Mental Health Context: Mother & Daughter Exchange


Child Dives From Mother's Protection

Background to the story:

Daughter is 20 years old, at university. Mother is single, on an income, after tax, of £8,400, and works in the arena of mental health awareness and arts. Daughter is one of two, the other two years older. Each daughter entered adolescance with a vengeance at the age of 13.

The older daughter appears to have moved into adulthood over the last couple of years and only the arrogance and disrespect of youth create mother daughter tension nowadays.

The younger daughter remains very very angry and distressed in relation to her mother and vis a vis what she, quite understandably, sees as a disrupted, substantially deprived and distressing childhood.

The mother is keenly aware of these factors in her children’s young lives and has long mourned her powerlessness to prevent and compensate for their suffering. Her marriage was devastating in its destructiveness and ended in mental health diagnosis and imprisonment for over 12 months over 13 years.

Her ‘illness’ had involved no violence or law breaking on her part, though on two occasions it had included half hearted efforts to end her own life.

It had, though, included assault and gross sexual indecency and violence on the part of her husband and what appeared to be, though was not provably, 3 attempts to murder her, by the husband. No one was aware of any of these things because what understanding a couple of police had begun to unravel was erased by a local sergeant and transformed into the ‘case of the mad woman’.  This had completely disempowered the woman, since henceforth she had found herself ordered by mental health services dictat to deny the truth and to assert her own madness as responsible for everything. She was stripped of her career, assigned ‘madness status’ and held, effectively in solitary confinement under loose ‘house arrest’. It was made clear to her that if she asserted a story that implicated her ex husband in any unflattering story she would be taken back into custody and held in an institution for the  mentally ill until she agreed once more to play the part of a mad woman.

Which was quite mad making.

She had spent 6 years in almost complete solitude other than her children who she feared infecting with her ‘bad/madness’, and in a state of comatose depression she cared for them ‘immaculately’ – doing all those things for them that she was able to do and none of those things in addition that they craved and needed, like being happy, like being light hearted, like bringing joy into their little lives. She tried to but of course it was all too evident that it took effort, that it didn’t come from the heart. The only thing that came from her heart was overwhelming love from her children. They felt that love as smaller children. At thirteen they just saw how appallingly she had failed them.

She couldn’t disagree, so she took the blows uncomplainingly, the punches, the kicks, the screams, the swear words, the accusations, the judgements…

Until she could take no more. Until friendship had begun to float towards her once more. Until the love of caring friends woke her from her coma. Until she began to see that this kind of masochism wasn’t ever going to help her beloved children.

And then she made a break. Then she started to stand up. Then she began, once more to stand tall. Then she began to grow.

Tomorrow I will be transcribing a flow of exchanges between the younger daughter and the mother. I will be inviting visitors to suggest constructive criticism and innovative ideas for the mother to assist the daughter to feel happier and more secure and more at peace with her life, herself and her mother. That way we really will begin to place the adage ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ into a context of practice.

Thank you so much for your interest.

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