I was born in the same year that the original sci-fi movie, “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” was released. Being bipolar disordered, this knowledge triggers mild temporary delusional mania in my grand little illusionary brain… It’s soon squelched after a quick smile.
I didn’t have a good relationship with my parents. My five years older half brother died from suicide at age twenty one. My aunt on my father’s side attempted suicide more than once.
As a child, I feared and loathed my father. He was mentally unstable and would have violent episodes requiring a VA hospital stay. I’m not sure if the doctors there ever knew how to properly treat his illness. My dad was subjected to electric shock therapy. He would come back home in a very subdued state. He was usually irritated and angry when the therapy wore off. That’s what I remember. I kept my distance from my father as much as possible.
My mother, for a long time, didn’t know how to deal with the stress. She tried but was bitter and depressed from all our family turmoil. We frequently bickered and fought with each other. We were all bitter and depressed. She finally divorced my dad after a very long drawn out separating-reconciling painful back and forth period of time.
At seventeen, I left home. I told my siblings, except for the seven year old, that we all needed to separate to be healthy. That was the only thing that made sense to me. I think that we somehow knew we were all mentally disturbed but we were not well off and simply didn’t know what to do about it.
I expected that, if we stayed together, something terrible would happen. We were often toxic to each other. All except my ten years younger than me sister. Each of us needed healing. Separating was all I could think of that might help. My decision to leave was simple self preservation. I was already having suicidal thoughts.
I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2003 after my second major mental breakdown. My parents and two years younger sister have since passed… A lifetime is nothing compared to an eternity.
I work at mental health. I get lots of help from people around me. The ones closest, see and support me. I don’t deserve it, but I’m a very loved and blessed man. I seek and receive help when I need it.
I feel guilty for leaving my mother and siblings. But thoughts of reconciliation created angst that triggers turmoil in my brain. This dilemma remains a conundrum without a solution. I’ve been told that I don’t need to feel guilty, but it is what it is. Sometimes I feel like I could have fixed everything in my family. So I’ve been trying to make up for it with this public domain website. But if I’m going to be fixing anything for anyone it will be by God’s good Grace… not my brain.
At seventy two, I’m all grown up now. I realize that mental illness is what broke my childhood family apart. I also realize there’s a lot of people in a similar situation… Living in mental illness without any clear and present means to reconcile and heal. Those people, tragically, sometimes make the headline news. Sometimes, they grow up and help others.
Sometimes they just grow up.
Growing Up is dedicated to my web friend Pubert… he asked me a question that inspired it.