Firstly, I would like to start by thanking the many families who participated in Personal Stories Week this year. So many asked to participate that I had to push some stories to August 2015. Your stories of bravery, triumph, struggle, pain, denial, hope, loss of hope, and perpetual challenges have not only inspired us, but perhaps has made us more grateful for the beautiful aspects of life that so many tend to take for granted.
Are you the parent of or know someone who is the parent of an adult child with schizophrenia or Schizoaffective disorder? How did you respond to that diagnosis? What if your son or daughter was a stellar student with gifted abilities and one day lost her hope for a bright future because of a chronic mental health condition? The stress and strain that you would feel might almost take all the life in your soul. In fact, it might cause you to question why. I’m sure Sharon (seen on the right) has been through this process many times in her life.
How would you feel if you could stay home, open your computer or laptop, and have a therapy session? What about if your therapist offered to speak with you over Skype or some other online platform? Would you feel like a fish out of water or would you very much like to try that experience? What about if your anxiety was so bad that you couldn’t leave your home? For many people suffering from agoraphobia (fear of open places/spaces), panic disorders (panic attacks), or generalized anxiety disorder (anxiety triggered by worry of multiple things), it’s like heaven on earth to do therapy at home in one’s pajamas.
Suicide. Sometimes that word alone is enough to provoke a sea of emotions in many of us. Most of us have experienced the sting of suicide either in our personal lives or through the lives of others. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide by suffocation occurs in about 9,913 cases in the U.S. About 19,990 suicides occur at the hands of a firearm and 6,564 suicides occur by poisoning. In 2011, about 39,518 suicides were reported by the CDC, making suicide the 10th leading cause of death. That’s way too many lives being lost to suicide. What are we missing?
Are you the parent of a child, adolescent, or adult child with severe mental illness? How do you feel right now? Tired? Lonely? Discouraged? Or even stronger? Some parents say that they are struggling every single day of their lives with the reality that their child, teen, or adult child is suffering from both their own illness and stigma. Other parents say they are not as discouraged as they were before they found out what their child actually struggled with. No matter how you have chosen to view your situation, I’m sure you can relate to Melanie Jimenez.
Are you a mother or father of a son with a mental health or behavioral disorder? How did you cope with the reality that your son would probably need your help and support for the rest of his life? For many parents, accepting an illness can feel like one of the worst things you’ll ever have to do. Many mothers have spoken to me about their struggle to not only accept but also to live with their child’s illness. It isn’t easy. It’s almost unimaginable.
Consider this scenario: Your family recognizes there is a problem with a loved one (in school, work, community, home), you or your family experiences denial/anger/guilt, you finally agree that mental health treatment is needed, you have difficulty finding resources or receive multiple diagnoses or an “umbrella diagnosis” such as ADHD or depression, meds give no lasting relief or your loved one rejects treatment, insurance doesn’t cover costs or treatment is too expensive, you or your family loses hope, and your loved one continues to fade into deeper despair. Can you relate? If so, this article is for you.
Have you ever had a relationship with someone who appeared loving and interested in the relationship, only to later pull away when things got too “involved?” Did you raise a child who would hug you and show you unconditional love one moment, and the next totally detach from you as if you were a stranger? What about your own mother or father. Did they love you in a strange way, often equating “separateness” with love? If this sounds familiar, then perhaps this article is for you.
In the winter of 1999, a man with a history of repeated hospitalizations and mental illness (by the name of Andrew Goldstein) pushed Kendra Webdale onto Manhattan’s subway tracks in New York city. Kendra never saw it coming. Not only were Kendra’s parents devastated but Governor George Pataki immediately pushed to enact a law that would require individuals with severe and untreated mental illness, a history of hospitalizations, or violence to receive treatment in the community.
Mental illness affects each and every one of us. It has become one of the most emotionally charged topics of our current time. If you mention mental illness anywhere you are, you can expect someone to say “I have a loved one who struggles with…..,” or you could find yourself in an argument over gun laws, mental health laws, and barriers to treatment. Many of us have lost track of the various cases that have occurred over the past 2-3 years involving untreated or poorly treated mental illness. Lets take a look a few notable ones.