Saturday, October 20, 2012


I found out this week that my Great nephew has Bi-Polar with Multiple Personality Disorder. He is 14 years old. I am so very very sad!

Mental illness is close to my heart for two reasons: I have a son who suffers with Borderline Personality Disorder, Depression and Self-injury and I was a social worker for 33 years.

My niece stopped speaking to me 9 years ago when her Dad, my brother, went on a tirade and disowned me and one of my other sisters and also my parents (within the past 2 years he has begun a relationship of sorts with them). It was a blow to this family that always saw itself as "fairly functional" but at least all the sibs got along and supported one another. Don't know what happened to my brother, but that is not the point of this blog post.

What is the point is that I am not only sad for this young man, but I am sad that at a critical upsetting scarey time like this, we are not there for each other. I have lived with a mentally ill son for over 15 years and could offer so much to this family, but alas it is not to be. I have tried my best to reach out to my brother, his wife and my niece for the past 9 years with no results.

Families are an interesting lot. I suppose that is why I stayed in Social Work for over half my life. I am fascinated by the interactions, by the stories and the drama that makes up this connection we value so highly in our society. I too needed support and understanding when my son was going through his nightmare (and still does), but the usual response was "he needs to grow up and get over it."

I now hear tenderness in my Mom's tone when she speaks of my son. But this has just come about in the past year after some very hard discussions about understanding his illness. And so, she is now quite upset about her Great-grandson but with a compassion and understanding that this is not something he can "get over" and will have to learn to live with. Maybe my son's journey helped her to prepare her for this devastating news.

I am so happy that my niece got my Great-nephew to the doctor immediately when "strange" behaviors began to show themselves. Early intervention is key to all diseases, but especially mental illness.

As much as I would love to talk to my niece about what it means to live with someone with mental illness, as much as I would love to hug her and let her cry as I did, as much as I would love to say, "this journey will be long and difficult but your son is still the person you have loved all these years", as much as I would love to hold her hand and to be present to give that affirmation to my Great-nephew....I am not invited to do so. (In fact I am not even suppose to know).

So, I always know what to do! I wrap this family in Love and Light and send them off to Goddess to care for, to direct and to love on this challenging journey! And hopefully my Son's journey has in some way helped to pave the way to better understanding.

I have learned that this odd relationship we call Family has it's good points and it's challenging times. And then I remember that we are all Family; the rocks, the trees, the flowers trying to hang on for the last bloom of the Fall, the animals, the fish, the birds that are migrating to warmer temperatures, the Moon and Sun, the Stars and Planets, the homeless smelly man on the corner, the pedophile in prison, the single mom working long hours, the people on Facebook we have never met, and my brother and his wife and daughter and her sons.

What did Sister Sledge sing: "We Are Family"!

Blessed be!

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