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Will I Ever Be Okay?

I don’t know if I will ever be “okay”. Well, as far as society’s definition of what “okay” means, I guess.

Does okay mean never feeling down, lost, hopeless?

Does okay mean living a life of perfect equilibrium, knowing that there will always be ups and downs?

The downs, the sadness that I am talking about isn’t from sad events that occur as part of life. Such as:

  • The death  of a loved one.
  • The wars, earthquakes, floods, poverty, sickness and everything that seems to be happening in the world right now.
  • The retrenchments, the lack of income, the markets crashing, no, not those either.

The not being okay I am talking about happens even in the most blissful of moments.

Even in the perfect bubble of joy, keeping warm around a cosy fireplace, in a luxe holiday apartment, your best person in the whole world next to you, drinking fine wine and enjoying a gorgeous dinner and… still.

Still, those demons come back to haunt me.

I am at times shocked and surprised that it can still hit me that way. Haven’t I found the key to balance already? And don’t I know when to call up those tools I learned from therapy when the sadness hits me?

Yes I suppose I can.

But what scares me is that I will never be totally rid of that demon. I will never be completely “okay”.

If even in the most peaceful moments, it can rear its nasty head, what of the tough times then? What of the time when I am old and frail? What of the time when I may not have all my faculties?

Will it pop up with as much intensity? Or will its powers slowly wane? Will its ability to sink me into an abyss slowly dissipate?

I don’t know. I know I am in my head more often that I should be. These are silly thoughts. No, no, my therapist would say there are no silly thoughts, analyse why you have them instead.

Ok, so it’s the childhood trauma, then.

The more I understand just how much of an impact my brother’s schizophrenia had on the whole family and the lack of parental emotional support in my childhood, the more I am befuddled by how the adults in my life thought I was okay, just because I appeared to be untouched by the crap in the house and was doing fine in school and in life.

{Read more about why understanding Childhood Emotional Neglect is so important here.}

I was just 11 then when it all started. And I grew up in the shadow of mental illness. How can that not be addressed? You have a little girl seeing her brother behave in the strangest and at times, scariest manners, a mother in distress, confused and depressed, a father seemingly absent and abusive – how is that not a traumatic childhood for that little girl?

I don’t know. Maybe it was the ‘80s / ‘90s and the appalling lack of support for mental health matters. Maybe if that were now, my parents would have zipped me off to therapy and insisted the professionals provide me with the support I need being the sibling of a mentally ill person.

Or maybe not.

Not every parent themselves are able to accept their child having a mental illness, and then having the presence of mind to consider the other child’s mental well-being.

And not every parent has a good relationship with the other in the first place to be able to tackle this together.

The Perfect Storm of Mental Illness.

Well, anyway, I feel like my situation creates the perfect storm of mental illness in the family.

  1. The only sibling. Perhaps if I had another, we could have been there for each other when our parents were consumed with our other sick sibling.
  2. Seemingly absent and uncaring father. I don’t know, I was too young to realise his absence and he was never mean to me, hence the word, seemingly. Although, judging by how he has shown no care at all for my brother, even as my mother grows older and sicker, it is true that he is absent and uncaring.
  3. An overwhelmed and distressed mother with her own set of chronic illnesses and a personality that exacerbates the situation, IMO.
  4. Acrimonious relationship between my parents from as far back as I can remember. Leading to eventual separation and divorce.

I don’t think the trauma ever gets “resolved”. It will always be part of us. The lucky few find that equilibrium and can turn it on whenever they need.

They are the ones balancing a tightrope, one foot in front of the other, with great mindfulness and a smile on their face.

Then there’s us. Occasionally bounding along the rope, occasionally frozen with fear, occasionally hanging on to the rope and screaming, occasionally wanting to get off that rope.

Is that “okay”? Doesn’t seem like it to me, but that’s the hand I’ve been dealt. So I guess I just got to be as “okay” with it as I can.

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