As I walked out to my car after my first appointment with my new psychiatrist, I wondered why I had never been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder before. After twenty years of struggles, I was finally leaving armed with boxes of medications to stabilize the mood swings that had gotten me into so much trouble in the past, but why hadn’t I gotten help years ago when the trouble began? I didn’t get help before because I never knew I had a grandmother, aunts, cousins, and a father with Bipolar Disorder. No one in my family ever told me how deeply Bipolar Disorder was rooted in my genes. I believe parents should share more about their pasts with their children because it’s unfair to let a child grow up feeling isolated and confused about who they are like I did. I believe sometimes parents don’t how badly it affects their children when they withhold very personal information like family health history.
Now, twenty years after I was born, I can sit with my mother and talk about who she is and who I am. We open up to each other over tea and discuss the way she felt when my grandmother revealed that she had breast cancer or the way I felt when I walked in to see my grandfather after open heart surgery. Children need to know where they came from to know who they are and where they are going. I think sometimes parents forget to mention the hard stuff in life because they don’t want to deal with it themselves or maybe it just never came up in conversation. After a parent tells a child something deep and meaningful about themselves or their family, the bond between parent and child grows stronger. Parents want the best for their kids and they try to prepare them for the lives they will lead on their own one day, and by talking openly about the past, children will be more prepared for their futures.
Now, at twenty I am beginning to explore more about my family’s history. I feel like I can also start to explore who I am. I am happy to say that the bond I have with my parents is stronger now than it was before, and now that our communication has improved I feel like I am better prepared to start exploring different routes for my own life. I hope that other children will not have to feel the isolation and confusion that I felt as a child. I hope that parents will take not only their own feelings into consideration, but also their children’s feelings when they discuss the tough stuff. It will help everyone in the family in the long run.
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