The grief and sorrow of Mental Illness

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by recoveringenabler, Jun 17, 2012.

  1. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    My difficult child is in jail for another week. Without the benefit of a hired attorney, she is caught in the system now without an advocate. I'm powerless to help her, we both have to ride this out to the end. This last bout of her life drama has taken a toll on me. I reached my end point.

    I knew there would be grief and sorrow about this. What I didn't expect was the door opening for the buried sorrow of a lifetime of dealing with mental illness to come barreling out. I have not only been one of the few people in my family not afflicted with some form of mental illness, but the one appointed to be responsible for and caretaker to the family members who were afflicted. One way of looking at it is that I have been taking care of difficult child's in one way or the other since I was 3 years old. As DDD mentioned to me, you do this for a lifetime and then realize one day that your life is coming to an end and decades of it have been eaten up with caring for difficult child's.

    The impact that these illnesses have had on my life is profound. I think for my own self preservation, I have never looked at it like the sacrifice it's been, plus so much of it has been me just putting out massive fires created by someone else. The drama, intensity, maniacal disregard for others boundaries, rages, crying jags, skewered realities, lack of forethought or insight, brilliance without consciousness or direction, horrible choices leading to destruction, poverty and unimaginable sorrow has brought me to my knees on countless occasions and taken immense bites out of the joy and peace I have always been attempting to create.

    I've learned that in closing the door to my daughter's toxic life, I have made the final choice in a series of very difficult choices to in some manner shut out or disconnect from yet another unstable or mentally challenged person in my family. She is the final one, after my parents, my siblings and my ex. This is over the last 20 years of detaching from the insanity and accepting that I cannot do any more. I guess I was so busy either putting out the blazing infernos of the insane behavior or finding a way out of the connection with the perpetrator that I didn't have the time to feel the sorrow about what this has all cost me.

    I feel a lot of grief now. It's grief not only for the losses I've incurred as a result of caring for family members and the toll that took on my life, it's grief that I didn't have these family members, Mom, Dad, Sister, Brother, daughter, in a 'normal' capacity, to love, connect with, enjoy and be a part in their lives. I did not have a 'normal' upbringing because of this. And, now I do not have a 'normal' connection with my own child. I missed all of that. Sometimes the sorrow is overwhelming in it's depth.

    I can see that I have also learned so much on this life path, it's given me a deep understanding of humanity, compassion, insight, humor, many things. I also can feel gratitude for my SO, my granddaughter and the life I managed to create in spite of all of the mental illness. I am aware of that at the same time that I am feeling all of this sorrow. But the sorrow is very present now. In the long run I believe it's a healthy and positive experience to feel all of this, to let it out, to express it. But, man, it hurts.

    The other day when SO and I were driving all over the county trying to work out getting difficult child's car out of the impound lot, I was sobbing in the car and at one point said to SO, "I feel so sorry for myself." Even to myself, I sounded like a young child who was just in too deep, too overwhelmed and just so deeply sad. I've been showing up for these kinds of dramas my whole life and now it's just become too much. I don't want to do it anymore. My body can still feel the fatigue and depletion from the stress of the last couple of weeks. Perhaps the last couple of decades. When I was younger I could deal with it with the strength of a young body, but now the stress has a huge impact on me in all ways. I'm just worn out, emotionally, mentally, physically and financially.

    It's odd to say I feel sorry for myself. I think it's a luxury I couldn't allow myself before with so many and so much to take care of. Not to say feeling sorry for oneself is a good thing, certainly it can become an old and worn out way of being and doesn't serve you. However, I believe it's important for me to understand the impact of all of it and feel the pain of the losses so that I can move through it. It's hard, the focus of it is on me now, the codependent formula has shifted in a healthy way, external focus has turned inward, which doesn't feel so good right now.

    I'd like to think I've reached the end of this era, there aren't any more family members to take care of, I've detached from all of them. I hope this ending brings me peace and a sense of resolution that I have done all I can and now it's time to put my efforts into my own life. It's been a very long journey and I am very tired now. Right now I can't see down the road, I am only feeling the losses and disappointments, the future is not clear. I'm fortunate in that I have a lot of support, I'm surrounded by love and care, something I didn't always have so that's a wonderful thing. I need to just rest in that bubble for awhile until I get my self back, my strength back, my life back.
  2. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    (((Hugs))) You're not alone and I understand.
  3. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    You always inspire and humble me.
  4. PlainJane

    PlainJane Every dog has his day....

    (((hugs))) I wish there was something I could say to you to heal the pain and grief. I know how much it hurts to not really connect with a loved one. My mother, is not officially diagnosed, but I'd say from what I know (I'm an RN) she's borderline probably, also with bipolar, more depression than manic, but still manic. You said it so perfectly, a normal capacity to mother never had that. I don't talk to her anymore, because the drama. Its more than just drama, as I know you know. Its the kind of life drama that drains your spirit and leavs you broken and worn. I just couldn't do it anymore.
    There's more to it, but I will leave it at that, and tell you that the pain that comes from that grief. that emptiness left from a parent that has never been a parent, is one that people can not undertand unless they've lived it. Most people feel so connected to the family in their lives, so they can't fully realize how something like this effects your life. I've found when I try to talk to people about it, they treat it like an mother and daughter that just can't get along...

    I know it hurts, and there are days when the only thing I can do is feel sorry for myself. Sometimes that what we need.It is a grieving process, and everyone grieve in their own way. I wish I could offer you more comfort. Just know that are people that understand. And its ok to feel weak sometimes, and its ok to step away from something or someone to heal.
  5. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    OMG...gentle hugs.

    I understand.
  6. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    As you know, I fully understand. I don't know how you move on after decades of advocating while you try to live a "normal" life. The "balancing act" become second nature. As I've said before, however, you need to seek a path that allows you, your gd and your SO to live normally with calmness and joy if at all possible. You deserve it. Your GD surely deserves it. Your SO deserves it. I am keeping you in my thoughts and prayers. DDD
  7. Calamity Jane

    Calamity Jane Well-Known Member

    Would you be interested in researching an adult home, primarily suited for mentally ill people rather than the elderly for your daughter? As I've written before, my brother is mentally ill, and lives in an adult home. It's about as good as it gets for people like him. Their shelter, food, and even doctor visits and medications are covered. He has SS/Medicaid. We give my brother a stipend to spend on cigarettes, extras, etc., and I give him instant coffee, snacks, gum, etc. I know he's in a safe place, and it's funny, but he's with other people like himself and he actually has better interpersonal relationships than he would have anywhere else. I pick him up to visit us every week, and I even do his laundry while he's visiting. He cannot work, but there are other residents there who do have p/t jobs. The place also offers therapy (including vocational therapy) right on premises. In our case, my brother's disability payment is about $250 less than his rent for this place, so we make up the difference. It is well worth it for peace of mind. He has a private room, which works out fine for him, but other residents choose to share a room, and it costs less.

    The reason I suggest this, is that you and SO can move away with a clear head once granddaughter is settled, and you will know difficult child is safe. It's certainly not a perfect solution, but it has worked for us for the past 8 years. I still feel bad that he can't live with us, but the chaos would be too much.
    Don't know if your difficult child would even want to consider such a thing, but at this point, it may be worth looking into.
  8. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Many gentle hugs as you work through these thoughts and feelings. I am confident this process will provide you strength to defend your right for peace and joy all the days of your life. Hugs!
  9. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

  10. 1905

    1905 Well-Known Member