This is somewhat off the subject of Shanty Gold, but it seems right. My niece posted the following on Facebook this morning.
Her mother, Kathie, was the sweetest young girl, woman, mother, and wife in the world. Our worlds went different ways, mine to Chicago, Kathy’s to Kentucky, and I had no idea what they were going through.
When Mom died, I swore I would empathically explain to anyone listening…and a lot who weren’t, the ins and outs of mental illness, as she would always do…having not only been a truly tragic example herself, but also a psych nurse, giving her a really broad experience.
Mom wasn’t just bi-polar. Hers was a hugely misdiagnosed, high-end of the spectrum, rapid-cycling illness that often threw her into full-blown psychosis…making an otherwise perfectly wonderful wife, mother, daughter, sister an incredibly dangerous woman. Suicide attempts, homicide attempts, fires, knifings, hostage calls, ERU cops coming to the house. “Oh, hey kiddo! We thought it was Kathie.”
We slept in shifts to keep her and the world safe. The seventies and eighties were different. We weren’t about to let outside agencies get involved. Dad handled it all the best he could with us kids being tasked with being as mature as we could muster.
I would not change a thing. It’s just what an enmeshed Irish-Catholic family did back then.
My mom, when not sick, was cooking, checking homework, making my friends comfortable and loved, and teaching me about all the value systems in life that I still consider the greatest.
Dad, in equating Mom to this poem in 1977 when I was six, explained all I really needed to know about her madness. That sometimes you just compartmentalize the behavior from the person and take care of them. Here’s to all the people sorting through a similar mess!! Xo
There was a little girl who had a little curl right down in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good, she was very very good. But when she was bad, she was horrid.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Jeanne Charters writes about the business of living your life to the fullest. Over the years through her magazine columns, books and blog posts, she has sought to help other women face life's challenges through humor, strength and perseverance.
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