I was a six-year-old, no different from my classmates I thought. I cried when my ice cream fell to the ground, I couldn't sleep a week before my birthday and I always tried to stay awake until my eyes betrayed me.
The realisation that I was different, didn't come until I became involved in the world of mental health care. Of course, I noticed that no one showed up to my birthday parties, mothers were muttering that I was traumatising their children and teachers were pulling me out of class because they were worried. But I didn't realise it was abnormal - that none of this was happening to my classmates. I was an innocent six-year-old girl, looking at the world through rose-tinted glasses with her big green puppy eyes.
My mum wasn't a bad person; she loved watching Disney movies with me, doing my hair and cooking, but she also drank a lot, walked the streets naked and was brought to the hospital every other week. My dad had left us months earlier because he could no longer cope with her behavior, so I ended up alone with her, in a small town of 6000 people, where everyone knew what was happening behind closed doors.
A lonely childhood
When I finally saw a psychologist six years later, I realised my life wasn't healthy, but bystanders did the most significant damage. Instead of being compassionate, they damaged me more. If something happened at school, I was the first one they blamed. If I talked about things happening at home, mums came to school yelling at me. Whenever my mum ended up in hospital with an overdose, I heard other mums whisper about her.
My childhood was lonely and painful, but It didn't stop me from looking at the world as a magical place where dreams come true and you could be anything you want, as long as you kept believing. My mum tried to give me a good childhood, but she didn't have the tools to do so; she needed help, but there was none. She was in so much emotional pain that she had to lean on me. At home I was the caretaker, at school I was 'that problem child'. There was no one I could turn to for help, but my childish mind kept believing that things would turn out fine someday.
A painful realisation
The worst memory I have, is the day my mum passed away. I was in the supermarket, and two women were talking, saying how happy they were that my mum finally died. My mum may have manipulated me, lied to me and damaged me, but she was still my mum. She was a pain sometimes, but she was still a human being - one with a horrible past herself. If people only had tried to help her, instead of judging her, she might have stood a chance.
I spent the next two years in a mental health ward. The psychiatrist diagnosed me with complex post-traumatic stress due to years of neglect, psychological abuse and stress.
Many years later I came to the understanding that my mum suffered from bipolar disorder, but instead of helping her, she became a pun for a bad joke. She was the town crazy and I was her 'just as crazy' daughter. Nobody saw our good qualities. My mum and I were placed in the 'crazy' box with no chance of getting out.
I'm now 27-years-old and no longer live in my hometown, but I still have nightmares. My view of the world is no longer rose-tinted, if anything I see the world as an ugly place, where not even a child is safe from harm. I hope that the next time people see a 'problem' child, they will show some compassion. Children are innocent, don't punish them for their parents' problems.
- Invite them to your home to play with your kids.
- Pat them on their heads - a little gesture like that can make the child feel loved.
- Don't join in the toxic behavior of gossiping about them or their parents - the child is innocent and not responsible in any way.
- Let your kids attend their birthday party - offer to co-host if you feel uncomfortable.
- Tell other gossiping parents to take their business elsewhere but not in front of the child.
- Don't talk about the child in front of your children.