Chasing Yesterday’s Rainbows

Mom & Bonni

I took this photo of my mother and my sister during one of our many visits to a mental hospital in northern Virginia, many years ago now. It was a lucky capture of something increasingly fleeting – tenderness, trust, and a smile, between a mother and her daughter. I haven’t been secretive about my mom’s descent into severe mental illness. It is highly stigmatized, which is stupid, because that makes it far more difficult for all of us to bear. So I will always speak up.

Mom battles Delusional Disorder and Paranoid Personality Disorder, which have no cure and no trusted form of treatment, due to the patient’s inherent suspicion and lack of insight into her condition. We’ve seen her through psychotic breakdowns, hospital stays, suicide attempts, jail time, and homelessness. As hard as that is, the reason it’s most excruciating is because Mom was our best friend growing up. She was a loving and energetic person. But her delusions have transformed Bonni, my dad, and I into the enemy, causing her a great deal of fear, anger, sadness, and pain – which causes her to lash out. And now, it’s hard not to hate the manipulative and abusive person she has become. Continue reading

“My son is mentally ill, so listen up!” Putting the nation’s spotlight on mental illness…

“The only time mental illness dominates the national conversation is when something goes tragically wrong. But the dialogue doesn’t last. It gets buried under arguments about gun control, video game violence, and unheeded signs of trouble... ‘There are tragedies that happen every day in this country because people are untreated for mental illness. They end up in jails, in homeless shelters – and families are torn apart.’ … It frays bonds, breaks up marriages. It steals hope.”

Good read.

“My son is mentally ill, so listen up!” Putting the nation’s spotlight on mental illness…

Worried about my mom these days…. She sounds like she’s crashing. Her voice sounds small and lonely. She is out of money, in pain from untreated dental problems, and eating meals provided by local Catholic charities that serve the homeless – but feels so guilty about it that she’s volunteering and cleaning there (so typical of her!)

She tells me stories of the other homeless people she meets, and even manages to giggle and find humor in some of the situations. I miss her laughter. She even called me “sweetie” and asked about Chuck…

The delusions are still there – I have to remind myself of that – but it’s hard to hear her say “I so wish I had a friend.”


The Insanity Virus

Absolutely fascinating theory on schizophrenia, multiple sclerosis, and bipolar disorders (and perhaps other mental illnesses as well?) This could provide so much hope for prevention and cure, if it’s true!

The Insanity Virus

On Mother’s Day…

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there – I am lucky to know so many great ones! I don’t like to get too depressing or emo on here, but of course I’ve been thinking about my own mother, and missing her…because overall, it feels like I don’t have one.

My mother is alive, but not well – and not in the traditional sense. In many ways it would be much simpler if she was dying of some physical ailment, but instead, she’s suffering from debilitating mental illness, which is equally as real and even more horrifying in its manifestation – not to mention far more damaging to our relationships, self-esteem, and family as a whole…

It’s a long, confusing story that basically comes down to paranoid delusional and psychotic disorders, suicide attempts, depression, and anxiety. The worst part of it is that she doesn’t think she’s sick, refuses treatment, and has shut my dad, sister, and I out because she thinks we have contributed to or downright caused her delusional state of misery, fear, and loneliness. Worse yet – I can barely remember a time when she was happy, and what made her great as a mom (because once upon a time, she was…)

Anyway, I don’t want to dwell much on the matter, and I don’t want to pity myself. It’s truly her that suffers most. I just wanted say how much I miss her, and struggle to remember better times while also trying to move on and accept that she will never get better, but most likely worse… continuing to cope with the fact that she blames me for her situation, and however much I know intellectually that it’s not real, it is very real to her… and that’s all that really matters. Unfortunately, her reality drives this, not ours. In her mind, I have hurt her, and we both have to live with that.

Mom, you are far from us physically, mentally, and emotionally, but even though I try to forget you and all that has happened, I will always love you. Happy Mother’s Day ❤