While mental illness can often be traced back to someone’s immediate family members, for some of us, it isn’t so simple. I, for one, don’t have any mental illness in my family, which means that I had to break this cycle of generational mental wellness by myself.
It’s tough being the first generation to have a mental disorder, but someone’s gotta do it, and that person in my family just happens to be me. No one in my family really understands what it’s like to have severe anxiety and depression, but this is totally fine, because I’m happy to be the first one who’s bravely having panic attacks and taking several different medications. After all, if I didn’t, who would?
Now if my children or my siblings children are mentally ill, they’ll be able to say, “Well, it does run in the family,” and I think that’s a beautiful gift I’m giving them.
However, I have had my fair share of difficulties being the first one in my family to be mentally ill. For example, once I realized that my stress response was different than anyone else’s in my family, I didn’t really have anyone to talk to who was related to me about it. Every time I brought it up, they’d say something like, “Hm. That doesn’t sound normal,” or “Are you on drugs?” or “You should just exercise more”, which is why I’m proud to be the first one leading my family into having mental illnesses for generations to come.
We may be a little behind, but at least someone’s brain finally managed to be a little fucked up – and I’m honored for that person to be me.
Plus, after I told my family about my diagnosis, they were thrilled! My grandmother actually told me that she always wanted to be mentally ill, and that she was glad her grandchild accomplished something that she wasn’t able to do herself.
Being the first one in my family to have a mental illness comes with its own challenges, but I’ll always be proud of who am I am. And if I do have any mentally ill ancestors who went undiagnosed at the time, I hope they’re proud of me for being so mentally ill it couldn’t be kept under wraps!