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There Was a Little Girl. Thursday December 29, 2016

There's a homeless disabled man who sits outside my local supermarket selling the Big Issue.

I am less generous these days than I used to be. Today I was with my father and as soon as he saw the man he started searching for change. They smiled at each other and the man caught my eye after my father had passed and pointed at my dad saying " Good man" I knew that he meant that my dad never passes without a smile and some change. I felt proud of him and a pang of guilt that I had let my standard from him slip.

My parents are polar opposites in terms of personality, yet mine is a product of them both.

I grew up wanting only to be like my father. Calm, quiet, kind, generous and friendly. Positive and drama free. Wonderful, easy company. He sees the best in everyone. People like him.

When I'm well, I'm fairly similar, with a bit of chaotic stress thrown in.

When I am good I am very very good...

My mother has good qualities too. She plans ahead. Organises. Budgets. Makes sure that family are taken care of and are safe. She's proactive and makes things happen. She loves to converse and can be very entertaining. I have a lot of those qualities too.

When I'm not well, my mother's negative thinking comes to the fore. Don't trust people. Look out for yourself and your own. Be judgemental and critical. Challenge and resist. Be fearful very fearful. The world is a dark and threatening place. Catasrophe around every corner.

Worry way ahead about any and everything. Expect the worst. See the worst in people. Warn people of all potential danger. Fight or flight. A victim. When in pain the whole world must know about it. Be angry. Very very angry.

...and when I am bad I am horrid.

My mother has often said that she is depressed or refers to the depression.

My father hides many of his feelings. No fuss. Nothing to worry about. He gives selflessly and doesn't say no.

Now that he's older, his vulnerability sometimes shows. He wells up when he speaks about his youth or starting out in life as a young man. There is sadness and he drowns his sorrows.

Both of them love us beyond measure and would do almost anything for us. In spite of their struggles they have grown old together and depend on each other. They achieved their outward goals and taught us how to do the same.

Emotionally they have struggled and so have we. Who doesn't? I have struggled to grow up in many ways, it's taken me a long time to feel like I've started to.

Are you like either or both of your parents?

Other than traumatic life events and biological factors, how have your parents influenced your mental health?

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Leah Thu, Dec 29th 2016 @ 5:36am

What an intriguing blog.
Of course I have thought about the traits I had in common with my parents(both deceased) but never thought about how they influenced my mental health.
My mum felt responsible for my bipolar because when I was diagnosed mothers were blamed for any illness the child had.
I suppose I always felt I had a biochemical illness that caused mood swings whereas my parents had interesting behaviours!!
I am very similar to my dad but I wouldn't say it influenced my mental health but I will consider this.

Thanks again LilyPet for making us think. Your blogs are always so detailed ,clever and fascinating that I always worry I hope one of my lighter blogs does not follow yours!!

Take care

LP Thu, Dec 29th 2016 @ 12:56pm

Hi Leah, Thank you, I your blogs always make me think too, the range of styles is a good thing, plus I think that the Moodscope team consider when to post them. I guess we are complex beings, made up of so many factors, which to a lesser or greater extent, may or may not have a lasting influence on us! Thank you for your reply. LPxx

Colette Thu, Dec 29th 2016 @ 6:43am

Hi LilyPet, thanks for such an interesting blog! I'd like to share my own thoughts on this topic as I've been observing myself for some time now ????. I too have taken far longer than normal to 'grow up', now in my forties I feel at an emotional stage that I'm sure most other 'normal' people reach in their twenties! I often ponder on traits that I've inherited from my parents and how or whether they've had an influence on my depression (which was diagnosed about 16 years ago, but truthfully I'm certain that it started at least 15 years before!). One massive impact on my depressive episodes is feelings of father was known to have a bad temper (says my mom). He passed away when I was 9 so my memory of him is quite patchy and I've learnt more about him from other family members. But from examples of when he got angry told to me by my aunt, I can see a distinct similarity between our tempers and in the types of things that made/make he and I angry! I don't think he was ever depressed though. That, I believe, I inherited from my mom and her side of the family! And I think that the two traits, together, have combined to become my Achilles heal in life, my ongoing depression,always needing to be kept in check, somewhat stabilised by long term medication, but ever present! And I don't want to have children for fear of passing my traits on to them! Some might say that's sad, I think it's a kindness, having been through what I have, I don't want to bring someone else into the world to go through it too!
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings with us.
Much love, Colette

LP Thu, Dec 29th 2016 @ 2:18pm

Hi Collette, I can identify with how it's the angry feelings that are so difficult. I am interested in exploring the idea that we can make the influences of parents bigger, more significant or more entrenched by continuing to tell ourselves how damaging they have been. There are truths that may have had a negative impact on us and I'd like to think that we CAN influence any longer term effects. The right kind of therapy helps. We probably also have alot more capabillity than we are aware of and I like the idea of not underestimating the power of belief. It might be worth considering that you don't have to limit future possibilities, based on how you feel now. I am eternally grateful to have learned a little about reframing from ratg. Switching negative statements into the past tense leaves open the possibility that it might change. That just by changing your language you can feel better about yourself whether you meant it at first or not! You're so right about us having to manage the unhelpful bits. Moodscope has helped me to learn and growas well as to accept and just be. Thank you so much for your comments Collette. Let's be gentle with ourselves. Big hug. Love LP

Orangeblossom Thu, Dec 29th 2016 @ 7:48am

Thanks Lillipet, your blog fully resonated for me. My greatest nightmare is "turning into my Mum" who has never been my role model though I don't have anymore doubts that she loves me lots. My daughter reckons that I have over-romanticised Dad as he died awhile back now. Mum is very feisty & as a younger person, very fiery. I don't think people think of me as fiery, but more like a little terrier with its capacity to yap removed..

LP Thu, Dec 29th 2016 @ 2:20pm

Thanks Orangeblossom, you come across as being just lovely! :) LP xx

Jul Thu, Dec 29th 2016 @ 8:54am

Good morning Lillipet. What an interesting blog. It seems such an obvious topic for discussion here and yet no one has written about it before as far as I can remember. I enjoyed reading about your thoughts and memories. Looking back, I see my mother was depressed but never diagnosed as such. I am very much like her but on good days, I am just like my father who was witty and fun to be with. I guess we inherit certain mental health genes although I am not certain this is a fact. This of course worries me as I don't want my children to inherit my depressive gene if one exists. I think my parents' lifestyle and the problems they faced whilst I was growing up have influenced my mental health more than maybe their personalities. My persona today was very definitely shaped by the somewhat dysfunctional state of our family but I don't blame my parents one bit. They did their best and as Leah said, all mental health problems were blamed on the parents in those days. I recall my parents coming home distraught from the hospital where my sister was being treated for anorexia; the consultant had sat them down on the bed and told them off for causing her anorexia. This is true. I think your blog Lillypet will produce some fascinating replies. Jul xx

LP Thu, Dec 29th 2016 @ 2:23pm

Hi Jul, Yes to be aware, reflect but not blame seems to be key. Thanks J LP xx

Lesley Thu, Dec 29th 2016 @ 11:14am

Dear Lillipet. Thank you for this blog which resonated with me. I see so much of both my Mum and my Dad in me. Alas, I never really got to know them as an adult as Mum died when I was 18 and Dad 9 years later. I am either very good or horrible to partners. Horrible in the sense that I start to rebel - be untidy, get carried away by ideas. My partner and I finally split up this Christmas one year after he moved away from me. It has not been the best of Christmases. I feel immense love for him but I was so inconsistent and inwardly judging him and comparing him. My depression/cyclothymia possessed me into missing what I had before and I did throw away a wonderful man. When I get into this state of longing then I want him back more than anything in the world. My Mum's resentment towards me Dad and the image of her unhappy in her marriage somehow spurs me into behaviours that are not helpful.

My intensity is what scares others. So I will meditate and ask for medication to calm my frazzledness which translates into pain.

I just want to love and receive love. I am either very good at it or awful at it.

Time to complete the room cleaning now before getting out into the fresh air. I just want inner peace. Nothing more - it is the hardest thing in the world to reach.

LP Thu, Dec 29th 2016 @ 2:32pm

Hi Lesley, I hear you! They are the things that I want too. I'm so sorry to hear about what you're going through. I think that the intensity of longing and wanting these things becomes stronger when you have had a break up, I felt the same. It lessens. I hope to have support and find lots of ways to look after yourself in the meantime. It's great that you have a routine and are getting out for fresh air I need to do the same! :) love LP xx

Milliecat Thu, Dec 29th 2016 @ 11:27am

Hi there Lillipet and thank you for a very insightful blog. Like everyone else on here it has provided much food for thought. You have described the two roles that your mum and dad played really well and i am sure that will ring bells with lots of other moodscopers. I could write a reply that would turn into a dissertation epic..and i am sure so could many others!
So, i thought i would share one of my favourite poems by Philip Larkin - This Be The Verse - it covers many of the issues that will be discussed on here. I like it because at the time i read it - my late teens - i was looking for some sort of explanation and this provided one - although i didnt feel like not having children myself. Mr Larkin was a rather sombre figure back in the 70s and this certainly fitted his life story. It was obviously a shock opening line and reflected how people were starting to question things more than they had before.

This Be The Verse
They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another’s throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don’t have any kids yourself.

And the other thing to share is that my experience of PsychoDynamic Counselling has brought me many wonderful and painful insights about my early years and how that has played out now i am an adult. What you learn early on through survival then fuses your brain in such a way that it is very difficult to reset it. I cant give you a reference or a book on this but i will say that the biggest part of this therapy is that there is no blame on anyone for anything that happened. It is a liberating but very painful process. I cant recommend a site but i am sure there is lots of info about all that.

Thank you as always for giving me some interesting thoughts for the start of my day.

Take care

Jul Thu, Dec 29th 2016 @ 1:19pm

I know this poem well Milliecat and love Larkin's books and poems. I can see that what one learns early on in life does fuse the brain. Thank you for reminding me of this poem. Julxx

LP Thu, Dec 29th 2016 @ 2:47pm

Hi Milliecat, Strangely the poem made me smile. "It's not their fault" tempered it slightly! It's not all doom and gloom I guess and it's the the hardest job going. One good thing is that I for one have tried to make sure my kids feel loved and Their happieness, enjoyment of life have been as important as them being caring and responsible. Wit's good that we have moved on since those days! It'd be fun to write the flipside of the poem! Now! Thanks for the tip about psychodynamic therapy. Is it longterm? It seems that no blame is key. Maybe of we dont blame our parents we stop being so hard on ourselves? Thanks for your helpful comments.LPx

Milliecat Fri, Dec 30th 2016 @ 11:35am

Hi LP. There are actually a few replies to TBTV - will find it for you. It is as you suggest a much more caring and compassionate one, refleting how far parenting has come on.x My experieince of PDynamic Therapy is on going and will be for as long as it needs to be. ANd yes that old cookie of stopping blaming reduces self blame...but that is quite a complex process still gets me in knots! Def check it out in your area -i had a check in session first to see if i felt comfortable with the therapist etc so worth a shot...Thank you again for your blog xx

Milliecat Fri, Dec 30th 2016 @ 11:37am

Hi Jul - so glad you like Mr LArkin too - he has written so really clever poems, and i think is a bit underestimated these days...he's not very eyecatching!! Glad it reminded you x

Milliecat Fri, Dec 30th 2016 @ 11:40am

Here is the other one.... They Tuck You Up, by Adrian Mitchell They tuck you up, your mum and dad They read you Peter Rabbit, too. They give you all the treats they had And add some extra, just for you. They were tucked up when they were small, (Pink perfume, blue tobacco-smoke), By those whose kiss healed any fall, Whose laughter doubled any joke. Man hands on happiness to man. It deepens like a coastal shelf. So love your parents all you can And have some cheerful kids yourself. Much more cheery!!a;though i think one somewhere inbetween would be just right.... S

LP Sat, Dec 31st 2016 @ 1:13am

Thx xx

The Gardener Thu, Dec 29th 2016 @ 2:17pm

I don't know the poem but like it. Thanks Lillypet - too big a question for me to even start on! So exhausted sleep at every opportunity. But every time I wake I have a 'new' idea - so the basic polymath which my father instilled in me - genes, example or both has obviously stuck. My mother, sadly, was absolutely a 'no' person - devoid of ideas and energy - married my father despite dire warnings and had 15 years of hell with him. He was obviously bi-polar - I was, am and probably always will be 'mercurial'. I get very angry on behalf of injustice to others, particularly children - never happened to either of my parents. Despite family problems now (who hasn't) I like to think that the mixed genes we have given to our children plus the widest possible upbringing in experience and ideas has made them people who are capable of anything. The last one, a mixed-race adopted girl, is a major study in herself. Intolerant since a child, dynamic, very attractive, she has had a 'chip' on her shoulder about adoption most of her adult life. Nature or nurture? Because neither of our adopted girls can have any idea what they have inherited from their natural parents genes.

LP Thu, Dec 29th 2016 @ 2:55pm

Hi TG, A good point. If we didn't know our parents' genetics or personalities we wouldn't be able to tell ourselves that that is why we are the way we are! Sometimes I know that I have attributed bad feelings to one cause or another and only realised later what the real cause was. Thanks for your comments TG. Hoping that you are able to snatch some rest. LPxx

The Gardener Thu, Dec 29th 2016 @ 4:05pm

Thanks LP - our family is a study in itself! There seems no doubt my father, myself and third son have the 'moody' genes. Just fetched Mr G from respite, and have to steel myself not to dread the evening. I've had a 'lovely' day - hour and a half sleep wrapped in a blanket with some good music. Wrote for an hour with no interruptions. Did half an hour gardening - cold, but I moved and breathed fresh air. This was 'normal' life until two or so years ago. Unallied to blog - but thinking of the value of a day 'free' I would advise anybody who says 'I'd love to do that - might start next year'. Do it, once done it can't be taken away from you. LP, your 'there was a little girl' - what day were you born on? As in Monday's child is full of ??? Thanks for such an interesting blog - calls forth a whole book - thousands exist on the subject, of course. XX

LP Thu, Dec 29th 2016 @ 11:48pm

I don't know which day TG, must ask! LPxx

LP Thu, Dec 29th 2016 @ 11:58pm

...and glad to hear about that sleep! X

Jul Thu, Dec 29th 2016 @ 6:35pm

Hi everyone. Norman commented on yesterday's blog. Just seen it. It's been a while since we had a peep from him and I was very happy to read his good news. Jul xxx

LP Thu, Dec 29th 2016 @ 11:51pm

Thanks Jul! If your reading Norman, I'm happy for you too! Xx

Night Owl Fri, Dec 30th 2016 @ 12:15am

Good stuff, Norman, thankyou for sharing. NOx

Molly Thu, Dec 29th 2016 @ 10:13pm

I always intend to comment much more than I do. I find these blogs very helpful. My parents split up when I was eight. I don't have much recollection of them together but they both had bad childhoods themselves and didn't seem to learn to put the wrongs right. Both quite immature, they went on to marry rather controlling people. I'm in my forties and their generation were expected to have children regardless of whether they wanted to or not. This is one of the reasons I didn't have any. No one chooses to come into the world and I have never been particularly grateful to be here ! But getting back to the original post, I do have a mixture of both parents personalities which is a very strange mixture indeed as they are so different, although interestingly my sister has no mental issues at all and no understanding of mine xx

LP Thu, Dec 29th 2016 @ 11:55pm

That's an interesting point Molly. Yes I seem to have had more emotional difficulties than my siblings. I'm the eldest, but that could be a blog for another day! Thanks for your comments.
LP xx

Night Owl Fri, Dec 30th 2016 @ 12:06am

Great blog, LillyPet!
Re - "Thought for the day: “When you blame others, you give up your power for growth and change.” Dr. Robert Anthony"
It always interests me how Caroline & co pair the thought for the day with the blog...

Trying not to blame my parents for my faults or my unhappinesses, and trying not to blame insensitive in-laws either ('tis season to be jolly' bah humbug), I get back to myself. Whom I ought (!!) not to blame either, as I try to learn self-love and self-care. (Why is that so hard?)
Do I try and apply acceptance? (And less of the 'try', huh?)
I think I've got the theory. Or at least, I would think so, if I could only feel I was putting some of it into practice...

Thanks to all the recent bloggers and the Moodscope team and community. Exhausting advent and Xmas-tide, and have felt so low thru some of it. But your blogs have helped me feel connected to something, some people who understand, some difficult but real part of myself the husband and his family don't want to know about. (The cupboard blog especially resonated, as I stuffed a year's worth of chaos, layer upon layer, into the spare room, I now call the cupboard room!!)

Sleep blamelessly. NOx

LP Fri, Dec 30th 2016 @ 8:11am

Thank you NO. All the chaos of my life has been stuffed away for the holiday too, physically and metaphorically. Spare room containg all the clutter, work packed away and enjoying going at my own pace. Thanks for commenting. LPx

the room above the garage Fri, Dec 30th 2016 @ 12:39am

Hello LP, terrific blog to make me think. My comments would take a few pages so I will just say thank you for the blog and interesting reading in the replies. Leah, how sad that your mum should take responsibility for your bipolar. Changed days indeed...

LP Fri, Dec 30th 2016 @ 8:15am

Thanks ratg.
Yes mums have a hard time as it is. LPxx

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