Where did the childhood go? Print
Written by Carol Irving   
I am the oldest child of a large family (five times the national average) whose mother went through what was then described as Post Peurpual Depression. I was 10 years old. Her behaviour became increasingly bizarre and I have graphic memories of her crawling about the floor searching for things, she became extremely Psychotic and was hospitalized for what seems like three years - my memory is cloudy about this - it may have been two years. The course of treatment she underwent included massive amounts of Electro Convulsive Therapy (ECT (1960+)).
As the oldest child of many, and with a migrant father, I became the chief conduit of communication between my mothers family and my father and the general caregiver. Eventually the children were split up and sent to relatives houses to live for the largest period of her hospitalisation. That is the only period of childhood I remember with fondness. My father until his dying day was never accepted by mothers family - or from the time of her psychosis, by mother herself. She returned from treatment an arch manipulator and accomplished liar.

She never really regained her reputed personality, I cannot remember her as a mother. I discovered recently that mother and several of her sisters had been regularly beaten by their father. The family is stoic and refuse to discuss realities in front of others and that includes their children.

My marriage was a disaster - mental abuse not physical abuse - possibly guilt on both sides, and I am now divorced. The fact is I always gave the impression of coping - now however I have had to seek help because my coping mechanisms are shot.

They have been put to the test over the past 12 years, with my experience of motorvehicle accidents which have caused major physical damage and considerable mental anguish. One of these was a result of a hit and run motorist - which made it extremely difficult to trust. This has proved almost insurmountable in using the facility of a Therapist.

The most recent accident - has left me unable to cope, the defense mechanisms I developed through childhood have not been up to the task of allowing me to cope at all and as I mentioned I am now seeking help as, though I have a job now - I have developed a habit of binge drinking when the stress and the pain get too much I look for time out. This has been a downward spiral which I cannot allow to continue and thus I am receiving help for it now.

The point of my contacting you is that I suppose the main things I missed out on as a child were an early knowledge that took the myth out of most things - a complete lack of faith in what constitutes an adult, and the inability to communicate. I feel I developed as an observer and lost an enormous amount of idealism.

Children do need ongoing counselling to cope and they do need protection from types of behaviour that defy the imagination.

Carol Irving