Friday, January 27, 2006

It rots that I can't take a shot at my mother without suffering guilt

It's my blog -- I should be able to call my mom a mental without having guilt about it. I've earned the right to take a poke at her.

When I read Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs, I wasn't stunned by what happened in his life, I was fascinated by his ability to lay it out the way he did. I'm still jealous of how he talked about the insanity of the people in his life without a load of sympathetic qualifiers for the people who let him down. I want that -- I want to talk about the freak show without having to prove to everyone that I understand what a tragedy mental illness can be. I want to load up on the gallows humor and not lay down one single apology to anyone I might offend.

When I say something that robs my mother of her dignity (even if I'm just bearing witness), the shoes fly to the other feet and I am barraged with 72 hour holds, lithium allergies, halidol overdoses, unjust judicial systems and fucked up mental health facilities. I wade through what is true and what I have been programmed to think (I was an adult before I realized everyone in Walworth county isn't stupid and the sheriff's department wasn't out to get my mom -- except for when they were because she was scaring the sane people at random).

And I have the comparative side of the coin with my father, who also suffers from a bi-polar disorder. When my parents snap, it's not -- up all night painting the house -- mania. They formulate plans for space travel, worship Jesus in scary hand holding ceremonies, they wear helmets to keep out offending rays or to save their skulls from the police and a whole host of other protections (apparently, helmets are handy), they take showers with clothes on (and the helmet), and throw things at you on a whim -- all kinds of behaviors which indicate looking into medication might not be such a bad idea.

I understand that for those of whom popping a little prozac doesn't help matters much -- that there is a labyrinth to go through to get the proper medication and dose which will be of benefit. I've watched one parent go through drooling on himself while navigating the maze, but he stayed the course and he found lasting sanity and satisfaction. It was not easy for him and maybe for some it is not possible, but far too many of you give up at the first sign of discomfort. What if it was worth it to lose your sense of self for a while? Wouldn't it be nice if medication provided you with a version of yourself who didn't have to deal with aliens in order to get the sacrament?

It's more likely that you are fed up and don't know how to advocate for yourself and so there you are -- a tragic mess of mental illness and bad manners. Don't let it get you down, you have options. And for God's sake, if you are reading this, then you have internet access -- use it to check into some of the latest treatments. Go to the sites that will treat you like a human being first and talk about your chemical and behavioral issues second. Work at being a part of your own posative mental health, don't just lay there and cry "not ill" when you want to avoid the topic and "I'm ill" when you've gotten yourself into some hot water.

There are plenty of system failures and parenting failures to point at with my mother, but there was also real help and real parenting which came and went while she remained arrogant and defiant -- clinging to every confirmation of ill treatment. And while I have real issue with much of the mental health system, I also have sympathy for them too. How many people are you going to find who are willing to show up to work and beat their head against a brick wall all day? While it's true that many people don't know how to talk to the human inside the crazy shell -- sane people can only take so much crazy, and tentatively sane people really shouldn't be dealing with crazy people at all. Even crazy people can only take so much of crazy people being around them -- at least they seem to have sense enough to tell each other to fuck off.

Many ill people seem to be under the impression that the world is their personal dumping ground and they want all the benefits of a socially appropriate world without having to be socially appropriate back -- the arrogance is maddening.

aside on that note: I knew this homeless guy who looked down on his fellow homeless mates because they did not find a way to wash themselves as he did because of his superior intelligence. He went on and on about what low life's most homeless people are. He was a master at changing the focus when conversation turned to his less than acceptable behavior in regard to his love of fire starting.

The minds ability to protect itself from a horrific reality is a wonder to me. I don't know if my mother is haunted, with an inability to express a sad and tragic inner world, or if she really is blissfully ignorant as to how she moves throughout the world. The woman can manipulate and go all misty eyed victim and she can turn all viperous when that doesn't work, so she's gotta have some inkling about what goes on in the minds of others. Is she really an ill fated victim or does she have more choice than she is willing to work for?

I grew up witness to things such as my mother dressed like a cross between Michael Jordan and Larry Bud Melman in shorts, beaded like she just got back from Mardi Gras, head shaved (parts of it anyway) and getting her shoes spray painted by the Rob Zombie loving -- "I'm cool with crazy people" -- street line painter. Sometimes I see her as though I were watching a documentary on mental illness -- she is quite an interesting and complex character through that lens.

Most of the time it's more regular and she is my mother and I want the ability to feel gyped and sorry for myself without guilt because I'm not counting my blessings. I want to indulge in a pure strain of anger over the abuse that has been perpetrated against me. But I can't. It's something I usually like about myself -- that I give a shit, that I can look at a bigger picture -- things like that. My pitty parties are tainted. Which, after all of this wishy washy thinking, is fine with me. "Poor babies" feel nice only for a moment and then I gotta get back to business. I don't usually hang with any one topic for long -- the only reason this post is so friggin long is because I can't find a proper place to stand on the topic of anger toward an ill person.

I don't want to contribute to a view toward mental illness which only serves to perpetuate the problems many ill people have to work against. At the same time, I am rethinking my tendancy to search for and deal with the good in people. You need to be accountable for your bullshit too -- every last good intentioned peice of it.

I am not angry that mental illness has robbed me of a decent mother -- I'm pissed that my mother has robbed me of a decent mother by not taking care of her mental illness.

Was that so friggin hard to say?

Yes, yes it was.


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