Right now, I’m going to do something that may be hard for you to read, and that’s okay because hard things, make us stronger, challenge us, and expand our mind.
I’m going to give you a glimpse into the mind of me, a daughter of a mentally ill mother. I suggest you say a prayer before you read this or go make yourself a cup of hot peppermint tea. No, really. Please do. These thoughts may be hard to handle, overwhelming, or simply A LOT to read. Trust me. I get it. After all, they are the thoughts swirling around inside my mind, but I am going to share them with you because I thinks it’s important for you to know how much pressure, worry, and guilt kids of mentally ill parents carry around.
Are you ready? Here we go.
A Glimpse Inside The Mind Of A Daughter Of A Mother With Mental Illness:
“Sarah, remember you have to be very wealthy, so you have enough money to provide for you mother. Don’t’ stop working! Overwork, stay up late, write more, do more, work more!”
“I wonder if mom got out of bed today? Did she eat something besides Oreos and that tub of Neapolitan ice cream from Sam’s Club? I hope she’s not feeding her cat that nasty, watered-down Folders dark roast coffee again. The cat needs water! The poor cat. I wonder how it's still alive.”
“Mom hasn’t called me today. She calls 3 times a day. Oh no! What if she attempted suicide? What if she's in the hospital? What if she's dead! She's always saying how life is meaningless and she's ready to 'kick the bucket.' Oh Lord, please let her be okay!"
“Today I feel worthless. I invited mom to a storytelling show I’m going to be in to help raise money for an inner-city arts program for kids, and mom’s response was – ‘That’s so stupid. You don’t know what you’re doing with your life. Do you even know how to tell a story? Who told you to do that dumb show? Come home and stuff being weird.’ I hate that I got my hopes up and thought she would be proud of me."
“Are my eyes really that big? Mom said my eyes were so big and blue that it looked like a bug had been electrocuted on my face. I never thought my eyes were abnormally big until she carried on about them. Good grief! Do all my facial features have to be such a problem for her?”
“I wonder if mom is talking to the walls today or worse, the demons! Please tell me the demons have exited her life. Please, please, please.”
“Today, I miss mom a lot. I miss the mom that used to garden, ride her bike and swim laps with me in the pool. I haven’t seen that mom in over a decade. Now mom can’t walk more than 10 steps without losing her breath. Today, I am so sad about who my mom used to be and what our relationship could have been."
“Today is my 30th birthday! This is a big deal, a millstone! My dad sent me $200 dollars to treat myself. My best friend sent me two bottles of custom designed merlot (our favorite), and my mother sent me an XXXL dress from Wal-Mart she bought for herself, but since it was too tight for her, she gave it to me for my “big birthday.” This feels like a cruel joke. The dress wasn't even for me. It was an after thought. I was the after thought."
“I wonder if I am so uncomfortable in my body because my mother hated her body?”
Well, congratulations! You did it. You survived the chain of thoughts from a kid of a parent with mental illness.
So what's the good news here? It's that these sort of thoughts do not dominate my life anymore. How? Because I have invested a lot of time into learning how to heal the mind. I have studied, researched, and learned all the mental health practices out there. I am a graduate of NAMI’s Family-to-Family program. I have been in support groups and had years of therapy. I get lost in nature, exercise often, eat very clean, get out of my comfort zone as much as I can, and practice yoga. All of these practices have done wonders for my life! However, what has turned my world upside down or right side up is getting to know the Lord. The mental health practices that have changed my life for the better include – prayer, reading the Bible, joining a Bible study, getting involved in a church, serving in church, and seeking out strong Christian friends.
My life looks very different than it did a few years ago. As of today, I have completed two books, thanks to a writer’s group I joined that starts and ends with PRAYER. My husband and I have a marriage that has grown into a rock-solid foundation thanks to a weekly marriage Bible group we committed to leading where we PRAYED for our marriages. I now have an amazing spiritual mentor whom I PRAY with weekly. I am currently living in the most desired place in my life, in the heart of the mountains overlooking the valley of Los Angeles. Guess how I found our home? I put a PRAYER request out on a PRAYER wall.
My husband and I have moved from our ghetto neighborhood in Van Nuys, living across a filthy KFC, to an unfathomable cheap guest house in the Santa Monica mountains. We fall asleep to crickets and wake up to birds. What? How? In LA? You see what I’m getting at here? Have you caught on to the common denominator here? Yup, it’s prayer.
Prayer works. Prayer is powerful. Spending your time with people who pray is even more powerful. I fully support all the mental health practices out there but what I support most of all is a life fueled by prayer. For most of my life, I was afraid to talk about my love for the Lord. I was afraid if I spoke about it to my friends who didn’t pray that they would ditch me and walk out of my life. I was afraid if I spoke about God and still went to happy hours with friends that I was being a hypocrite if I mentioned the Lord while sipping on a cheap vodka tonic. I was afraid I would be made fun and shunned from people if I spoke up about my faith, but here’s the thing, faith saved my life, my mind, and my mental health.
Today I am fully committed to helping others heal their deepest pain, but before I tell you to go meditate on a rock, I’m going to tell you to pray.