[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4V4YKeq88Qg&w=560&h=315]


I’ve received feedback that my delivery in this video is too clinical and offputting. Forgive me. I’m trained as a psychotherapist. No doubt I use my training and jargon not just to understand, but to defend myself, to distance myself. Plus, I just like big words.

Edited Transcript – “Ums” Removed

Yesterday was really intense. We had gotten, or I had received, a call from my parents’ memory care that my dad was… my parents were very upset because they were separating them into separate rooms.
There’s a good reason for separating them. When together they isolate and don’t let caregivers take care of them and don’t participate in activities and don’t socialize, and their health deteriorates. When they’re separated, which we’ve had them separated at different times since my mother’s had a stroke, they both participate in activities in their separate facilities. They actually do better. Both of them.
So, the idea was to have them in the same facility, but in separate rooms with same sex roommates. They can still visit each other. They can still see each other, but they have to sleep separately to try to see if we can break their co-dependent relationship. It’s a dynamic that’s not unusual. Problem is they take care of each other and don’t let other people take care of them. And, they need help. They can’t. They’re not really up for taking care of each other. They’re not up for taking care of themselves or each other.
I know that they love one another deeply, and we want to respect that. And, they still have the opportunity to have private time. That’s respected, as well. But in order for them to get the most out of the program that we’re paying for they have to participate in it. They have to let caregivers come in. They have to do things that exercise their brain, rather than deteriorate.
If we were to just let them isolate, then I would get the cheapest care possible and just… But I’ve already seen what that results in – which is unfortunately violent behavior and at times, even now, psychotic behavior – for which I’ve had to have my mom hospitalized a couple of times since her stroke.
The stroke has damaged not only just the part of her brain that handles language, but the part of her brain that handles impulse control. So any psychiatric illness that I may be heir to, and I am, is exacerbated by the brain damage.
So anyway, I just wanted to put that out there. I have writing that I’ve done, very scattered, and I want to touch on and that I haven’t really talked about, which is about… I’ll just go into it… My sister’s going to hate me for this. Which is about what it’s like growing up raised by raised in an alcoholic family. How challenging that is. What it’s like being raised by a parent who has no insight into her own illness or behavior. How it affects those who love her and who she loves.
There’s no doubt my parents loved us. Very well. Very much. But it was very hard for… I’ll speak for my own behalf.
I am thankful very much for my sister for being my reality test. When things seemed really crazy, we’d look at each other and go, this doesn’t make any sense. And, that, that’s huge. That’s huge.
But it’s a part of mental illness, not realizing that you have it. Not everybody has insight. Not everybody seeks help. Not everybody gets help. It has a devastating effect on those who love and are loved by someone with unacknowledged, undiagnosed, untreated mental illness or unacknowledged, undiagnosed, untreated alcoholism, dual diagnosis. It’s really tough.
Sometimes children raised in such an environment try desperately to please, thinking they can control behavior they can’t control. Hoping that they can earn love and avoid the emotional abuse that may come with behavior that is unpredictable, and that you can’t understand what you had done to bring it on because you hadn’t done anything to bring it on.
There you go.


36 responses to “Friday Was Tough”

  1. It’s a good idea. This is based on personal experience: HMO run hospitals convince psych patients to sign themselves in and generally discharge them as soon as the hold is over to save money. My Living Will states that I am not to be asked to sign any documents unless I have been assessed by my therapist.

  2. I need to do the same.

  3. When I hear people describe the legal freedom they have to make interventions on behalf of people with stroke or age related dementia I think of all of the parents of kids with schizophrenia who watch helplessly as their children fall through the holes in our mental health system and die on our streets. I wish our culture would get a clue and understand that neurological damage happens and when it happens to young people it’s just as serious as when it happens t0 old ones.
    I’ve written a living will that clearly states that I revoke my right to refuse treatment should I ever become so symptomatic that I don’t know I’m ill.
    I’ve heard that if you write one in front of witnesses who attest that you are in sound mind that the law must honor it.
    I can’t think of anything worse than being ill so ill that you refuse treatment in a legal system that prefers to ignore the fact that your refusal to seek treatment is a symptom.

  4. Thank you for sharing, Robert.

  5. Thank you, Robert. I realize there are more than one perspectives.

  6. Reblogged this on Art by Rob Goldstein and commented:
    The heartbreaking reality of children who must survive alcoholic and emotionally abusive parents

  7. Thank you for this video Kitt.
    You make a compelling argument for intervening in the lives of a loved ones whose emotional and physical health is in decline but who have no insight into their illness.
    You have also expressed the heartbreaking reality of children who must survive alcoholic and emotionally abusive parents who have no insight into the damage they do.

  8. Very sweet, Kitt. Thanks. It seems we are all so much more alike than we realize. Your post spoke to me. ❤️

  9. Thank you. Sending mine 🙂

  10. She was SO wise to buy long term health care insurance. I don’t think that I can qualify for such due to bipolar. Major bummer.

  11. Thank you. That is exactly what I’m trying to do.

  12. Send you my love.

  13. Van, you are more than welcome to “ramble on here.” You are a friend, a member of this community. I am so sorry that you had those experiences as a child. So very painful. The pain remains even after decades, even after working so hard to overcome those early life experiences and messages. You have some compassion for your parents, even though you felt the pain of those hurtful messages and wondered decades later if your mother’s death was your fault. I send you my love.

  14. I hope I can be as strong as you when my mother’s health starts to fail…..I’m dreading it already – she’s 80. At least she bought long term health care insurance, & lives in a small apartment, but I know whatever happens, it will be extremely tough. XoXo

  15. Oh, Kitt, I’m so very sorry you’re going through this. It’s got to be difficult and bittersweet. Thankfully, your sister is there to lean on.
    Growing up with a dad who was bipolar (though he was never diagnosed at the time – this is my supposition looking back on all his behavior with an adult’s bp perspective), I always walked on eggshells never wanting to “set him off” during his mania phases.
    The important thing now, as I’m sure you know, is to take care of yourself through all of this. Be sure you make time to eat right, and to rest. And allow the staff at your parents’ facility take on the burden of their care. That’s what they’re there for.

  16. It’s the sense of helplessness (as you well know) that is one of the most difficult things to grapple with. I had hope for years but…..

  17. I was so moved by the last minute of your vlog, and understand why you struggled to put it into the right words, which may not really exist for children (of any age) who witnessed untreated mental illness and alcoholism, and spend a lifetime trying to explain/justify behavior over which they had no control.
    In the depths of his own despair, my father once hinted that we, at age 6 and 8, were contributors to our mother’s mental issues because my sister and I fought constantly. Of course that was not the cause, but…to a sensitive child.. There were threats of orphanages if “something happened to her”, since he was sure he could not handle us by himself. (His own father died in a state mental institute, abandoning family for 20 years). His fear was palpable, but confusing to us both.
    Two decades later,our mother died, and those early, imbedded messages triggered severe depression. She had incurable cancer, but there was that 6 yr. old part of me that wondered if any of this was my fault.
    Sorry to ramble on here, Kitt, but I just wanted you to know that you’re so not alone in this, and talking it out is extremely therapeutic for you, and helpful to so many others.
    I truly respect your courage.Stay strong. And take some time for yourself. It matters. ❤️ Van

  18. Yes. I’m glad I had her as an ally growing up.

  19. Thank you, Bradley.

  20. Thank you so much, Eli!

  21. Thank you, Dyane. We have much in common.

  22. So sorry. Devastating to see your loved one, especially your child, in the grips of such a destructive illness. My heart goes out to you.

  23. I can see how all of that would be tough. Hang in there Kitt, glad you and your sister have each other. <3
    Diana xo

  24. I’m having problems with my laptop so unfortunately I get no sound with videos, but the comments section here helped me understand what’s going on. I’m so very sorry. Many prayers to you

  25. Positive thoughts to you, my friend. The vlog made it feel so much more personal, and it was great to hear your voice. Thinking of you and your parents.

  26. As you discussed what has been going on with your parents, I thought about how extraordinarily strong you are to deal with it the way you’re doing…you continue to be incredibly capable and responsible as you care for them. This is the kind of heartbreaking situation that would cause many people who don’t even live with the challenge of bipolar disorder to fall apart. I’m grateful you have your sister as your”reality check” as you put it so well.
    The part where you discussed living with an alcoholic parent really struck home. My father had bipolar, as you know and he was an alcoholic who became violent when drunk. Your eloquent words about alcoholism’s effect upon loved ones really moved me…
    As Sharon said, please try to take care of yourself. Do whatever makes you feel good and relax whenever possible.
    Much love to you, Kitt! Thinking of you and your family often,
    XOXO Dy

  27. I’ll bet. I know what it’s done to my sons’ brain. 🙁

  28. Thank you, Sharon!

  29. Thank you. Prayers are welcome.

  30. Luckily they no longer have access to alcohol, but it did a number on my dad’s brain.

  31. I now work as a psychologist in long term care facilities, and the scenario you describe with your parents is not too unusual. It’s always heartbreaking to separate couples who don’t understand why they need to be separated! I’m so sorry your parents have no insight that would allow this to be easier. That, along with your mother’s aphasia must make your visits completely exhausting. It is so hard, when it all just feels so sad, overwhelming and endless. Try to take care of yourself too…

  32. Kitt I’m so sorry. What a terribly hard choice to have to make. Sending you prayers for strength and peace.

  33. Hang in there. Glad to here you’re taking time for yourself.
    Tace care

  34. Oh, Kitt. This is heart-breaking. I understand it’s necessary but it’s still heart-breaking. I’m so sorry about the alcoholism. It’s such a horrible disease.
    Sending you hugs. 🙂

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