Accepting Mental Illness

I spent my late childhood in an abusive home. My stepmother was very unstable, and she would take her bad patches out on my brother and I. This would involve a bit of physical abuse, and a lot of emotional and mental abuse – screaming at us, making us feel useless, hopeless, and unwanted, and so on. She never admitted that she has mental health problems, and the only mention I ever heard of anything vaguely resembling mental health treatment-related was when I was 16, noticing that she took Aropax (paroxetine). She was definitely very unwell, and hid it from the rest of the world.

The one thing I’ve taken away from that experience is that if you’re mentally ill, not getting appropriate treatment not only hurts you, but also those around you. The things I take away from that part of my childhood are a whole lot of “I will never”s. I will never let myself get so unwell that I withhold love from my children. I will never belittle them or verbally rip them apart. I will never ever let myself get to a point where threatening them with a knife seems ok. And I will never stay in a relationship with someone who has untreated mental health issues, either. It’s too risky, for me and my daughters.

Mental illness is treatable. The treatments are imperfect, and the results are wildly variable, but it’s better than sinking into a place where you hurt yourself and the people around you.


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