What happens when mental illness and a wall of family denial intersect?
She’s easy to miss, because those of you who know the reference are probably looking for a Michelle Pfeiffer lookalike. I know I used to. But sometimes life throws a strange curveball your way, and you find yourself in the odd and precarious position of having to remember compassion, remember the good, and the redemption, in the face of the monstrous actions human beings can inflict upon each other.
I know Ingrid.
I knew her for years, and I was just as blind, and living just as much in denial, as every family member who failed to get her to a doctor, get her to a therapist, get her into a safe space. I failed her just as much as everyone else ever did.
But it begs a larger question. At least, I certainly hope it does.
What happens to people who dance right along the edge of being able to function in the world, while battling their own psychological demons? Beyond the path of destruction they leave in their wake, what happens? Sure, this group can “survive,” but what fulfillment is there? Without a support system and access to solid mental health programs, how do we expect an entire portion of our population to be anything but marginalized?
As a community, a society, we live in a partnership. I don’t care what your politics are, nor your religious affiliation, creed, etc. – do we not have a duty to care for each other?
No, I do not mean enabling. No, I do not mean simply throwing money at a problem and expecting it to be solved by some unwieldy bureaucracy. I mean caring for each other: with our words, and our actions.
Whatever happened to Ingrid? In the book, I won’t tell you – just in case you haven’t yet read “White Oleander.” 🙂 In my own life, I let her go. That hasn’t ended any of her machinations – there will never be an end. No one will swoop in wearing a white hat to play a hero. For myself, I have learned not to expect any finality to the situation.
It seems that those most in need of help are those least able to access help at all.
Heavier thoughts for a Monday, I know. When we write, we observe characters, we invent stories, or the characters tell us their stories. There are times that the flesh and blood creatures around us can seem to come straight from the pages themselves. Reconciling that is the trick.
Blessings to you all.
“Let me tell you a few things about regret…There is no end to it. You cannot find the beginning of the chain that brought us from there to here. Should you regret the whole chain, and the air in between, or each link separately as if you could uncouple them? Do you regret the beginning which ended so badly, or just the ending itself?” ~ Janet Fitch, White Oleander