An Open Letter to My Nephew

November 7, 2011 Becky Oberg

Dear Landon,

Happy Birthday Landon! Do you like the ball I gave you? How's it feel to be one year old? Did you enjoy Chuck E. Cheese? Your mom says you like the bird more than the mouse--I don't blame you. While I love rodents and have had rats for pets, I don't want one who looks like a used car salesman near my food.

I'm sorry I couldn't make it to your party. I was sick. No, it's not catching like the flu, but it's just as real. Your Aunt Becky has something called borderline personality disorder (BPD). That means that sometimes I want to hurt myself, and have to go to the hospital so I don't do it.

Why feel pain?

You're probably thinking "Why would Aunt Becky want to feel pain? Teething was horrible!" It's complicated. You know how you sometimes have nightmares about monsters? Something like that happens to me. You know how the monsters lie to you? They lie to me, too, and sometimes I believe them. Sometimes I think that if I hurt myself, the monsters will leave me alone. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't, but every time I hurt myself things get worse. I go to treatment--usually outside the hospital, but sometimes inside--to make sure the monsters don't win.

You know how you sometimes climb into the dryer and hide? Sometimes my brain wants to do the same thing. It wants to hide and never come out. Sometimes it needs a little help getting out, just like you sometimes need help getting down the stairs. When my brain is out working, I can be with you. When it's hiding, I can't. Sometimes I make bad choices in an effort to get my brain out--choices that lead to me going back to the hospital.

How I feel about it

Landon, I would give anything to not have this problem. It makes me miss important things, like birthday parties or family get-togethers. I want to be there; don't let anyone tell you I don't. I love you and always will, even if I can't always be there in person. It's important you understand that my illness isn't your fault--it just happened. It's no one's fault. Life is like that.

I want to be with you, with my nephew and your cousin Desmond, and your soon-to-be-born sister. That is why I work hard in treatment. You are my reason for trying to get better. You are the reason I keep trying.

What I want

I am terrified that either you, Des, or any other future nephews and nieces may develop a mental illness. Some illnesses have a genetic component, although everyone in the family except for me has been lucky to avoid it. That's why I want you to understand what I'm trying to tell you--it's not your fault I have an illness, or if anyone else important to you has a mental illness. I don't want you to have to fight your own ignorance like I had to.

The sad thing about mental illness is that it can disrupt families. When I was first diagnosed, my family was devastated. Your Grandma Oberg blamed herself (as did the psychiatrist), both Grandma and Grandpa Oberg didn't know how to react, and I went through life without knowing how to help my family help me. Things are better now, but for a while it was hard. We had to understand two major things:

  1. That my mental illness was no one's fault
  2. That my mental illness would sometimes prevent me from doing things I could do if I didn't have a mental illness

Please understand that I will do everything I can to keep this disruption to a minimum. But the system is not perfect, and there will sometimes be disruptions. These are not your fault either. Your father Tim can explain better than his sister can, but trust me--I do love you, even when my mental illness keeps me away from you.

Happy Birthday, Landon. And take it easy on the climbing up the bird cage, washing machine, baby gates and so forth--you're terrifying your mother (although your father Tim and I were both climbers, so you come by it honestly).

All My Love,

Aunt Becky

APA Reference
Oberg, B. (2011, November 7). An Open Letter to My Nephew, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 22 from

Author: Becky Oberg

November, 8 2011 at 2:41 pm

My blog link has been updated. I just wanted to let you know. I have also bookmarked this site and will be adding it to my list of great sites on my blog<3

November, 8 2011 at 2:24 pm

Your blog post here has inspired me to write something for my grandchildren. I will be sharing more about my diagnosis in my blog. "National Health Blog Month" has prompted me to write daily and step forth in boldness as an advocate. I live with Fibro and Mental illness diagnosis.

November, 8 2011 at 5:10 am

Becky, what a lovely, wonderful blog. I hope many people get to read this and understand that mental illness is nobody's fault. Thank you for writing this, when Landon grows up and reads this, he will be very proud of you.

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