I was watching Law and Order: Special Victims Unit and it has really brought home a lot very sad things for me and some things that have proven to be very hurtful. The whole episode was about on of the detectives dealing with their daughter having bi-polar and the issues that he faces around dealing with it after having grown up with a mother who is bi-polar and didn't deal with it.
What I have come to understand about my own chronic depression is that it is very isolating. I come from a family that does not speak about their feelings, does not share how they are truly doing, tries to portray the perfect image on the outside, while everything may be going crazy below the surface.
I do know that my paternal grandmother was not a well woman and from all the stories I hear about her, not only was she like me in so many ways, but she also had many of the similar "quirks" that I do. Heaven forbid anyone calls them mental illness, but my father does identify things sometimes like her not getting out of bed for long periods of time, her sadness, her anger, her general manic and depressive moods. Sound familiar??? How I wish that I had her to speak to now. It would be a confidant and someone that would actually understand.
On my maternal side, it's a whole lot of skeletons in closets. Maternal grandmother-alcoholic, uncle - alcoholic and drug addict as well as bipolar, aunt - manic depressive and just heard that she had a nervous breakdown. All in all a good well of potential gene hell. We don't talk to any of them either... so moving on.
I know that my youngest sister has not the most stable history. I don't think that she is considered anything other than a bad period of 6 months of depression a few years ago and has not had any other serious episodes. I think though that the few times we have chatted about it, she is aware that she doesn't want to feel that way again and is aware of that period in her life.
Anyway, it would be so great to be open with my family about the stuff that is going on with me, but it will never happen. They would be shocked to know that I take a little happy pill every day to be able to get up and function in the morning - Cipralex, and that I am in some serious psychotherapy. Not to mention a back up panic attack med. You'd think that it would be something that would be so easy to talk to people that are so close to you. Mental illness is a sign of weakness for my family. If only I wasn't so sure they would be so ashamed. One day, I am sure it will come out and they will be appalled.
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