I Am My Mother

Mom and Dad 60s Hazel Filter 672 x 672

Caveat: Please understand that delusional thought processes are SYMPTOMS of mental illness. I feel compassion, even as I feel pain and anger as someone negatively affected by parental delusional thoughts. I, too, have experienced delusional thoughts and bizarre impulses. I’m heir to familial mental illness. I get it.

With great trepidation I wrote the original version of this piece for publication with the Feminine Collective. Will I hurt those I love? Probably. Is it worth it to tell the truth, to let people know what it is like to live under the shadow of unacknowledged, untreated mental illness? I pray that the good outweighs the pain. I pray for understanding and compassion.

Mental illness when untreated and unacknowledged can cause great pain to extended family members. Out of respect for my relatives, this version has been changed. The actual content of my mother’s bizarre delusions is masked, remains a secret here, on my site at least, to protect those she attacked.

This is my story, my perspective, my understanding.

Folie à Deux

Taboo content
Folly of two
Folly, delusion, shared by my parents
I’ve protected them
Partly out of respect
Partly out of fear of the repercussions
Partly, for my sister who is protective of their privacy
We grew up under the shadow of a bizarre distorted thought process
Symptomatic of mental illness
Originated by our mother
Backed up by our father
In front of us, since we were young, our mother would attack our father
Making bizarre claims with no basis in reality
My sister and I would look across the table
For our reality check
No. Where did she get these bizarre ideas?
There was no evidence for them
They made absolutely no sense
Our mother was crazy
Yes, I am heir to her illness
Anyway, after our mother would verbally abuse our father
In front of us, her daughters
With bizarre claims
Content from her mind
Her thought process
With no basis in fact
She would storm off to her bedroom
Leaving our father with us
Then he, our father, made us apologize to our mother
We would ask why we hadn’t done anything
Mom had been abusive to HIM
We just witnessed our mother’s attack
We did nothing wrong
He would respond that
She just didn’t feel appreciated
She needed our attention
He would throw us under the bus
Use us as his buffer
Not only NOT protect us, but use us
My father would join my mother in her belief system
That thought process, that dynamic
Put a wedge between the outside world and us
Between our extended family and us
My sister and I didn’t even go to our paternal grandparents’ funerals
For fear of how our mother would react
She would have considered it a betrayal
She considered her in-laws her enemies
I’ve had to tread carefully over the years
As I’ve befriended my paternal extended family over Facebook
I know my mother is sick and my father joined her
I once saw a home-movie of my mother
She danced in circles around the rest of her family
I saw myself in her
Twirling rapidly around others
As they simply stood still
Shit, I thought. I am my mother.
But with one major difference
I got help

Edited 4/27/19. Original version published at: http://femininecollective.com/folie-a-deux/

(Only later, through therapy, did I realize that it was also abusive to US, for we, as children and later as teens should never have been privy to such bizarre delusions.)


43 responses to “Folie à Deux”

  1. Got it. Sorry for my statements, then.

  2. i don’t want help!

  3. Hope remains. I send you my hope for a healthier future. I send you my hope that you seek the help you may need.

  4. a choice i an i alone have made throughout my life..
    An once again, only i make the choice to stay caught within the addiction web..
    Thank you for your comment,
    kisses chris

  5. Thank you, Chris. Sorry to hear you are caught in the web of addiction. Will say that properly medicated I feel wholly myself. Self medicated on drugs or alcoholic – not so much so.

  6. i can’t say i do an i can’t say i don’t, metal illness,
    struggling life, society honestly,
    has misunderstood..
    Within me it is fear of dribble drugs, funny because i’m a using addict,
    caught in the web of hard drugs..
    Sorry sometime a little long winded,
    i see that you favoured a comment,
    this always comes to my attention…
    hugs chris

  7. Good point. I will look that one up. 🙂

  8. Not just a matter of strength. Lack of insight or anosognosia is a symptom of many mental illnesses. Honestly, people with that symptom are not purposefully in denial.

  9. Yes, Kitt, you got help, you are the strong one. I relate so much to this. My mother never got help as well and went so far as to be embarrassed about my diagnoses of depression and later bipolar. My dad and sister joined her in this. I have worked through all of that but it is not easy.

  10. Yes, untreated mental illness is devastating. Unfortunately many of us who live with mental illness are not aware of our illness. Lack of insight is not purposeful, but can be a barrier to seeking or accepting treatment. Even if your children’s father had sought treatment, there is a genetic component. Biology, environment and the choices we make all effect our mental health. I hope that your adult children now receive the help they need.

  11. Sorry, previous reply is itty bitty too.

  12.  Avatar

    Yes it is. My kids are in their 40’s both with bipolar polar disorder and anxiety disorders … and medicated. I know their dad loved them but he had absolutely no idea what chaos his behaviors created.

  13. Compassion helps us all. Thank you. God bless you. Peace.

  14. Why treatment is so important. Why I make sure I take my medication and go to therapy.

  15. Thank you, Sheri. I value your opinion greatly.

  16. Wow! So powerful, Kitt! And courageous! Our parents generation didn’t get help– unfortunately for all concerned. That hurt lots of people but they tried their best and loved us despite all. I feel sorry for my parents now. They didn’t know how tough they made things for us kids and I suspect yours didn’t either. We have to go to compassion. It’s too late for me. And you are in the right path in my very humble opinion.

  17. This is so poignant and I am impressed by your courage to publish it. It also puts into perspective the heroic efforts you are making to care for your parents now, despite the pain they created for you. You are such an inspiration! The legacy of mental illness is far reaching, and I love that you got help and are writing about all of it. You are helping to fight the stigma!

  18. Truth is always difficult. I walked into a malestrom of mental illness when i married my kids’ father at 18 – ill-prepared for what was to happen over the next 23 years, and the ramifications and chaos that resulted that (24 years after he died) we are still dealing with. Be true.

  19. Kitt, Everyone has summed up what a brilliant piece of work this is. To face our trauma and then be able to share it with such grace is a triumph few will ever know. Thank you for continuing to be the brave advocate you’ve always been.

  20. Great to hear that you’ve acknowledged the wrong and have also decided to forgive them.

  21. Cleansing. Wish I could cry more now. Too defended. Eventually it will come.

  22. No worries, Kitt. I rather like the power of tears.

  23. You are welcome. Sorry to have triggered you. Even after we spend decades working on our issues, the scars remain. In fact, trauma is passed down through generations through epigenetics (literally gets written on our gene code).

  24. Thank you, Robert! You get the effect of trauma.

  25. This one brought tears. For so many personal reasons. The guilt, the shame, the denial, all foisted on innocent children of the untreated mentally ill. It took years to get over, and yet, haunts me still. Thank you for this brutally important share, Kitt. ?

  26. Blogs are such a joy; they are my reward for my hard work! 😉 Although it might seem like I comment & read many blogs (maybe because you & I follow a fair amount of the same ones), I’ve cut waaaay down. Remember how it used to be, i.e. I followed approx. trillion blogs? (p.s. Absolutely no pressure, but I wouldn’t say no to reading anything you write about BlogHer, even if it’s one paragraph. Or two. Or five! ) Xo

  27. This took a ton of courage, Kitt. I agree with Josh.

  28. Thank you. I cannot begin to tell you how much your comment means to me.

  29. Congratulations, Dy. I noticed you are still reading and commenting on many blogs. Personally, I find doing so, which I’m doing right now, takes a LOT of time and energy and keeps me from writing and reading books which are piling up around me.

  30. THIS. Just aren’t enough words to describe how excellent this is. It should be mandatory reading for anyone struggling without help and whether or not to get it.

  31. A resounding yes! I have been off FB and Twitter for weeks now. We’re on west Tahoe now and Craig is taking the girls out for day trips while I edit the last few chapters. With Lucy’s assistance, of course! 😉

  32. Wish you the best as you mend. Unintentional drug withdrawal is brutal. Hate it when I forget to take a dose or two. Can hit me hard.

  33. Thank you so much, Samina. It is difficult to develop compassion. Luckily, my parents also loved us. We grew up with an imperfect family. What my parents did right helped us.

  34. Thank you, Bradley!

  35. Thank you, Dy! Noticed you are off-line on Facebook. Focusing on your book and eliminating distractions?

  36. Thank you, Erica.

  37. Hi Kit
    How are you traveling? One of your siblings pitch in? Did you break the caregiver I can’t do this now.
    Your traveling, bringing the Advocate back to the surface. I am so happy to see. You mentioned NAMI, I for sure will not attend, something caught my eye about the conference. It’s gone now, if
    i think about you know i’ll write back.
    While you’ve been gone, I’ve lived through total withdraw (unintentional) on Xanax on the three anchor drug for my mental health. I did a half ass post while on the road back. Today I’m posting “What it’s like to get meds back under control”. I’m almost there with mental health drugs, then have to start Lyme drugs. I wish withdraw on no one, meeting the beast within is painful and brought on Delusions for me.
    I did meet God and come to terms with I 100% believe in him. My natural go to in past was Jesus. Long story, bottom line I’m heated, can barely walk but have a new perspective and on the mend.
    Have a great day. Catch me up when you can.

  38. Amazingly brave Kitt! And what a weight off your shoulders it must be to finally acknowledge the insanity in the light of day! I have goosebumps from reading this. How brave and sane you are in spite of your having to deal with insanity at such an early age. Love and millions of hugs.

  39. Powerful, raw, heart-breaking. I commend you, Kitt, for being so open and honest.

  40. You were incredibly brave to submit this powerful, personal piece for publication. How moving that your paternal relative thanked you for sharing it on FB, not to mention what a validation of risk taking in telling the truth. Congratulations on Feminine Collective publishing this piece!

  41. Honest and brave. Thank you for writing and sharing this piece, Kitt.

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