Thursday, July 26, 2007

Who is To Blame - The Illness or Person?

The blame game is something I know a little about. As I’ve talked about before, I got a lot of guilt, blame, shame, etc. placed on my little shoulders. Then, if my mother ever did anything or someone questioned her behavior, it was PMS or stress from dealing with us kids or society or any number of things.

Now, when I bring up that my mother was ‘evil’ as I say, I get told mothers can’t be evil. If I say she was bi-polar kind-hearted souls try and rationalize that mother’s can’t be bad and tell me it’s the illness talking, not them.

I’ve actually had long deep conversations with people about the subject of illness in a person. In the legal system there is ‘by reason of insanity’- can I attribute that to my mother as well? Abuse by reason of insanity? What are the qualifications? How can I separate one from the other?

Okay, so the assumption is she was bi-polar. She vacillated wildly in her emotions – there was never solid ground around her. One minute she’s the momma bear protecting her children and the next the cannibal bear chewing us up and tearing us to pieces. I know some of her history, even if that changed daily too, her life wasn’t easy. But then again, neither was mine.

The thing is- a person isn’t an illness, they’re a person. Also, in her case, she had medication. She took medication. Then she stopped. When I asked her about it she said it didn’t make her ‘feel like herself.’ And, yeah, the highs and lows become addictive. But she recognized at times that she was hurting her children, hurting herself, and everyone around her. I saw the recognition. She confessed that she understood. And she still chose the ‘disease’ over her children. In fact, she seemed to love the sympathy she got and the ‘excuse’ it gave her. When Sally Field appeared on ER as the bi-polar mother of the nurse Abby, my mother was absolutely thrilled. It totally, in her mind, validated her decision to not take medication and she missed the whole point of the story arc (how much it hurt Abby the way her mother acted.)

I can never give my mother an ‘out’ for the crap that she pulled and the pain that she caused. She was cognizant of her actions despite the illness. And I see this all too often, “oh, she’s depressed,” “oh, she has this, she has that, she had such a tough life,” and I do think it’s a cop-out for behavior. I also think it allows the illness to take control if we give it the power and responsibility for our actions.

The above image was found in


Amel's Realm said...

I don't know much about bi-polar. I've just read some bits about it. But I also think that to some degree, we should control ourselves and we shouldn't let our "illness" control us (at least those illnesses that don't rob us of our ability to think). Hmmm...

Don't you just hate it if someone misses the point??? I do!

dawn said...

My god girl I have just read as many back post as I could and I just want to hug you. You have overcome so much. You are a strong woman and a survivor and I am proud to have met you. As for this posts question I blame the person who goes off her meds knowing she will cause misery for others

Jason W said...

Your post struck a nerve in me. I'm bipolar, but I take lots of medication to control it, which most of the time doesnt do anything.

But I am always aware of what my illness does to my children and I do my best to not let it effect them. It doesn't always work, but at least I try.

I see what not thinking about your kids above yourself does, and it makes me more resolute.

BTW....I love your blog....keep it up

Victorya said...

Amel - I only know what I've experienced. I have met others who said they were who seemed fine or at least more in control. I've read up on it, and lived with fear of having it. Maybe I should talk more about that as well.

DAwn - oh my, do I need to put up a warning not to read too much at one time?

Jason - I do hope you stay aware and focused, as draining as I'm sure it is, it's equally draining for a child to have to live a life of constant 'reaction' to a fluctuating parent. I like yours as well :) I wish you the best in your life.