I haven’t posted here in a while but it doesn’t mean that my brain has shut down, it won’t shut the hell up. Friday night I was awake all night only to finally fall asleep at shortly before 8am and last night I was up until shortly after 3am so I certainly have a lot of time to think. I’m trying my best to avoid what my mind wants to focus on so instead I compromise; I will think about topics that are related to the place where my mind wants to lead me rather than the actual thoughts that are doing me absolutely no good in getting out of this damn hole I’m in.
I know that the few readers of this blog either have someone close to them or they themselves, are dealing with some form of “mental illness” so I figure what better place to get feedback from others. Whether you suffer from depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, PTSD, OCD, or anything else I may not have mentioned, I would like to know your thoughts on this topic. Do you think that your mental illness is caused by genetics or by your environment and why?
When you do a Google search for “Is mental illness caused by genetics or caused by your environment” you receive 865,000 results. I grew tired of reading the articles that went on and on to basically come to the same conclusion; no one really knows. Honestly, I don’t particularly care what researchers have to say, I want to know what people who live with mental disorders every day feel about the subject.
For me personally, I feel that it’s likely a combination of all of the above. I had a “difficult childhood” and by the time I hit my teens I was already smoking, drinking, doing drugs and cutting on a regular basis. When I was hospitalized in my mid-teens and forced to attend counselling I HATED it. I convinced everyone that I was ‘okay’ and learned to hide everything better.
As a result of my need to feel loved and be out of the house, I went on to fall in “love” with an asshole, got pregnant twice and he was gone before our son was three months old. I proceeded to have relationship after relationship with people who treated me badly for the next 20 or so years. My life has not been an easy one and in hindsight, of course, much of the crap I have been dealt has always been a result one or more poor decisions made because of my desperate need to feel cared about, wanted, or needed. I had no self-esteem and as a result, never lived up to my potential (this in itself causes me much distress on a fairly regular basis) and also what contributed to my staying with people who didn’t treat me well.
Fast forward to almost 3 years ago; I had lost my job, my business, my home, ruined my credit and finally said enough is enough and packed up and moved away from the city to a town where I only knew a couple of people. I went complete no-contact with all but 2 of my family members (My Aunt and my half-sister) and I was finally truly happy for the first time. I had made it thru crisis number 5million four hundred and thirty-three unscathed. I became unemployed and was wiping my ass with dollar store toilet paper and eating ramen noodles but was still happier than I had ever been before in my life and was coping with anything life propelled my way.
Once I started with WSIB (Workers Comp) and was having issues with my employer as a result of my injuries all hell broke loose. I had lost my independence, my right to privacy was trampled all over (and continues to be), I was forced to attend appointments against my wishes, pain medications were refused, recommendations from doctors were ignored, my now ex-employer insists on appealing every decision to continue to harass me despite having fired me back in June, I didn’t have a family doctor and didn’t have any medications or counselling … I just snapped and here I am.
Now I don’t know if my current situation is solely because of the crap I’ve been dealing with (chronic pain, loss of independence, loss of my license, loss of my job, no idea what the future holds, concerned about losing housing, financial worries etc.) or if it’s a much bigger issue and this was just finally my breaking point. Sadly, I’m afraid this is also all of the above, but that’s a story for another day. This post would take you hours to read if I wrote everything that I wanted to add to my list of environmental influences.
As for the genetic side of things. I won’t go past first cousins and Aunts/Uncles but sadly there are more.
My Grandfather was an abusive, alcoholic who liked to phone everyone up to tell them he was going to kill himself. He eventually died because of his alcohol abuse.
My Grandmother was an enabler who had a thing for drunks and abusive men. My cousin whom I will mention later was her pride and joy and could do no wrong.
My Mom was hospitalized in her teens for depression as well as attempting to overdose prior to getting pregnant with me (another story for another day). She displays all the traits of being a narcissist but again, no diagnoses here. She’s far too smart to get caught and have to go for any sort of testing. Seriously – she’s remarkably intelligent.
My Uncle had died of a drug overdose when I was about 3 or 4 years old. He too had mental issues but he was Grandma’s baby so no one ever talks about it.
Her sister, my Aunt, had Munchausen syndrome by proxy at least that’s how she behaved. I don’t believe she was ever diagnosed but goodness was my cousin ever at the hospital often and once she was too old to pretend she needed medical attention, all of a sudden my Aunt had all of these ailments herself.
My cousin, the above Aunt’s daughter was bulimic and depressed.
My other Aunt was also an alcoholic who struggled greatly with depression for as long as I knew her. She had several unsuccessful suicide attempts and would always phone someone so she could be rescued in time. She was also extremely intelligent, I wish I had known as much about her then as I do now.
Her son, my cousin was a real sweetheart (the police in the city knew our last name all too well thanks to all of the crazy shit our family has pulled on one another and others). After several incidents with threats, assaults, being in juvenile hall, (I have newspaper articles somewhere) he was finally locked up in Kingston Penitentiary after setting his Mother and Step-Fathers house on fire and was determined to be in the 99th percentile .. meaning only 1% of the population was more likely than him to commit violent crimes. I honestly don’t know what he was all diagnosed as having as I hadn’t spoken to him since we were young but it was more than just the depression. He ended up hanging himself three years ago.
His Mother (the alcoholic) passed away in May (oddly enough, shortly after I had lost my shit on the phone with WSIB telling them I couldn’t do it anymore, I got a random Facebook message from my other Aunt that I hadn’t spoken to in over 10 years telling me it was important that I contact her. Apparently, they had found her sisters body in her apartment and the police had contacted her.) Months later, after originally saying the cause of death appeared to be an aneurysm, the coroner received the results of the autopsy and they now say she had very high levels of her antidepressants combined with alcohol in her system when she died. Despite being on disability and receiving counselling and antidepressants, it wasn’t enough to help her escape from herself.
Then there is my sister who I’m not going to talk about at great lengths. She is the biggest damn dishonest, shit-stirring bastard you’ll ever meet. She has caused a great many issues in my life over the years and I haven’t seen or spoken to her in or my nephew over seven years.
Last but not least is my half-sister. Out of respect for her privacy, I won’t post too much here in the event that others find this site but I can say that she definitely struggles badly every day with mental illness 😦 She is completely no contact with all family members aside from myself.
So yeah, in my case it’s likely a combination of genetics AND environment. Perhaps the majority of it is all environmental which then influenced my predisposition to any number of mental disorders.
What about you? Does your family have a history of mental illness or are you the only one?