Melanie: Moving Out
Following college, Melanie moved out of her family home to share an apartment with a girlfriend. She was glad to leave, because with Paul still living at home, family life was chaotic. She believes some of her life decisions, such as her first marriage, are related to dysfunction in her family of origin.
I couldn’t be the person that I wanted to be in that household. There was stuff going on that was dysfunctional. My parents weren’t able to get help for their son who was a big contributor to the chaos. Then my dad’s illness—that was chaos too. My mother was rather a secretive person—don’t tell anybody that this is happening. That was the way things were then because nobody knew about mental illness. . . It was looked on as worse than physical illness.
From her experience with NAMI, Melanie realized there is a genetic link for mental illness. She heard stories about her grandmother and great grandfather indicating they likely lived with symptoms of mental illness as well.