A Day in the Life – How a mother of four coped with schizophrenia

I was out of town last week and didn’t have a chance to write a post in my A Day in the Life Series. This post will be a reflection on how my mom dealt with raising four lively kids while coping with her paranoid schizophrenia. We weren’t always the easiest kids, having many of our own sensitivities and idiosyncracies.  She endured two separate sets of teenagers roughly ten years apart, and I must admit we were not very nice about her symptoms. At times we laughed at her, cursed at her, taunted her, and like any other teenagers, arrogantly thought we knew it all and tried to argue and reason with her, which often made things worse.

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Here is a short rundown of how my mom tried to cope with her symptoms and how we typically responded in our ill-equipped state of adolescence:

  • When she meditated and did naked yoga in her room at night, chanting ooms loudly, we yelled at her to shut (the F#%^%) up.
  • When she drank a spoonful of cod liver oil each day to give her brain more power, we gagged with disgust and told her obviously it wasn’t working.
  • When she spun around in circles in our family room until she wore a path into our rug, we were horrified and told her spinning wasn’t a thing.
  • When she watched religious programs all day long, we argued with her about why her religion was wrong and she shouldn’t be sending all that money to those phonies.
  • When she sat on the pool table with her feet swinging back and forth, talking to us non-stop, we completely tuned her out and kept on talking to each other.
  • When she slept outside in our backyard in a tent for an entire summer, we laughed and joked that maybe a wild animal would take her away.
  • When she excitedly told us about her mental telepathy, we smirked, wishing she could read our minds right now.
  • When she chased the ice cream truck down the street yelling “Turn it Down” we said “thanks a lot, now we are never going to get any ice cream!”
  • When she carried a role of quarters in her purse in case she ever was committed again and needed to make a call, we stole the coins to buy candy.
  • When she sat in a chair by the window and rocked for hours after being heavily medicated, we stood outside under the street lights with our friends and made fun of her.
  • When she scrunched up her nose and said she smelled condoms when we were at a restaurant, we rolled our eyes and told her to knock it off and act normal for a change.
  • When she burned our books on the grill, we said maybe she could actually cook us some real food for a change instead of barbecuing our books.
  • When she listened to the radio between channels, believing the static would keep people from transmitting message into her brain, we told her she was right, everyone was out to get her.
  • When people who lived in other parts of the neighborhood starting asking who that strange lady with the two little kids was, we denied she was our mother and kept on walking.

Having raised two daughters, I now get how difficult this parenting thing can be. It amazes me that my mom held up as well as she did, all things considered. Yes, we were emotionally bruised and still carry some of the scars with us today, but we also learned how to be strong, and perhaps a little more compassionate and empathetic than we were in our adolescent days.

To see the previous post click here.

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18 thoughts on “A Day in the Life – How a mother of four coped with schizophrenia

    • We definitely had our moments. Thanks for taking the time to read my story. It is helping me to gain some perspective and nice to have the support.

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  1. I admire you for sharing this all with us. I am sure it was not easy for everyone. I understand how weird it must have been for you kids an how you tried to help yourself in that situation. I also admire your mom how she made it through this time of not being understood.

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  2. Wow…Amy, so many thoughts here. I read a lot of guilt and shame in your treatment of your mother. You were bruised and hurting and fighting back in the only way you knew at the time. There was little or no recognition of the illness or the consequences on the family, especially impressionable children.

    I did the same. We all coped in our own way, even if it meant hurting the one who was most in need of help. My mother went untreated until things blew up for her at age 50. Father was in denial and talked her out of seeing any doctor, even though she had a long history of clinical depression. We 6 children paid the price of that decision. And she came down with cancer, dying withing 2 years of her psych diagnosis.

    If I could have her back…for only an hour or so, there would be a lot of revelation, ample apologies, and hugs all around. It was not her fault. Thanks for the thought provoking series. I hope it will help you heal. 💕 Van

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  3. Amy, I know where you’re coming from, perhaps more than you think. When you come from a family that has had to deal with schizophrenia, the things you describe are not uncommon at all. I hope this helps.

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  4. My mother is a paranoid schizophrenic as well. Unfortunately, she abused my siblings and I terribly as we were growing up. According to my dad, I always got the worst of her abuse. Her delusions lead her to believe that I was possessed, evil, demonic, a drug addict, and that I ruined her life. From the time I was very young she thought I was plotting against her or planning to cause her harm somehow. It was a hard way to grow up.

    I think you were just being a teenager dealing with a tough situation the way teenagers do – by being snarky. It’s how you coped at the time and while it might be less than idea, please don’t beat yourself up over what your much younger self has done. We grow in our understanding as we get older so we’ll always look back and wish we had done better.

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    • Rebekah, Our stories sound very similar. My mom held the delusion that I was the devil etc, and she was abusive towards me as well. I have a hard time reconciling all of these feelings because I know she was ill. I don’t beat myself up about it now. I am allowing myself to show all of the different sides to the story, from different perspectives, trying to find my voice. I would love to hear more about how you dealt with it. Thank you for your kind words and visiting my blog. Amy

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