Experience, strength and hope (My story continued – My Father Before I was Born)

Finally, regarding the family my father grew up in, there was his mother. She died when I was four, and I believe she was 54. I don’t know what she died from, and it’s another one of those sort of mysteries. I do know that she had electric shock treatments several times before she died. That had to be in the 1950s and 60s. Speculating about it now, I guess she must have had serious depression. That’s what those treatments are used for now, at least. I imagine that back then, ths was a treatment of last resort. This was all in the time before SSRIs like Prozac. My other grandmother, my mother’s mother, hosted my grandmother at her summer house before she died. She commented many times that there was too much work for my grandmother, taking care of my aunt’s children.

I’ve come to believe that mostly these mental illnesses are just variations on a common theme. I doesn’t matter for my day to day life if alcoholism is different or the same as any of the psychiatric disorders. I see mental illnesses go through a vogue, almost, with some types being more prevalent at different times. I also think that much drinking and drugging is self-medicating behavior. Not that it works. Mostly it doesn’t. But I think some of us have a diseased mind (and isn’t disease an interesting concept?), and mood altering drugs, legal or not, change the disease in some way that keeps us coming back for more, even when the consequences are negative.

So my father’s side of my family had many members who most likely had serious mental illnesses. I will have to get to my actual father soon. Years ago, I was in church, and I believe it was Christmas Eve. Maybe not. Regardless I remember the pastor asking what kind of legacy we are leaving our children. The thought has stayed with me that in regards to alcohol and alcoholism, I have thankfully broken that chain for my children. How that will work for them remains to be seen.

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