Today is my youngest sister’s birthday but we are estranged due to her hostility towards me which cause is her mental illness. I read about this book in a recent Time magazine. It is listed as one of the 10 best nonfiction books for 2019. I bought it so that I might understand what has happened to my youngest sister better. This may seem like an odd topic for this blog but actually it is highly relevant.
I’ve only started reading the first essay but I was struck by this statistic – People diagnosed with schizophrenia are more likely to be born in the winter than in the summer – perhaps due to maternal infection during pregnancy. I have previously written about intergenerational transmission of trauma. There is a high likelihood of that in my family with both parents being adoptees.
Biological features may mark a susceptibility to already established disorders as well as what types of stressors are most likely to transform those susceptibilities into illness. I suspect that my sister was always vulnerable. Something happened to her at some point that caused a marked downturn in her mental health from which she has not yet and may never re-emerge. She spent some time homeless, which is itself a stressor and I believe caused some of her delusions as she attempted to justify her unconventional lifestyle.
My sister also gave up her only child for adoption. Adoption was a natural condition in our family even though I now know it is not natural by any stretch of the imagination. Still, it was her choice from the moment she was aware she was pregnant. I’ve often wondered now that I know more about mother/child separations if this has been an additional stressor.
She speaks of a subsequent pregnancy that was murdered within her. I doubt that one also took place but one never knows with her. One of the ways I have coped with her odd mental functioning is to simply listen without judging the validity of what she tells me because I believe some truth always lies within the stories but the interpretation of the meaning of those stories is off in some manner.
In a review of the book I am reading, I saw this question –
Is there some inner self that lies beyond the reaches of mental illness, a consciousness that disease makes invisible but leaves intact ?
Because I do believe in an eternal consciousness that is ever evolving through a variety of physical lifetime experiences, I do believe there is a witness who knows all of the whys and wherefores.