March is a tricky month for me. Partly because I don’t get enough sun, and there is snow and it’s cold outside, and work slows down. But mostly because it is the month my mom died. This is the eighth March I have spent without my mom.
Small in stature but large in attitude. She had the absolute worst taste in style, but thought she was fashionable. There were times we refused to leave the house with her if she would not change. She would go down the hall, look in the mirror, and make a face at us like we were crazy. She didn’t think the yellow dangle earrings, with the yellow shirt, orange denim vest, black skirt, yellow tights, black leg warmers and brown boots looked bad.
I learned how to do my makeup by sitting in the bathroom watching her. She was an artist with eyeshadow. She would load her hamburgers up with so many toppings they would slip out over her fingers and down onto her plate, where she would have to use the hamburger to try and soak up what fell. She let me cut her hair, which sometimes was disastrous, but she didn’t care.
She always stayed involved in our education, and often volunteered at school. I was always proud to be at Play Day, and see my mom running an activity; or nudge my friends in line for lice check and say, that’s my mom checking our hair; or get to help hand out the fluoride cups in class because my mom was the one coming to each class making sure our teeth were clean. Our grades came first before parties, our assignments and projects were done to the best of our ability, because mom made sure of it.
She helped me develop my artistic side, and would spend hours beside me, painting or drawing. Showing me techniques, or just encouraging me to keep practicing. She always had me entering into coloring contests and helped my self confidence build with every win.
She was terrible at driving on the highway. She hated passing transport trucks and would often pull out to pass, get scared and sit in their blind spot. When my sisters and I were old enough to drive, mom was happy to take the passenger seat.
She was a great nurse, one of the best. She always went above and beyond, and made sure every patient got the best care. She was always offering popsicles, no matter the patients age. She once broke her hand at work while giving CPR, and contracted a flesh eating disease that almost took her leg…and probably would have except she fought the doctors that wanted to amputate and told them no. I still have people send me messages, telling me stories of how wonderful she was to them when they were in the hospital.
She loved her grandchildren immensely. She spoiled them, and never listened when told not to feed them junk food and pop. She would just smile and nod, and wait until I was out of sight before she let them have whatever they wanted. She was very proud of them and loved showing them off to anyone that would look at her photos and listen to her stories.
She was beautiful.
But she also struggled with her mental health. Sometimes it was under control, and sometimes she would stay in bed and suffer with depression. I watched as it literally ate away at her, causing her already tiny frame to become a wisp. The laughter and spark would come and go, and life just seemed to become such a heavy weight on her. It took a toll on all of us. We all suffered with it in different ways.
Unfortunately, that weight became too heavy of a burden, and she chose to end her suffering. Mental health is a very real thing, and gratefully, the stigma of it has lessened each year. My family was shunned by many when my mom took her life. For some, they didn’t know what to say, others just followed the stigma. I had little support, as my family consisted only of my dad, grandmother and sisters, and the family I married into offered no help (their excuse always being that I never asked for help). I had four little children, and no time to grieve. No time to miss her. No time to grasp what had happened.
It was decided that my children would not be told the details of her death, not yet. My oldest was only four, too young to comprehend. Whenever they have asked, they have been told that Nonee died of a disease. And that was always ok for them, they never asked more. I had wanted to keep it this way for a while longer, as they are going through enough with adjusting after a divorce, and I am having difficulty getting them counselling.
However, this choice was taken away from me, when my children were recently told – by someone I have fittingly nicknamed Little Peacock – that their mother is mentally ill, as well as her sisters and their Nonee, which is why she died. They were told if they keep listening to me and following in my footsteps then they could also become mentally ill.
My children came home to me very upset. They were upset that they had to argue with Little Peacock and defend their mom, something that children should not have to do. And they were upset that Little Peacock told them this about their Nonee but didn’t take any time to explain it to them. Just made them feel like it was a bad thing, and that if they don’t stop listening to me, they could end up the same way.
I know that Little Peacock’s family believes that when you are mentally ill, you have demons attached to you, which can then travel down the bloodline, causing others to be mentally ill. I know this, because that is what they told me after my mom died. It was lovely.
I do believe that mental health can have a genetic factor, but that doesn’t mean that everyone born to that person with this disease also has it. It’s like saying anyone with cancer that has children will pass it along to them. And it definitely doesn’t mean little demons attach on and travel through bloodlines. Even if genetics are unkind, help is out there. It’s not a sentence of burden.
My mom was beautiful and charismatic, a spitfire full of spunk. I wish she was still alive, but she died of a disease that many have, many are made to feel ashamed of, and many don’t seek help for. Little Peacock should be ashamed. My children deserve better, and I deserve better treatment. I was trying to protect them from a hurt they did not yet need to feel. From confusion they did not need to endure. But instead, they felt like they needed to defend me and argue with someone that should be thinking a lot more about what is best for these children and their wellbeing.
Little Peacock, the way you are telling my children that I am mentally ill and they will be too if they keep listening to me, shows the coward that you are. The way you have your sister talk about me to my children, shows the coward that the two of you are. My children have been through enough. I see nothing has changed with the type of person you really are.
Those reading this, be respectful of others and the hardships they have been through. And maybe read up on mental health and depression a little before you spout ridiculous things about the disease that are not true. Also, I’m pretty sure you need to go to school for quite a long time to be able to diagnose a disease.
Please don’t follow in Little Peacock’s shoes. I understand that somebody must be very unhappy in their life to choose to hurt innocent children in order to try and hurt me. I do understand that. And if you are someone that uses children in this manor, please stop. Using mental health and depression as a way to hurt and control children is not the answer. This is a form of child abuse. People who do this are cowards and part of the problem that this disease still faces.
See this woman, Little Peacock?
She treated you very well. The way you just disrespected her, shows the coward that you are. The way you hurt my children to hurt me, shows the coward that you are. My children adored their Nonee and you tainted her memory with how you told them of her death.
Shame on you.