Thursday, January 31, 2008

Is she venting AGAIN?!

All my life, MY environment has, unfortunately, been much affected by emotional turmoil. We never seriously thought of our mother as mentally ill until we were in our 50s and she was evaluated by a psychiatrist in a nursing home. Dr. Shrink was transparently excited at finding a genuine looney in his caseload of boring, demented old ladies. He immediately put her on all kinds of ‘helpful’ psychotropic drugs, but we made him stop because he was making her sad and we simply could not see how making her unhappy was going to help her at the age of 86. What if, we asked him, he could convince her that her life and her relationships had all been sick and useless? Who did that help? It was far too late to help the children we used to be, now that, no thanks to him, we were all grown up and had all created stable lives, thank you. Dr. Shrink was not a happy camper and, in the end, we had to call in Hospice care just to get him off mom’s case, and we never regretted that decision. She eventually died peacefully, secure in the knowledge that she was the center of her universe. It still seems odd to me that the Outside World saw problems in her. To us she was our mom, the only one we knew.

So I am skeptical of these widespread diagnoses. The Namesake, who in many ways takes after our mother, can (and did) go into a new, strange city, walk up to people on the street and announce to them her name and her intention to live and work there. That is supposedly not entirely 'normal.' But she has had more friends, and job offers, and excitement in her young life than I have had in a life twice as long. And yes, yes, she and my mother have had deep low points and have suffered, and it has hurt me to see it. But oh, the highs they experience, and the courage they show in the process!

I could use a few highs in my life, if I weren't such a chicken!

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