My mom is mentally ill...
a letter to Cary Tenis published November 2nd tells a heart breaking tale of a family torn apart by the mother's illness and refusal to accept treatment.
My mother was not as ill or as dangerous (well, perhaps she is if she was responsible for my brother's death but I am not sure of that) with her depression as this woman is with schizophrenia, but the basic issue of how our society leaves children in the hands of moms who are so ill is the same. There were whole weekends where I barely saw my mother because she was in a darkened room. There was no one else in the trailer, so I was on my own from as young as 7 on. She's stumble out of bed, cook a tv dinner, put it on the table for me and go back to bed. Such behavior alternated with her occasional rages over trivial events, terrifying me as she threw things and screamed and yelled. I guess it's clear to see why my first husband with his emotional distance and periodic violent rages seemed so familiar to me.
If a mother became physically incapacitated, someone else would be found to care for children. Why do we (as a society) think mentally ill mothers should just soldier on, and why doesn't anyone think about the effect on the children?
The letters in response to this column were excellent (the Editor's Choice is the best of the lot). If you are concerned about issues of mental illness, check this article out. It has links to others on the topic.