Folie à Deux

I Am My Mother

Mom and Dad 60s Hazel Filter 672 x 672

Caveat: Please understand that delusional thought processes are SYMPTOMS of mental illness. I feel compassion, even as I feel pain and anger as someone negatively affected by parental delusional thoughts. I, too, have experienced delusional thoughts and bizarre impulses. I’m heir to familial mental illness. I get it.

With great trepidation I wrote the original version of this piece for publication with the Feminine Collective. Will I hurt those I love? Probably. Is it worth it to tell the truth, to let people know what it is like to live under the shadow of unacknowledged, untreated mental illness? I pray that the good outweighs the pain. I pray for understanding and compassion.

Mental illness when untreated and unacknowledged can cause great pain to extended family members. Out of respect for my relatives, this version has been changed. The actual content of my mother’s bizarre delusions is masked, remains a secret here, on my site at least, to protect those she attacked.

This is my story, my perspective, my understanding.

Folie à Deux

Taboo content
Folly of two
Folly, delusion, shared by my parents
I’ve protected them
Partly out of respect
Partly out of fear of the repercussions
Partly, for my sister who is protective of their privacy
We grew up under the shadow of a bizarre distorted thought process
Symptomatic of mental illness
Originated by our mother
Backed up by our father
In front of us, since we were young, our mother would attack our father
Making bizarre claims with no basis in reality
My sister and I would look across the table
For our reality check
No. Where did she get these bizarre ideas?
There was no evidence for them
They made absolutely no sense
Our mother was crazy
Yes, I am heir to her illness
Anyway, after our mother would verbally abuse our father
In front of us, her daughters
With bizarre claims
Content from her mind
Her thought process
With no basis in fact
She would storm off to her bedroom
Leaving our father with us
Then he, our father, made us apologize to our mother
We would ask why we hadn’t done anything
Mom had been abusive to HIM
We just witnessed our mother’s attack
We did nothing wrong
He would respond that
She just didn’t feel appreciated
She needed our attention
He would throw us under the bus
Use us as his buffer
Not only NOT protect us, but use us
My father would join my mother in her belief system
That thought process, that dynamic
Put a wedge between the outside world and us
Between our extended family and us
My sister and I didn’t even go to our paternal grandparents’ funerals
For fear of how our mother would react
She would have considered it a betrayal
She considered her in-laws her enemies
I’ve had to tread carefully over the years
As I’ve befriended my paternal extended family over Facebook
I know my mother is sick and my father joined her
I once saw a home-movie of my mother
She danced in circles around the rest of her family
I saw myself in her
Twirling rapidly around others
As they simply stood still
Shit, I thought. I am my mother.
But with one major difference
I got help

Edited 4/27/19. Original version published at:

(Only later, through therapy, did I realize that it was also abusive to US, for we, as children and later as teens should never have been privy to such bizarre delusions.)

43 thoughts on “Folie à Deux

  1. chris jensen August 17, 2016 / 4:08 pm

    i can’t say i do an i can’t say i don’t, metal illness,

    struggling life, society honestly,

    has misunderstood..

    Within me it is fear of dribble drugs, funny because i’m a using addict,

    caught in the web of hard drugs..

    Sorry sometime a little long winded,

    i see that you favoured a comment,

    this always comes to my attention…

    hugs chris

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kitt O'Malley August 17, 2016 / 5:58 pm

      Thank you, Chris. Sorry to hear you are caught in the web of addiction. Will say that properly medicated I feel wholly myself. Self medicated on drugs or alcoholic – not so much so.

      Liked by 1 person

      • chris jensen August 17, 2016 / 6:33 pm

        a choice i an i alone have made throughout my life..

        An once again, only i make the choice to stay caught within the addiction web..

        Thank you for your comment,

        kisses chris

        Liked by 1 person

  2. LydiaA1614 August 16, 2016 / 4:01 pm

    Yes, Kitt, you got help, you are the strong one. I relate so much to this. My mother never got help as well and went so far as to be embarrassed about my diagnoses of depression and later bipolar. My dad and sister joined her in this. I have worked through all of that but it is not easy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kitt O'Malley August 17, 2016 / 11:40 am

      Not just a matter of strength. Lack of insight or anosognosia is a symptom of many mental illnesses. Honestly, people with that symptom are not purposefully in denial.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. stockdalewolfe August 14, 2016 / 3:43 pm

    Wow! So powerful, Kitt! And courageous! Our parents generation didn’t get help– unfortunately for all concerned. That hurt lots of people but they tried their best and loved us despite all. I feel sorry for my parents now. They didn’t know how tough they made things for us kids and I suspect yours didn’t either. We have to go to compassion. It’s too late for me. And you are in the right path in my very humble opinion.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sharon DeVinney, Ph.D. August 13, 2016 / 4:21 am

    This is so poignant and I am impressed by your courage to publish it. It also puts into perspective the heroic efforts you are making to care for your parents now, despite the pain they created for you. You are such an inspiration! The legacy of mental illness is far reaching, and I love that you got help and are writing about all of it. You are helping to fight the stigma!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The Itty Bitty Boomer August 12, 2016 / 10:52 pm

    Truth is always difficult. I walked into a malestrom of mental illness when i married my kids’ father at 18 – ill-prepared for what was to happen over the next 23 years, and the ramifications and chaos that resulted that (24 years after he died) we are still dealing with. Be true.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kitt O'Malley August 14, 2016 / 4:28 pm

      Why treatment is so important. Why I make sure I take my medication and go to therapy.


      • Anonymous August 14, 2016 / 4:46 pm

        Yes it is. My kids are in their 40’s both with bipolar polar disorder and anxiety disorders … and medicated. I know their dad loved them but he had absolutely no idea what chaos his behaviors created.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Kitt O'Malley August 14, 2016 / 10:07 pm

          Yes, untreated mental illness is devastating. Unfortunately many of us who live with mental illness are not aware of our illness. Lack of insight is not purposeful, but can be a barrier to seeking or accepting treatment. Even if your children’s father had sought treatment, there is a genetic component. Biology, environment and the choices we make all effect our mental health. I hope that your adult children now receive the help they need.


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