Thursday, May 17, 2007

They just won't accept it

This weekend I went home to see my brother graduate this past weekend. I forgot my medication and decided to tell my parents that it was my mood stabiliser. They, of course, asked why I was on a mood stabiliser. I told them I was bipolar, because I knew that they could accept this, because they won't admit that I have PTSD partially from the physical and emotional abuse my mother inflicted on me as a child, and heaven forbid I tell them about my Borderline Personality Disorder. The conversation went as follows:

Me: "I'm bipolar"
My mom: "What? Why are you bipolar?"
I start to explain
My dad: "It's a chemical imbalance."

That stopped the conversation dead, because it being something I can't control, wheras I can apparently pull myself out of my PTSD-induced depression, which I have told them that that is the reason I miss classes, failed a class, and dropped out of school winter quarter, and why I can't leave my house for days at a time. This they repress because it doesn't fit into their ideal of having 'the perfect family.' I know this, but I wish that they would accept the fact the I HAVE A DISABILITY and it's not all about the bipolar. Heaven forbid I try and bring it up and be honest and open about it. They just gloss over it, and five seconds later it's as if it never happened. I was surprised that they accepted it when I told them I was on Medicaid. I thought that would invite many more questions, but it didn't.

I'm ashamed to admit that I didn't tell them that I'm on SSI-Disability. Because I don't think I could take the look that they would give me, and the things they would say. Because I know they'd think that I was leeching off the state. (My parents are very big right-wing Republican Catholics who judge people on welfare, etc.) Because in their eyes, everything but the bipolar is all in my head, and I can snap out of it at any time. They won't talk about it, won't hear about my side of the story, won't even admit that I have PTSD. Last time I told them, before my mom shoved it out of her conciousness she asked me why I had it. Having brought up the abuse before and her responding with "But I never hit you" and I pointed out a few examples she just said "Oh, yeah" and promptly forgot about it. There was no bringing up that topic again. She wouldn't hear it; she wouldn't let me bring it up again. She shut me down everytime I tried to bring it up again, just as she shut me down whenever I tried to bring up the PTSD. I didn't feel like telling her about the abusive relationships, the sexual assaults, the scarring from all the abuses I have lived and continue to live through because of living in a society that views me as less then human.

It hurts. I'm sure anyone who has a mental health disability has gotten the denial or the outright refusal to believe that it's something that's not all in your head (har har har) from friends or family. Because they can't listen to us, can't hear that maybe something could be wrong with us that wasn't 'easily shaken off given enough will power.' They can't see it as something that is an actual disease like lupus or diabetes. No matter how much we speak out about this, people refuse to listen.

I personally know that my parents would shame me for being on disability, for mooching off the taxpayers for something that is not really a problem. As if I don't have enough internalised stigma to deal with on my own. Is it too much to ask that my parents support me? If anybody should, it would be them, right?


I thought if anybody would, it would be my dad. He saw, what I told him was, a PTSD related breakdown a few years ago when my mom tried to take us out for a 'nice family dinner' and I had not healed enough for it. She got verbally abusive because I ruined her perfect evening. Just remembering that night makes me cry. My dad and I talked about it for hours, as he was trying to calm me down, and make sure she and I kept away from each other. I explained to him how I had PTSD and how her behaviour towards me as a child reminded me of her behaviour that night, and how I just couldn't pretend to be this perfect family when I was still so hurt inside. I mean forfuckssake we talked for HOURS. But if I even hint at bringing it up, the topic gets changed. (A few months later when I said I couldn't come home because of what happened last time he asked me "Why? I thought you had a good time last time you were here.")

I fucking hate this, and pissed off as hell that they can't, nay, won't accept that I could have a mental health issue that is real, and not something I'm pretending to have or a crutch that I'm leaning on to pull a paltry amount of money (that doesn't cover my bills) from the state each month. I'm so aggravated.


Professor Zero said...

Yes. I find that people who have been abusive, can't get that they were - it's as though it were in the nature of the world as it seems to them, they cannot see outside it.

The 'chemical imbalance' issue is interesting, too. People will accept that, but not anything more complicated - especially if it has to do, I find, with straight-out, normal emotional reactions (and I'd say PTSD is a normal emotional reaction to trauma).

Rebecca said...

Lost clown, I sympathize completely. I come from a family that puts the "fun" in "dysfunctional," and I am no longer on speaking terms with my mother.

And you are right: They just won't accept it. Nothing you can do will change that. At the moment, however, you seem to be not accepting the fact that they just won't accept it. It's up to you to figure out how you can accept that fact.

If it means cutting them out of your life, so be it. There are worse things that could happen (like going back, over and over, to get more abuse heaped upon you). If you can work out a way to still see them while remaining sane, more power to you. Just do what you need to do for yourself, and accept no guilt for it.

lost clown said...

(and I'd say PTSD is a normal emotional reaction to trauma).

Singing to the choir on that one.

Rebecca: I've kind of come to terms that they won't accept it, it's just it's hard when I'm home. Luckily my mom acts a lot differently to me now then she did then. I don't know why, but I don't really care.

belledame222 said...

agh, that sounds really frustrating.

I can relate to the "just snap out of it" (unipolar depression in my case) thing--scenes with the mom as well. part of it is the whole supposed mind-body split thing--roughly, the idea is, if it's "in your head" it's 1) not real 2) under your conscious control. which is crap, but i think that's the rationale.

the other part is--well, speaking from my own experience at least:
of course the parentals would far rather believe it's "only chemical" and/or your own lack of willpower or whatever it is; if it's nurture instead of impartial nature (or your own fault), what does that say about the job they did?

Redhotcurrydish said...

Oh man, I so get this. Just being with my mom can trigger my PTSD. And heaven forbid there is a moment when I can bring it up. She's on this kick of trying to reconsile and I'm just to leary as she's twisted the past to fit her version and not make her look bad. Yet I'm the bad daughter.

Thanks but no Thanks.

Laura said...


Rebecca said...

I understand what you mean about reverting when in the presence of your family. That's why I don't do family holidays, ever!

Have you ever read the book "Toxic Parents"? If not, I would recommend checking that one out of your local library.

lost clown said...

Thanks for the recommendation.

Laura: *squeee*

lala said...

Oh my goodness, thank you so much for that comment. I've participated in a few abuse survivor communities and pretty much none of the survivors are feminists. I am so glad to see someone else expressing how it feels to not only be an abuse victim but be continuously abused by the patriarchy.

I think most people I know would just roll their eyes at that comment. Or call my complaints about gender disequality illusions and paranoia caused by my "issues." Like being an abuse survivor renders me incapable of identifying abuse when I see it.

lost clown said...

I know, if anything it makes you more sensitive to abuse.

Liz said...

((Lost Clown)) I'm sorry you've had to go through this xxx

R said...

Hi Lost Clown

I've been following your blog and I love it. I'm sure you've heard this but allow me to add to the praise-pile:
-empowering to those whose power has been systematically stripped
-an unbiased reporter from the field of life. You see it, you say it

These are the impressions I receive when I read your blog. Thanks for keepin' it going.

The power in people like you (and me, and my son, and those in my family who've carried the dx's genes throughout our generations, and more importantly, ACKNOWLEDGED they do) lies in our strength and ability to cut through the bullshit to effect real change (hello Abraham Lincoln), produce work of genius (how you doin' Van Gogh?) and run multinational comglomerates (Ted Turner, how've you been dollface? Tony Hawk, what's new dude? And how ARE you Virginia Woolf? Heaven must be fabulous.)

To (squash) minimize that power, as with anyone under oppression will know, examples of the worst human behavior, who happen to share some trait (in our case, a dx, in other cases, a skin color, a gender, a similar religion, etc) are pulled from the pool and splashed as a headline-to reinforce the oppression-machine.

I like your blog because it exposes it. The white republican males are nervous now-because the sand box (wealth, human rights, power to effect positive change in the world) now has to be shared, and sharing, as we all know, is not something that comes naturally to humans. It has to be taught, and when teaching doesn't work, to the corner in time out should they go, like you said.

Keep your voice up Lost Clown-the world is lost, we're the piece of the puzzle bringing some balance to it.

I don't defend my right to think differently and move forward no matter what is thrown in the way. I reinforce my right to do so. The stigma and stereotype of ADHD, bipolar disorder, borderline disorder began as a reaction to our groups thriving, we accept reality in nature, we confront it, we expose it, and this threatens many people, why is that? Well, historically, we conquered countries, we created masterpieces, we righted social injustices, we bucked the system to get these done, we dared to speak out about the sources of our discontent (sometimes it was our genes, sometimes it was misogyny we experienced as little girls, sometimes, it's our own families who are afraid of being different, so they squash our out-of-the-box abilities and create more issues to deal with). We didn't support the team (I defected from my high school cheeleading after a year of boredom. Got along great with them, no probs there, just realized how incredibly stupid and demeaning it was to women. Where's the girls football team with the guys dressed in tight outfits revving up my crowd? No way? You'll throw me one or two guys only, but no team? Ok, I drop out then) Channeled properly these are powerful abilities. To discover them on your own, despite oppression in your own family of origin, is testament to the strength we have inherited to survive and thrive. There's a reason we're still around, ask Darwin about that. We are the fittest in many circumstances.

Channeled improperly, or squashed, they lead to disenfranchised people. And we all know what happens to disenfranchised people, they fall-the strong ones only temporarily-the ones who fall hard, well, they expose who they really are deep down inside. A dark soul is dark no matter what color, gender, race, religion or diagnosis. If you hit rock bottom and your idea is to take out everyone around you in the process, you're just plain old evil, not a pill or Congressinal Hearing in the world going to fix that.

I say congressional hearing, because even someone without a dx does take-or threaten to take-others down with them if they fall. Ask the Bush family, they know a thing or two about taking people down to further their agendas, sometimes even whole countries. When you force democracy, with a healthy dollop of ethnocentrism which shortsights your planning abilities for a successful and humane transition, and pick on a little guy to warn the tougher guys, that just makes you a bully, and bullies get their asses kicked eventually, the real source of terrorism is SA (you know SA, Saudi Arabia) but the money-flow and world domination may take a hit or two. Mistake #1 of many. That's one example of how oppressing us has put the world in imbalance (which is probably why we're such reading/news junkies) Our antennaes are up and we're kicking into straighten shit out mode. Whereas Bushies are in "protect the money at all costs mode." Not gonna work, nor is it going to inspire much respect or solidarity with the world. When we take down the REAL bullies, respect will return, with respect,the money will come, the little guys will back off their bullshit, because the big guys, their source, got what they deserve. Scary stuff, but it takes a strong, clear, intuitive, think-out-of-the-box radical person to effect real change, risk takers who can handle the initial short term chaos that will result for the bigger picture-long run good for all, Bush is trying to spin this as Iraq, the man is a moron. Saudi Arabia was the source that spawned li'l ole Osama, they should have been the first door we knocked down. A woman, particularly one with strength and intuition and skin as thick as the hide that covers an elephants ass would have gone for the source, a man, particularly one who likes his moolah and power more than humanity, goes for the token sacrifice little guy. Change starts at the top. Thank God his term is almost over. Nepotism back-firing in a most spectacular way.

See? We're good at foreign policy too.

So stay strong. I support you 100%. We don't have to be perfect, we just have to be ourselves. That's more than good enough. It's positively powerful.


Azriela said...

I am so glad to see someone else expressing how it feels to not only be an abuse victim but be continuously abused by the patriarch

It's something I think most people like to ignore.

r: Thank you, we need as many voices as it takes to erase the stigma.

Unsane said...

Good work! --and I like R's ideas too!

R said...

There's more-check this link out

It's a short list (very short) the numbers should be well over a million, with many more today than in history, of people who were tremendous figures and have a diagnosis. As we've progressed into modern times, our abilities to see through the bullshit and become massive contributors to the world was spun from biased information provided by junk science and junkier male-dominated press- we went from being "tortured geniuses" to just plain tortured and the stigma was developed (which eliminated two problems, women daring to claim their rightful place in society as equals, and the powerful and charismatics of both genders, who's ascension was squashed by the mere mention of a diagnosis-where would Plato be today? Probably on the street corner trying to reach the masses from his broken cardboard box. Who reserves a hall for a man with a diagnosis today?) How much the world has lost by silencing, stigmatizing and patronizing us.

That's what the stigma has done. Eliminated us from the world stage at a tremendous cost to our world. It's important we look anyone in the eye who tries to make us feel as less than and dismisse us, and shoulder forward anyhow, even if they think we're "nuts" or "a hysterical bitch" or "sound like you missed your meds." Why? Because they're ignorant, and I don't let an ignorant asswipe shut me down. Lincoln came across alot of ignorant asswipes-the south was full of them-if he didn't back down, why should I?

Which is why I admire Lost Clown so much. A gal much like me when I was in college. I got through, she will too. BTW-I run a business for a non-diagnosed person, and I have to tell ya, without me, it would have gone under. And he admits it. We hit the $950,000 revenue last month. And yes, he thinks I'm Attila the Hun incarnate, but he thanks his lucky stars i wandered into his office years ago.

This is the legacy and learning I want to leave my son with. Damn straight I'm nuts, but I'm also brilliant, as are my brothers and sisters in diagnosis, all in our own ways.


Anonymous said...

Hi- This is the only post I've read (link), but from it it appears that you are traumatized from a narcissistic mother. However, true PTSD is something different than narcissistic traumatization that leads to acting out and self-lables from the lack of identity and base that a parent is supposed to create in foundation. I also suggest "Toxic Parents" as a starting point, but also releasing the labels a bit to allow a true self to emerge.

lost clown said...

Well childhood buse isn't the only reason I have PTSD. There are many other traumas that have occured in my lifetime. Every therapist I've seen has labelled me with PTSD and out of all the labels I've gotten I feel the most comfortable and at ease with.

Anonymous said...

A-effing-men. I just love how those who are not depressed, etc can be entirely ignorant or cynical about it. Just the other night, I had a near-fight with my sister about this. One of those commercials for Cymbalta came on where it says, "depression hurts, etc" and my sister started in with the "quit whining" bull.

I (with the depression, anxiety, AND PTSD) almost said something, but held my tongue. You get to the point where you just get tired of explaining over and over again to people who have already determined to close their ears in the first place.