When you meet my mother, remind her to take a deep breath. Things aren't ever as terrible as she needs for them to be but a few pithy jokes and a bit of perspective will bring her back to earth for a bit. Not for long, as she never stays grounded in reality for very long. Ask her what it's like to live with bi-polar disorder. I know the answer - it's shit, at least from this angle. However hideous it is for her to live in the deep dark sadness and then burst forth in technicolor, time-lapse, bouts of mania - time after time after...I don't know. Maybe you could ask her. While you're at it, ask her how I can be of help to her. The hardest part of being her daughter is knowing that no matter how much of myself I pour into her I will never be the magical compound to fill the gaps and shore up her heavy soul - no matter how desperately she wants for that to be true. So I've stacked the bricks around myself deep and high to keep my delicate, child's heart from being broken again and again. When you meet my mother ask her if she can forgive the world for being a disappointment, my father for not being her knight, and her own father for the same reason, and all the other sticks and stones that she has dodged in her time. She is, after all, just a victim of circumstance.
Erin Mahone is the Creator/Chief Oversharer of It Runs in the Family, a one-woman show and storytelling series in which she chronicles the real-life stories of growing-up in a family with multiple member who struggle with severe mental illness. She is the creator of the arts help, a program dedicated to using the arts in various forms to heal, empower, and educate people of all ages and abilities. Erin's first book, Life, Motherhood, and the Pursuit of Sanity will be released by Motivational Press in 2017.