I sat in my favorite chair. The sun warmed me as I sipped my morning coffee. Tears began to stream down my cheeks. Suddenly my breath became more rapid. What was wrong with me I sobbed.
I thought I was am past this…
The years before my mother’s death were filled with incredible stress. Taking her to doctors appointments. Making sure she was okay by checking in on her and making sure she was caring for herself. An emergency room visit and several hospitalizations weighed heavily on me.
I had learned to be silent. I had learned to bury it all. I had learned to take it all on, to try and spare others from the burden. I had learned to numb myself on the inside appear strong on the outside. I had learned to quietly be responsible for things no thirty something should have to do.
The years after my mom’s passing filled with anger. Innocent moments of being told “You look like your mom.” “You remind me of your mother. “You’re so much like your mom.” Would quickly fill me with burning anger and words of I am not like my mother! I am nothing like her!
I had learned to only remember needing me. I had learned to remember only her confused. I had learned to only remember the darkness consuming her. I had learned to only remember her unable to be my mother. I had learned to be certain I was nothing like her and I never would be.
Today memories of my mother fill me with warmth. I share with my daughter’s stories of how my mother loved me. I smile when I remember her and share stories with my sisters about her. I am warmed by the reminders of her that are in me when I look at my hands, my long face and arms that never seem to find a sweater long enough for them.
I learned to share my story. I learned to trust others with my story. I learned to ask for help. I learned to let others support me, to tell me it is ok to feel this way. I learned to remember my mom’s amazing creative talent. I learned to cherish the loving mother she was. I learned to love the parts of her that are me. I learned to remember her and not her illness.
Mental illness took from me the amazing mother that raised me. The woman who made me the woman I am today. It tricked me and stole from me my recognition of how incredible she was. It gave me, instead, these experiences so I could learn about myself. It connected to me words, it moved me to find a voice and the pain it gave me allowed me to find an amazingness in myself I never knew I had. It connected me with a community of incredible woman who prove everyday that mental illness can be lived with and conquered. It showed me the power we have within ourselves when we reach out, connect with others, stop hiding, stop staying quiet and join forces. It taught me that when we stop giving the darkness power, stop letting the weaknesses own us, stop giving the illness have power, stop hating the illness and start loving the people…the mothers, the fathers, the sisters, the brothers… as people anything is possible. Especially love!
I am Carrie Baughcum. I am the proud momma to two incredible girls, the wife to one unconditionally loving husband, completely indecisive, mismatch sock wearing, word slinging, doodler, who loves to be inspired, is enthusiastic about learning, passionate about being a Special Education teacher and is the daughter of a mother who courageously fought mental illness.