Day 25 in the “Questions To A Parent With Mental Illness” Challenge that my daughter has set me. Let’s see if I can actually get this one posted this morning without having to shelve it and come back to it.
Good morning Honey,
Well this morning’s question from you is another huge question, when we really think about it. And again, the idea or possibility that my mental illnesses could affect the way I love you is not something that is pleasant to think about.
I think that for many years now there has, generally speaking, been an automatic expectation for there to be a natural love-bond between parent and child and between child and parent. Although it could, I think, easily be argued that the level of expectation decreases as the child gets older.
And I would also have to say that I also feel that that expectation seems to have changed even lessened in more recent years. And I am not sure that this is such a good thing. Although I do to some degree understand where it comes from.
But the idea that my mental illness (or anything else for that matter) would or could affect the way that I love you is somewhat uncomfortable – even disturbing – to me.
And yet I am a realist by character and indeed do try to be objective – even when I may not like the suggestion. And the fact remains that whilst in my heart I want so very much to hug you and then to look into your eyes and tell you that my mental illnesses could never change my love for you, I know that whist this may be true in essence it isn’t always true in application.
Does it affect or remove the fact that I love you? No not at all! But does it sometimes blind me, cloud my vision, distract me from that love? Or affect the way that I am able to – or do – show my love for you? Yes sadly it does honey. And for that I am truly sorry, although I also recognize that all too often this is totally beyond my control.
In previous posts within this blog and indeed within previous answers within this challenge that you have set me, you will have read how I have spoken of my seeming – as a result of my mental illnesses – to almost exists within ‘different worlds’ or ‘alternate realities’. The world (or reality) where my mental health is good and the worlds (or realities) where my mental health is bad.
And within that picture I have often remarked how when in one world (or reality) I seem – depending on how far apart they are – unable to reach out into, or even to see, the other normal world or reality which you and I generally share.
And honey I do not describe things this way in order to separate myself from or to deny that my mental illnesses area part of me, but simply to try and explain what happens when my mental illnesses take over.
Honey, I can tell you with absolute conviction that within the world or reality that you and I share nothing could ever change or remove my love for you. And that whilst it is true that sometimes things get in the way of my being able to show that love for you – geographical locations, pressures or work, other commitments etc – that love always remains true.
But I also have to be honest and realistic and to admit – with great sadness – that in my other mental illness created world, in my other mental illness created reality, and depending on how deeply into it I have slipped, no one from our shared world seems to exist in my awareness.
As so yes honey, that does have such an influence and effect on how I am able to love you or to demonstrate my love for you. It is as if my whole concentration, all of my efforts need to focus on my simply existing, simply coping and yes, at times honey, even my simply surviving,
But honey this brings me to something else that I have said in my answers to your previous questions. Something which it is so very important for me that you understand. And that is that the need for you to see the difference between the ‘me’ and the mental illnesses. ‘I’ the ‘me’ will always love you and will always want to show my love for you. But the mental illnesses love and respect no-one (including me) and when they take over everything changes.
And of course I don’t always instantly fall crashing into that world – that reality. Sometimes it is more of a gradual ‘slip, sliding away’ or a gradual take over by my mental illnesses. And I think I probably explained that better in my answer to your fifth question within this challenge.
I think what I trying to say to you honey, is that the ‘me’ who is your father absolutely loves you and absolutely desires and will always absolutely try to demonstrate and show my love for you. And that my mental illnesses can never and will never change that. But, and here is the crucial thing honey, what my mental illnesses can and often do do is affect my ability to be ‘me’.
And by affecting my ability to be ‘me’ they automatically affect all aspects relating to ‘me’ and thus all of ‘my’ relationships. And that honey, is why I have always been so blessed by your ability and willingness to look for the me within my mental illnesses and to not take ownership of anything that comes out of or from my mental illnesses.
Honey, I am really not sure if that answers your question adequately. But if it has done nothing else than to let you know how very precious you (and our love for each other) is to me, then it will have achieved enough.
And perhaps honey, if you can grasp or understand just how important you and that love are to me, how important so many of my relationships are to me. You will both understand my reaction of withdrawing or isolating when my mental illnesses start to take over, and the fear or dread that I immediately experience when I realise that I have been through an episode and that damage could potentially have been done to them.
With all my love,