the duck in the room

Have you ever met someone who has an awesome family tree? Who can trace their family back for multiple generations? I have.

I worked with a guy in Philadelphia back around 2001. He had a family tree that was traceable all the way back to Ethiopia. I was so envious of that guy.

I barely know anything about my family history.

He would never tell us about his life before he met her. It was all a great big mystery. The only thing I knew about him was that he had two brothers and a sister, strictly present tense.

I only know a wee bit more about her family. Her mother’s father was hospitalized in a psychiatric institution for a nervous breakdown when her mother was a small child. What the ailment was remains a mystery because he was hospitalized at a time when mental health issues were extremely stigmatized.

Her father suffered a fairly massive head injury when he was a young man. He worked at the local steel mill. A steel rivet fell from a high place, plunging through his skull into his brain. Doctors didn’t know if he would survive the head trauma. But he did survive.

After the accident, the steel mill gave him a new job in the office. I don’t know what he was like before the accident. I’ve only ever heard stories about him after the accident. And, according to her, he was definitely a different person, mean tempered, alcoholic, abusive.

Then there is her generation. Three out of four of her sisters have been diagnosed with some degree of bipolar disorder. She has pretty intense anxiety. Her other sister has struggled with depression for many years. And I see symptoms of something in her only brother who is the youngest member of her family. As far as I know, she and her brother are the only two members of her family that have never really sought serious help.

Now we come to my generation. I am the oldest of three children. I also have a brother and a sister. My brother seems to be the only one in my generation that does not have some kind of serious mental health issue. My sister has been treated for anxiety, depression and been hospitalized twice.

After being treated on and off for depression for years, in 2004, a psychiatrist told me I was bipolar. I don’t remember exactly the medication combo that he prescribed other than there was a mood stabilizer and an antidepressant. But I was also getting drunk every day at that time, so any good effect of medication was counteracted by alcohol.

Then I moved to Florida. I basically gave up on modern medicine, psychiatry, threw in the towel, decided to embrace who I was just as I was.

And that’s how I did things for the last 10 years. Until a month ago.

I find it interesting that based on my history, my symptoms, this psychiatrist is treating me for bipolar disorder without actually labeling me with that diagnosis. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, acts like a duck?

All these words to say, why is it still such a taboo to talk about mental health?

I’m so very thankful to the Lord for modern medicine. We live in a broken world. Where disease runs rampant. Our bodies are intricate machines. And when one little chemical or mineral or vitamin is out of whack, the whole inside of the human body can go completely haywire.

So I praise God because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. And I thank him for sending me to someone who can prescribe some form of medicine that has helped me. 🙂

His… Michelle
Philippians 1:20

Linking up with Barbie @TheWeekendBrew and Charlotte @SpiritualSundays.