Loving Life This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

      It’s hard when someone you love doesn’t always make the right decisions. In my case, that person is my mom. She has a mental illness. It’s that simple. I don’t know why this happened to her, but I know I can’t change it so instead of worrying, I try to help and enjoy the little things in life.

My mother doesn’t usually act ill. She is perfectly normal, except that fear overwhelms her brain sometimes. She thinks people are out to get her, or that aliens are taking over. It might sound silly, but it’s not for her. Her illness is something I can never forget. I have flashbacks to when she was scared, or didn’t take her medicine, or when she felt the world would end. These memories haunt me.

When I was six, my mother thought she was being talked about on the radio. I don’t remember much, but I can still picture her screaming. The next thing I knew, there was an ambulance and a police car in our driveway. The worst part was that I couldn’t do anything. I had no control over her. All I could do was watch her be taken away.

When my mom gets scared, she goes into a hospital for a few weeks. While she is there, I feel sad, but also relieved. I know that she is there to get better, and that she will be taken care of. She’s always glad to see us when we visit, and I rejoice to see her, but sometimes it makes me feel hollow inside. The halls are empty, the rooms so quiet you can hear your breathing. Visitors sit quietly, waiting anxiously to see their loved ones. The doctors smile sympathetically, but they don’t know how it feels to have that hollow feeling, like nothing will ever be right again.

Then she returns home with medicine and I feel like everything is going to be okay. I like to believe that this will be the last time she will have to enter a hospital. Life goes back to normal for a while, but sooner or later, my mother stops taking her medicine. She doesn’t believe she is sick. This is when I begin to worry.

I don’t feel sorry for myself, although at times I wish things were different. When people find out my mom has a mental illness, they don’t know how to react. Sometimes they feel sorry for me. Other times they are afraid to say anything. I wish they could know I don’t need sympathy - I just need someone to be there.

I know that I am really very lucky. I have a home, good food to eat, and a mostly healthy family. I wish that everyone were so blessed. We may not have the advantages some families do, but I know that I am wealthy in love. I love to help other people because I know there are so many out there who have it worse than me. I sometimes wonder why the world is the way it is, why some people get sick and others don’t. I always remember that my mom’s problems won’t last long. She always gets better, and life keeps rolling along.

So maybe you don’t know what it’s like to have a mother with a mental illness. I know not everyone will understand, and sometimes I don’t even try to make them understand. I hate it, though, when kids make jokes about “crazy people,” or say someone is “mental.” It doesn’t matter if they don’t mean to hurt anyone. It still hurts.

I try to concentrate on the good things. It’s okay if you get caught up in your own world for a while, worrying about your hair or the latest gossip. It’s okay if once in a while you feel like your life can’t get any worse, but when you feel like this, take a step back and remember how lucky you are. No matter where you are in this crazy life, remember that you are special.

There will always be people less fortunate, so flash someone a smile! It doesn’t matter if you don’t know them, it will brighten their day. Whatever you do, remember to take the time to enjoy the simple things. Hold tight to the good times, and accept the challenges. Every day is a new adventure.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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Lily">This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
today at 7:25 am
i love this so much!
Bethani said...
Mar. 23, 2010 at 11:30 pm
im so proud of you! i have had to learn similiar lessons because my mom suffers from depression and can easily get overwhelmed. you're very mature for your age. you're a great example!
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