I Got Out of the House This Week!

Outside

My major achievement this week was to get out of the house TWICE for ME – not just driving my son to and from school or caring for my parents.

Monday: OC Writers Write-In

Monday I attended an OC Writers write-in where I wrote 3282 words freely. The words need editing. They need shape. They possibly need to be fictionalized. Not sure.

Wednesday: Brain Disease Advocacy

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Yesterday I had a lovely lunch with Mary Palafox of FEDUP – Brain Disease Advocacy. FEDUP4Brain advocates uniting mental and physical health under ONE health care delivery system. Stop treating serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder differently than other brain disorders.

Folie à Deux

As for the writing I did Monday, my focus was a delusion shared (folie à deux) by my parents. The delusional thoughts originated from my mother, but my father backed her up, and in doing so failed to protect us from verbalized delusions better not shared with one’s children. The delusional thinking was and still is disturbing.

Understand that delusional thoughts are a SYMPTOM of mental illness, of a brain disorder. When a couple reinforces each other’s delusional thoughts, they get stuck in a reinforcing feedback loop. In isolating themselves from others, they fail to test their version of reality against outsiders’ views.

My mother lived with an unacknowledged, undiagnosed mental illness. As her daughter, I’m in no position to diagnose her. Loyal and devoted – adoring, in fact – my father always backed my mother up. He might agree (in secret) with us, but then he would make us apologize to our mother for something SHE said, explaining to us that our mother didn’t feel appreciated and it was up to us to give her the attention she needed.

Not a healthy dynamic, but by the time we were teenagers, we knew it was not healthy. Thank God, my sister and I had each other to tether ourselves to reality.

As an adult, as a mother, in many ways I identify with my mother. I can see myself in her. I can see my illness in her illness. So, I feel compassion for her. But we differ in how we have dealt with our disordered brains. I had insight and sought treatment early.

As it turns out, since my mother had her stroke, I learned that she was being treated for depression. She told me a few years ago that she took an SSRI for anxiety, for panic attacks, but she told me she stopped cold turkey (dangerous). I was unaware that she went back on them for depression.