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Well it is 4 in the morning and these flu symptoms are really kicking my butt and making sleeping so very difficult.  I had a flu jab on Monday and apparently having the symptoms for a few days is quite normal.

So, since I am awake and having a coffee, I thought I would check out today’s question within the “Questions To A Parent With Mental Illness” Challenge that my daughter set me…

DD 26

Hi Honey,

Well, I actually think this answer is going to be quite short compared to all my other answers.  And not because I am incredibly tired but because the truth is that I really don’t think that my mental illnesses have a great influence on the way that you love me at all really.

And if I am being honest I think I will have more to say in respect of tomorrow’s question.  (Which I happened to glance at when I was looking at the list of questions to see what today’s question was). As I really do think that how I allow you to love me is far more relevant to our relationship – when it comes to my mental illnesses – than how you love me is.

That having been said I would like to take your mind back to those first few times – after you had been away for so long – when you and I sat and discussed the old days and when I opened up more about my mental health and how my mental illnesses had impacted all of my relationships.

I explained to you how I had kept so very much of my mental illnesses from everyone most of my life until my breakdowns – when of course I could hide them no more.  And how by keeping them secret – even though I thought I had good reason to do so at the time – it had done a lot of damage to a lot of relationships, including our relationship honey.

I remember your commenting, during those conversations, how certain things that happened at the time somehow made more sense now that you knew the background of mental illness behind them.   Something which of course you could not know at the time.  

And Honey, I also remember laying in my bed after those conversations and thinking to myself just how foolish I had been to hide this all from you and how much different things may have been if I had opened up about my mental illnesses a lot sooner.

And that is important and very relevant in respect of your question today.  Because I truly do believe that had you been able to understand things better – had I given you the information that you needed in order to understand those things better.  It would have changed the complexion of things and thus how you were able to love me or indeed how you understood my love for you or the ways in which I was or wasn’t able to show it.

And so that is one way (probably the only way) in which I believe my mental illnesses have affected the way in which you love me.  And whilst I fully accept that it is more the secrecy surrounding my mental illnesses which affected this, I cannot rule out the fact that part of that secrecy was probably as a direct of my mental illnesses and the way that they made and make me think sometimes.  Of course a huge part of it was also down to the stigma which was even more present and attached to mental illness back then than it is today.

But honey, the fact that my mental illnesses are now very much out in the open does without doubt afford you more of an understanding and thus a different perspective on my thoughts and statements and actions.  And this without doubt changes how you are able to love me now compared to back when you were not aware of them.  And to some degree that also changes some of the roles that you have to take on within your love for me.  

But as I said above, I think it is probably more appropriate if I speak about that in my answer to your question tomorrow. (Friday).  And so I am going to end this answer to you now honey.  But not before I say one more thing, not only because I really want you to hear it but also because this is an open blog and because I am very much aware that others who are in a similar situation to us Could be reading this post…

You are of course much older now honey.  Your life-skills are much better and your life-experience much greater.  So too is your understanding of things.  And I have been so very touched and so very blessed by the way that you seem able not to let my mental illnesses affect the way that you love me too greatly.  And honey I am now so very much aware – looking back – that even all those years ago I could have shared more with you, opened up to you more about my mental illnesses, and that actually you would have understood or at least done as much as you could to try to understand.

Mental Illness can do so much harm to the way that we see ourselves and the way that we perceive how others see us.  And this can drive us into an attitude of isolation and secrecy.  But as much as that approach may seem the best course of action, experience has taught me that it really isn’t the best course of action.  And I am convinced that if there is a glimmer of hope that our family would understand and not judge and/or reject us as a result of our opening up about our mental illness then we owe it to them to try.

Of course I am acutely aware that some families react extremely badly to mental illness and so I do advocate caution. It really does depend on the family and the family members themselves.  But if your family is loving – as you always have been honey – then I would encourage thinking very clearly about trying to trust them and affording them a chance to understand and to help.

Always know that I love you honey, and that I will explain more tomorrow (Friday) when I answer that question.

With all my heart.