Chynna shares the candid details of what it was like for her and her brother, Cam as they grew up with their mother that was dealing with a mental illness that was never openly discussed or properly diagnosed or effectively treated. The term Bi-polar wasn’t fully understood during the time that these events unfolded. More often than not, Bi-polar was often mistaken for depression (lows) or “Crazy” (mania) and either went ignored or medication was prescribed that only made matters worse.
After reading White Elephants, you will have a better understanding as to how Bi-polar doesn’t just affect the person suffering from it, but when the illness is not treated, Bi-polar creates havoc for those family members living with them as the never-ending cycle of chaos sucks the happiness out from those that are in close proximity.
Chynna was forced to grow up too quickly as she tried to protect her younger brother from witnessing their mother going through the drunken and often violent episodes. As a child that took on a parental role and doing her best to keep an eye on her mother, she witnessed and experienced things that no child should ever have to deal with, let alone carry such secrets in order to protect her brother and her extended family.
Sadly, this family dynamic is just one of many that sweep things under the rug. Important issues are never talked about, family members constantly enable the person with the taboo problem, so they never really have to be held accountable for their actions. Everyone knows there is a problem, but nobody wants to acknowledge it. What families like this (mine included) fail to see is that when an adult fails to step up, the children are left to deal with the aftermath and suffer the most.
While Chynna didn’t make it through unscathed, she was able to pick herself up, dust herself off and turn her life around. Sure there were many life lessons learned the hard way, but in many respects, she’s stronger from those experiences and was able to break the cycle for her children.