A Family in Turmoil: March 2004 Archives

March 11, 2004

my sister susan

when I was about eleven I remember one of my mothers larger episodes.I don't recall everything about what happened but I do remember a few things. My older sister Susan was about fifteen at the time and was told by our parents that she needed to quite school. I think this came from mom mostly, dad I think was told that it was Susan's choice. She was to quite school so she could take care of Christine and David who were very little at the time. Some times mom would talk in tongues or a babbling that no one understood, and we would sit at the bar in the kitchen and listen to her. She would tell some interesting stories. I don't recall many of them. But none the less she had our attention. We had no clue as to what was going on, and no understanding of anything. Susan held a lot of anger for mom because she had to quite school. She later decided to get her GED and go to beauty school. She could tell more about what all happened here then I could. Mom was almost completely unresponsive before dad put her in the hospital. She couldn't walk, or talk. My sister was so angry at her, she didn't know what to do. We had a picture of jesus, we were fairly churchy at the time. Well any way, she shoved the picture in moms face and I don't know exactly what happened except that she deffinately got her attention. This is the only thing that mom says she remembers from this whole break down. Ever since she believed that susan was trying to kill her. She always felt threatened by her kids in one way or another.
This reminds me of a time when I was five. I was daddies little girl, I was still the youngest, christy wasn't born yet. When dad came home every evening I would just get so extatic. I would run to the door and jump in his arms. I craved this attention and waited for it every day. One day right as dad drove into the yard mom explained to me that I needed to stop greeting dad at the door. I was a big girl now and that kind of attention was strictly for a man and wife. I was crushed. I never hugged or kissed him again. For that matter I don't remember getting much affection from mom after that. Dad never knew what mom told me, he said that he thought I had gotten to the point where I didn't need affection from him anymore, and he never pushed the issue. We were all taught that any affection was strictly for man and wife. We even stopped telling people that we loved them. So this made trips to grandmas house kindof uncomfortable because they hugged and kissed. We always got hugs and kisses on the mouth when we showed up and when we left. Even though the whole mouth thing was weird at the time, I will always cherish those memories, because I know they were good ones.

I remember getting up in the morning and trying to sneek change out of the junk droor for lunch money and getting caught. Mom was permaneantly on the couch at this time. I swear I was so quiet, but she still heard me and told me to get out of the droor. Nothing seemed to get by her. Growing up we didn't eat school lunches. We weren't allowed to. We qualified for free lunches but mom and dad refused to let us. We had to take our own. This would have been fine except for what we had to bring. I remember feeling ashamed and embarrased becuase I always had something that was wierd and not really filling. Mom had this thing about eating healthy. Healthy doesn't bother me, I know its good. but there can be a line that if crossed it can do more damage than good. Food was always an issue at home. I remember trying to make a honey and peanut butter sandwich out of this bread stuff that mom had made. It was heavy flat and crumbly. I would carefully put it in a sandwich bag and that was my lunch. When I was eight it was hard to explain what my lunch was so I wouldn't eat it, or try to hide it while I ate. We weren't allowed to eat sugar, cafiene, additives, preservatives, white floor, milk, beef or pork, soda, juices and just about anything that seemed normal. There were times when I would steel food or lunch tickets at school. I just wanted to be like everyone else. Well one day I got caught steeling a lunch ticket. My teacher sent me to the principal and I just cried. I was so ashamed. I couldn't tell him why I had done it. But the end result was my parents ended up getting me free lunches. It came to a point that my mom was disgusted with buying groceries for her six children that she had dad install a lock on the refrigerator. She felt she was spening too much money on food. by this time I was thirteen. Most of our meals consisted of a piece of baked chicken, half a tomato and a green onion; this was our dinner. there would be some lite variation. but not much. Our diet was very strict. At breakfast time we would measure out one cup of granola that mom had made for us. Lunch was left-overs or two eggs, or whatever we scrounged up. Dinner varied some with maybe half an avacado, or raw asparagus (absalutely disgusting), or raw brussel sprouts, or raw spinach. We never went hungry I can say that, but we ate very basic foods.
I love my sisters very much. Susan was always there for us untill she moved away, which is another stor in itself. I just wish I could be there more for her now. She is doing fine, but still fighting her own battles.

Posted by Erin at 01:58 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 02, 2004

The Letter

I added my last piece of writing to explain some of the situations that mom had to deal with, or rather couldn't. A lot happened and talking about it gets me all fired up. so if I seem rather abrupt I am sorry. some times my mind works faster than my hand. I would like to paste part of a letter I wrote, it would explain many things about some of the episodes our mother had. this is just a highlight, and I can expand later.

My mother was diagnosed at the age of 49 with paranoid schizophrenia. This was about seven years ago. Since then all of us kids have been trying to put some of the pieces together. We believe she had her first episode when she was 17.

In doing research on schizophrenia I have found that she has had just about every symptom of the disorder at one time or another. We were brainwashed from the time we were young kids until adulthood. Our parents were involved in the mormon church. Many of their religous practices didn't actually come from the mormon religion, but rather a spin off of what she learned at church.

She says she remembers hearing voices all the way back to the age of four or five. We grew up with both parents, my father worked all the time and as far as I know he never had the privilege to see and hear some of the things that we saw. He chose to ignore a lot of things and not confront them if he did.

Religion was a big issue when we were younger. So, there was always an excuse for what was happening. When I was eight years old my mother told us kids that she was going to die, or two men would come and take her from this earth. Dad never tried to explain any of this to us, he just took us to the movies and she was to be gone when we got back, or dead.

A lot of this came from the fact that she believed she would never live past the age of 37. She had a fear of getting old. But, low and behold she was still there when we got back. Of course all of us kids were scared and our father told us to open all of the doors, windows, and cupboards. He was going to bless the house and tell all the evil spirits to leave. This was something that we were used to. It was a practice that our father did every time we moved into a new house. We sat in a circle as he prayed for guidance and requested that if there were any evil spirits in the house they were to leave now.

What made the event even more terrifying was that as he said those words the front door slammed shut. This was evidence to us, made us believe that what he was doing was working. He continued the prayer more fervently, when he finished we closed all the doors and windows and had a family counsel. As the next few days went by our mother got better. This is just one example of her episodes.

As I got older my mother's episodes seemed to last longer. We no longer went to church and my parents became Agnostic. She seemed to spend months or maybe even years building up to an episode. She seemed rather normal to most people. They thought she was kind of strange but ok. It was when no one else was around that she would talk about the end of the world and what would happen to our family. She had her own views on things.

She would tell us stories that were more like "fairy tales". She always had an answer for everything. She called the voices her "guides". At one time she believed them to be God talking to her. We would ask questions about the things she said, and every time she couldn't come up with an answer for us she would say that we were not ready to hear it.

One thing that I remember the most about how we all felt was the massive confusion we all had. These episodes that she had would start out very small or slow. They would escalade and progress over months dramatically, once she began to realize that something was not right. For instance she would tell us certain things would happen and when they didn't she would get confused, incoherent, speak in tongues, tell wild outlandish stories; she would stop eating or eat just raw meat. These are just some examples of what she would do. And sometimes she would get catatonic, but that was usually the last stage of an episode.

One time she had the two youngest children help her gather everything in the house that was blue, any and all candles, incense and incense burners, deodorizer sprays, except the vanilla ones, and put them in large trash bags and deposit them on the steps of the churches around town. She burned sage on the dining room table to cleanse the house. She tried to tell my sister that if she would take a certain herb (i can't remember what it was) it would work as birth control.

So she took it for two weeks and had to stop because she became very weak, bruised all over, and very anemic. She was later told it was a blood thinner only to be used for a short period of time. These kinds of things went on my whole life. Our mother is receiving no therapy of any kind now. She did for a couple of years and went off of everything. She has her own excuses for what is wrong with her, severe post traumatic stress disorder, agoraphobia, depression and anxiety.

But, she still can't explain the voices which she still hears. She does though accept them as part of her and who she is. Since her last episode the children split. We no longer talk to her or see her. For the sanity of ourselves we have to keep our distance. She knowingly allowed criminal deviants to care for us when we were younger. Many things that happened can't be forgotten. Our mother allowed us to get very close with her disorder. I have not found much information about that particular aspect of it.

Most stories I have read talk about how the person with schizophrenia fights against the people who are trying to help them. I believe that we may have fed her episodes. Even prolonged them without knowing how we really affected her illness. Now as time has passed her episodes, from what she has told me, last three days and she is catatonic, as long as she is left alone. She explains these as a type of self hypnosis. I believe otherwise and so do the rest of the kids.

Since we last saw her we have had to do a lot of personal growth and development. The issues that we kids have had to deal with on a personal level are different from kid to kid, but the source has always been the same. I know that my family past is a unique one. But so are many others.

About six months ago I got in touch with my parents for the first time since 1997. It might have been longer I don't know. I spoke to mom on the phone when her mother was dying. Mainly to let her know. And of course things escalated and i cried she cried. We spoke via emails for about a month. She continues to blame us kids for her problems. We were the cause of all of her grief.

She refuses to accept that her illness is what it is. Since then there has been no contact on either side. When I left seven years ago, I left because I had to. I stoped all communication with her this last time because I wanted to. what was the point. She was no longer a mother to me. We did not see eye to eye on anything. She wasn't actively seeking any help of any kind. And I had already dealt with the death of my parents. My parents died when they stopped protecting the little girl who needed it most. Actually all of us, except one.

I didn't mourn though untill I was 22, that is why I had so many of my own problems to deal with. I waited too long. A lot of kids did. I would really like one of my sisters to write in here. We'll see.

Posted by Erin at 02:13 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack