Today I am remembering some of the days of my life following my mother’s mental breakdown, after my little sister died. I was almost eight and had never known adversity at that age. I was very fortunate I realize now. I had had an almost idyllic childhood, embraced as an adored little princess in a huge extended family of loving grown-ups, nested, too, in the midst of a tight-knit Jewish community. My father, a young businessman was recognized as an up and coming leader of that community and the greater, civic community as well.
Then all was dark and threatening; my mother’s mental illness looming over everything in my young life. The almost daily threats replaced what once had been, after she had thrown my father out of our luxurious home he had so prided himself on purchasing.
From that time on, my mother’s beatings and ceaseless ravings that I should have died instead of my sister because…….; the reasons being numerous, became my daily bill of fare. My main fault being that I was alive and baby Sharon Iris was not, second that I was somehow “Just like your father.”
I have, long ago, with the help of psychotherapy, the sheer grit of determination and a devoted father who stayed as close to me as he could, overcome most of the debilitation these years of my childhood brought me.
But this morning I woke up feeling myself in the pit of despair like those years had held me in. Gone was my mentally ill mother. Gone were the years during which I had fought off almost daily bouts of feeling as if I wanted to die though my days might have been filled with almost undreamt of successes. So from where had this bout of fear come?
Trying to reach my mind beyond the darkness, seeking its promptings, my consciousness landed on a single source; Donald Trump as president of the United States of America!
Waking up to another day with Donald Trump in the White House sometimes feels like my mentally ill mother in charge of my little girl life; ceaseless chaos, lies and distortions of reality, fear for those less powerful (mainly me back in the days under rule of my mother.) Finding a way through the darkness to the Light sometimes feels daunting and exhausting these days.
The single thing that makes it a whole lot easier, however, is that I know this time I am not alone in the craziness, as I was as an only child during my mother’s siege, holding me captive in her war with my father.
There are almost endless checks and balances in our great country and the Constitution of our Founding Fathers. There were none of these for me when my mother held the reigns over my young life.
Last night I signed a petition asserting that “Donald Trump is mentally ill and must be removed.” The petition, originated with a psychologist, John Gartner Phd., who has been willing to break the Goldwater Rule and ask other professionals to join him. The rule states that mental health professionals cannot offer open assessments of the mental health of public figures.
These professionals, of which I am now one, are willing to be rule breakers in the service of protecting our country. I totally agree! We, as mental health professionals, must take action and speak out that Donald Trump is dangerous, by virtue of being mentally unhinged; our collective professional opinion.
I am so grateful to not be alone in coping with craziness. And, so grateful to be a mental health professional, myself, with all the training and skills I have accrued, also applied to myself, and to know that I have a wonderful grounding in truth and reality that can help me through dark times such as these.
How I wish such a petition could have protected my young life. But better late than never to make this world a better place. Like Anne Frank said –
How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.