Skip to Content Skip to Navigation

Alexandra Georgas: Blog

I received this email from one of the people who heard my talk in Texas:

Your presentation was really wonderful. I got a lot out of each session I attended but yours was probably the most personal, and hopeful, while acknowledging just how challenging it is loving a family member through the illness. I was able to to pass on some of your hopeful story to a woman who approached me after a meeting recently. Thank you again, Jim Sturgis

So great to know my story is helping others have insight and heal.

Mom's passing

Posted on October 8, 2017 with 0 comments

Early this week, my sweet mama passed from this life to Heaven.  It's been a very hard week of course.  I am comforted that she passed away in her sleep, and my family got to spend time with her and say our good byes in her last 24 hours of life.  She went out to eat two days prior, so she did have a more rapid decline and got to do things she enjoyed right until the end.  She was 80 years old and passed from heart failure.

I spoke at her funeral, and below is what I said.  Mom was a great woman of love and I will see her again.

 

Today I want to honor Mom by sharing with you some of my happy and special memories.

When I was a kid, Mom used to sing around the house quite often.  She had a beautiful voice – professional level quality.  She loved to sing to the Sound of Music.  Thanks to her, Ted and I know every word to the soundtrack, plus the music of all the 1960’s musicals.   I also loved it when she would sing to me in the car, “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine….”  She sang with joy and love.

Mom loved to sew, and made outfits for her and me that matched, which at the time I thought was awesome because I wanted to be just like her.  She made sure all of us were stylist, even my Barbie doll, who had a whole wardrobe made by her.  We all looked good thanks to her.

Our home looked good too, as Mom was into decorating.  She studied interior design for one semester at U of I before leaving school to marry Dad.  But she used her knowledge to give us a nice place to live.  Although, I’m still not sure about the white flocked Christmas tree with the blue balls. 

Mom gave us a lot of freedom and trust.  Unlike other parents, I didn’t have to ask permission to go to Mary’s to play.  I knew when I could and when I needed to be home, and so I just let Mom know I was going.  I was free to be a kid and I made my own decisions about who to play with and when.  That subtle parenting difference helped me develop confidence and independence which has helped me a great deal in my life and for which I am very grateful.

Mom also did a lot of kind things for others.  She did things that no other person would do such as taking care of Dad's uncle when he was very sick and came over from Greece. He didn't speak a word of English and she didn't speak a word of Greek. But she took him to doctors and did what she could to take care of him in his time of need. Many years later when Ted and I went to Greece, the family in the village welcomed us with deep gratitude and great love, as they expressed how much they appreciated the kindness of our mother to their dear brother, Uncle George.

Mom made sure I had piano lessons and came to all of my recitals.  We also went together as a family to Ted’s little league games.  She was a leader in the PTA and Wheaton Jaycees.  She gave back a lot. 

As you may know, after many years of good mothering, Mom’s brain changed on her and clouded her thoughts.  But even with this liability, Mom loved us as best as she could. 

Like in high school she bought me a powder-blue, pretty sweater that I tried to rebel against because it wasn’t denim, but I wore it anyway and had compliments flowing in all day.  She did know how to dress better than I did and she continued to love me in this way.

Mom just loved us - her family and friends.  We were her life.  We brought her the most joy because she loved us more than anything. 

Mom also welcomed new family to our family.  She called both of my husband’s her son.  She wanted to buy presents for both of my husband’s first grand babies, and came to baby showers with open arms of love. 

Sometimes to my surprise, Mom would say the most understanding thing to me of anyone when I was going through something hard.  In some ways, her mental health far surpassed that of others. 

As Mom got to be a senior, she became absolutely adorable.  Her quirky cute way of seeing the world and expressing herself brought us so much joy.

I remember one time when Mom said she was “dating” Chester at the nursing home.  Then Chester rolled up in his wheelchair and Mom introduced us.  When she said, “This is my boyfriend, Chester”, Chester had a look on his face like “I am?  What?  When did that happen?” 

Then weeks later I asked her how was it going with Chester and she said, “Oh we broke up.  He just doesn’t do it for me anymore.” 

My husband Roger says that Mom is probably now in Heaven claiming that her new boyfriend is Tom Petty.

Mom used to deliver the newspapers and mail to the residents at Countryside.  One day she said, “I was delivering the mail and I walked into Gladys’ room and she had died.  So, I just put her mail on her lap and walked away.”  Hey, she was reliable. Come rain, shine or death, she will deliver your mail.

During her last hospital stay in August, when she and I decided the best course for her would be hospice and not more hospitals, ventilators, and lactulose, she was so happy to be going back to her home at Countryside.  As the nurses were preparing her to go home, she broke out in song, singing, “Nothing but blue skies, coming my way.”  They fell in love with her instantly, accurately proclaiming how cute she was.

Blue skies have come her way.  That is a good musical song for where she is now.  Happy, surrounded by the love of so many people who have gone before, like Dad, my late husband Don, all our grandparents, and our aunts and uncles.  Heaven is a place of ultimate love.  And she is there.  Probably trying to run it.

The Holy Bible gives us glimpses of Heaven which are so comforting.  One of my favorites today is from John 14 verse 2, “My Father's house has many rooms”.  She has a room that is all hers now, in a house with many who love her.  She is with family.  She is happier than she has ever been.  And I know I will see her again, and we both will be in our new bodies which will last for eternity. 

And so today is a sad day, but also a day to celebrate.  And so we are.  Thank you Lord for Mom.  Amen.

 

Read more

Had a great time this week meeting people passionate about mental health in Nashville at the NAMI Tennessee annual conference. I also got to present on what I went through, how it affected me, how I healed, and how I learned to understand Mom by understanding the causes of schizophrenia. The audience was very appreciative which just makes it so worthwhile. Glad to make another effort to hopefully make a little bit of difference in the lives of others.


My Story

Posted on July 26, 2017 with 0 comments

When Mom first told me that Dad was in the Mafia, having an affair, and bugging our phones, I told myself it was true, although anxious doubts lived in my gut no matter how much I tried to force down the unreal truths. 

I was a tween; in-between the childhood years of accepting Mom’s word as gospel and the teen years of questioning her every word.  Mom had been loving, caring, giving and well-tended to me.  The thought that her mind was no longer working properly was one that I fought to keep out of my mind.

But over time, my thin denial bubble was popped after Mom’s delusions deepened and widened.  Her psychosis progressed as she was hearing voices, believing she had cancer and only months to live, and fantasies about a man she knew from high school playing music for her on the radio.  I could no longer deny that she was disturbed.  And as a result, so was I.

Mom divorced Dad, won me in the divorce, and I won the prize of losing my home and living in an apartment with a lady who had Mom’s face but was no longer her. 

I wanted her back.  My elaborate, teenage, emotional arguments were met with Mom slamming her bedroom door in my face.  After months of complete inefficacy, and watching Mom quit job after job because the people at each place “were trying to kill” her, I withdrew into my own world.  I became numb emotionally.  I had no energy to be upset anymore.  I got a job, made my own meals, got my own clothes, and just took care of myself as best as a kid can.

After three years of daily stress, denied feelings and emotional abandonment, Mom abandoned me physically.  She left me alone in the apartment.  Dad finally came through and had me move in with him literally on the day Mom disappeared.  I was freed and truly elated.

Mom called me a week later when she returned.  She had gone on vacation to Florida with her boyfriend.  Hadn’t even left a note, let alone any cash.  Mom had been such a present mother when I was a child.  But now, she didn’t even think to let her kid know she was leaving the state for a week.  That is the cloud of mental illness.  Thinking is severely impaired by a devastating and deluding brain disorder.

A month later, Mom overdosed on alcohol.  Three years later she attempted suicide twice, and, thankfully, was not successful.  The social worker at the mental health facility where she landed gave me the diagnosis: schizophrenia.  It took six years from obvious symptom onset before I knew what this thing was.  Six years of suffering for Mom and me.

Mom’s suicide attempts rattled me emotionally and intensified my fear for her well-being.  I cancelled a lot of my life in order to attempt to control her uncontrollable life.  While other girls were focused on boys and tending to their own interests, my Saturday days and nights consisted of taking Mother to wherever she wanted to go trying to meet her every need.  In attempt to give her a happy life, I denied my own.

At age 29 I finally saw that I needed healing.  I found an outstanding counsellor who helped me to separate emotionally from Mom.  I also grieved what I had lost when Mom changed, learned to express the emotions I had stuffed down under emotional concrete blocks, and gave myself permission to live my own life.  I let go of trying to fix and control Mom and her illness. 

Mom was living in a nursing home by this time and medication compliant, but would not leave that home without me as her escort.  After I stopped spending my weekends with her, Mom faced her fears and learned to get her needs met without me.  Cutting the emotional cord of fear freed both of us.

When I turned 38, I married a kind man who gave me the love I always desired.   And Mom was there at my wedding, being my mom, welcoming and celebrating her only daughter’s new love. 

Today, Mom is 80 years old.   She has not had any psychotic symptoms in several decades, although she does have limited ability to focus and avoids anything stressful in order to keep herself calm.  But overall, she is doing great. 

As part of my recovery, I learned as much as I could about schizophrenia, which further deepened my compassion for those with mental health disorders and their loved ones.  I now speak about the resources available from NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) at a local hospital and teach the NAMI Family to Family class.  I also support and volunteer for several other mental health agencies, which help to provide housing for those with disabilities.   My goal is to use who I am and my journey to ease the journey of others, and leave this world a slightly better place.  Partnering together, we can and we will.


I was so honored to be among 1000 advocates that went to capital hill this past week and each met with our respective congressmen. I was part of the group from Illinois, and we spoke to aids for 2 senators, 1 aid for one rep, 3 actual reps, and left material with one more. Glad to be a voice for others.


Next Page

RSS feed