OK, I know that’s not the most politically correct blog title in the world but when your 9 years old, that’s the only way you can put it. I grew up with a Mum who suffered from Bipolar Disorder. Needless to say life was quite dysfunctional.
Living with a parent who had significant mood swings and was unpredictable in her behaviour was frightening. Mum didn’t manage or accept her disorder and would often stop taking her medication. That’s when all hell broke lose.
Not knowing what was coming from one day to the next meant my world at home was pretty insecure. I was a child that was constantly preparing for danger, not knowing if I was going to be in the firing line. These aren’t attributes you ask for growing up. I would have rather had more in the confidence and self esteem stakes to be honest.
Mum’s illness was aggressive, not physically but emotionally with wild outbursts and irrational accusations fuelled by her own paranoia. There was never any point in trying to reason with her, and believe me I tried.
Because of Mum’s issues love and affection were a little on the thin side. Did you know early 20th century psychologists believed that showing children love and affection was merely a sentimental gesture, with no real purpose! OMG! Thankfully things have changed.
I think just maybe I was left with some scars from my Mum’s issues. I’m 38 years old now, and with some unpacking, I’m relatively well adjusted (when I’m not pregnant that is!).
It was a psychologist called Harlow in the 1960’s who dramatically changed how the world viewed the mother-child bond. It involved some rather controversial experiments on baby monkey’s, that certainly wouldn’t take place today. However, they did prove that the love and comfort a Mother gives to a child is significant to a child’s emotional well being. The monkey’s that were starved of comfort and affection showed signs of rocking and distress. Who knew, hey?
I’m grateful to Harlow and his monkeys, as these have really helped me understand my history and make changes for my future. They have helped me be the Mummy I want to be. A relatively normal Mummy who bought out the hugs and kisses shop. If it is possible to spoil them with love and affection, then I do! Does it heal my wounds, absolutely!
If you have been affected by mental health in your family, I’d be interested in hearing you comments. It’s a conversation worth having.