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Caring for My Mom

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My mom is a beautiful woman with kind brown eyes and a welcoming smile. From the outside you would never know that she has spent most of her life struggling with a difficult illness. This illness often causes her to say things she knows she shouldn’t, and keeps her from staying focused on simple tasks, making it hard, not only to live a normal life, but to be a mother. From a young age I always knew my mom was different, and I learned the meaning of responsibility very early. At times she would be unable to clean or cook meals, so being the oldest, I had to step in and help as much as possible. I can recall countless mornings when my mom could not get out of bed, leaving me to make breakfast and get my sister out of bed. On these mornings my mom’s depression seemed to emanate throughout the house; the silence was often unbearable. Many times I would just stand in the kitchen crying, feeling frustrated and confused, and I couldn’t help but ask myself, “why me?” Although these times were emotionally draining, they taught me how to take initiative, and how to put others needs before my own. I think this has made me a very responsible person, and has caused me to be very willing to do things for other people.

Growing up helping my mom has definitely shaped how I live my life today, but most of all it has shaped the way I view humanity. As I became old enough to better understand my mom’s illness, I began to develop new opinions and ways of thinking. I had learned that my mom is not the only one suffering from bipolar disorder, and that there are actually people all over the world struggling just like her. This has made me a firm believer in acceptance of all people, including those like my mom. I began to be more open minded, and I decided that I needed to really get to know people and learn their stories before judging them. People with disabilities and illnesses do not deserve to be treated differently than those without. I believe this because I observed how harsh judgement affected my mom, especially the judgement she endured from my dad.

My dad married my mom thinking that he could cure her from her illness. He somehow believed that by scolding my mom and criticizing her behavior she would simply stop being bipolar. Watching him mentally beat her up for something she was born with and has no control of is something the affected me greatly. I have many memories of my dad kicking or pinching my mom under the table at dinner in an attempt to stop her from “acting out”. He did this often when we went out to restaurants with friends or family, thinking they wouldn’t notice. My family did notice, but they chose to stay silent and let the abuse continue. I will never let someone abuse a disabled person without speaking up. The constant criticism instead of encouragement from my dad left my mom with little to no confidence in herself, making it almost impossible for her to deal with her illness. She became weaker and weaker, and more dependent on others. I knew this was not the right way to treat someone with a disability, and even at a young age I could see that it was only making things worse. Now that I am older I feel that it is my mission to make a positive difference in the lives of those struggling with disabilities. I want to help them live successful, healthy lives through support and encouragement.

Although my experiences have helped me decide what I want to spend my life doing in the future, they have also given me a more positive outlook on life. Watching my mom struggle to do simple daily tasks has made me very appreciative of the little things in life. I think we take too many aspects of our lives for granted. Things like getting out of bed in the morning and making breakfast seem easy for most people, but for those like my mom it can sometimes be very difficult. I think that if people took more time to appreciate the little things, it would be easier for them to appreciate those that struggle just to get through the day. I understand what Martin Luther meant when he said we must consider “the broader concerns of all humanity” because there really are so many different things that people struggle with as a whole, which is why we should be accepting of every single one, not just our own.

Without a doubt the most memorable and life changing experience I’ve had involving my mom’s illness would be when she attempted to end her life. It was a very sunny morning in July when I pulled up in our driveway and saw my sister standing in the garage in tears. I had been watering plants for a friend that morning so I had missed her frantic calls for help. She screamed “Mommy is in the hospital!” and I could feel my stomach twist and my muscles tense. My mom had overdosed on her medication and had just been rushed to the emergency room. I was in shock, and I immediately felt guilty for not being there to help my younger sister. Fortunately my mom made it through, but almost losing her gave me a better understanding of how precious life is. After that incident I started to think about how much I have learned from my mom, and how different my life would be without her. If I had never needed to care for my mom, I wouldn’t view the world the way I do now. I think that because I have had to spend so much time putting my mom’s needs before mine, I am now more aware of other people’s problems. I feel that this will help me with so many different aspects of my life.

When I eventually have my own family, I think I will feel very prepared because of the experiences I’ve had with my mom. Not only will I be able to handle the responsibilities that come with motherhood, but I will also be to teach my children the importance of accepting all different kinds of people. I will be able to share with them my experiences caring for my mom in order to give them a better understanding. The world would be a better place if we all took more time to help others in need, and for that reason I hope my experiences can help me carry on that message.

I feel very fortunate to have experienced what it’s like caring for a disabled person, even though it is very difficult at times. My mom continues to struggle with her illness, although she has now separated from my dad which has helped her regain confidence. My experience has without a doubt made me the person I am today by teaching me to be accepting of all people, and to be responsible. Like Martin Luther King Jr., I too belief that everyone should be treated equally, and I am thankful that my experiences have encouraged me to do just that.





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