by Michelle Golden
Two summers ago my mother landed up in the emergency room; her heart rate was at a low four and the nurses were pumping something in her veins to reverse the drug effects of her attempted suicide. I remember staring at my mother, wondering if she was experiencing the same kind of internal emotional pain my sister and I were going through.
When she was later seen by a social worker we were told that she’s bipolar. My sister and I had been prepared for this answer for a while due to her years and years of destructive behavior. But when we finally had the answer in front of us, I don’t think either of us knew what to do next. Then, as if the social worker knew this was what we were thinking, she told us, “Your mother needs to get her self immediate help.”
We learned that bipolar disorder consists of disruptions in brain chemistry. The parts of the brain that control emotions don’t operate the way they should and because of this, individuals with the disorder experience certain moods more strongly and frequently than others for a longer period of time.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health approximately 5.7 million American adults or about 2.6 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year are affected by bipolar disorder, a disorder that severely affects mood swings. Out of the 5.7 million Americans who are affected by this disorder a lot of them are not aware of it and some may not even do anything to receive the right treatment.
For a number of reasons people who suffer from bipolar disorder don’t get the necessary help they need from a doctor. They may ignore their family and friend’s plea to seek treatment. Most of the time the number one reason for not seeing a doctor is fear. When people suffering from bipolar disorder live in denial they don’t have to face themselves, their fears, and reality. They can continue going about their everyday lives – even if their relationships with family, friends, and co-workers are at risk.
When getting treatment isn’t a priority people can risk becoming suicidal and one’s long-term physical health is at risk as well. And that’s the stage my mother was in when we found ourselves at her hospital bed. For years we didn’t know what the problem was and for years she never thought she had a problem.
Millions of Americans have bipolar disorder and it can develop at any point in an individual’s life. It’s not only a personality disorder but it is also a real disease. It requires medical attention just like cancer or diabetes requires treatment. The right treatment is out there for everybody. Medications are available to help stabilize moods and in therapy one can discuss feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. Through seeking professional help people can learn to cope with the bipolar disorder and learn how to fully engage in ways to better live a more gratifying and functional life.
One thing to realize when you’re dealing with a family member who has the disorder is that it isn’t your fault. For years my mother put the blame on my sister and I for her divorce from my father, or for her health, or just for even being born. But it is important to understand that all of these are irrational thoughts and though they may hurt, it really is the bipolar disorder in the parent speaking. Sometimes I think that maybe there is hope and she will change. But then those thoughts are interrupted when I remember the harsh names, the hitting, the shoving, and the manic state she was capable of getting stuck in. I used to think I was just the bad daughter. But when I moved out and my sister then had to deal with it, I knew that I had been wrong for many years and my mother’s daughters weren’t the problem. The fact that she wasn’t getting the right help was.
Although it’s been two years after my mother’s diagnosis and she still isn’t seeking the right help, I know that it takes time. It is true that her life has gone in a downwards spiral since then. She isn’t emotionally and physically healthy and stable to have a job. My mother is still suffering from the tremendous effects of the disorder. But I do have faith that at some point she’ll be ready to take the right medication, to speak with the right professional, and to trust in her own self and others that there is a light at the end of the long and dark tunnel. Like with anything, the first step is admitting when there is a problem. And after that, it’s about taking one day at a time.
RCG Mag staff wanted to take a moment to shout out to their special mom’s this month! So take a moment and read up on why we love our mom’s…then go hug yours or any other inspiring woman in your life. Here’s to the strong, empowered women of our lives! Happy Mother’s Day!
My mother is my best friend… maybe it’s a special bond we have because we share the same birthday, or maybe it’s just because she is such a compassionate, comforting and understanding woman. My mother is stylish… we share our clothes. My mother is more popular than I am… we can’t go to any store without her seeing someone she knows. But most of all, my mother is an inspiration. I have never met a person with more strength and optimism than my mother, and I doubt I ever will. There’s nothing she can’t do. She graduated from college, had a full time job, raised two kids, and most amazingly, fought cancer. The things she has gone through just within the past year of her life are more than most people would ever be able to bear. But not my mother. Sure, there are tough days… she’s only human. But the way she faces the world in such a confident, optimistic and fearless way, makes me want to look life in the eyes and challenge it the same way. Seeing my mother’s strength and heart gives me the strength to get through the tough days. She gives me the power to see the good among the painfully unfair things that have been thrown our way. And most of all, she gives me support, love and solidarity when I feel like life may be falling apart right in front of me. I have never stopped learning from her, and I know I never will. So, thanks mom…you’re pretty great. Happy Mother’s Day, I love you!
Words can’t describe the love and respect I have for my mom. The older I become, the more I realize all she has done for me. Not only is she my mom, but she is my best friend. This past year has brought some difficult situations my way, and my mom has stood by my side through them all. She is there for me no matter what I say or do, and I can never thank her enough. What I love most about her is that she strives to be a Godly example for me. The way she lives her life is a testimony to me, and I am forever grateful for this. Her patience, love, kindness, and courage are all parts of her loving and charitable personality that I respect and hope to attain. God has blessed me with a wonderful mother who loves and worships Him, and radiates compassion and forgiveness. I am so thankful for her, and I couldn’t ask for a better mom.
When I look at my mom, I see the kind of woman I desire to be. With four children, she takes joy in putting all her time into supporting us in everything we do. She is such an encouragement to my life and has taught me what it looks like to be a hard-working, genuine, compassionate and godly lady. I am amazed at her selfless desire to help other people, no matter who they are or how busy she is. My mom is the epitome of the godly woman described in Proverbs 31, specifically verses 25-26: “She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness.” My mom is not only my role model, but she is also one of my best friends, and I so much appreciate how she is always there to listen to me, understand and offer godly advice. Even when I don’t treat her the way that I should, she chooses to love me no matter what. I cannot begin to express how thankful I am for my mom. God has really blessed me with her and my dad; I could not ask for a greater example of Christ’s love. Happy Mother’s Day Mommy…I love you!
When I was a senior in high school, my senior prom fell overnight into Mother’s Day. When they didn’t have enough volunteers to work the 11pm to 5am after-prom event, my mom chose to begin her Sunday in a high school cafeteria. And when we woke up mid-day after getting home, she made a full breakfast for ten people. This is why my mom is amazing: she has been a caterer, a driver, a hostess, a boss, a chaperone, a psychologist and an audience. She has sat through enough bad violin concerts and grade school plays to fill a scrapbook. She has two kids but plays an integral role in several of their friends’ lives. Yes, sometimes I think she mothers too much and we have our share of squabbles. I still get frustrated when I’m home from college and she makes me text her telling her I’ve reached a friend’s house. But I know she does it because she loves me. She’s always looking out for me. If the world had more people that cared as much, it would be a better place. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.
I would like to wish my mother Cheryl Neal a Happy Mothers Day. My mom has always been there for me when I needed her to. Ever since I was born she has put in a hundred in ten percent to help me an anyway that she could. I know sometimes we can have our arguments, but I believe it’s because we’re so much like each other. I want to thank her for raising me to be a beautiful classy young woman just like herself. I wouldn’t trade her for anything in the world. At the end of the day in many cases she is the only one who understands. I don’t tell her enough how much I appreciate her and love her so I want to take the time out and thank my mommy. I love you!
From my genes to my strength, I am my mother’s daughter. Most importantly, she is the reason that I’m alive, but she’s also the reason behind who I am. She gives me my independence when I need it and she offers advice when I ask. She accepts me and she loves me. I admire her from a distance as she leads by example, running her own company and being a successful woman in a patriarchal corporate world. She’s my best friend, but let’s not forget, she’s also the reason for my great hair. You always hear people say that they can never repay their mothers and it’s at this point in my life when I realize just how true that is. I can only hope to one day become for my daughter what my mother is for me – my core.
Happy Mother’s Day to my wonderful mom, Christine Louise Russell Gonzalez. I love you for “oofy poofy oofy poofy, nope!” and “Koala Lou, I love you.” I love you for all the years of home schooling I wouldn’t trade for anything (if I’m a genius—and I am—it’s only because of you!). I love you for being my favorite person to weep copiously about movies with. I love you for raising me to love God, and for not raising me to be one of “those girls.” I love you for all the times in the last few years you’ve pushed and encouraged me, to help me become the kind of woman I want to be. Not to mention you’re way more beautiful than all the other *cough*-year-old moms around! I love you Momma, big as the world.
In Exodus chapter 20, God gave His people ten basic instructions for how to live an upright life. When you really think about, ten rules is not all that many; obviously God meant for us to pay special attention to these ten things, above everything else. Fairly high on this list of ten—number five—is “honor your father and mother.” Added to the end of that command is a promise from God: that “your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” This promise refers specifically to the promised land God was giving to his people in the book of Exodus, but even today, all these thousands of years later, the implication remains that honoring your parents is a really important thing to God.
This month we will set aside a day to honor our mothers. At my house, this will entail breakfast in bed, a few gifts, lunch at her favorite restaurant, and probably flowers—all to show my mom that we think she’s wonderful and we love her. Mother’s Day, no matter how simply or how extravagantly you acknowledge it, is truly a great thing. However, when God instructs us to honor our mothers, He probably didn’t quite mean giving them one day out of the year and being content with that. The question we should ask ourselves, then, is how can we show our mothers honor throughout the year? To answer this question, I think it is important to first know what the word “honor” actually means.
The first definition Dictionary.Com gives for the verb form of this word is “to hold in high respect.” You can show that you hold your mom in high respect in a hundred different ways, from small things like answering in full sentences instead of mumbling when she asks you about your day, to bigger things like vacuuming or washing all the dishes without being asked. Respect can be a tricky concept to grasp, however; it can take so many different forms, and it means something different to each person (Aretha didn’t say “find out what it means to everyone!”). Ultimately this particular expression of honor will depend on your individual relationship with your mother. If you’re not sure what your mom thinks of when she thinks of respect, it’s not a bad idea to just ask her directly! It sounds corny, but she’s likely to be thrilled that you really want to know.
Dictionary.Com’s second entry for the verb “honor” is “to revere.” A better word for “revere” might be “admire.” There are many ways to let your mother know that you admire her. One of the best ways might be to tell friends how much you appreciate her, while she’s there. But advice like this is not hard to come by. We girls are told fairly often, by our churches or our grandparents or our favorite piece of chick-lit, that it’s important that our moms know we admire them. We know it’s important to externally show our admiration; it might, therefore, be more important to work on internalizing this particular component of honor. Sure, we can remember to find a way of showing our admiration a few times per month or even per week, but do we really believe our own words on a daily basis? God’s desire, according to His command in Exodus, is that we honor our mothers not occasionally but with our lives—and that includes consistently revering them in our hearts.
I’m not at all trying to say that Mother’s Day is pointless or that it’s not a good way to honor our mothers. The Oxford English dictionary includes a definition that Dictionary.Com leaves out: “to celebrate.” We rightfully set aside one Sunday every May to celebrate the women who mean the most to us, whether it be with cards or food or gifts or just an extra long hug. But I would suggest that this year we should try to keep the values of Mother’s Day dear to our hearts long after May has come and gone. Imagine how honored your mom would feel if she was surprised with breakfast in bed in the middle of October!
Since the beginning of time, females have struggled to get along with females. While “back in the day” it seems that women had more reason to stick to their own, nowadays women are always finding ways to twist and manipulate everything. Whether this “everything” relates to men, jobs, school, or friends of the same sex, it’s just how women work.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to sit here and bash my own sex and hear the men applauding in the background. Women have special kinds of friendships, as do men.
Men can disagree, punch each other, and get over it. Women, on the other hand, are WAY more complicated.
While we should learn to forgive and forget, centuries have proved different.
As far as I can remember, I have always had a best friend. This was the one girl who I could share everything with, or almost everything. A secret, stories, dreams, wishes—you name it, we would talk about it. I have come to realize that this friendship with my “bosomest” friend was always a friendship that I could monopolize. I wanted a girl who was completely mine, who I could have to myself and not have to worry about her running to other girls and telling them my secrets. As time progressed, however, this became more and more difficult.
I am one of those girls that ended up being “one of the guys.” I most preferred hanging out with guys because they were less complicated. While they weren’t always as understanding or “in the know” of certain things, they were easier to be around.
Girls always confused me. Being one myself, as I got older I didn’t understand why girls needed a pack of other females to have behind them. Perhaps it was their insecurities that made them travel in packs, and perhaps it was my own that kept me from joining a trio or a quartette of females..
My closest friends were always my mom, my older sister, and my younger sister. From a family of females I learned to stick by those who understood and supported me. Those who faltered slightly were soon pushed aside. I didn’t understand why other girls weren’t closer to their families, or why other girls wanted only to talk about other girls. I just didn’t understand girls. I used to say, “I hate girls,” and my mom would reply, “you shouldn’t hate girls, you are a girl.”
I don’t know if I’ve learned my lesson just yet.
As girls grow up they start to center their lives on drama, and the drama usually revolves around boys or other girls. There’s always someone who is doing something “different” or “wrong,” there’s always someone who “shouldn’t like that boy because I do,” and so on. So, the question here: are girls friends or foes?
In my short 20 years of life I have learned that it completely depends. I have had and do have very close girl friends, but on the other hand I’ve had girls who I thought were friends, but ended up being “foes.” Yes, I learn to forgive and love them no matter what (most of the time), but some I just didn’t understand the situations.
Girls come in all shapes and sizes… all sorts of packages. There are some girls who have to have “the click.” “The click” is that group of girls who will idolize each other, share everything, and plan everything together.
Then there are girls who are more reserved. These girls tend to have one or two close friends. They tell each other everything, but at the same time seem to hold back just in case something goes sour in the relationship.
Then there is the girl who wants one friend. She wants one true friend who will be like her sister, and then she’ll have other girl friends to be “silly” with.
I have migrated through each of these three girls, but have found that I am ultimately the last. I am the girl who wants one true friend. I want the one friend who is always going to be there for me, who is always going to be available, who is always going to be honest, and who is always going to be faithful. Unfortunately, it always seems extremely hard to find that other girl who’s exactly like me when it comes to female relationships.
Unfortunately, I’ve lost faith in our sex. From observations as well as experiences, I have learned that many women will choose to be vindictive rather than passionate. Girls are so willing to turn their backs for another great opportunity. That opportunity can be a guy, a group of girls that are “more popular,” etc.
My latest experience has come from being in a sorority. I was in a sorority for a year and then had to drop for numerous reasons. The number one reason was that I simply could not afford it. However, my “sisters” didn’t understand. After a month or so of not being there, they decided to avoid me. I will ride the bus on campus and a girl I once called my sister will be sitting across from me and she won’t even acknowledge me. The girl who lived with me over the summer won’t return my phone calls or respond to my texts because I’m no longer “one of them.” It just seems so peculiar to me that women strive to show that they aren’t their stereotype, and yet we all have it in us.
I love my sisters. I love my friends. I support women in their ongoing battles, goals, and dreams, but I don’t fight the stereotype we have given ourselves. Women can be wonderful friends, but it seems we still have a lot to learn when it comes to being true friends.
I know there are wonderful women out there who truly are women of faith and justness. I just want there to be more women like those rarities! Step up and be different. Step up and be a real friend, not a friend and a foe.
Be a woman of God, a woman of faith, a woman of justness. Be that rare “bosom friend” like Anne Shirley and Diana Berry from Anne of Green Gables. I challenge you to stop loving drama and start loving true friendships. If you don’t, it will catch up to you.
By Katherine J. Chen
At the dinner table, I had surprised my parents with tickets to see “Wicked” on Broadway. Over steaming plates of pork buns and bok choy, I waved three tickets triumphantly in the air. My mother was ecstatic; it had been such a long time since the three of us went out together to watch a show. My father, being the more practical one in the family, asked how much the tickets had cost. I simply shook my head and returned to shoveling spoonfuls of rice into my mouth.
I had only just graduated from high school, and was offered a job over the summertime to work as a student mentor for an education start-up. Having little to no talent for financial affairs, I splurged half of my first month’s earnings on these three precious, emerald-green tickets. I could picture it now: my parents sitting in the front row, as costumed actors pranced across the stage belting out show tunes. New York awaited. The sweet smell of garbage billowing up from the sewers. The glittering lights of neon signs. Skyscrapers that plunged into the gray clouds above. I finished my dinner with zest that evening, thinking that nothing could go wrong.
Looking back, I realize that I was more than a little naïve. Two years ago, my father was diagnosed with colon cancer. He wore a colostomy bag for several months during chemotherapy and radiation treatments, and was later informed by his doctor that he could remove it by undergoing a simple procedure. In mid-July, we went to the hospital together, thinking that he would be out in time for both the “Wicked” show and my upcoming birthday. A few hours after the operation was deemed a “success”, he began to vomit blood. Suddenly, every part of his body was fighting to survive what should have been a straightforward and easy operation. I still remember that summer as being one of the worst seasons of my life. Thankfully, I was able to work at home during that time, which allowed me more hours to spend at the hospital with my parents.
The situation today is not much better. In light of the economic situation, it came as no surprise when my father’s company of twenty years finally closed down. My father was not only out of a job but also still extremely weak. He could barely function without breaking down from sheer exhaustion. Lifting a lightweight chair could cause his arms to buckle and his rectum to bleed from the strain. As a result, my mother and I were forced to take over the family. She began working part-time at a major department store, and I balanced my university coursework with a job at a consulting company and several writing/editorial internships.
Pursuing a career when personal problems are raging at home is no easy task. We have no health insurance, which means that the bills for my father’s upcoming operation will require us to pay the money directly out of our own pockets. I have no interest, however, in becoming a typical sob story. My mother and I both work hard for the money we earn, and I have my eyes fixed on the bright future ahead of me.
My regular weekly schedule usually runs as follow: Two to three days spent living on campus, attending lectures, seminars, and precepts, and three days in New York City, working in the office as an editorial intern for a major magazine. After getting off at 6 o’clock and taking the 194 home, I usually begin working on writing assignments (which range from articles for magazines and websites to American literature essays) and any internship projects that are due soon. My mother’s work ethic inspires me, and my father’s sad situation invigorates my spirit. I know that after working for over twenty years in a printing factory, he deserves to be taken care of during these difficult times.
In any job, personal problems are bound to come up at some point or another, whether it is at the peak of your career or at the edge of retirement. However, it is also important to do what you love in life. I would never compromise my passion for writing for any reason, despite what is going on in my life or in the lives of others. Instead, I try to schedule time for my own creative writing, even when tensions are running high at home and my mother is all but pulling out her hair.
My parents and I have hopes and dreams for better times ahead that aren’t plagued with so many financial worries and health problems. I dream still of New York; Skyscrapers that plunge into gray clouds, glittering neon lights, dancers belting out show tunes on stage. I work for my dreams, for my career, and also, of course, for my parents.
by Maggie Malach
Living with other people is never easy, especially when it’s a first time experience. While it can be amazing to have a best friend sharing a living space with you, it is also a situation that needs to be approached with a little bit of caution.
My first year of college started off like any other freshman’s—I was excited, scared, and just in general a little apprehensive about being away from home for the first time. Luckily, my roommate was super nice. We instantly bonded over our inability to find anything on campus, as well as our tendency to wreak havoc around the dorm.
Sometime in late autumn, however, things changed.
My roommate started going out with one of our friends, and all of a sudden we grew apart. When I say “grew,” I mean a kind of growth spurt. It was fast and it came out of nowhere and then, all of a sudden, we stopped talking. Sadly, this more or less continued through the end of the year, a lifestyle I definitely do not recommend.
Sophomore year was definitely easier—I lived with five girls who were absolutely amazing. This year, my junior year, things continue to go well, but I have definitely learned a few lessons.
The first rule for living with people is a big one for all relationships: communicate. Talking is essential because it is the only way to ensure that all parties are on the same page. I learned this lesson the hard way freshman year when my roommate and I all but stopped talking. Each of us was too stubborn to confront the other, and I think it’s a shame that my memories of our relationship are less than stellar because of it.
The second rule is compromise. Be aware going into the situation that things are not always going to go your way and that you will not always be happy. Having willingness to compromise not only shows your roommate that you are looking out for her, but will set the standard of respect for your year together.
The third rule is probably the most obvious, yet it is sometimes the hardest to follow: Do not expect to be best friends with your roommate. Yes, there are some roommates who meet their first day on campus and are inseparable even beyond graduation. However, you should not expect to be one of them. I have found that some of the best relationships work when two roommates get along, but do not necessarily spend every waking moment of every day together. Like every other relationship, it is all about balance.
The most important thing to remember as you go through your freshman year, and even the years beyond that, is that people change. College is a time for growth, and the person who introduces herself as your roommate on that epic first day might not be the person who hugs you goodbye as you move out in the spring. You are guaranteed to grow as a person too, and hopefully, with some effort, you and your roommate can grow to peacefully cohabitate together.
By RONESHA DENNIS
Have you ever argued with your brother because he called you ugly, or your sister because she called you fat? Have you yelled, “I hate you,” at the top of your lungs out of anger towards them?
If you’ve ever shared any dialogue of this nature with your sisters and brothers, you’ve been involved in sibling rivalry.
This phenomenon takes place in most households where there is more than one child. Arguments can occur over things as little as who has to clean a shared room during the week, or how much money one sibling is given as compared to the other.
According to Dr. Daniel J. Harkness, behavioral science coordinator at Iowa Lutheran Hospital Family Medicine Residency, sibling rivalry is an “interpersonal dynamic” of competition between children in the same family.
So what causes the interpersonal dynamic that makes you and your brothers and sisters fight? There are several reasons.
Sibling rivalry most commonly occurs because one or both siblings are seeking their parents’ attention. For instance, your oldest sibling, who was the only child, may antagonize you to gain some of your parents’ now split attention.
Or your youngest sibling, who has always been the baby of the family, may want to become more dominant.
“Younger children want to test the waters of dominance that is perceived to be held by the older child,” Dr. Harkness said, explaining that older siblings are usually given more authority.
Other reasons for rivalry are one sibling’s personality factors, as compared to the other’s; both siblings relationships with their parents; and the siblings’ ages and genders.
This dynamic often causes stress for parents because many family psychologists suggest that parents allow their children to work out issues on their own instead of trying to make solutions for them. The reason for this is that sibling rivalry can be both beneficial and detrimental to siblings.
In his article “How to Deal with Sibling Rivalry,” Florida physician Anthony Kane said that sibling rivalry is a sign of a healthy family. Families who are without sibling rivalry, Dr. Kane said, are under increased stress.
In the article, he listed sibling rivalry’s ability to teach conflict resolution as a benefit. In most cases of sibling rivalry, siblings should try to work out the situations on their own.
Dr. Harkness suggests walking away or spending an hour alone during the day to decrease the tension felt after a conflict.
Dr. Kane’s second benefit of sibling rivalry is its ability to teach the universal lesson that life is not always fair. In his article, Kane said there would always be people who are “better than you. There is always someone who is richer, who is smarter…. Life is full of inequities.
We may not like it but most of us have come to terms with these inequities. Where did we learn to accept that everything is not always distributed evenly? We learned it from our siblings.”
Still, some siblings experience greater negative effects than positive ones from the rivalry. In some cases, siblings have resorted to physical violence, leaving long-term effects on their loved ones. This may lead to sibling abuse.
“I have had several kids actually act to seriously injure their sibling – most memorable was the kid who pushed his younger sister down the stairs,” Dr. Harkness said in an email interview.
In 1988’s Intimate Violence: The Causes and Consequences of Abuse in the American Family by Richard Gelles and Murray Straus, a study suggested that while girls display less assaultive behavior towards siblings than boys do; they are also more likely to be physically abused in sibling rivalry when they have older brothers. The study is one of only a few done on the subjects of sibling rivalry and abuse.
Outside of physical effects, males and females may experience mental side-effects or low self-esteem in their adult life because of verbal abuse at the hands of their siblings.
Sibling rivalry is normal and has many healthy effects on children coming from balanced households. So long as abuse or victimization does not take place, the negative effects of sibling rivalry are rare.
If you’re ever in a situation where you feel physically or verbally abused by your sibling, you should always talk to your parents and seek help.