I was incredibly over protected as a child and very severely disciplined Print
Written by Netgal   

I was incredibly over protected as a child and very severely disciplined for any act that my mother perceived to be making her look bad.

somehow my dad came across this website and suggested I have a look at it. I have been reading the posts in the forum and even just the subject headings sound like they came straight out of my own life.

So i thought i would add my story to the forum. My name is Annette, I'm 22 and i live in Melbourne. My mum has been ill since the mid 80's before i was born, but she was not officially diagnosed with schizophrenia until i was a toddler. my parents are still married and until recently I have been really close to my dad who is not mentally ill. I have a brother who is 15 and he's severely vision impaired.

I was a very quiet, painfully shy child, who grew up too fast. i didn't relate well to other children when i was in primary school at all and i only ever really had 1 close friend at school. When i was little many of my mum's delusions and hallucinations centred on the main theme that if she let her guard down for an instant 'they' would harm me in some way. She also believed that 'they' were plotting to make her look like a bad mum so that i would be removed from her care, thus allowing 'them to be able to get to me.

The result of this was that I was incredibly over protected as a child and very severely disciplined for any act that my mother perceived to be making her look bad. An example of this is 1 day when we had an appointment with the maternal child care nurse. I was 3. it was cold, so mum was going very overboard to ensure she dressed em in exact textbook cold weather gear so as to look good for the maternal nurse. Unfortunately my feet had grown since the last time I wore my gumboots and they didn't fit. a fairly normal thing for a child's foot to do, but in my mother's eyes, i had deliberately grown them just so i would cause her stress and make her look bad for the appointment and cause her to miss the bus and be late for it. I was slapped hard and then she shoved my feet in the gumboots that didn't fit. I couldn't walk in them as they were too small, but that didn't stop mum dragging me down our street (mostly on my bottom as i couldn't stand or walk at her pace) at a frantic pace to the bus top.

On another occasion i recall from early primary school i was slapped across the ears repeatedly with my hairbrush if ever i dared to allow my hair to be knotty when mum was getting me ready for school.

In grade 4 I was referred to the school psychologist because i was so quiet and friendless at school. she was very nice and did offer some suggestions about how to go about improving my social life, but i never brought up my mother in any of the sessions. I never told her that part of the reason why i had such difficulty making friends was because of the popular nasty girl having seen my mum talking and singing to herself in the street. I'd told her it was because of mum's schizophrenia even though i didn't really understand fully what it actually was back then, apart form a sickness mum had that caused her to sometimes behave oddly.

Unfortunately, this was 1997 and the port Arthur massacre was still a prominent media item - so when this girl when home and asked her mum what schizophrenia was, she got the misinformed version about how dangerous and contagious my mum supposedly was. this resulted in that girl coming back to school the next day and saying in front of everyone that my mum was a dangerous nutcase and that i was just as weird and insane as my mother and everyone should all stay away from me.

There were a couple of kids who didn't listen to this girl and did try and be friends with me. I attempted to use the psychologist's suggestion of walking home from school with them, but mum insisted on walking with me at least part of the way home, which no one else's parents did.

Mum was also very reluctant to network or socialize with the other parents. As mum didn't drive and dad worked full time hours in the city, this meant that there was no one to drive me to any activities outside of school. I was just about the only kid in my grade 3 class who was not on the local under 10's basketball team. I was also not allowed to take up karate lessons as mum believes all martial arts to be devil worship. this in turn compounded my inability to make friends or connect with children my age, as we had nothing in common.

Also during this time, my parents were going to couples counselling, which turned into family counselling when the counsellor thought i should be included too. While she was a very nice lady with some great suggestions, she had no real understanding of how mum's mental illness impacted on family relationships and this counselling only made the breakdown in my relationship with mum worse and so we eventually gave up on family counselling. However dad took out of it a connection to a partners support group.

In high school, my 1 friend from primary school decided she'd rather hang out with the large popular group than be associated with 1 looser that no one liked. Although I don't blame her for this at all and we've since reconnected through face book, at the time it was devastating.

A teacher noticed I was looking sad and once again i was referred to the school psychologist, who once again I did not discuss my mum's illness with her. However once reassured that the quiet loner was not planning to bring a gun to school and seeing me appear to become happier, my time with the school shrink ended. I didn't really get happier, i just found that my lack of a social life became less of an issue when my life circled around being my own mother at home and also quasi-parenting my younger brother. I used school work as an escape from my home life and i got fairly reasonable grades. Teachers remember me as a quiet girl who was a joy to have in the class as i obeyed the rules, shut up and let them get on with teaching and did my work. So it really didn't matter to me at all that no -one ever invited me to parties or anything, i didn't really like most of the people in my year level anyway. To me getting good grades at school was going to be my ticket to a normal life, away from my mum.

I finished year 12 in 2005, and went into an arts degree the following year. I also got my license within a week of my 18th birthday. My mum began to have an episode towards the end of year 12. She was rude beyond belief at my year 12 graduation dinner. The waiting staff accidently didn't bring her a piece of cutlery, and it took some time for this to be rectified as they had an entire room to of people to attend to. She became convinced that the staff were doing so as some kind of personal dig towards her. The other people on my table kept asking me throughout the night why she was behaving that way. I changed the subject each time.

At Uni i found once again that i really struggled to make any friends. I couldn't really participate in the O'week activities, nor was i really in the mood to, as mum had a full blown psychic break on my first day. I wasn't sent off to uni with well wishes and good lucks, but with accusations of being responsible for murdering and torturing my extended relatives and of masterminding a plot with my 'arab friends'. Going to uni is a daunting enough experience already without having to help ur dad organise getting psychiatric assistance for your mum and try and explain to your scared 11 yr old brother what's going on before you've even made it to campus.

i wasn't able to be part of any of the social clubs ext because i couldn't afford it as i didn't have time for a job outside of study and caring for mum and my brother and also my grandmother who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's while staying with us while my step-grandpa had cancer surgery. Also during my time at uni, my brother had a severe medical emergency with his eyes and his vision deteriorated substantially. This required many hospital trips, and administering a pharmacy load of eye drops and tablets to him several times a day. I was the only 1 available to drive him to hospital, and felt that i had to be there so that i was informed about what we needed to do to look after him as mum cannot remember information or instructions well at all, no matter how many times you repeat them or what format you attempt to give her the information in.

Me and dad worked together as a team to support my brother through 2007-2008, which was as well as being very difficult medically, was also a very hard couple of years for him socially and academically. he had to stop playing baseball - which he'd loved- due to his vision and also his transition form primary to secondary school had not gone well.

I managed to successfully complete my degree at the end of 2008. I ended up majoring in psychology. i was hoping to be able to go on with study, do honors and become a mental health psychologist, but my third year marks weren't high enough for entry into the honors' program. I went to Tafe in 2009 and completed a certificate IV in mental health work. Six months on, I'm unemployed, looking for a job as a worker in the mental health field, but being rejected all the time as i have no work history, no old sports team coaches ext as references. I've even tried going for all the dodgy fast food jobs, but they're looking for 14 yr olds to employ as crew, people my age they want as managers ext. but as I have no experience they still don't want me.

I am still living at home and i desperately want to move out because i know that is the only way that i will be able to make myself stop running around and trying to look after everyone. but i can't afford to do so on account of being unemployed.

I greatly resent my mother now for the way my upbringing and childhood made so different and such a freak in the eyes of my peers. But i also feel guilty for feeling this way as i know that she did not choose to be afflicted with schizophrenia. Then i feel confused because mum has been unwell since before i was born, so i have never met her as a well person and even with the knowledge about her illness that i have gained through my studies, i do not know what aspects of her personality, beliefs and behaviours are a result of the her illness, or side affects of the medications which she can't help and what is truly her and within her control.

I feel resentful to other members of my family as well. I am close to my brother and protective of him and I want him to be able to just be a kid. I don't want him to have to feel the responsibility i felt growing up. and I know it is important for him to get out there and learn to lead a full independent life as he will need that to cope with being blind in adulthood. But at the same time its hard not to feel jealous of how supported he is to be involved in things when i was never able to be.

I have found that my relationship with my dad has become strained over the last few years as he seemingly devotes all his family time to my brother and brags incessantly to people about what my brother is achieving in life, while seeming uninterested in my life. It also became strained as a result of dad attending a partners support group because (until i stumbled on this web page) there was no similar support group for me to attend and its made me feel alone and invisible, as I'm the one at home while dads at work who does the day-to-day caring at the expense of not being able to lead my own life.

1 day dad stuck up a bill of rights on the noticeboard in our kitchen and announced they were his rights as a carer. While i feel he should mostly certainly be entitled to those, it kind of highlighted how unacknowledged my contribution is - and all i could think at the time was where are my rights? He's recognised by the doctors ext as mum's husband and therefore the next of kin and as her carer, but I am not. Dad was able to establish a career, travel, move out of his parents place and meet someone and get married before mum became ill. These are all things i that my friends are doing now, while I am unable to due to mum's illness. I feel annoyed that dad has a choice in life as he can walk away from the marriage if he wants to, but I'm stuck with her.

I'm only 22, but i feel like a middle aged person who has somehow skipped the fun and independence of being a young person. I feel like I'm the parent and that mum's the daughter.

Thank you for this website and for starting this support group. This is the first time i have been able to really relate to other people who've had similar life experiences to mine. Although i do have a small handful of close friends, and i do disclose my mum's illness when its relevant to career issues - such as doing volunteer work within the sector, people relate to it in a "wow poor u, that must be rough" way rather than in a way of truly understanding. It's been so good to see that I'm not alone after all today. May be now it may just be that little bit easier to cope with life as i struggle to build some sense of normality for myself.