I have always considered telling my story about mental illness but was never really sure how or where I would have the opportunity. Then I discovered NAMI.
I find it to be very helpful knowing that people do want to hear about what others have gone through when it comes to mental health. I have many family members with mental illness.
My mother was diagnosed bipolar soon after I was born; we never spoke directly about it but my childhood was quite different than those of my peers. I remember always feeling a bit uneasy not knowing just exactly what to say or how to act in order to make sure she would not become upset and end up in the hospital. She was a wonderful mother but there were times when I remember feeling as if at any time I could say the wrong thing and she would turn into someone I didn’t know.Then there was my aunt who was diagnosed as schizophrenic and was mainly in and out of state hospitals most of her adult life. She committed suicide while in a nursing home about 15 years ago. My older brother was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder in his early 20’s and it has been very difficult to watch as a once highly intelligent man with a bright future become unable to fulfill his dreams due to his illness. My sister began showing signs of depression and anxiety also in her late teens and early 20’s. She is now in her late 30’s and she seems to only be getting worse. She is in and out of the hospital with medication changes but to know real relief of the symptoms, which have now manifested to look like schizophrenia.
I refuse to sit back and allow my daughter’s mental illness take over her life and take away her opportunities...
I feel I have watched my whole family become destroyed by mental illnesses and the helpless feeling can be very difficult to deal with at times. Especially since many people cannot relate to it, and there are not many places to turn with these issues on a regular long-term basis. The stigma that people hold against someone with mental illness has always been a sore subject with me. Most recently I now have begun to watch my 17 year old daughter show similar signs that I watched my sister go through almost 20 years ago. My daughter was diagnosed with OCD when she was younger but now seems to have highs and lows and although the doctors have not diagnosed her as having bipolar she is being treated for it and monitored for these behaviors. It has been overwhelming and many times frightening to know that there is no real cure to many of these illnesses but I have been learning how to help her to strengthen her coping skills and have positive attitudes on how to maintain when the symptoms become unmanageable.
I refuse to sit back and allow my daughter’s mental illness take over her life and take away her opportunities to live a fulfilling life. It has been a very long battle but I am grateful to have somewhere to express my feelings and know that others can understand how I feel. I have also felt not so alone in this when I read other peoples stories. One day I hope my daughter can share her story and feel confident that her disorder does not define her and that she will see just how strong she is for all the she has endured.
I love my family for who they are and only hope that they can all live their lives to their fullest potential.
I am several courses away from obtaining my BA in Psychology and hope to continue toward my Masters in Mental Health Counseling. At first I wanted to learn more about the different types of mental illnesses and learn how to support mental health, but now have become inspired to help others because I have found just how difficult it can be to find advocates for those with mental illness. I love my family for who they are and only hope that they can all live their lives to their fullest potential. Needless to say it’s been a rollercoaster ride and the hardest part has been learning how to accept that these disorders will always be there. Right when things seem to be going great something will happen and their symptoms become unmanageable. It is a never-ending battle that I finally was able to accept as a part of my life. I greatly appreciate Nami.org for being available a click away when I need support and inspiration to continue helping my loved ones who suffer on a regular basis due to what mental illness has done to their lives and the lives of their family members.