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i'm a 45 yr old woman who first experience an entry into the world of mental health some 39 years ago. when i was about 6 my mother was institutionalized with an initial diagnosis of schizophrenia. this was later changed to bipolar. (funny, many of us who are now diagnosed bipolar were initially diagnosed schizophrenic...i was.) from that era on, my life has been infused (and i have effused!) with mental health issues...both mine and others. i only saw the bad and ugly for so many years. there really wasn't much good for so long. i saw the dawn of lithium and remember when that came into my mother's life and therefore...ours. she regularly saw a traditional fruedian style psychoanalyst. i remember him well...his family as well, since they lived in our community. everyone did the best they could with what resources they had available then. i have to be merciful with those recollections. they were such painful, scary and turmultuous times. my father (who died alone sept. 5, '07) i'm sure tried his best. he was saddled with taking care of two young girls and having little to refer to when it came to being a parent let alone, a parent of two little girls. but, he drank a lot and was a very unhappy person inside. he was gay but married and had children because, "that's what you did" back then. he was often angry and disciplined us severly. hurtful, abusive phrases poured from both of my parents' mouths as they struggled to navigate their own lives. our community wanted nothing to do with us and wouldn't allow me to play with their children. i did have a history of "unusual" behavior...but my god, given the circumstances my behavior really wasn't that "unusual", it just reflected what i was experiencing at home. my mother eventually was awarded custody. she was hardly fit enough to care for herself, let alone us. at least my father was able to hire live in help and those people, for the most part, were oasis' in our lives. leaving my father's home and care of the people my father would hire to live with us, was so horrible. my mother insisted upon staying in our neighborhood and with divorce, mental illness and homosexuality enveloping our family in the late '60's early '70's...well anyone else would have moved. but my mother never considered the consequences this would have on her children...she just wanted to maintain a certain air she'd strived for all her life. we should have moved to the other neighborhoods where divorced and "not so perfect" families lived. i mean the facade of everyone in our neighborhood was normal and rock solid. my mother staying there threw all of their greatest fears in their face and they reacted accordingly. home was hell, school was hell, church was hell...the stories and comments still hang in my mind like a school of fish, each swimming to the front when something in life baits it.

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