Day 15! Which means that we have reached the half-way point on this journey and I can honestly say that, whilst some of it has been very difficult, I am so grateful to be taking this journey and to be doing one of with my daughters. And I am so grateful for all of the questions she has set me in this “Questions To A Parent With Mental Illness” Challenge.
Your question for me this morning is an intriguing one and one which I have personally considered before. Honey, I have to tell you that all of your questions so far have been spot on and have really helped me to look again at my mental health, how I manage it and the impact that it is allowed to have or that it sometimes has regardless of what I do.
I have to be honest here and admit that my immediate thoughts, on reading your question, were to question which ‘one thing’ when removed, would afford me the greatest benefit. That question then very quickly led to the question, “Hm. I wonder if there is one thing which – when removed – would automatically lessen the presence or impact of all the others and thus send me into a life of good mental health?”
But then my mind asked the question, “Should this be all about me?” Shouldn’t it instead be about the impact that my mental illnesses have been allowed to have on others? Could the answer be what my heart would want? Which would be that the one thing that I would change about my mental health, if I could, would be the way in which I have allowed it to impact my relationships with all of you in the past.
But then honey, is that really addressing and answering the question in the way that it is meant? And would I be, in giving that answer, coping out from actually considering the question in the here and now, so to speak?
You see the fact is that I do so very much regret the way in which my mental health has been allowed, primarily by me, to impact you all. And I do so very much regret the damage that it has done to other relationships in the past. And this is not just because that has been a principle consideration of the last three questions. In truth I often sit reflecting on my relationships with you kids (and others) and my mental health always comes into those reflections.
And yes, there is the alternate approach that I could take to this question. To list the ways in which my mental illness does affect me, and thus does affect my relationships and therefore others, and to select one of those. And to select one of them.
Things like; the struggles I have with my memory, the crippling sense of hopelessness which sometimes comes over me, the distorted perceptions, the over analysing everything, the suicidal ideation, the tendency to isolate, the endless tangents and distractions and side journeys my mind takes me on, the compulsive thinking and fixations on the smallest of details, the self-harming, the inability to focus at times, the inability to study at times, the inability to worship at times, the negative thoughts, the internal and external dialogues which are constantly there, the sleep deprivation caused by so many of the above… And the list goes on and on honey.
And in truth honey it is difficult to know which one of the above list (if any) would bring the most benefit to me and thus to others.
And in truth honey the thought which remains the strongest in my mind is the way in which my mental health has in the past been allowed to effect my relationships. (With you kids especially). And accompanying that question is another question, “Does something (one thing) in my mental health have to change in order for there to be a benefit here? Of am I not being shown – within this whole consideration – that actually I do have the power to change things? Not in respect of the past and how it has effected you kids. But certainly in the future and how it affects you kids from now on?
And honey that is the answer that I am going to settle on. Because not only is it an answer which satisfies the thought processes of my mind in this question, but it also echoes the desires of my heart.
“The one thing which I would change about my mental health if I could, and the one thing that I am determined to do my part to try to change, is the way my mental health effects my relationships, this family, and especially you kids.“
And I truly mean that honey. But as much as I mean that and as committed and hopeful I am of this being achievable, I do have to – in the spirit of honesty and objectivity – point out that it isn’t all down to me.
I am, as I have said before, so very grateful for these questions and I am so delighted and blessed by; your asking them, seeking to understand, and being willing to open a dialogue about my mental illnesses and my mental health. And I cannot even begin to describe how much your doing so has raised my optimism for the future.
But honey you are just one of my children and some of your siblings have very different approaches to my mental health. For this change to have the most benefit, the most success, that willingness to ask questions, to seek to understand, to open a dialogue about my mental illnesses and my mental health, needs to go beyond just you and I.
So there you have it honey. My answer to your question. I have to be honest, it is not the answer that I thought I would end up with, when I first looked at the question. But honey it is, as far as I can see, the only answer which satisfies both my mind and my heart.
With all my love,