What is something your parents did regarding your illness that you regret and what is something they did that you are thankful for?
I spent most of my childhood undiagnosed, untreated, and categorized simply as an intelligent girl that refused to do her work. This way by teachers, faculty, daycare workers, family, and those who would babysit me. Maybe I was a little sensitive, or a bit spoiled; but there was nothing to be concerned about, and it could be solved by a stricter parenting system. Both my parents wholly agreed with those conclusions. In fact, my mom was the one who suggested many. Even now, as I talk about the more painful side of my childhood, she looks at me as if I have eight heads. “All I saw was a happy little girl,” she tells me, pain and shock painted through her eyes.
Not that I have gotten older, I have come to understand why she did what she did, and I’m not angry anymore. I am her her only child, born against medical odds and after a history of over six miscarriages. To her, I was perfect, and all the things that could be seen as red flags were just small quirks I would learn to deal with. Out of desperation to protect herself, she covered herself in denial. Believing that I was just sensitive and high spirited. While both of those statements are true, they are far from the full scope of the misfiring my brain was doing, and the pain that went with it. As much as denial was her biggest assistant, letting her to lie to herself for so long cost me – cost us – years of emotional chaos.
Other than the obvious impact of lack of treatment, her denial led to experiences that made my self-esteem take a nose dive, and gave teachers room to make me their target. I was an easy one, too: intelligent, highly sensitive, some behavioral programs, and emotional meltdowns. Not only was it effortless for them to “make an example out of me”, it was perfectly justified. I was spoiled and sensitive, not disordered or sick. In addition to the emotional aspect, it also meant I didn’t qualify for any school services, or the 504 I have now., and the teachers treated me as much. When I didn’t do classwork, doodled all over my papers, took too long to finish, interrupted others, melted down, or anything else it was seen as me being a problem child, so I didn’t get any flexibilities and was punished rather frequently. The lack of a diagnosis also caused me to believe all the things those teachers said.
Thankfully, my mother did finally find her way through all the denial and avoidance, and got me help. Do not get me wrong, I appreciate everything she has done for me and the support she poured it to me; but the both of us went through so many years of needless suffering, and I regret she let herself stayed under the protection of denial for so long, costing more than could be measured in money.
Despite it all, it would be wrong not to point out that she has done countless things to fight and help me. The one that had the biggest – positive! – impact was to respect my need for space and not push herself too strongly on me. By nature, I am extremely quiet and tend to be rather secretive. While there are times I retreat too deep and need to be coaxed out, which my mom did many times, there are also times where I need to be myself and think. I don’t share everything right away. It takes me time to come out, and when others try to wrestle it it from me, I just go into myself further. As much as I know it hurt her deeply and was massively hard for her, she respected that and was there when I did tell. It not only made things easier for me; but it made it so I felt I could come to here if I felt ready.
The best example would be my psychosis, even though I didn’t have a name for it at the time. I was terrified on a daily basis: paranoid, seeing shadows, and hearing these bloodcurdling screams at night. It didn’t make me want to tell anyone. If anything, it just made me quieter, suspicious, and more withdrawn. Eventually, I wrote her an e-mail telling her, and then also begging her to wait for me to speak to her. Though she expressed she wanted me to talk to her, she also gave me that space. I don’t tell her everything; but if I feel I need to, most of the time, I do. Had she pushed herself too harshly on me, I would have blocked myself off completely. She respected when I needed space from her, and for that, I am thankful.