We never had birthday parties - a distinct lack of fun Print
Written by Fleur   
"A few years ago it suddenly occurred to me why our family life when I was growing up was so different from other families. There was a distinct lack of fun in our family. We did very little together, my sister and I never had birthday parties, we never had birthday cakes, we never did sleep overs, we never had friends over to play, we didn't go to the movies, the local pool, we never had a parent read a book to us.
"When I was about 10 or so my sister and I so wanted to go to the beach, but knew we never would, that we made a pretend beach behind the garage with some sand. It was moderate fun for a while. Sometimes I would think about the sister we had lost, and I would go into the back of the wardrobe and look at the pink dress that was hanging there. That was her dress. In the bottom of one of our mother's drawers were some faded flowers. They were from my sister's funeral. My mother kept them till the day she died. My mother had a mental illness, she had a personality disorder, and after my sister was killed on a country road by a young, speeding motorist, she went downhill fast. She became addicted to prescription medications, she became a recluse, she became phobic, and she blamed my father who had been supervising my sister the day she was killed. My mother was referred to a psychiatrist who she continued to see for the rest of her life, and he made moderate progress I suppose. She had a few admissions into dreary psychiatric hospitals and we would visit her and my surviving sister and I would be terrified and ashamed of seeing her in that environment. That was when I was a child. I remember so acutely that there was no support for us - my father, my sister and I. We were left to struggle on alone. There is a huge well of grief inside me about that. Nobody seemed to care. My mother had alienated my father's family and they were in another state, anyway, and her family were odd and some were in another country. My father was a good Catholic but no-one from the local parish wanted to know about us. I wish there had been a group for children of parents with mental illness back then, more than 30 years ago. Although I was a shy kid, I could have really used it."


Rural Australia