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Kimberly In The Media

Behind a Child’s Eye

f6a1959d69cb327431d3308f06268725I believe every individual tries to reflect upon the happiest memories of their childhood. We tend to block out the negative experiences that we have encountered, solely focusing on the times of endless smiles and laughter. People claim that an individual’s childhood should be a period marked by innocence and purity and I agree, but I also believe that traumatizing events can leave permanent scars.

When I was a little girl, my mother was my idol for everything. I always looked up to her and she was constantly my chosen role model for those silly projects. My mom was a brave woman, never once did she shed a tear around me. Instead she put up a strong front. It wasn’t until one day when I witnessed her faint from getting up from a nap, distinctly seeing her pale and limp body, did I begin to worry. I found it even more strange when we went to go eat dinner at our favorite restaurant and she barely touched a thing. I distinctly remember asking her what was wrong, but she shrugged it off, giving me that smile and reassuring me that everything was fine. Little did I know that my life was about to change.

The whole concept of mental illness was confusing to me. Eight year olds aren’t supposed to understand the idea behind wanting to kill yourself. They are all led to believe that they will have happy lives and only die from old age. It was absolutely terrifying to see someone you looked up to screaming, shaking, complaining of hallucinations, and wanting to die. And of course, because I was that innocent and pure child, I was beyond frightened. It felt like I was witnessing a monster who had possessed my mother’s soul. All I could do was hide and pray that this demon would go away.

Kids aren’t taught at school how to deal with having parents that suffer from mental illnesses. They are taught to be good citizens, obey laws, and study content like simple mathematical skills. I had no idea how to deal with something like this, I had never seen these types of situations in cartoons, so I didn’t know how to help. Each time my mother had a bad moment, all I could do was cry because the truth was, I was scared. Every single time my mom had a bad episode, I tried to reassure myself I was a big and brave girl, but I couldn’t stop the tears from shedding down my face.

I think it’s safe to say that after my mom’s diagnosis became reality, my life changed. I was forced to accept that life was not a perfect fairy tale and not all childhoods were happy. It eventually became a ritual and I recognized that my mother would have her ups and downs. However, despite her episodes becoming more routine, I would be lying if I said that the little girl in me didn’t feel lonely and scared.

Rather than solely focusing on content, such as physical exercise and learning the periodic table, schools should also be teaching children about the world behind mental illness. People are often uninformed regarding the issues behind mental health disorders. Our first instinct is to call these individuals “crazy”, contributing to the negative stereotypes that are prevalent within society. If schools were to place a greater importance on mental health, children wouldn’t be so afraid and confused when witnessing their parents or family members dealing with, for example, a depressive episode. It would allow children to feel like they’re not alone and allow for an open line of communication.

 By: Priscilla Chou 

 

About Priscilla Chou

Priscilla is a second year student at the University of Guelph-Humber. Fascinated with the world behind mental illnesses, she’s an aspiring psychology student who hopes to specialize in clinical psychology.


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