By Melisande Randall
Key Themes: Mental Health, Autobiography, Family, Disability
Melisande Randall was raised in a household where her mother’s mood disorder went undiagnosed and untreated for decades. Born with albinism, she has struggled with race and color issues, disability issues, women’s issues, and mental health issues while hiding under the “invisible umbrella” of toxic parentage. In this short autobiographical piece, she delves into the difficulties of her upbringing, but ends her story on a positive note, sharing the tools she has used to help her survive, heal and grow as a struggling Christian, single mother, and broken daughter. While work is in progress, Melisande hopes, in time, to fully rebuild her sense of self, reclaim her womanhood, and reconstruct her identity with both positivity and spirituality. Having kept journals most of her life, writing has proven to be a great catharsis. It has been a means of healing and coping in the wake of societal stigma associated with family dysfunction and mental illness.
About the Author
Melisande Randall was born in 1967 at Torrejon Air Force Base in Madrid, Spain. A year later, her family returned to Southern California, where they all currently reside. She is the youngest of three daughters and single mother of two sons. Holding Masters degrees in both Occupational Safety and Public Administration from the University of Southern California, Melisande has worked as both a safety professional and science teacher in the Los Angeles area. While raising her sons, Nate and Kristian in El Segundo California, she writes in her spare time and is a blogger on various mental health forums. She enjoys hiking, studying Spanish, and spending time with her cats, Ginger and Rusty. Under the Invisible Umbrella: Surviving My Mother’s Mental Illness is her first book to be published and she is also working on a second manuscript as well as a book of poetry.
I am now 44 years old. I am just now realizing what it takes to recover from a chaotic upbringing plagued by a mentally ill parent. I am aware of the problems that families face when a loved one is sick and refuses help. I know what it is like to be a child without a voice and a victim without a place of refuge. I grasp the frustration of wanting to scream out to the world, “Do you see this person and what she’s doing?” And then, there is no response. I can think back on the days when family members witnessed the onslaught of my mother’s wrath and turned a knowing eye in the other direction. I remember being ostracized for calling the authorities following the assaults I suffered at the hands of my mother as an adult living under her roof. I think of this society and how it treats mental illness as a taboo topic while physical illnesses are treated with openness and far more acceptance.
I have had many professionals discuss with me the topic of how we address the children of the mentally ill. When is it time to hear a child and remove him or her from a home that is familiar even if it is dysfunctional? Why is it harder for some to get the social services they need and easier for others? Was it better that I endure what I experienced in my parents’ home or would it have been better to put me in foster care, running the risk of instability or, even worse, treatment? As a “survivor”, I hate to admit that I have no answer. But I do have the wherewithal to know and understand that it is time to kill the stigma associated with this ugly, dirty secret. It is time to blow the lid wide open and get the dialogue going, so that the millions of those living with mental illness and mood disorders get the attention they need, so that they themselves and their loved ones are spared at least some of the unnecessary pain associated with an untreated and undiagnosed condition. We are failing until we see a day where a loved one can call an agency and say, “My wife is bipolar”, or “My husband is schizophrenic...what can I do, or what can we do to protect our children?” When this day finally arrives, we as a society can finally say that we have given a voice to those children, the least among us who suffer in silence without a voice. A child witnessing mental illness in the home is a child living in an infinite hell. A day takes an eternity to get through, and the mind has to protect itself and become resilient as it faces the reality that there will be many more eternal days until the children are old enough to escape and find their own voice.
This product was added to our catalog on Thursday 15 December, 2011.