I am including an interview at the end of “Broken.” This question was asked of me and my answer can’t wait. I had to post it now. The answer I composed surprised even myself.
Question: I understand the need to write something like Broken, but why publish it? Why put this out for everyone to see? Also, What has been the most prominent lesson learned through all of this?
Angela B. Chrysler: Mental health is a social taboo. I think we have that social taboo because of the biased images we have of mental health in this country (The United States). We still imagine a padded room where the insane are locked up with straight jackets. We still imagine Bedlam where patients were raped and their heads shaven. This was the case two hundred year ago before Freud made his appearance and began a little field called psychology.
But today we cling to this idealized American Dream. This cookie cutter “perfect life” with happy wife, happy life, 2.5 kids, two income household with 2 cars. I think that is really what we are up against. The “American Dream.”
Wanting that American Dream has really driven the majority of Americans to enter a form of denial. My parents were there. Heck! The majority of households in my hometown lived this masquerade. There is something out there driving us all to “achieve this American Dream” and we are running a rat race, desperate to get there at all costs. Even at the expense of our children’s mental health. Today, the majority of us are living in denial, and in turn we deny our own issues and problems all in the name of “maintaining” that image. Keeping up Appearances! That seems to be all that matters today. But I can’t help but consider the generation pyramid.
If you have a couple, two parents with mental issues—Oooh! Let’s build a graph! I love graphs!
That’s not right!
There! That’s better!
Start with two people with mental issues….and those two people have three children…
Those three children will have been raised by two people with mental issues. In some cases, the mental health is inherited and in all cases, the mental issues create an environment that enables additional mental issues for those children. You now have three people growing up with mental issues.
Fast forward. Grow them up. Now pair them up—chances are they will attract a mate in the likeness of their parents so it is safe to assume their spouses also have mental issues. In addition, children are only mirrors of their parents. As a parent I have learned to question my own behavior by seeing what my children do and how they speak.
That’s six people, three new couples with mental issues. Give these second generation couples each three babies.
You now have nine children being raised by second generation adults with environmental and possibly inherited mental conditions. Fast forward 50 years and three generations…What do you get? An entire country whose citizens have mental issues.
I think this is where America is right now. I think, the Foster Care program in the 1960’s did a lot to mess up those parents. Wikipedia backs me up on this. My mother is one of them. Think of this…what did these parents DO to their children to get them INTO the Foster Care program to begin with? In turn, those foster care survivors grew up and had children in the 1980’s at a time when having mental issues was taboo. And now their children are having children and passing along their issues. Every child placed in a Foster Care system must confront one truth, “Why didn’t my parents love me enough to_____?” Most of them haven’t confronted this truth. When a parent doesn’t protect a child, the child will figure this out. It will hurt the child. And the child has to deal with that truth. Emotional pain has real side affects.
I thought I was normal until I realized I was raised by someone who wasn’t. How could I possibly know what normal is—stop right there, Angela. We’re going to change “normal” to “healthy living”—How could I possibly know what healthy living is without ever seeing it first hand? How can I know what to do and not to do with my children if my parents never taught me?
It is time to stop treating mental issues as a taboo. Having mental issues is normal. It is a sign that you have grown up and survived child hood and adolescence. What are the odds that the majority of us grew up with “healthy living?” Denial only prolongs the awareness and enhances the problem. This is me saying that it is okay to blame your parents for being messed up. Parents need to step up and say, “Yes! I am responsible for messing my children up.”
It is okay for me to point a finger at my mother and father and say, “I am what I am because of you.” It’s okay to blame them for the rest of my life for what I am because I am a 100% a product of what they did to me and didn’t do for me. However, as an educated adult, it is my responsibility to fix it and take on my own responsibilities. I also must now step in and say, “My mental health is hurting my children.” I am responsible for fixing this NOW. I think too many of us have forgotten that our sole purpose as a parent is to protect our children…even, at times, from ourselves.
That is my goal with “Broken.” That is my goal in this life. To increase awareness, to look at you and say, “It’s okay. Your parents screwed up. They did you wrong. Now, what are you going to do to fix it?”
The next step? Change your perspective. And this one…this stage was the hardest. Altering my point of view so drastically that I now question my own point of view all the time. Accepting the fact that I am probably wrong…on everything.