Love and Mental Illness

We jump into bed from the floor, cold on our bare feet, giggling and laughing.  Grandma spoons another spoonful of honey into my mouth.  Mom would never give me another spoon of honey.  And then another spoonful of honey.  We say we are full, yet here comes one more spoon full of honey.

“It is brain food,” says Grandma, with yet another spoonful, followed by another, and another.

“Grandma, I don’t feel good,”  is said by my sister first, but after another spoonful I balk also.

“It’s honey!  It’s good for your!”  Still the spoon full of honey come.

I can’t stand the sickening sweet smell of honey any longer.  I don’t want more honey. “Grandma, my stomach hurts.  I don’t feel good.”

“It’s only honey,” and another spoon full of honey gets put into my mouth, and my stomach empties, all over Grandma, all over the bed, all over the floor.  My sister vomets along with me.  Grandma had a big mess to clean up, and I couldn’t eat honey for years afterwards.

“No thank you,” were never words we could say to Grandma.  Grandma was schizophrenic and we were encouraged to do everything to keep the peace, and keep Grandma calm.

It’s hard loving a person who is seriously mentally ill.  As her first grandchild, she adored me.  I loved her in return, but was not blind to the unfair way she treated my siblings.  I was the barrier between Grandma and my siblings.  I was the barrier between my Grandma and my Mom, running for help when Grandma tried to choke Mom  I watched Grandma so she could not put ground glass into Mom’s drink or food.

I was happy to get things, afraid of what would happen to the other people I loved,  worried about my Grandma’s illness.

How do I feel?  Even today, years after she has been gone, my emotions are elusive . This thing in my life that has been hidden for so long,  rarely mentioned even among ourselves, has had a lasting impact on my life.  One result is an eating disorder demonstrated by a lack of understanding when I am actually full and should quit eating, resulting in over-eating.  Another result is a hypervigilance of those around me, trying to anticipate needs, to skirt problems, and step in to protect.

I never ask what you need, or what you want.   I am not asked to come forward.  I am not asked to intervene.  As a result my help is not always appreciated.

Best I can say is, I feel sad.


27 thoughts on “Love and Mental Illness

Add yours

  1. Wow, what do you say to something like that?

    “I feel you are a beautiful person. We just met recently and I have been enjoying your blog 🙂 Thank you for being you… “!

    If I may ask, this is your story?
    and if so… Did at least one good thing come from the experience? Like, a lesson? A learning maybe? Even if you just discovered it, last night, does anything come to mind?

    I can kind of relate to your eating disorder, except, I did not eat. Crazy, huh?
    I had forgotten that about myself.

    Wow, this reply just came around full circle and quickly.
    thank you

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s funny how things can come up. Empathy. That is a good thing, but can have its own suffering with it. Compassion. Some therapists have made out pretty well. My family really sticks together. It would take several posts on the topic to answer this and this is the first post I’ve ever written on it.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. I cried so hard when grandma died. She was a big part of my life. I like to imagine her healthy and whole how, free of her illness. Wish I’d put that in the post. Thank you for your comment.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. You are not the only one. In fact the honey thing became a family joke, because Grandma had to clean up the entire mess. We never used the word mean, although it absolutely fit. She was crazy!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We never use the word mean among ourselves now and she has been dead 20 years or so. I say mean to other people because my family still can’t talk about it.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I grew up with a mother with shop hernia and a brother with schizo-affective disorder. It scared me when they went through episodes while I was growing up. So when I was diagnosed with bipolar 1 disorder I was terrified knowing how they acted. It is hard to live with the mentally ill especially when it is yourself. Good you can open up, healing comes with that.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My grandmother died of uterine cancer when she was 62 and I was 19. To this day I regret that she was taken so young. Many family members have random mental illnesses from mild OCD (hoarding) to all out BiPolar and we just have to do our best to love them and hope they are on their meds. Nice to read a little more of you heart, April 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Med’s were a real problem. She’d miss a dose, and the paranoia would take off. Because I know mental illness is so common, I gathered my courage together to write this. Thank you for commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for sharing! Mental illness runs in my family, so I can relate to your share! It’s hard for every one whose life is touched by someone with mental illness.


  5. As an aspiring psychologist, I feel for you, as well as your grandmother. She was not mean; she was misunderstood. You are right; it is indeed very hard to love someone who you may not understand completely. The fact that you still have fond memories of her shows how big your heart truly is. I, too, hope that she is resting in peace.

    Liked by 1 person

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