Whay My Mother's Mental Illness Taught Me
Girls' Life magazine|April/May 2020
Whay My Mother's Mental Illness Taught Me
When I was 15, my mother showed up to my high school intoxicated.
By Elizabeth Trabert Piper

She sped up through the carpool lane in her red Focus station wagon and rammed the car in front of her. As she stepped out to look at the damage, I remember her screaming incoherently at the man in the car she had hit.

One by one, faces turned to observe the scene and began whispering. I stood there in the crowd, desperately trying to hold back tears, and briefly considered joining my peers and their parents as they subconsciously judged my mother.

I remember thinking that it would be so much easier to pretend I didn’t know her than to walk over and identify this drunk, mentally ill woman as my mother.

Instead, I made a choice that day—a choice I would be forced to make time and time again in my complicated relationship with my mother and her mental illness. On that day, unlike so many other days when I would sit by her side and try to calm her down, I turned away from her and walked myself home.

My mother wasn’t always like this. On days when she was sober and well, she was my best friend— I couldn’t get enough of her.


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April/May 2020