Monday, September 16, 2013

The Mentally Ill Circus Act

There is nothing more fun to me (because I've built a sizable sense of humor about it) than to give my family mental health history to psychiatric professionals in my own life and now the ones coming into Thomas'. I've become so used to the wide eyes and the open mouths and the disbelief and the questions and ultimately the shaking heads and sympathetic looks. When you come from my family history, all you can do is laugh because c'mon, what's the alternative? I got over my horror years ago so I'm good but now that we're building Thomas' history in his records, I get to be reminded, and now he gets to experience, the sympathetic, speechless reactions.

For the sake of better understanding let me list a few things that run rampant in my family:

Bipolar disorder
Delusional Disorder
Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Dissociative Identity Disorder

oh yeah and let's not forget the all-important


There are many more undiagnosed but glaringly obviously mentally ill family members in the family tree but you can see now why Thomas has schizophrenia. It really was just a roll of the dice when he was born and I spent years wondering how it would all work out in the end for him. He fought depression and anxiety for years so I thought, since I had, well, HAVE those things (I'm actually Bipolar II), that that was going to be his lot in life too. Little did I know that the depression and anxiety were just masking the burgeoning schizophrenia.

So what chance did he ever have of getting out of this circus act of a mentally ill family unscathed? Really, I don’t think he ever had a chance. The genetic ties to mental illness alone were a psychiatric death sentence and then to be raised in a household where bipolar disorder and all of its accompanying effects on the world around someone who has it was another black mark. What gets me though is the odds. The overwhelming majority of illness in my family is depression and anxiety, why did he have to end up with the worst possible illness? Why did my sweet boy have to not only battle the nastiness of real life but also have to endure the cruelties of schizophrenia??

They say that you are only given what you can handle. Perhaps Thomas has a strength beyond imagining and will make something of his struggles. Perhaps there is something up ahead that will test him that he will pass with flying colors because his genetic lot in life prepared him well for it. Time will tell but in the mean time he works hard at overcoming each thing that schizophrenia throws at him. I’m proud of who he is and as he battles the stones and arrows cast his direction, I will be there every step of the way, me and all of the rest of this family fighting battles of their own against mental illness. One thing’s for sure. Thomas is not alone.

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