(April 3, 2014) I am my mother’s daughter. I never knew anything other than a life surrounded by serious mental illness. My mother was seriously mentally ill from as far back as I can remember.
Growing up in our family was like living in a combat zone. It never felt safe because you didn’t know when the other boot was going to drop. The drastic mood changes, intense paranoia, grandiose ideas, impulsivity, delusions, depression and anger created a frightening environment for a child who depended on her. This led to emotion and physical neglect, as well as emotional, verbal and at times, physical abuse. And yet I loved my mother. I watched as my father, and later my siblings and I, were powerless to help her.
My mother had zero insight into her illness. She did not believe she was ill. We call that anosognosia. It affects up to 40% of those with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Because she didn’t believe she was ill, she would not stay in treatment and as a result could not take care of herself, let alone, me.