Our Families Say 10

Everyone is afraid of something: spiders, heights, fire, or the dark. On top of all of those, I have another fear. And it’s one that some people may call irrational. If you knew my family history, you’d understand why I’m afraid of substance abuse.

Mental illness runs rampant in my family (depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety). Having grown up in a time when mental health was hardly discussed and in a household where children were to be seen and not heard, my family went undiagnosed. My aunt, my uncles, and my mom began self-medicating with a combination of drugs and alcohol. They all struggled for years and continue to work toward sobriety.

Like my family, I too live with mental illness. The difference is I grew up in a home with supportive and open minded parents who were willing to learn and listen. Yet, I still wonder whether or not that gene was passed down to me. Many of my cousins, and even one of my siblings, are now substance abusers. I fear that someday, I’ll share the same fate.

— Anonymous