The main reason i am writing this blog today is because i was asked a pretty specific question by someone recently and i thought i might as well put the answer out in the universe…just because, maybe someone is struggling…. Instead of the dreaded Facebook where some people take issue with me sharing, i’ve decided this is one for the blog instead…..
I was asked today what age I was when i knew what was ‘wrong’ with my mum and how it has affected my life. I will be honest, my reply shocked them and even made them cry a little… I’m not sure why, but it did. I guess talking about it so bluntly isn’t seen as the ‘norm’ but i find bluntness just makes it easier to discuss… For me anyway.
My mum has had Bipolar Disorder all my life. She was diagnosed at 17 (although it was known as manic depression then.) and so when she had me and my siblings, she had already been suffering for a long time. So… when people ask me how it has affected my life? I have to say “i don’t know”. Myself and my siblings know no different, which i guess, in some ways makes it easier. We have never had a mother who has not suffered with mental illness, it just always was… It wasn’t like having a parent who was perfectly fine and then one day they woke up with mental health issues. I can only imagine how heartbreaking that must be. For us there was no need to adjust, mum was just mum, it was as much a part of her as the colour of her eyes or the the sad curve she had to her mouth. We didn’t really talk about it, because even though it was ‘normal’ for us ,we knew it wasn’t ‘normal’ to everyone else. Our mum got sick sometimes, we knew that she had some issues, we knew that there would be days where she wouldn’t want to get out of bed…. We knew no different. We did have a dad there, who shall not be named because knowing my luck the selfish bastard would try and sue me, but he wasn’t a very ‘hands on’ dad and he was a mean drunk. He’s not dead, just not a part of my life anymore.
The first memory i have of my mum being ill is a vivid one, i don’t really know why it is ingrained into my head, but it is, and while as a child this never bothered me, as a teenager it gave me terrible nightmares. So…. As for when i realised that mum wasn’t like other mums? Well, i was young by anyone’s standards….
I remember being laid in my bed, my eyes were wide because i had just had a bad dream… Our bedroom door was open slightly and i could see blue-grey light coming from the living room, so being the nosey child that i was, i snuck over to the door and looked through the gap. The living room was all dark except for the TV screen, which had some odd film on with subtitles running along the bottom and there sat in the chair was my mum. As i walked out of he room i was sure of 2 things 1. That if i got caught by my dad i would get a smack and 2. my mum was crying. I walked over to my mum, sitting in this chair and i looked at her face, tears were running down it and dripping from her chin onto her nightie. At first i thought she must have been crying at the film, i can’t remember what the film was about, i just remember the words along the bottom. I moved into her line of vision and looked straight at her, “Mummy?” Nothing… It was like she was in a trance, looking straight through me and not seeing me. She just sat staring eerily, right through me. Not the tiniest bit of movement, just sadness on her face. I remember climbing on her knee and perching myself there, she still didn’t move. She continued staring, this time looking through the TV, just staring and crying. Every so often she would blink and new rivulets would run down her face. I tried snuggling into her to give her a hug, but her arms never came up, i doubt she even knew i was there. I put my arms across her anyway and hugged her as best i could, i knew she was sad… i just didn’t know why. I have no idea how long i sat there trying to console my mum, long enough that eventually her tears stopped coming. She still didn’t move, she just carried on staring, her eyes beyond sad. Eventually i sat up and shifted so that my mums face was level with mine, this time she looked at me, and fresh tears welled in her eyes. I put a hand on her cheek and said “don’t cry mummy…” I was 5 years old.
After that night, i woke up a lot to check on my mum, even at that age i knew what sadness was, i didn’t know the cause but i knew what it looked like. 5 years old and i already felt like my mummy needed looking after, i was always mature for my age… I think i have gotten more immature as i have gotten older, comes in handy for when the kids want you to practice tik tok dances with them…. Not so much when you’re in a shop and a woman is struggling to get a trolley out – “I can’t get it out!” to met with my SUPER hilarious reply of “THAT’S WHAT HE SAID!” Like i said…..
Our upbringing wasn’t great, but it could have been a LOT worse. I do have good memories too, like days to the coast and sleep overs at my aunties (the latter i now know was time away when mum was REALLY struggling) But for me? The worst or the sadder memories are what stand out to me because i always tried to deal with it and wanted to protect my sisters from it. I love my mum with all my heart, she is definitely stronger than she thinks she is! She’s always tried so hard to battle whatever demons she has, but sometimes she lost. I don’t blame her for trying to find a way out, not at all, i just wish she didn’t have to battle so hard, you know? I know many people may wonder and i have certainly been asked, “how didn’t you end up in care?” It is simply because i have THE most amazing auntie in the universe, i love her with everything i am and i will be grateful to her until the day i die for everything she has done and does for me and my siblings. She made sure we had everything we needed when my mum couldn’t and she looked after mum even when she didn’t think she needed it. We were lucky to have her growing up, otherwise i dread to think where we might have been now! But because of her help and selflessness, we’re doing okay…Not all kids are that lucky! My mum is still struggling, but we’ve got her, she’s surrounded by love and support and that’s really all we can give her… We hope that this time it will be enough to keep the worst of the demons away.
Anyway… I am pretty sure you have had enough of reading my life story for now…. And i need to call my mum 🙂 and run around after my offspring! They keep me sane…or as sane as it is possible to be in this day and age 😉 As always if anyone needs to talk i am a message away!!
Have a fabulous weeked, all my love V xxxx