Author Janna Vought of ‘Evolution of Cocoons’ Opens Up on Mothering her Bipolar and Asperger’s Daughter
Friday, October 4th, 2013
For mothers who weep despair, I am a mother raising a child diagnosed with debilitating mental and developmental illnesses. I share an intimate glimpse of this journey with other parents in my book, Evolution of Cocoons: A Mother’s Journey Through Her Daughter’s Bipolar and Asperger’s. Through my writing, I find my voice and hope to be a source of inspiration and comfort to other mothers walking a similar path. I want to share a slice of my life through this essay:
It happened again, another mass shooting, another mentally ill individual succumbing to demons trapped within. A man, tortured, plagued, debilitated by chemical imbalances in his brain exacted his twisted sense of justice upon the innocent irrelevant to his pain. Like Newtown, Aurora and Tucson, we witnessed the destruction of the human soul forged in the mind of the mentally ill. We vilify, shake our heads, wonder how those so disturbed are ever allowed to feel the warmth of sun upon their face, certain the world would be a better place if such people didn’t exist. Shame on them for indulging their insanity; shame on society for casting such stones without understanding. Isolated events on behalf of the few does not provide an accurate representation of the whole.
As I watched the story of the naval yard massacre in Washington D.C., I considered the shooter’s family, as I do each time such an event occurs. I harbor a level of empathy for their plight cannot be fathomed. I listened to the interview with shooter Aaron Alexis’ mother, heard her sorrow infused voice as she struggled to understand the actions of her son, her attempts to explain his erratic and destructive behavior, all while cloaked in secrecy, obscuring her identity in order to preserve what little sanctity remained in her life. My heart ached, as it does for all the faceless parents of the mentally ill and developmentally disabled, for I too am the vessel of society’s shame, the mother of a daughter infused with the breath of the devil, a bipolar girl with Asperger’s syndrome, plagued by an unbalanced mind.
With words, I illuminate our existence, mothers who dwell in shadows, fearful of our discovery. We suffer in silence, frozen inside, observers to the devastation of our children, isolated by a world who does not grasp the concept of difference. I shatter assumptions of the mentally and developmentally ill and their families. I expose my truth so others know they’re not alone. Why should we be sequestered from the rest of humanity because of a slip in chromosomes that no one could control? We are good parents, strong women, devoted to the care and well being of our children. Thousands of us exist. We deserve a voice.
I do not profess to have the answers; I have no sage advice. I offer comfort, friendship, and compassion, a guide from darkness into light.
Janna Vought is a writer who is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in education. Her daugther, Kamryn, is diagnosed with Bipolar I and Asperger’s Syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder, making her intimately qualified to write on parenting a special needs child.Add a Comment