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Friday, April 20, 2007

...I lived with it for 20 years...mental illness sucks!!

The title may be misleading, I personally did not suffer from mental illness (although some may disagree), but my brother (adopted) did! My parents were in their late 40's when they married and since my "mother" could not have children, they adopted a boy in December 1950. Thirteen months later they adopted my twin sister and I (of course no blood relation to aforementioned son!) My parents were rather well off and of a politically famed background, and it was necessary to have an "heir", therefore the adoption of the son. My sister and I just happened to be available - and so adorable my father could not say "NO." (Notice I did not mention the mother as being so ecstatic.)

My brother displayed signs of violence at a very early age, and the common analysis was - "poor Frank, you just have to understand!" As a small child that statement had yet to impact me, but in later years I developed a lot of resentment and I must say - hatred for Frank.

All under the age of 13, Frank managed to break my mother's arm, toss her into a closet, strike out at my father, hurt various pets, and beat on me and my sister. Again, "poor Frank, he has a problem!" They sent him to a military school in Baltimore, Maryland when he was in the 4th grade, thinking that would help - he was expelled. So in 1963 (I believe) he was taken to The Menninger Institute in Topeka, Kansas, where he remained for the next 5 years. The diagnosis was "emotional illness." To this day - I know it was mental illness. The doctors blamed his being adopted for his actions - that he felt so much rejection. I never bought that either. My parents spent $5K a month for him to be in the best facility and when he returned home in 1968 - he was worse. He couldn't hold a job - because he slept for days on end. He was told never to have children because he had NO CAPACITY for love or emotions. (I've always understood that to be sociopathic!) The girl he hooked up with was warned of all this, but saw $$ signs and ended up having 3 children (all have individual problems.)

My point would be, that some family members seem to shelter the mentally ill, to the point that they act out in horrible ways, under the belief that - all will be taken care of. Now, this may be my viewpoint from another generation, as when I was growing up you never heard of ADD, ADHD, BPD and all the niches that have been created of late for so many to fall in.

Since we were literally being raised by "grandparents", the world we lived in was so much different than most. Our mother made no bones about Frank being her favorite and that she didn't want my sister and I. If I so chose, I could have let that affect my life, but I was the only one of three siblings to ever LEAVE home and develop my own life. I know I have been a better mother than her, and have tried to be more in tune to the needs of my children than she ever did. And now, I am the only one left. Parents, brother and twin sister have all passed away - and I do spend a good deal of time reliving certain events and trying to analyze why everyone acted as they did.

Bottom line is there is a great deal of undiagnosed mental illness in our country (and the world for that matter), and somehow an awareness has to be gained on everyone's part to avoid incidents such as that at Virginia Tech. It appears ALL the signs were apparent, yet either beaurocracy or ignorance stood in the way of getting this young man the help he needed. According to Cho's great aunt in South Korea, he had always been the same individual since a young child - never speaking, sudden outbursts, etc. A very sad situation for everyone. My heart goes out to the young men and women who were literally cut down before they could show their potential.

Trying to summarize the past in such a short space is next to impossible, but this is just a brief insight.

Theson is headed to Columbus for the weekend to spend time with the BTown Boyz - good for him!

44 Days till we depart!! YAY!!!!! Take care and stay healthy. TTFN. (I have a terrible cold and hope no one else gets it!!)

1 comment:

SamuraiFrog said...

That's a powerful post, and gives me a lot of food for thought. It's hard to recognize the signs, and they're too easy to ignore; then, at the end of it all, it becomes obvious. Some people don't think it's obvious at the time; others do and say nothing for whatever reason.

Now that we do have ADD and ADHD and other things that I think are made-up euphemisms for food allergies and having too much sugar, I think people have made emotional and mental problems easier to dismiss and ignore. On campus, I heard "Oh, I have ADD" a lot, in an almost-joking, non-apologetic way, as if that one statement could excuse a multitude of rude behavior.

Without being overdramatic, I've wondered a lot if I have problems of a similar nature--something emotional and hidden underneath. I'm lethargic and can be unmotivated, but I think it's laziness. I've also been surly and quiet and shy, not speaking for lengths of time. As a kid, I didn't have friends, but I didn't want friends, because kids were tormenting me for being fat. I wanted to do something violent to a lot of people. Even now, on good days, I sometimes have sudden emotional outbursts, sudden moments of frustration that come out of left field on an otherwise good day. I can be reduced to tears by the simplest obstacle. I don't understand why or how it happens.

I don't know how much of that is normal and how much of that is something emotionally wrong with me. Your post made me think about that and about how I've tried not to let that become something normal in my life. I wonder what I would do if my kids displayed the same behavior. When do you chalk it up to a reaction to something outside, and when do you start believing that it's something inside that needs to be controlled?