is mental illness an inherited condition? #aa #na #slaa #alanon #recovery #mentalhealth

July 9, 2014 § Leave a comment

Is it agreed that mental ill health is an inherited condition passed on from one generation of neglected, deprived and/or abused children to the next? I am thinking of it now as a combination of multi-generational arrested development and unsustainable coping strategies. What child can develop healthy, mature attitudes and life skills when they are brought up in conditions that do not provide for their basic necessities of mental, emotional, psychological, and physical well-being? What parent can break the inter-generational propagation of mental illness if they have not, themselves, sought treatment?

I wonder if we even have an adequate definition of the basic necessities for mental health and child development. At present, in the city I live in, it is easier to conceive a child than to adopt a shelter dog. When you apply to adopt a shelter dog you have to provide evidence of fitness to take care of the dog. You may have to agree to a home visit. You have to provide a history of pet ownership. You have to show that you have the financial resources for vet care. You have to show that you can afford housing and fencing. When I was 18 I conceived a child. When the doctor told me I was pregnant he asked me if I wanted to abort the child. That was it. I said no and left the office. I was a high school drop out, unemployed, unmarried, living on a farm in the back of a 1950’s delivery truck. I had no plans, no money, no education, and no home to call my own.

I was a pregnant survivor of physical, mental and emotional abuse. I had been abandoned by my mother through mental illness and abandoned and betrayed by my father through narcissism. I had quit high school, quit my music studies, and quit my family to move in with my high school boyfriend at the beginning of my last year in high school. These drastic steps were my final cry for help after walking in on my father having a date with his new mistress after he had moved out on my very ill mother a year before. In fact, it was revealed later that he had been having an affair with this woman before he moved out. He finally separated with my mother so he could carry on with this new relationship. My mother was deeply afflicted with paranoid schizophrenia at the time. My father moved out, leaving me and my four younger brothers to fend for ourselves with our mother. My sister had already moved out to go to music school in Europe. I left home in an extremely distressed state of trauma, coping with years of trauma stacking as a result of my mother’s progressive illness and my father’s progressive abandonment and betrayal. And now I was pregnant. And no one seemed to care about what was going to happen to me or my baby.

This is why I ask the question – when does ill mental health ever exist outside the context of a family system that has been impacted by mental illness, addiction, or alcoholism? And what is the relationship between these conditions as a family system of unsustainable family relations and destructive individual coping and environmental conditions such as unemployment, lack of education, and poverty? Not to mention social and cultural abuses based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, etc.?

I am slowly coming out of the fog of decades of family destruction and as I look around I am becoming curious about the conditions of my emergence. How I was shaped by these conditions, and what I might offer to change these conditions so that others do not have to suffer as I have.

My determination is to stop the multi-generational flow of mental ill health from one generation to the next. We can change the course of own histories, the conditions of our families, and our possible contributions to the human condition. We need to take our own well-being, and the well-being of our offspring, at least as seriously as we treat adopting a rescue dog. That would be a step toward a kinder, gentler, more conscious humanity.


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