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Not the Brady Bunch

by Libby East  
12/19/2006 / Family

When I was little my family would watch reruns of the brady bunch and I would think "gee I wish I could have a family like that". It was so nice to think that a family's biggest problems could be whether Marsha gets class president or Jan gets to be a pom pom girl or if Cindy will find her favorite doll. And the best part about all of these problems was that they could all bee solved in a thirty minute episode. Even though they were a blended family they seemed perfect in my eyes.

You see my family was far from perfect. My mom is Bipolar -- Manic Depressive. I have sisters who are twins and they are five years older than me. They say that they remember her being normal and that she didn't have problems before I was born. Imagine what that does to a child. Whenever I heard "Mom was okay up until you were born." I thought "It's my fault she's crazy." (Even though my mom is not really crazy she herself calls it that sometimes.) I have spent my whole life feeling guilty over things that don't really matter when the real guilt I feel is because I have always thought that my mom's mental illness is my fault.

I have read books written by other adult children of bipolar parents and their stories are nothing like mine. One book I read talked about a mom that thought she was the queen of Sheba. My mom isn't that messed up. She would be really happy for a while and very productive. The house would be clean, we would go on outings, she would cook dinner and everything was fine. Then she would go into a tail spin over one little thing and for days she would be yelling and screaming and throwing stuff. Then after that she would spend several days in bed. I could always tell what mood she was in when I came home from school. If there were things thrown all over the house she was in a bad mood. If she was sitting in the living room she was in a good mood. If she was in the bed she was depressed. She struggled for my whole life to get on the right meds and just a few short years ago, finally, the doctors got it right.

I can't tell you how many times she tried to commit suicide. She always used the same method, pills. I don't think she ever really intended to die. She just wanted to know that someone cared about her and that was the only way she knew she could get the attention. One time she was in one of those moods and I knew what was coming. She was sitting at the kitchen table and sorting her pills.I wanted to stop her and thought that if I acted like I cared she would stop. "What are you doing?" I asked her. "Taking dope you want some?" she replied and I was devestated. She always talked about how no one cared about her and here I was trying to show her that I cared and she was basically saying that it didn't matter if I cared. Of course it wasn't really dope that she was taking, it was just her regular prescribed medicine but she knew how much she could take and end up in the hospital and not dead.

My mom is much better now. We have a great relationship and always have. Even though I struggled with her mood swings she has always believed in me. I do still have some issues to work through daily concerning her illness. I am so scared of making peole angry or unhappy. My mom didn't know how to handle these emotions and always went over board with them. I tiptoe around everyone I know in order to not make them unhappy. This is obviously irrational but I am learning to trust God to help me overcome this fear. I had a counselor tell me one time to ask God to reveal to me when this fear comes and immediatly confess it and then replace it with a scripture that tells me God's truth. That truth is that no one else matters except God. I should ony care about Him being unhappy. and You knw what? If that is all that matters to me and I strive to make Him happy then the only people that are important are going to be happy too.And if not then who cares. Any sin of the mind can be dealt with the same way. For example my guilt can be handled that way. I once wrote down all the fears and other mind sins in a journal. Then I looked up a scripture for each one and tried to memorize them. This was the best thing I have ever done. I also spent hours confessing each one to God and aksing His forgiveness and help in dealing with it. I can not tell you how much this has helped me.

No matter what your childhood was like, it is important to look for ways to get past it. We can't all have a Brady Bunch family, but we will never truly be happy until we allow God to heal our hearts and minds.

My name is Libby East and I am a new writer. I want to share what I have learned through my exeriences with other Christians who might be going through the same things. Check out my websight

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