I’ve admittedly not looked into whether mental health issues are hereditary but I’ve been doing a lot of work recently on my family tree and the results have been very interesting. I think now they could be passed on in some way & its been helping me examine my previous mental health issues. It would appear my issues are an amalgamation of over a 150 years of my fore-mothers histories.
I’ve been reading a book The Shaman Within by Barbara Meiklejohn-Free and in the book she mentions how your ancestors can help you heal yourself by knowing the line you come from and your family history. She also mentions her childhood relationship with her mother. I found it really interesting to compare with my own. At the time, as a young child, I never knew if the troubles I went through were down to poverty, general life or hard time on behalf of my mother but to the young me I just felt everything was mean and reacted accordingly. We had a very fractious relationship for many years. Last year we both read a book Warriors,Settlers & Nomads by Terence Watts with each one being a personality type. The exercises in the book ask you to discuss your parent or guardian by choosing what you think your parent is. My personality test came out as Settler and I described my mother as a Warrior and that is how I reacted to her throughout life. Strangley when we compared notes my mum had been given the personality type Settler also and she thought HER mother was a Warrior! And so it would probably go on. It gave us the opportunity to explore our issues and learn more about each other.
But going back to the family tree. I’ve had lifelong issues with money including a borderline gambling habit in my younger days, I’ve had mental health issues, in my binge drinking days I discovered my limits which turned out to be no limits. My grandmother had similar issues and I found out last year that she felt she was often mis-understood and that she wasn’t as happy sometimes as she could have been. She also had the same money issues as me but on a higher level. I don’t have knowledge of her mother as she died when I was small. i remember a warm hearted lady but only years later discovered she had a child out of wedlock and dealt with the issues of bringing up a child alone in the early 1900’s. She was sometimes harsh on my mother for falling pregnant so young with the result she married my father for a short time more for formality than anything else
Her mother had mental health issues. A childhood spent in teh work house followed by servitude in a stately house left her institutionalised and unable to shake off the horrors of her past to the point that she refused to wear anything except that of the work house uniform for the rest of her life. This resulted in mocking and bullying in the street. How must that have affected her children?
But then her mother had it equally hard. Married at 17 and widowed by 22 with 3 children to her first husband by the time she married my 3 x great grandfather she was an alcoholic. No Samaritans or bereavement counselling then,you simply got on as best as you could or you took to drink, sold all the furniture in the house, gave your children up to the workshouse and beat your husband for not working.
So 150 plus years and it’s time to break the cycle. I still need to work on my finances but I barely drink these days and as long as I stay out of bingo halls, casinos and arcades I can keep out of trouble. But it’s time to stop living in the past (literally) and move forward. The last few weeks there has been a definite shift in perspective in how I view the world and that also ties into my family tree. Going further back I found I’m a direct descendant of the Plantagenet line with ancestors such as Eleanor of Aquitaine, King Henry II & III, King John and Louis VIII of France. While some people develop mantras and spiritual sayings I’ve gone the more unconventional route and it works for me. When I feel like I can’t do something or take a chance I tell myself that my ancestors managed to often rule 2 countries at the same time (however badly in some cases) so something like submitting a short story is nothing. It’s even spread to my son who is currently looking for work & has been brave enough to spread that search internationally. It’s impossible to say no or stress when you’re ancestral uncle is Richard the Lionheart. The three lions are part of my personal heritage. I found myself taking chances and doing things I would normally back out of. I’m smiling a lot more too.
If only I could go back in time to 3 x Great Grandma Jemima and tell her the same. I wonder if she would listen? So maybe the way to change your future can be found in the past? Is history repeating itself? Is your family stuck in an endless cycle? And is there someone in the past that moved beyond all that and can give you some courage to cling onto and channel? Try it, research and see what you find. You never know what positivity it can bring x