Friday, June 14, 2013

Getting To Know Me

Pema's 'Heart Advice' this week was on compassion 
and this really got me thinking about it, as it did a few of you as well.

As I mentioned in a response to Martha (from Plowing Through Life) click,
I unwittingly learned to be compassionate at an very early age.

I must have been about seven or eight at the time 
when I became aware (as much as a child could) that my mother
was 'sick' a lot and in bed for very long periods.

I didn't understand this. And it appeared that nobody else did either.
So I felt it to be my duty to see if there was something I could do
to make my mother feel better.

There were times that she would actually attempt to get up.
And sometimes she would stay up and begin to feel better.

But these were few and far between as I didn't at the time
realize that she had a serious disorder that required
consistent medication and monitoring.
And she would do neither.

My mother had bi-polar disorder.
How she managed to live as long as she did
(to age 87) is a mystery to me.

Well, maybe it isn't. She had a very supportive husband 
and very good, well-behaved children.

I didn't always agree with how my Dad chose to 'deal'
with my mother's illness, especially as I got older,
but I can see that he did what he knew to do.

It was not always easy to live with my mother.
But when she was 'well' there wasn't a more patient
and caring person around.

I am not eliciting pity here. 
I have gained far too much from this experience to wallow 
in self-pity and blame.

This was part of my journey, one that has molded me
 into the human being that I am today.
One that I have learned to appreciate.


  1. You have a wise way of looking at things. That was indeed a long time to live with this disease at a time when it was largely mis-understood. My great Grandmother frequently went away "for a rest", and I wonder now what was wrong with her, but back than no one talked about it.

  2. There was a huge stigma attached to mental illness back then (sadly, still is), and for the most part, it was kept a secret. This must have had a terrible impact on your mother. It couldn't have been easy for her living this way, and it certainly wasn't easy for you and the rest of the family. It's wonderful that you tried to make her feel better. Seems to me that you were a very sensitive soul from young. Thanks for the mention and link to my blog!

  3. You have a good perspective on life, Jim.

  4. Good Morning, Jim,
    I think we all have someone that we know and love, with a mental problem. It doesn't have to be life altering, but sometimes it is. What "We" think is normal, someone else may think is "quirky". Is there a true "Normal", and what idiot thought up the rules for it? Were "they" indeed, normal? I would say that on a scale from one to one hundred, numbers fifteen to eighty five would be classed as normal to some of us, but not all.
    It's all a matter of perspective.
    Have a great day!

  5. A beautiful and heartwarming post, Jim! I admit to struggling with depression for many years now. I really find that blogging is very therapeutic for me and when I see that others are enjoying my posts and find them inspirational, something like that, it gives me joy and I am very grateful to have the opportunity to blog and to get to know some wonderful people; I count yourself among those wonderful people. A heartfelt thanks.

  6. Childhood days have a huge impression on shaping our lives, and yours , it shows in your loving words, never judging, and has made you the super-duper guy you are today. Your Mum may not have been able to tell you at the time, but deep down would have been so thankful for you being there for her.Different is totally OK. Greetings, and thanks for this wonderful post, Jean.

  7. To use life to engender compassion is sometimes easier said than done - especially in childhood. Those formative years have a way of staying with us for better or worse. I have a friend who has a bipolar disorder - life isn't easy for her or her family (it isn't even easy being a friend). These posts do help me get to know you better, Jim. Have a great weekend.

  8. Dr. X has bipolar disorder. When my old feelings of anger and frustration surface, it helps to remind myself that he was sick, and it's very common for people with the disorder to stop taking their medication (as he did) because they miss the mania. They can't see the havoc it wreaks on their lives and their family's lives. Dr. X thought he had supernatural powers. Why would he want to give up that feeling and belief? Your mom grew up during a time when it was unacceptable to have a mental illness and seek treatment for it. I'm so glad you had compassion for her, and the compassion remains in you. She may have held on because of you and her other children.


  9. Your mother had a good and caring family, which may have something to do with her living so long. And even though she was ill, she still had her part in creating that family. Sometimes when you comment on my blog, your compassion shines through. Particularly when I step out and write a post about how I really feel about stuff.

  10. as usual I'm playing catch up again tonight.
    I've always thought that if my mother had sought treatment for her disorder that our lives would have been much different, more importantly though her life would have been much different, perhaps worth living, I'll never know. But it had a great impact on me and led me to a profession that was compassionate and caring. My siblings took a different road, rebelling and pushing her away which is exactly how they deal with my illness and subsequent treatment/surgery. It is really amazing to me to see how family members cope or chose not to. I'm so glad your mom had children who were willing to reach out to her, I'm glad she enjoy parts of her life and lived for a long time. take care.

  11. Bi-polar disorder wasn't understood very well back when we were kids, Jim. Perhaps the medication available then would have been worse for her. Your family did the best they could with what they knew how. Thank you for sharing another memory with us. And, btw, we would have so much fun going to estate sales together! You're very knowledgeable and every time I see vintage drinking glasses I think of you. If you ever come to Oklahoma...well, don't come in May, LOL. It's not safe! Haha!

    1. That would be a blast, Liz! I think I could keep up with you!! lol Those vintage glasses are getting scarce around here. Yes, if we ever get to your state, we will go estate saleing (sp)!!


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