“It was as if my father had given me, by way of temperament, an impossibly wild, dark, and unbroken horse. It was a horse without a name, and a horse with no experience of a bit between its teeth.”
We talk about heritage. Our roots. We’re proud of it. We get tattoos. We give our children cultural names. We hang flags of our origin in front of our homes. There is an entire website dedicated to tracing your ancestry. However, when it comes down to tracing the hereditary cause of mental illness in our own lives, we don’t, it seems we cross our fingers, start our families and pray our kids don’t end up like our “wacky” uncle Bob.
At the age of twelve, I started treatment for my moods. I began seeing a psychiatrist in the city, the same one my two older siblings were seeing. Sometimes we’d all go together. We never talked about it. We wait our turn, go in, come out and that was it. In fact, our whole family at some point underwent treatment for some kind of mood disorder or addiction. We never talked about it. In fact, we still don’t.
During a recent car ride with my parents, my father spoke of his cousin who had spent her entire life in a institution, this was the first time I had heard about it. My cousin was currently involuntary admitted to a hospital and was declared a ward of the state. As we drove further on the road, my parents began to disclose more cousins, uncles, siblings and even their parents who had been affected my a mental disorder in someway. Mapping it out in my head, it would be impossible to map out our family without a blank space.
Families for Depression Awareness has a convenient tool to map out your own families history with mental health. Although it is limited with how many family members you can add, it is a helpful tool in visualizing your families history. It’s worth a visit http://familyaware.org/familytree/.
I decided to finally map out my family’s genogram, going back to my grandparents. As you can see practically everyone in my family has been affected by some kind of mental disorder.
Have you mapped out your family? If so, I would love to share your Genogram (tweet me @alifeWOstorms) — it’s hereditary — let’s acknowledge that. (Here is mine mapped out.)
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