health issues? Don’t we all sometimes, to some level or another, get influenced or impacted by that way others – especially those closest to us – treat us?
Having a mental illness doesn’t create those experiences in me or make them exclusive to me. Or anyone else with mental illness. But it can (and often does) change my sensitivity levels in those experiences and can alter my perceptions in those experiences. So, sometimes things which may seem so very trivial or insignificant to you (and yes, even to most people) can sometimes get so corrupted, so magnified, and/or so intensified in my mind.
But honey I want you to know and understand a couple of things which are so very important here…
Firstly, whilst I understand and accept that my mental illnesses sometimes (even often) robs me of the freedom and the ability to be the me (even the Dad) that I want to or should be. I never want for my mental illnesses to rob you of the ability or freedom to be the you (even the daughter) that you want to or should be.
And secondly and most importantly. When it comes to the impact and influence that you have on my mental health, my heart, and my life. The positives outweigh the negatives a million fold.
And no mater how I may, at times, seem. No matter how I may, at times, act. When my mental health crashes and those dark episodes come. Always hold onto those facts.
Because even in those darkest of episodes, whilst I may not always show it or say it, I really do love you.
With all my love,