This post was inspired by a post I read on another blo page and feel that it is important for me to share my story since so many people struggle with depression daily. I have to be honest several years ago I wouldnt have had the courage to share this story but since I’ve grown in so many ways over the past years, it has become such an important part of who I am. You see when I was three years old, my little sister Andrea was brought into the world. Shortly after Andrea’s birth, our mom had a nervous breakdown which means that ever since she has been diagnosed as manic/bipolar. Throughout our childhood, our mom was in the hospital at least once and sometimes even more times a year. In many ways, I became like a mom to my younger sister because my dad was busy on the family farm and mom was in the hospital. My sophomore year of high school our mom got sick again and once again ended up in the hospital. I remember it very vividly. Andrea and I came home from school and Dad sat us down and told us about mom. That was the straw that broke the camels back. Dad with tears in his eyes, looked at us and said, “It’s not that I don’t love your mom anymore. It’s just that I cant handle this illness anymore.” Needless to say, mom and dad got divorced. Mom went to Nebraska to be with her parents but ended up coming back to ND to be closer to her girls. Because of the illness, Dad got custody but Mom got us every wednesday, every other weekend and an entire month in the summer. Eventually Ann and I went off to college. Mom seemed to be doing well. Until my senior year of college around Valentine’s Day, I got a call late at night. It was the hospital telling me that my mom was in ICU. Her lithium level had gotten too high which caused her kidneys to shut down. I went to see her and it was so sad. She hardly knew it was me. She was in ICU for about two weeks and for awhile we didnt know if she would make it but she did come out of it. After that situation, mom aged in many ways. Now she is living in an assisted living facility that has been so great for her and it helps that now I am only about 60 miles from her. My mom’s illness truly helped me grow into the women of faith that I am. When I first worked at camp, it was the first time I told someone about my mom. I was always afraid of what people would think because of the stigma associated with the illness. Also when I went to seminary, it was the first time I was so far away from mom in case something happened. At seminary, I once again realized that I needed to tell people. Seminary also is the place that helped me to make the decision I needed to make that was best for all of us. Thank you to my friends who listened to me and gave me good advice. I don’t know how I would have survived this illness without all of you! During my time at seminary, my sister and I prayed and made the decision to become legal guardians for our mom. It’s quite the thing to tell people that Ann and I are Mom’s guardians. Who would have ever thought that we would be taking care of her at such a young age? This journey has helped me share with so many who have experienced depression etc and I hope that my journey can help people see that there is joy in the midst of the sorrow!
Thanks for sharing. I know sometimes sharing these things can feel like walking around public buck naked. Blessings to you.
This must be so tough. Please know you and your family are in my prayers.
Ever and always you and Ann are in my prayers.
(It’s a good thing the Spirit comes like the rush of a mighty wind… all the sooner to reach ND!)
Thank you for sharing this. My mom also suffered from mental illness. It is always in the background–the elephant in the room.