While searching for blogs related to mental health awareness, I stumbled upon A Canvas Of The Minds via Twindaddy at Stuphblog. I’m so grateful I did. This blog is exactly what we need to see more of in our everyday lives. Combatting the stigma in order to treat the minds of those that carry a mental health diagnosis is crucial to our society. Especially in a time like now where random acts of violence are mistaken for an opportunity to vilify anyone with a diagnosis and attempts at suicide are labeled “attention seeking behavior”.
I want to do my part in raising awareness so I am taking the “Blog for mental health pledge” and will continue to make my own struggles and knowledge on the matter transparent. Here is my pledge:
“I pledge my commitment to the Blog for Mental Health 2014 Project. I will blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others. By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health. I use this to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma.”
Here is a story I wrote just about a month ago that I will use as my introductory piece.
My mother was bi-polar. I don’t have the paper trail to prove this but I know in my heart she was. My educational background is in psychology and I started my career and continued to work with the mentally ill before resigning to stay home with my young children. I share that not as if to say I know what I know because of my educational or work history. It’s relevant because I’m starting to understand that my focus on furthering my education and understanding of mental illness was really a quest to love my mother not a career choice.
I can’t tell you how many times I saw my Mom in the tired lines imprinted on female patient’s faces I worked with both on a mental health unit and of those I worked with in their homes. It’s like they were all pieces to the puzzle that was my Mom. She was in and out of my life so much through out her life that all I really have is pieces. I became a motherless daughter in 1997, when I was 15 years old. The stories from my older siblings, all of whom are at least 12 years older than me, are a part of figuring it all out. Understanding where she came from, what she went through and the decisions she made is another.
It’s both a beautiful and some times disparaging thing when a daughter idolizes her Mom. Especially when, despite the mother’s best efforts, she could not be the kind of Mom that she needed to be. It’s so conflicting to want to be like your mother both because of and despite her faults.
I have had my own bouts with clinically diagnosed depression. At times, I have questioned whether it is actually the uncompromising pulls of high and low that strangle me and not just the low. Either way, the force that is my entangled brain has, at times, left me fighting the urge to run away. To escape and embark on an anonymous life. A life free of my current self. In a sense, a life void of authenticity that allows more choice in how I can be perceived. My mother did this.
According to my sister, Mom would sometimes be gone for weeks at a time only to return wearing a waitress uniform adorned with a name tag that read Alice. My mom’s name was Connie.
A few years ago, I googled my Mom’s name because I was that desperate to find clues about who she was. I surprisingly stumbled upon an arrest record in North Carolina from January of 1985. At that time, Mom lived in Florida and my oldest sister was due to give birth to her first child. My Mom had been arrested for larceny, impersonating someone else and somehow ensued a police car chase.
I was conflicted with anger and jealousy. Her choices hurt her family. Still somehow I craved to go on my own “adventure”. That is the problem with glorifying someone. Their actions are excused. Especially when that person is your Mom and part of you is her. I know that it was her untreated illness that helped fuel her disappearances. I just wish I knew where she was on that polar line that ran through her mind when she would choose to leave. And just how much of it was a choice.
When I first considered starting a blog, I thought about using an alias. I finally decided it would defeat my purpose. Writing is a cathartic experience for me and I no longer want to experience that in hiding or alone or in search of answers I have no real way of knowing. I can’t keep chasing the missing pieces of the puzzle. It’s best left unfinished but placed in a frame and hung to be honored anyway. The whole picture isn’t really necessary to me anymore. The love is in the pieces that are connected.
I am finally seeing Connie for who she was – the un-romanticized version of her life as a child, a daughter, a sister, a woman, my Mom.
25 thoughts on “Alice In Her Own Wonderland.”
((hugs)) Thank you for sharing your story, Dawn.
Thank YOU for being passionate about depression/suicide awareness. It’s not a topic thats easy to talk about or easy to share on. Your fight against the stigma and disease encourages others to tell their story like I did. Hugs to you Twindaddy.
Awwwwww……you’re making me sappy. It’s too early in the morning for that.
OMG I agree! I have barely had any coffeh (love that!) yet.
And I’m only halfway finished with mine. I’m not ready to face the day yet….boo.
I have these two little people that demand things like attention and food as soon as I wake up. My coffee is never warm enough nor is my cup ever full enough!
One word: microwave. Or thermos. Okay, so I lied. Two words.
I did it last year, and plan on doing it again soon. Thank you for sharing your story, it sounds much like mine and so many others who suffer with depression.
I am pretty excited about this awareness campaign she’s got going. I’m very passionate about this topic and am finally at a point in my life where my voice is strong enough to share.
I have no doubt she is so very proud of you!! I love you bunches!
Kris ~ To be honest with you…I know she is too. I see signs or things will happen that I know are you sending me a thumbs up. Or maybe I’m just bat shit crazy. Either way I’m at a place in my life that feels so good on me and I know that would make her happy and proud.
Thank you for this post.
My own mother died in 1995, when I was 16. She died as a result of drinking alcohol and having large amounts of Prescription Drugs in her system. The coroner came to the conclusion that is was not an intentional death, but one that had occurred after doing something very dangerous for many years. Mixing the two.
I knew my mother had a scotch bottle under her car seat, and I knew she suffered terrible abuse at the hands of the men she chose to share our lives with.
Though I never truly understood things until I got older, and occasionally I still get frustrated at the unfairness of it all. Sexually abused as a young girl by her own father, then turning to anything that could numb the pain of her experiences. An addiction, like a catalyst, responsible for so many challenges. All of it avoidable if it wasn’t for actions of a man who had no business doing what he did. I struggled later in life feeling frustrated that he outlived his daughter.
My experiences with my mother helped me to have learned lessons without needing to experience them again in my adulthood. For this, I am very grateful.
Ok I have written two (freakin’ TWO) thought out and affectionate replies to your comment. BOTH have been erased right before I hit reply. It wasn’t meant to be apparently, but please accept my post today as appreciation for your comment. That post was born out of it.
Lol, that happens to me ALL the time… Xox
Thank you for sharing such an amazingly written post about your mom. This touched my heart. My mother was diagnosed as manically depressed. That’s what they called Bipolar Disorder then. She left me with my grandparents, all of them have passed away. I was so angry for so long and swore I’d never act like her. I was diagnosed at 22 with Bipolar Disorder 2, that came along with anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder. I have two gorgeous daughters and couldn’t stand to be away from then longer than the month they spend with their father each summer. Then at times, I am troubled because I wonder how life would be if I had a mother, a grandparent, that would just watch my girls for awhile. I learned forgiveness a little too late and I learned that some of my actions that are very close to hers, isn’t such a horrible thing. I’m not her. I’m also not the ideal parent I want to be at times. It can be so complex at times. The ties that bind can be unbreakable. I’ve learned to accept that.
I love the way you spoke of not needing all the pieces of the beautifully connected puzzle. Very wise words. xo
Wow. Your comment had me tearing up. I could feel your torn emotions in your words. Thank you for sharing your story, and the connection you made with mine, with me.
I too have lost my mother and both of her parents. I am not connected to my father or anyone on his side of the family. The loneliness that comes with such losses and suffering from depression can make raising my own children feel like more than I can handle at times.
I truly thank you for reading my story and commenting with such supportive, kind words.
Thank you so much for sharing your story. I am also participating in Blog For MH and it is such and important step in breaking stigma. The more honest and true to ourselves we can be, the more we can show the world that we are more than our labels. Best always, Rose
Thank you, Rose. The writing over there is pretty amazing stuff.
Thank You for Sharing, Dawn.
Thank you for reading 🙂 and sharing 🙂
When We Share, in the Way You have done, it is Very Moving. Even Uplifting. Thanks.
You are so kind. Thank you.