The Family Business

I inherited my bipolar disorder from my mother. Growing up, I watched her battle mania, lose herself in medication, spend days upon days asleep or catatonic. Part of this was due to the fact that my father was feeding her pain pills. It was the only way he knew how to keep her calm and towards the end of their marriage, he simply didn’t have the patience to take the necessary steps to help her cope with her illness.

I suppose now that I’ve lived with my own illness for a decade and having grown up with the same illness omnipresent in my household, I consider insanity a kind of family business. There is an ebb and flow to the way my mother and I handle our manic depressive episodes. She gets sick, the rest of us step up and help dig her out of it. I get sick, vice versa.

Right now, we are both experiencing symptoms. She is extremely depressed, which is rare for her. I am headed in that direction. Normally her illness manifests itself as mania, robbing her of sleep and the ability to focus. Normally, we manage to take turns being incapacitated. So this simultaneous illness as well as this depression that’s taking over her is new territory for me. I’m not used to seeing that complete devastation on her face. Despite my close relationship with not only my mother, but with the sadness that comes with my own depression, I can’t help but feel panicked over this rare and somewhat uncharted territory I find myself in.

How do you help someone that feels hopeless when you know the feeling all too well?Every time I begin to suggest an activity or a different train of thought for her to pursue I find myself thinking, “How can I begin to ask her to dig her way out of this when I know how impossible my words must seem to her?”

Depression is suffocating. It weighs upon your brain like a wool blanket, wrapping itself tighter and tighter, shutting out the light. When I’m depressed, simply speaking to another person is impossible. Watching television seems like a chore. So, right now I sit here and I look at my mother and I know there is nothing I can say or do to make this better. To stick with the metaphor, all we can do is wait out this dry spell and hope that at the end of this delicate situation, our business, as strange and difficult as it may be, remains in tact once we reach the other side.

Author’s Note:

I realize this post is a bit convoluted and I apologize. Life is, unfortunately, rather convoluted so getting all of these thoughts out of my head in a coherent manner was rather difficult. Life, as well as these posts, will get better. I have faith. Thank you, whoever you are, for your patience and your willingness to read what is definitely not light material. It is not unnoticed nor unappreciated.


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