Holly: Family Mental Illness

Three of Holly’s four children live with mental illness. Out of seven granddaughters, one lives with depression and anxiety; a second has bipolar disorder; a third was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder; and the fourth lives with bipolar disorder, fetal alcohol syndrome, and autism. Holly believes her mother had bipolar disorder, although not diagnosed, and her father lived with depression.

It took 10 years before Holly’s three children, who all were experiencing symptoms, were given diagnoses. During that those years she felt very isolated because her family did not understand mental illness. She explained that no one talked openly about mental illness. What she heard was “parents were blamed for their children’s bad behavior.” Today, her children all live on their own. Her oldest son lives in her basement apartment and pays rent. Holly noted, “I didn’t think I’d get through those 10 years.”