"Are we looking for your Mommy?", my baby girl asks me every time we take this short-cut home and drive down Senter road. I try to avoid this way home at all costs, but sometimes I forget. It just amazes me that she remembers the few times driving down this road a little over a year ago, while I looked for my Mom because it was storming that day and I couldn't bare being safe and warm in my house thinking that she was out in that weather. My Mom's meth addiction exacerbated her mental illness over ten-years ago, and led her to being diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic. We tried everything in our power to get her help, yet, she still ended up on the streets in San Jose aimlessly roaming around, talking to herself, dirty, sometimes with no shoes on, and completely out of touch with reality.
I've had to drive right past my Mother several times, because I had my kids in the car and they were hungry and needed to go to bed, and I knew if I pulled over it was a long process to convince her to let me help her. I battled with myself many times on whether or not I should even expose my children to her, but I already have and they still remember the few times they saw their Grandma. I try to make it a life lesson on why you don't do drugs, and why it's important to protect your mind. Mother's day is always a hard one for me, even though being called a Mom has been my greatest blessing, by far. My sister and I took my kids out to breakfast this year on Mother's Day, and my daughter asked us to tell her about our Mom. My sister and I looked at each other and started crying. My sister told my kids how she used to sing beautifully and was really funny. I sat there listening to her reminiscing on the good memories we have with a great sadness that I think will always plague my heart for as long as I live. I've realized that if ever is a time a woman needs her mother, it is when she becomes a mother. I've also learned that there are some things you have no power to change. You cannot change where you came from; whom you were born to; what your genes are, but you do have power to change a lot more important parts of your life. You have the power to change who you become; what your environment is; the thoughts you think; where your focus and energy goes; and what you do with the things that you've been through.
Deepak Chopra wrote a book called, "Super Brain", and he addresses the issue of schizophrenia being hereditary and passed down the generations of a family. This is something I used to worry about a lot. In short, he states in this book that people have been conditioned to believe that genes are the deciding factor, and through the fairly new founded science, epi-genetics, it has been discovered that it is not the nucleus of the DNA, but it is environment of which the DNA lives that ultimately controls the DNA. This environment is passed down through the conditioning of family cycles and behaviors. After reading this book, I decided to take things into my own hands, and stop all of the toxic family cycles that I grew up around. This is my way of accepting of where I have come from, but completely disconnecting from it. Mental illness is not a plague, but you can use it as a sign to be mindful and aware of your habits and lifestyle. I've made it a lifestyle to protect my mind at all costs. I've made it a lifestyle to educate myself as much as possible in self-development and mental illness, so that I can make educated decisions not based on beliefs or stigmas that I was conditioned to believe.
Your past does not have to dictate your future, and it doesn't matter what it is. It will be hard, but anything worth doing in life is hard. It won't be easy, but it'll be worth it. I know that the decisions I am making right now in my life will lead to my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren to having completely different lives filled with healthy, positive habits and rituals. To learn more about Dr. Deepok Chopra's thoughts on schizophrenia please read the article below: