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Day Ten and having just checked this morning’s question in the “Questions To A Parent With Mental Illness” Challenge that my daughter has set me. I cannot even begin to imagine how I am going to choose or even how to answer the question…

DD 10But here goes…

My Darling Daughter,

I have to tell you, and I think it is worth saying – right from the outset.  That I am really struggling with this question. And I really don’t know how I am going to answer it.

I think it was worth saying and right from the outset, because there is every possibility, in my struggles with this question, that those struggle will show in my answer. And so I am apologizing for this in advance.

My main struggle with this question is that the very thought of wishing any of my mental illnesses on someone else is so alien to me.  And the idea of wishing any of them on any of my children,  even grown up children as you all are now, simply doesn’t bear thinking about.

Honey, it is so completely counter-intuitive to me, to want any of my children to suffer even if it is for just one day. And trust me, a lot of parents will tell you how hard it can be at such as times having to take your child to the doctor for inoculations etc.   Even though you knew that the suffering would be short and that it would benefit your child in the long run, it still wasn’t easy. 

And yes I know that you are all grown up now and that you would only have that mental illness for but one day.  But would you?  Would that really be the end of it?

Honey, I am convinced (and trust me there is enough evidence to validate this conviction) that sometimes we can experience things in our lives which open doors in our mind which can be so very hard to close.  For example, there are several mental health conditions which are trauma linked.

Likewise, I personally know of at least three people whose mental illness had presented itself as a result of trying non-prescription/illegal drugs when they were younger.  One of them doing so only once.

The mind is an incredibly sensitive thing and we are all unique.  And we all process and handle things in different ways which to some degree or another are unique to us individually. 

And because we are all unique and process and handle things, what if you were to have my internal dialogues or even the voices?  What if having those voices you responded in a totally different way to me and actually did as they suggest and seriously hurt yourself or even take your own life?  Or what if in the process of trying to cope with having them you inadvertently walked out into traffic?

Honey, please understand that I am by no means suggesting that you would not cope as well as I do.  It is just that whilst we do know how I cope – which after all is not very well at all at times.  We don’t know how anyone else would cope until it happens to them.  It is too big an unknown.

And so, within my mind, I cannot escape these thoughts, actually these fears.  That by your temporarily experiencing one of my mental illnesses, it could possibly open up other things. Or do no end of lasting damage. And honey I would never want that for you.  (Or for anyone else for that matter.)

And yet your question requires that I do consider this and do select one of my mental illnesses for you to experience.  So, if I have to select one, and working on the basis that at the end of it you would be perfectly fine.  Which one would I choose?

I think – providing that it would have no lasting damage, and providing that you would be totally safe throughout the process – it would have to be the paranoid schizophrenia.  Although I am still very much struggling with the concept of you having it – even for a day – and even then would prefer a much shorter exposure.

Which brings me to the ‘why?’ part of your question. And I think that there are a number of reasons for this.

If I am going to even consider something as counter-intuitive as this then I would want for the benefits of such an exercise to justify the risks.  (And yes I know this is only theoretical honey, but I have to come to terms with it in my mind, so bear with me 🙂 )

Of my mental illnesses, whilst there would no doubt be benefits from your experiencing such things as; the manic episodes, the emotional numbness or, the depressive episodes, there is a difficulty with this.

To fully understand what these are like, and possibly to get any real understanding of their impact or effect. Experiencing them for a day, would not (in my opinion) be enough.  You would have to experience the longer term effects.  The cycling that often happens. The continuous robbing of all motivation, enthusiasm or hope.  Things like that.

Whereas to experience, even for a short while, the inner and external monologues and dialogues, and the paranoia which is part of my paranoid schizophrenia, would give you a much more realistic or accurate understanding.

So there you have it honey.  My answer – as protracted and as confused as it may be.  And I apologize for that.  But honey, you have to understand the love that I have for you and just how difficult it was to even consider such a scenario.

I thank God that this is just a hypothetical question/ scenario honey.  And I thank God that you don’t experience these things.  But mostly, I thank God for you.

With all my love.

Dad

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