Dear Younger Me

Dear Kitt

You fuel your rage by seeing a psychoanalysist one to three times a week, exploring over and over how you had been abused as a child. You deepen your depression by studying psychodynamic theory in graduate school. Doing so defeats you and undermines your mental health. Yes, therapy will enable you to work through issues you have with your parents, but what is left unsaid is the fact that your parents love you.

Of course they are not perfect. Nobody is perfect. We are all “dysfunctional” to some extent or another. Yes, it is difficult to grow up in an alcoholic household, but your family loves YOU. Believe me, loving you is quite difficult.

Do not defensively rage against your father when he suggests that “wouldn’t it be great if you could just take a pill and feel better.” He was right. He merely suggested a medical solution to your long-standing struggle with depression, and you jumped all over him.

Your bipolar disorder, what was then diagnosed as depression and interpreted as aggression turned inward against yourself, is not caused by abusive parenting. You have a biological disorder of the brain. You did yourself no favors by smoking pot from seventeen years-old to the time you completely came undone at thirty. You did yourself no favors by taking shrooms, dropping acid, or on one particularly stupid occasion snorting cocaine. You did yourself no favors by drinking alcohol. You damaged your fragile brain. You may very well have tipped the balance.

Your childhood was not perfect. No one’s is. Your parents have had their own struggles. Now you know, mood disorders are genetic and often self-medicated with alcohol. Working with families as a therapist, you learned compassion for your parents. You saw the love these parents had for their children as they struggled to parent them. You shook your head when staff vilified adoptive parents of children with severe mental health and behavioral issues. You knew it was not the adoptive parents’ fault that their children had brain disorders, in utero exposure to alcohol and drugs, or extreme child abuse and neglect by others. Still, clinical staff judged the desperate adoptive parents rather than show compassion and offer support.

Kitt, if only you had used your Kaiser insurance for mental health treatment, rather than pay out of pocket to see an analyst. If only you had seen a psychiatrist at a younger age, your life would have been different. You would have properly cared for your fragile brain earlier in your life. Your loved ones would have been spared your rages and mood swings. Perhaps. Perhaps, to some extent. Then again, perhaps not.

I cannot change the past. I can only move forward from here. I must forgive the Kitt who blamed her parents rather than see a medical doctor. To all the many therapists who saw me and never recommended that I see a psychiatrist, what were you thinking? They, too, I must forgive, for I did not “look bipolar” as I’ve been told on more than one occasion. My worst behavior is reserved for those I love the most.

Kitt, forgive me for not being proactive, for not taking care of your brain, for blaming others for something over which they had little to no control.

41 thoughts on “Dear Younger Me

  1. dyane January 9, 2015 / 5:15 pm

    Brilliantly written….and original in its poignancy and perspective.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. writerwannabe763 January 9, 2015 / 4:25 pm

    More of us might benefit from also writing letters to ourselves, as you have done… We might learn still …even at my age… Diane

    Liked by 1 person

  3. lilypup January 9, 2015 / 1:41 pm

    I love the idea of “looking” bipolar. Over the last thirty years, the changes we have been through. I know the younger people on my blog barely believe it. Who can blame them?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kitt O'Malley January 9, 2015 / 1:51 pm

      Lilypup, if that Gravatar is a photograph of you, I would doubt you were a pup over two months old. 😉

      Like

  4. Michael P. January 9, 2015 / 8:39 am

    Raw and emotional. I imagine this post was a very healing experience for you! #awesome

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Placid's Place January 9, 2015 / 2:16 am

    Hi Kitt, just beautiful and deep and thought provoking. I too believe the ones we need to forgive most is ourselves. I don’t often give myself ‘permission’ to be sick. Its like if I can exercise enough will, then I will get better faster, get over the symptoms quicker, will feel happier more of the time. My most zealous critic is myself. If I have learned anything over the last two and half decades it is that what will be will be, no matter how much I try to fix or change things outside of my control, I won’t – because they are outside of my control. As is mental illness! So acceptance and forgiveness play a huge part in coming to terms with how I am, warts and all!!
    Lovely post Kitt…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kitt O'Malley January 9, 2015 / 7:51 am

      You are right. Acceptance and forgiveness are key to recovery, as is the Serenity Prayer.

      Like

  6. La Panzona {Pahn.So.Nuh} January 8, 2015 / 3:20 pm

    I I loved hearing your voice! I can’t believe how much of your thoughts and feelings mirror my own experiences with my father. I don’t know if you feel like you “understand” how they must have felt. I realize now, looking back, that my father self-medicated with alcohol and that my brother and I triggered his most vulnerable “stress buttons”.

    You mentioned that you needed space from your son when he was younger. That you felt rage. I also have felt that rage and have said and done things that I’m not proud of. I agree with you on being diagnosed earlier, getting treatment earlier…I still feel bitter about that.

    Ending on a sunny point….I love the flowers 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kitt O'Malley January 8, 2015 / 5:33 pm

      Thank you. Bipolar rage is the WORST. We try so hard to do the right things, to be gentle and loving, and then the beast rears its ugly face.

      Liked by 1 person

      • La Panzona {Pahn.So.Nuh} January 8, 2015 / 5:40 pm

        My 7-year-old says I have “anger issues” lol. But I always tell them I love them and spend quality time with them. I don’t know how old your son is, but I was wondering how you explained to him about Bipolar Disorder (I guess I’m assuming that you have)?
        If you’d prefer, here’s my email: myspanglishfamilia@gmail.com

        I’d really appreciate your thoughts on this 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • Kitt O'Malley January 8, 2015 / 6:32 pm

          My son is 14. I was hospitalized when he was 4. Not sure exactly how I explained it to him. I do recall explaining that just like we made sure he was safe and didn’t let him do dangerous things, they were making sure I was safe until I felt better because I was sick. My son and husband visited every night. My son insisted on eating his dinner from the leftovers still on the warming trays so that he could eat dinner as a family. He charmed the other patients by playing checkers and being a cutie. Since then there have been times when he has angrily hurled the word crazy at me, but he knows that is unacceptable. I’m okay with playful use of the word, not hateful use of it.

          Liked by 1 person

          • La Panzona {Pahn.So.Nuh} January 9, 2015 / 6:22 am

            Thank you for sharing that. That was an excellent explanation!

            Liked by 1 person

  7. stockdalewolfe January 8, 2015 / 2:56 pm

    You are absolutely right. We must forgive our parents, alcoholic and dysfunctional in many ways. I had loving parents, too. I forgive. Now we must forgive ourselves for blaming our parents and for whatever other sins we have committed. I look back over my youth and am appalled. I look over present behavior and sometimes just cringe. God forgives us. Now it is time that we forgive ourselvles and try new better behaviors. There will be failures to be sure but we must begin anew.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. blahpolar January 8, 2015 / 2:26 pm

    That is a seriously beautiful and compassionate letter. Really balanced too. And it makes me think too.

    Liked by 1 person

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