• Queen Shae

My Grandmother and her struggle with mental health issues

Unpacking my Past.

My Grandmother her struggles with her mental health.

My grandmother suffered from Nervous breakdowns now mental breakdown Symptoms such as hallucinations, talking to herself, insomnia, mood swings, paranoia, flashbacks to traumatic events, she suffered silently from depression, and anxiety. The mental breakdowns came when she could no longer cope with life. After my mother’s death, she fell on her job the fall abruptly ended her career and gave her health issues that resulted in her getting surgery. She had so much to try and cope with when she went deaf a year after my mom’s death it was just too much for her to handle. Who told blame her for reaching her breaking point? I didn’t blame her at all.

I often feel that my mother went most of her life not diagnosed with depression just coping with sickle cell disease I know that it will happen to you. Everyone has sad days and I know I gave her a reason to keep going to present that everything was fine. Deep down I knew it wasn’t okay but I allowed her time and space to pull it all the way together. She suffered in silence mostly. I realized that isn’t just her thing it’s a black woman thing we grit our teeth and we get through difficult situations the best way that we know how to. No matter the past present or future problems it gets added to the suitcase of shame we never want to sort through because it reminds us of a time when we were weak and didn’t love ourselves enough to understand we deserved better even from ourselves.

I myself have suffered so much of my childhood in silence and I learned to live with it before I actually conquered it. I still have my struggles but I know now that there are things you can’t always control you just have to be vocal about them and speak out for those who suffer in silence like I use to.

My intention of this podcast is to unpack all of the things I went through in my childhood so that I might have a healthier and more fulfilled future. I am no way saying this is my current state of mind. I am saying this is things that I have chosen to work through to be a better mother, a better friend, and a better me.

I never thought that I would be an eight-year-old caregiver at the time I don’t even think I knew that what I was doing. Let me paint a picture for you. Imagine having a terrible sleeping pattern because you had to grow accustomed to staying up until sunrise to make sure your grandmother didn’t leave the house and become a harm to herself or others. Having to overpower her when she tried to put a candle to her ears and burn them because they no longer worked. Being the one who had to recognize when she was going through a breakdown because she learned to hide it well. Being the only person that could truly talk her into going and getting some help when she could no longer help herself.

That is the anxiety I lived with for years of my life and never talked about. Being walked to school and having to go right back home because I notice that my grandmother was having another mental breakdown. Having to make excuses and blame me and my illness for my absence.

Being exhausted and having an attitude in my first couple of classes because I didn’t get enough sleep at night. The countless times I have woken up to my grandmother talking to herself. The stress I was under having to convince her no-one was after her or me for that matter.

Mental illness is no joke and nothing to make light of, and it’s something that tormented me being that I was closely affected by a family member’s perspective. I was in that storm with her. Not only was I with her; I oftentimes was the calm in the midst of the storm.

I never talked about it because it was hard to talk about and although I understood from my own perspective there is so much I still don’t know about what my grandmother was going through. I only truly knew the why and I have the feeling I didn’t have the full story. It’s a little too late now considering my grandmother passed away in December 2004.

I am going to unpack all of this right here on this show so that I can heal on this journey to make sure that others understand how detrimental it is to preserve your mental health. The only way to truly get over something is to get through it and stay strong until you make it to the other side.

What do you do to preserve your mental health?

Myself personally; I write, I read and I stay close to God in some of the most trying times of my life. Writing has literally saved my life and I admit that with full confidence. After my mother passed away in 1997 I turned to write out my feelings and I have every-since.

How important are you to you?

I am important to me. Not just for myself, but I have an anchor keeping me grounded and keeping me as grounded as possible. I have to be whole for her so she can see that it is possible. I am a black woman raising a black girl who will eventually be a black woman, and I want her to look back and have the courage to unpack whatever she is carrying around that will be too heavy for her life’s journey of happiness and positivity.

Self-preservation is the most important thing and it can seem selfish and sometimes even harsh but you have to understand you cannot help anyone else unless you help yourself first. If you were stranded on a desert island and all you had with you was a suitcase filled with things you kept from your past, how long would you survive? What would be in your suitcase? Would it be enough positivity and great memories to overshadow the things you haven’t unpacked?

Mental Triggers:

Everyone has triggers that set them off and they don’t even know why they reacted so harshly from the simplest scenario that didn’t deserve the reaction or attention that was ultimately given. I sometimes have trouble sleeping at night before the morning because of the way I trained myself to stay up as a kid to keep watch for my grandmother. I had to do this because I felt the only one truly able and responsible for her at that time of her life. I mean we had my grandfather

her husband but he was working most days and unable to stay up the way I did. After waking up late one night and realizing she was not in the house and having a mental breakdown was enough to trigger me. I couldn’t sleep with the fear that she was still up and something was happening to her.

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