After my mom passed away from cancer, I was relieved of the anxious worrying of relapse. She had been in remission for four years before her final prognosis presented itself. Many years before the cancer, my mom was diagnosed with depression. Together the cancer and the depression made her life a colossal journey filled with pain and despair. I have yet to find a word that would describe what taking care of her was like. After her death, my grief was coupled with guilt. I felt guilty for feeling relieved that I no longer had to worry about the effects of her cancer and the depression.
My new-found freedom was short-lived. As with any major life crisis, certain triggers can happen to its victim. Within months of the loss of my mom, I was diagnosed with bipolar. The psychiatrist told me negative life events can often cause a first episode. I was in my early twenties, another indicator of its onset. After wrestling with mania, depression came along to me. It presented itself as a formidable opponent. It took a year to recover. Medication and therapy kept me away from suicide. During my darkest hours I would lock myself in the bathroom. I would stare at my image from the mirror. Instead of seeing myself, the guilt I felt reflected my mother. For many months I could only see her. Slowly her image diminished and my own face, with its show of pain, was represented. It was months before I could see my actual self.
Since then, I have had more episodes of mania and depression. Each time my recovery is different. I still see myself. I believe I have finally let go of my guilt, giving rest to my mother’s illness-filled memory.
Today, getting ready to go out, I fixed my hair and make-up a little different. As I saw my reflection in the mirror, I noticed many features liken to my mom. It felt sobering. That reflection showed me more healing had come. It was this day 16 years ago she passed away. There is a settling feeling that comes from knowing I am living better.
I was diagnosised with bi-polar after taking care of my mother after she died of cancer. However unlike you, my relation with my mother had been very bad, which led to post traumatic stress disorder. I fee like we have at least one thing in common. I also felt freedom.