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What does everyone think I was doing as a child and growing up? I was my mothers strength and support. I was the parent. Her illness stole my childhood. Where were the professionals for me?

Hi I am a 43 year old Australian female who was bought up alone by a schizophrenic mother. To say the least, life was no picnic. I was 8 years old when I first noticed changes in my mothers behaviour. It was 3 years after that when she was first hospitalised and I was devastated. Devastated by an abrupt announcement by her Dr telling me that my life for the past 3 years was all part of my mothers delusion. That was it, that was all any professional ever said to me. Oh and that my mother has an illness called "Paranoid Schizophrenia". Of cause I knew that there was something not "Quite Right", with my mother, but this announcement confirmed to me that my mother was "Mad". I carried the shame of being an illegitimate child. In those days, the 60's and early 70's, it was not the accepted social "Norm", to be born out of wedlock. That in itself was hard enough to live with and so I had something else to feel ashamed about. There are many stories that I could tell of my mothers illness, but I won't. Instead I want to express the emotions. My emotions. For many years I felt ashamed, guilty, responsible, unworthy, isolated, depressed, anger, hatred and resentment. I stayed with my mother for as long as I could, until I could no longer bare it. I was 19 when I left home. Things didn't improve, although over the years up until 5 years ago, I kept in contact with my mother and tried to keep things as normal for her and for my 4 sons, as possible. 5 years ago my mother disowned me and her grand children.

The reason why I am telling my story today, is because I have just received a phone call from a Dr, telling me that my mother has been hospitalised and asking me all about her medical and life history. She is 73. And I guess people feel sorry for her because she tells them that she has no family. The only reason why the hospital knew I existed was because my mothers neighbour gave them my details. Her Dr asked me if I would visit her in hospital. I asked him if she had asked to see me and he said that she hadn't, that she claims not to have any children or living relatives. I declined his request to visit. And he was noticeably upset by my decline. He said that my mother was stable and not in psychosis and recommended the visit from me for the good of her health. I began to feel all the emotions that I grew up with and had worked so hard over the last few years to overcome. So I informed him of how many times over the years had I ran to my mother each time she was stabilized, only for her to stop taking her medication after awhile and going down hill. I explained that for so many years I was the only person to stand by my mother and pick up the pieces each time.

The anguish and devastation that I felt and went through when she rejected me, caused me to have an emotional break down, which resulted in divorce and the breakdown of my own family unit. Which I am still picking up the pieces. My breakdown was so severe that I was suicidal. I was 38 when my world finally crashed down on me. Not far enough in the past as far as I am concerned. So today I feel anger. How dare a so called professional ring me and try to lay the guilt trip on me. My mothers mental illness almost destroyed me. And when I was going through my personal emotional hell, not one professional came to the aid of my children when I rang every professional organization I could think of to help me look after my children when I so desperately needed looking after myself. Her illness and the way it effected me destroyed my marriage and almost my children. Because I couldn't cope when my two eldest sons needed me the most being only 12 and 14. I haven't had a mother (in the real sense)nor a father. Being a parent for me has been a challenge without any guidelines or role models. I do the best I can and I learn from my mistakes. I know this is how most people describe parenthood, but I really believe that parents who have been bought up by mentally ill parents, have an incredible hard task because of the lack of guidance, stability, etc.I refuse to set myself up for another fall. I lived with false hope and expectations for too many years that my mother would be well and normal this time. Well I have learnt, this time is not in this life time! My priority is my family, Myself and my health. The professionals are there and always have been there for my mother. She could not be a mother to me and I could not be a daughter to her because of her "illness" Nothing is going to stop me from being a mother to my children.

I love my mother. I hate her illness. after her suffering the illness for this many years, she has disappeared. It is as if she has been taken over by someone or something else. I do not know this person. I can not relate at all to her. She looks at me in a manner which I describe as "The Death Stare". She is vacant and cold emotionally and it is a really eerie feeling. How can a professional who understands the disease and it's effects, possibly ask me to visit? How do I switch off my emotions and visit this stranger in my mothers body and not be effected emotionally? When do I get treated like a victim, or a survivor, rather than a support person? When do I receive support? I received no support when I was a child or growing up and now that I am an adult I am expected to keep a stiff upper lip and be my mothers strength. What does everyone think I was doing as a child and growing up? I was my mothers strength and support. I was the parent. Her illness stole my childhood. Where were the professionals for me? Thank you for giving me the opportunity to finally express myself to people who have had similar experiences.