Become involved with Mental Health Advocacy. #ENDtheSTIGMA #MentalHealth

Hi Everybody,

As many of you know, May is Mental Health Awareness month. And many of my followers should know by now that I’m very passionate about mental health advocacy. You can read my other articles to find out why and how I’m involved.

Last year, in 2019, this campaign was a huge success with several supporters from friends, coworkers, and people across the states. This year, I’m hopeful it will be just as successful. In this article, you’ll be able to see just a few of the people who supported during last year’s campaign. And you’ll be able to get a visual of what it’s like to wear such a powerful message on a t-shirt.

Each and every single time I’ve worn my shirt out in public, I’ve always received a compliment and asked where they can get one, well now is everyone’s chance to get their own! You can order here! (Remember the design is slightly different from last year’s.)

This year in 2020, I’ve decided to launch another awareness campaign and you’ve got a few different options to choose from at reasonable prices. The sizes range from youths small to adult sized 4X. Here is the link which will take you directly to the custom ink campaign page. This campaign is set to run for just 4 weeks, so once it closes no more orders will be accepted.


So go ahead and order your gear today, and get it in time for May! But you can wear it any day and this is a great way to help spread our message to END THE STIGMA! It’s also a great way to help honor & show our support to those who are in this fight every single day!

Please feel free to share this post within your community of followers!

Thank you for your support & much love to ALL! -Erika

Walking with a purpose. #MentalHealthMatters #EndtheStigma

Hello ALL,

I’m walking again this year to help raise money for NAMI Walks Washington. As most of you know who read my articles, know that I’m passionate about mental health advocacy and fighting against stigma. Last year, I had a small goal of $100 to raise for this organization. This year, I registered early so I can increase my goal in hopes to raise $1,000. I’m going to include the link here which will take you directly to my sponsor page. If anyone here is interested in walking themselves, you can go to NAMI’s national website and find a local walk nearest you.

myself & Lovey (President of NAMI Pierce) at the NAMI WALKS 2019

THANK YOU FOR BEING SO KIND AND SUPPORTIVE OF MY BLOG! I APPRECIATE EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU!

-Erika B.

My journey with Mental Health & Special Needs advocacy. #MentalHealthAwareness

Hear me out…then if you agree please share it to support my journey with advocacy & my truths as I know them. #MentalHealthAwareness

I’ve learned along my journey with advocacy for Mental Health & Special needs, that my truth may not be yours but it’s my lived experiences that make me an expert in what I’ve encountered as a mom & caregiver. I’ve learned that I can no longer expect others who are either wilfully ignorant or misinformed or inexperienced, that ⬅”these” will likely NEVER get understanding or be able to accept the facts as I know them, which are: Mental Illness isn’t a demon that you cast out, nor is burning sage or other witchcraft going to help “fix” this. Mental illness is a medical condition and it is a brain disease, that impacts the ways a persons brain functions.

Individuals with developmental delays, down syndrome, special needs, autism, to name a few, are not cursed, and their family isn’t cursed. My own son has developmental delays and he is the most loving, kind-hearted boy, he loves Jesus! What he has isn’t contagious & he doesn’t deserve to be looked at like he himself is a disease just because he walks different and talks different. No one deserves to be mistreated. People are so quick to label and put stigma onto those living with mental health conditions and special needs conditions. They tend to think the family is cursed or in some cultures they will disown them. Mental illness is not evil. Mental illness is an unfortunate disease of the brain. I won’t expect anyone to understand this because it’s not their lived experience, they just watch tv or what media hypes up without complete and accurate education. In other words, unless you have experience what its like raising a child with a mental illness/condition or special needs than I no longer expect you to get it. Just as much as the flu hits you and you get very sick with symptoms, is similar to that of how someone can become sick with a mental health condition, it’s not something we want, it’s not anything we saw coming, but mental illness(es) are NOT contagious. They are NOT a spirit that transfers to someone else for all you deep spiritual people. They (mental illnesses) are hereditary and known to skip a generation but not always. They are treatable and they are medical conditions. Have you ever sat down and tried to talk to someone about something & their response lets you know within the first few words that this conversation is going no where. So you just stop. Let me just say this, unless you’re willing to learn & educate yourself, then don’t form an opinion based off what you heard or what you saw on a TV show or movie. Unless you live this day in & out, you can’t even begin to know what it’s like to feel isolated, scared, hopeless at times. Its especially hurtful when you can’t even turn to your own family because they just don’t get it. Let me just say this, you might know of someone who’s living with a condition, or you have a relative, or you work in a clinic or at a hospital so you think you can relate, well let me say this, it’s NOT the same & I believe anyone who’s walked a similar journey as me, will agree.

My other son, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder & he is also the most kind-hearted, comical, genuine, respectful young man. He has a heart for God & he is overcoming his battles, he is a full time college student, he is a college student-athlete. He’s truly a warrior. All Glory to God!

And let me also say to some in the church, Stop running people off because you’re uninformed and unequipped to handle someone who has any one of these health diagnoses, and you ignorantly take them to the altar and attempt to cast out a demon, cuz it ain’t going to work, and you wanna know why? Because their ain’t no demon to cast out. Pray for healing to take place instead, pray for doctors to find a cure, pray for medications to have no side effects, pray for restoration and clarity, Pray for them to have the strength to go through. That’s what you can do. Offer support & offer love, these communities of people already feel isolated and ridiculed. I said this because you have no idea just how many people I have met & sat down & listened to their stories about how the church hurt them & ran them off. As a believer In Jesus myself, we must do BETTER!

We need to educate beyond the common mental health conditions of depression & anxiety, and beyond the “acceptable” conditions like cancer, diabetes, dementia, autism, ect. Hopefully you get my point. I’m not dismissing these conditions at all, just desiring more public awareness for Mental health conditions such as BP, bpd, schizophrenia, PTSD, suicidal ideation, ect. Which are all attached to stigma! We must eradicate stigma! People are out here suffering in silence! Wearing masks so good they fool their loved ones because they don’t want anyone to know what’s going on inside. They won’t get help because of fear of stigma! They have no one to talk to because others won’t listen. Their feelings are dismissed by advice being given instead. They feel misunderstood because when the one person they hoped would offer support, didn’t. Their scared and scarred. This is why when someone takes their own life, everyone usually says they seemed happy and didn’t know anything was going on.

My thoughts on evil…Don’t get me twisted there are people who are evil, commit heinous crimes, do pure evil acts, and then we find out through media that they’ve been declared “legally insane” or “mentally ill” which makes every single person who has a mental health condition/illness viewed in a bad light. Which in my own opinion creates ongoing stigma because it’s not all the details, most times we just read, “school shooting and shooter has a history of mental illness”. Their behaviors are influenced by what they feed their thoughts not simply just because they have an illness. And there are always a whole bunch of other factors that play a huge part in someones health declining. Usually it’s because they either aren’t receiving treatment, or they haven’t found the right treatment yet, or medications arent being taken or medications need to be adjusted, ect.

What I don’t agree with is putting everyone in the same boat. Everyone’s journey is different. Even people with the same health diagnosis can live with completely different challenges & experiences. So my truth may not be yours. But this is mine!

My truth is my lived experience while raising children with various health challenges, and I’m not cursed and I did nothing wrong for those who think so. My family is blessed beyond measure. God has chosen to give us this journey, this purpose to serve on this platform. God is my waymaker. Jesus is my Savior. God is my sustainer. God is my EVERYTHING. Thank you Lord! #MyJourney #MyTruth #MentalHealthMatters #Unashamed #SpeakYourTruth #BeKind #EducateYourself #RespectTheJourney

Lastly, here are some resources that could help save a life or help you learn more.

Mentalhealthfirstaid.org
Nami.org
NIMH.nih.gov
Blurtitout.org
Bphope.com
https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
Understood.org
https://www.navos.org/


Crisis Textline 741741 text (Home) 24/7
Suicide Prevention Line 24/7
(800) 273-8255
Pierce County Crisis Line
(800) 576-7764
24 hour crisis line
(866) 427-4747
Teen Link (6pm-10pm)
(866) 833-6546

Thanks again for being here. This was a post I wrote on my personal social media & wanted to share it here.

Some of us are warriors without having served in a physical war or battle. #MentalHealth #Warrior

I just wanna share this thought, I dunno maybe its possible someone else might share in this same thought. Tomorrow is Veterans day. And we will honor our vets who served in the military, ones that went into battle for our country, ones who experienced & endured trauma, most returning home in a mental condition that they didn’t have before they left, leaving themselves and loved ones to cope with a new way of life as everyone moves forward, with some families having to be sensitive to the words that are spoken, places they go, exposure to things on television, a more heightened awareness of simplistic things and activities, conversations, odors, sounds and smells that have become so complex, creating an eggshell way of life.

I said all that to say this, my son has never served in a physical war for the military and never truly seen people dying in front of him, but he has suffered just as much mental health trauma without being in a physical war, he left for school one day many years ago, and came back home a completely different person, he has suffered much trauma inside his mind at times, he is working through his mental health battles and he too is triggered by certain things that would never have bothered him before. He suffers from night tremors, nightmares, flashbacks and anxiety every single time he has to leave the house to go to school or step foot into an atmosphere where there are large crowds. His diagnosis is bipolar disorder and he has experienced much trauma mentally and emotionally. Only someone else who has walked a similar journey could ever truly grasp what I’m talking about here. I consider him a warrior in his own right. I don’t need anyone to validate it for me.

He will probably never be acknowledged for his own heroism of simply treating others kindly while talking to someone who is suicidal, encouraging someone who’s depressed, giving his last to help another, all the while everyone only sees what they want. What they don’t know is the unseen battles he has endured in silence, while persevering through being hospitalized, ridiculed and yet graduating high school with honors, becoming a state champ for his sporting event. He will probably never be recognized for his achievements in ways that he is searching for, but I will always advocate for him and for his rights.

People only see what they are educated enough to see. They don’t recognize invisible disabilities within a person like my son and his character and personality can mask it well. He is a fun-loving, comical, person. Maybe that’s why this most recent battle he just went through wasn’t able to be recognized as a person in need of mental health first aid. He experienced another horrible episode of mania while away from home and on campus. As a result of his mental health condition that we know as bipolar disorder, he became severely symptomatic and extremely elated with his behaviors. Lots of people reported him as displaying odd behaviors and some made accusations that he was probably high on drugs, yet no one reached out on his behalf to help him. It wasn’t until he came home and I was contacted by the school that I learned he was in mania. Anyone who’s never lived with mania or been upfront, close and personally alongside a person experiencing a manic episode would probably panic on behalf of the individual suffering.

I wrote this article, not to dismiss any veteran of war, because I am extremely greatful for every vet who has volunteered to go through extraordinary life changing, life threatening events and the risk they chose to take to save civilians and fight for our country.

I merely wrote this article because with the same admiration I have for our vets, its the same way I view my son’s bravery and courage to keep living on beyond the many battles, traumas he has faced. And I only think of that comparison on a level of respect and compassion.

I was once seated inside of a mental health training along with several veterans, and there was a older vet who sat across from me and began to share his story of having served in the war and now living with the aftermath and PTSD but managing it the best he could. When I began to share with him about my own son, his response was so compassionate and kind, leading me to this very thought……..⏬⏬⏬

Two very different wars, two very different battles, but somehow it seems like very similar outcomes that bring the mind to feel in ways that no one else can ever comprehend. Thank you for hearing me.

So I thought about how much we have compassion for those who served our country by choosing to go to battle, but what about our loved ones who went into battle fighting a war that they didn’t choose, a mental health war!

#BipolarDisorder #MentalIllnessIsWartoo #MentalHealthWarrior #SeethePersonNotTheirIllness #Respect

Thanks for being here and much love, prayers, respect & support to you and your family! And a special thank you to our veterans. Always remember everyone’s journey, experience, story is very different and to be respected because its their own unique truth.

-Erika

My voice, my views, but my son’s journey. When the wind blew bipolar our way. (Repost)

Tonight, I will be sharing a small chapter of my oldest son’s journey of life in his teenage years and becoming diagnosed with bipolar disorder. This article is through my views and facts as I know them. It is my voice of experience as his mom, caregiver, and advocate.

It all began during the middle of his 8th grade year. He had come home from school one day, not speaking and with a grimaced facial expression. Anything I said, he wouldn’t respond to, I would just get that same expression. I could discern something was off, not exactly right, and very concerned. My husband was in denial, and thought he was just playing around, because our son often would joke around. However, I knew my son wasn’t playing around and this was nothing to joke about nor was it a joke itself. I like to think of it as “mothers intuition”. It wasn’t until he was attempting to make a sandwich and turn on the TV that it was obvious he was in need of medical attention. To see that he struggled to make that sandwich and watch him begin to twitch while trying to turn on the TV, that was enough for me. I can remember my husband laying down to take a nap as he too had just gotten home from work. As soon as I came out to the living area and saw my son struggling with the remote and his face twitching, I knew in that instant, he needed medical attention and there was something serious going on, but I just didn’t know what. We immediately took him to the hospital ER and he was admitted. They ran several medical tests, labs, and everything came back negative except one small concern. But it wasn’t able to explain why he wasn’t talking and why he was having all these involuntary movements with his upper extremities.

Long story short, he was discharged after sometime in the hospital as having an altered mental status. And sent home with a sedative to treat anxiety attacks, since this was also what he appeared to be experiencing. He was referred to follow up with their social worker/pediatric psychologist for outpatient services.

After his uncontrollable symptoms had ran their course. He finally stabilized and was home, all things appeared to return back to normal for himself as well as our daily living. And might I add, this entire “thing” had flipped our entire world’s upside down, inside out and scared the living crap out of us all. It was as though, here we were sailing through life just great and then this “thing” came in and interrupted our world as we once knew it before. During this time his mental health was out of his control and required him to finish his 8th grade at home. I arranged with the school district to provide a home school tutor and created a 504 plan with accommodations for his educational needs.

For those who have no idea what I’m explaining please follow this article for more descriptive details of my journey. Never did I think my family, my son, would experience anything like this. Prior to this happening our family was blind to mental illnesses and our family was once “untouched”, “uninformed”. Some of you have absolutely no clue how difficult it is to watch your child suddenly become nonverbal, incapacitated and suddenly crippled mentally and physically. It was heart breaking and I felt like my life was moving in slow motion as I was being suffocated. I felt helpless, and afraid for his quality of life.

All I had in these moments was my faith in God which served as my weapon and continual prayer as my strength. His health had been severely impacted during this time, and it was scary because of the unknown future. He needed assistance to feed himself, tie his shoes, and walk at times. And I’m talking about a child who was born healthy, normal and on time. He was advanced in some areas of his growth and development as a toddler. He had always been highly active, involved in sports, and very independent. All the things he enjoyed before had all become things that he no longer could enjoy at times. He would still partake in doing them, but just couldn’t enjoy them as he once had. It was as though the wind blew and everything changed in the blink of an eye.

To be continued…

Here’s a wealth of information about ABLE accounts! #Disabilities #Money #Assets

Last night I attended “The Gathering” which is a open group meeting held by NAMI Pierce for the community. A local affiliate that I am a member of and involved with. NAMI stands for National Alliance on Mental Illness for those who may not have known.

This would be my first time attending the gathering event. I’m so glad I went because the topic of discussion was about the new ABLE accounts for individuals with disabilities.

I had already heard about this service finally being offered in our state but didn’t know all the details.

There are some good benefits to having an ABLE account. The fact that the individual is allowed to save more than $2000 in their account without it being considered an asset with a maximum of up to $100k saved. And in this ABLE account those funds aren’t considered an asset when and if the individual should need to apply for Washington Apple Health, DSHS SNAP, TANF, food stamps, DCYF (childcare), HUD section 8 are all ABLE exemptions. Pretty cool right?

I also learned the qualifying expenses to spend from the ABLE account are basic living costs, housing, transportation, education, assistive technology, employment training, personal support services, legal fees, funeral, burial expenses, health and wellness, financial management costs. So in otherwords, they are able to spend on groceries, dining out, pay rent, and all the other things necessary to utilize their monies for.

There were a few downsides I wasn’t too fond about but it might be seen as beneficial for others. The individual would NOT have any access to withdrawing cash from a bank or ATM. Although I did ask the question, what if the individual uses their prepaid MasterCard at the grocery store and tries getting cash back at the register? I wasn’t given an adequate answer, instead I was told, “their not supposed to do that.” So I reiterated once more, “so their not supposed but they can, or their not supposed to and they won’t be given this access?” Still no clear answer, just informed that because the program is so new, kinks are still being worked out. So if anyone reading this actually knows the facts please comment to share that helpful info.

The other thing I wasn’t too fond of is that there us a $10 minimum transaction amount, and a $15k withdrawal amount. The number of withdrawals are unlimited daily and no transaction fee. But in order to spend from the account, it is only by online purchases, paper check, or their option of prepaid MasterCard. And its advised the individual use the funds for qualified disability expenses ONLY, and maintain records of their purchases.

There is also a fee for the prepaid card. It’s $1.25 per month so I had asked if they load $10 and don’t wind up spending the $10 does it fee itself out from being dormant over the period of say 8 months? Answer was yes. So basically, don’t load the card unless you know those funds are going to be spent. Again, there is no access at an ATM, or any financial institution. It’s is also prohibited for online gambling or illegal transactions which is a good thing.

The other downside, is that because this is NOT a credit card with a line of credit, if they use it for reserving a hotel stay, rental car, or things of that nature, they need to make sure to load the appropriate amount of funds in the event that the company may decide to preauthorize a set amount to hold their reservation. Meaning that set amount is not accessible to the individual until that hold falls off.

I could go on and on about all the details of the ABLE accounts but I would rather anyone who’s truly interested to inquire for the accurate information themselves. You can click the link within this article here to go directly to the website, or you can find the link on the main page of my website listed under resources.

So that’s a little bit of information to share with others who receive SSI, SSDI or are disabled who don’t receive these benefits but their disability occurred prior to the age of 26 and would meet the criteria.

I hope I was able to enlighten someone with this small wealth of information. One last thing I will provide here are 2 present contacts for these ABLE accounts with Washington State which may be difficult to find on the website.

Peter Tassoni, Disability Workgroup Manager – (360) 725-3125 peter.tassoni@commerce.wa.gov

Chris Gagnon (360) 725-3131 Christina.gagnon@commerce.wa.gov

FYI- At times I share other people’s articles to help them gain exposure or to help spread awareness about their journey with their life. I’m here to help others and to advocate for what I believe in. I’m here to be the voice for others who haven’t found the courage to use their own yet, but still want to get a message out. I’m here as a mom, advocate and friend, not a Mental health professional. Just using my experiences and knowledge to hopefully help others who are uninformed.

Have a great day! And don’t forget to follow me on my new social media outlets:

Twitter – @StigmasNo

Instagram – @Stigmas_No_More

Facebook – @Stigmasnomore.com

Or you can always contact me privately here by clicking “email me” or email me directly at: Stigmasnomore@gmail.com.

Thanks again for being here and I appreciate the positive feedback that some of you have already given me. I truly appreciate it. It helps me to know that my time, work and writing efforts are not in vain.

From the paths of nothing to the journey of something. #MentalHealth

If I can be very candid, this used to be ME!! ➡UNTOUCHED, UNINFORMED, UNAWARE, UNEDUCATED 💯💯💯! UNTIL the paths I once walked “untouched” “uninformed” “unaware” “uneducated” have now become the paths which lead me into being “touched” informed” “aware” and “educated”. Which further pushed me into finding my purpose and I’ve become passionate about advocating for people with mental health disorders and developmental disabilities.  Why? Because I understand the struggle, daily battles.  Because I see the stigma, the false representations, assumptions, speculations, infiltrated by the media.  They edit, crop, filter out to show what they want uninformed people to see as “mentally ill” or “disabled”.  Which not only places the idea of limitations on people but also we are somewhat forced to use some of the same terms when writing articles such as this one, just to grab the attention of the uninformed.

This is a quick sketch for a visual.

sketching on my daughters surface pro. I’m not quite the artist, but this creation hopefully gives you a visual.

Thank you for being here. I don’t take lightly the support you’ve given me by your comments, follows and shares. Again, this is my own journey. Every person has their own path, journey, and story to tell. This just happens to be mine, For now……until God says otherwise.

Blessings to you ALL!

You can donate here to help me, help others.

[wpedon id=”945″ align=”left”]

Mental Health Awareness. #MentalHealth #Support

https://www.namiwalks.org/participant/Erika-Brooks

Please sponsor me in this movement today. This will be my first 5k. And mental illness is a topic I’m passionate about. Or you can also buy a t-shirt with the message “End the Stigma” and help spread the message. If you believe that Mental Health Matters than let’s stand united and spark a conversation with those who lack knowledge about mental health. Let’s end the stigma and break our silence.

I truly appreciate all the support from everyone. Thank you so much! 💕💕

Different walks of life but respect the journey. #Faith #God #SpecialNeeds #MentalHealth

People come from so many different walks of life. Every individual has their own story to share. Some of us have similar paths but very different views and outcomes. Each one being born into this world to live out a purpose that has been designed specifically for that person.

Me and my youngest son. 3/31/19

Others ask me, how do I manage to do it ALL with the various challenges my children face? How do I keep it together? How am I able to financially support a big family with one source of income? When do I have time for myself? When do I get rest?

My answers, all lead to my faith in God. My Jesus journey hasnt been a bed of roses, but I have learned to trust in him down through the years. I was once skeptical about 22 years ago when I first walked into the church doors. I wasn’t raised in church and in fact very opposite. Bibles, prayer and Sunday school was never a thing of my upbringing. I’ve been tested, tried, retested and retried but in the end God has shown himself faithful even in times when I wasn’t. 22 years ago is when I came to the Lord and I’ve remained with Him since.

I keep it together with prayer, meditation, as well as natural things such as exercise at times, counseling, keeping healthy relationships, and dismissing toxic ones.

All I can say is AMEN!

I have had to quit so many jobs that I truly enjoyed due to the health crisis of my children’s lives. Money cannot replace my children or the emotions that came along with each chapter of life that was impactful. God shall supply all my needs, is what His word says and HE has yet to fail me. My husband is the sole source of earned income, but the key is being responsible with what we have been blessed with, while walking by faith not by sight.

One of my own sayings

My free time consists of staying up late once everyone is off to bed and tucked in their beds. My time of enjoyment is when my children are all doing well and no one is in the hospital as a result of their diagnoses. When I can look around and see that they are happy and fulfilling their own dreams and goals. Not fussing about a dirty room anymore, because life has much bigger issues and things that I should draw my attention toward. I rest in the Lord, meaning I know even in the bad times He is going to handle it and I just have to endure the process. My family and I have been thrown into the fiery furnace so many times, yet God made us fireproof. While the fire was intended to burn us up, instead it burnt up everything toxic around us. The heat purified things that were once impure.

This statement holds true for myself

My husband is not God, nor is he a god. But he is my partner for life. He is my one and only best friend. I honor him as the man he has proved himself to be in my life and in his role, not only as a husband but a good father to our 4 children.

My husband, Carl & myself. (Seahawks shuttle)

Our relationship began in high school and we’ve grown together, facing much adversity from racial slurs, verbal attacks because were an interracial couple. But we stuck together and we are still together, stronger by our faith. If it had not been for the Lord, I truly do not think we would still be together today.

My oldest son sharing his journey as a young man and opening up about his diagnosis with bipolar disorder

Presently, today my family is somewhat broken but still good as stitch would say from that cartoon. My children are all growing into adults. We are all at different stages of our lives. I have accepted my role as a mom and advocate. I am used to being home now. My mindset is different than it used to be in the “corporate world”. I no longer belittle my role as a “stay home mom or housewife”. I am NO where near perfect, not at all, and I’m the first one to raise my hand and admit my every fault and sin, but I also know not to stay down for too long after being knocked over. I’m not afraid anymore. I know there are brighter and better days ahead. I know because I’ve been where others are now, and I’ve been there before but I have also been brought out to see the other side. I’ve suffered many things, but I am a survivor with a voice to speak not only for myself, my children but others who haven’t found their voice yet.

Selena, Carl III, Erik (present day)

I have the most valuable role and it’s what I am called to do. To be here for my children and husband without being exhausted from a 8 hour job that used to rob me of quality time with them.

My sole focus is to help my children become independent and develop life skills. Learning how to be a person of integrity, being kind to everyone. Supporting them in hardships and encouraging them to hold onto their faith in God for themselves. Not because of “religious tradition” but to develop and spend time in their own relationship with God. Because when life hits hard, and crisis disrupts your life, that college degree, part-time job, fancy car, new Jordan shoes, favorite song, these will no longer matter.

This was hung over my sons hospital bed

They have all been blessed enough at such young ages with various hardships and tribulations that they have already begun to learn that God is their only source for help in times of trouble. And in hindsight, I’m grateful even though those moments seemed dark and hopeless. Well you can’t find hope unless you’ve been hopeless right?

Another paper I typed, printed and taped to my sons hospital bed

I didnt write this article to preach, or to impress my beliefs upon you. I’m simply just answering the questions that others seem to ask me time and time again. This is what works for me and my family. We tried everything else, but God is and has been the only one and consistent support in life.

Thank you for listening and being here. Blessings to you.

Accepting the present. #MentalHealth #Grief #acceptance #love #change

In a discussion today, this thought came to me. When our loved ones life has been impacted and altered by mental illness, some of us tend to grieve the loss of the person we once knew them to be. The person before their life was impacted by this illness that came out of no where. This very illness that they have absolutely no control over or how it impacts the former abilities they used to exemplify without restraint or hesitation. I believe that’s where some of the frustration lies on caregivers. Because we have a sort of false sense of reality moving forward and keep expecting things to be the ways they used to be. Instead, we should realize life is now different.

Learning acceptance, and love for who they are now and not just who they used to be. Be accepting to the present way life is, instead of hoping for what it used to look like, this is the beginning of change. Understand that your loved one didn’t wake up “that day” deciding they wanted to have a mental illness that would disrupt their daily living. Oftentimes we try to “fix them” or “fix the situation” by unknowingly dismissing their candid feelings, which then leads to a huge misunderstanding or heated argument. I’m speaking from my own experience. That’s where the eggshell life comes into play.

Love them unconditionally and inspite of those moments when things spiral out of control or when their symptomatic and battling. Is it easy? Absolutely not. Not easy to watch our loved one suffer and battle a war that they didn’t enlist for to begin with. Love is and should be there without question. If it’s not, then I have no comment toward that, only my own views here. Everyone has a journey, every one wants to be loved and accepted. Some of us get sicker than others, and some of us have incurable diseases, minor ailments. Regardless this shouldn’t change the way love is given or love itself. Mental illness needs a cure and for the present time, in my home, the temporary cure, fix, is love and encouragement with forgiveness. Being able to forgive the words or behaviors that tend to flare up in those not so good moments. I will admit this way of life is not here by choice for either party and it requires tough skin, commitment and dedication. Make a commitment to be there for your loved one, they need your support so much more than what they express or don’t express. What looks like anger or a happy smile, could just be their “go to” mask.

Basically, I’m saying just because the outward appearance is in tact, and the disability is invisible doesn’t mean that the expectations should be pressing. Let me elaborate a little more so you can hopefully grasp what I’m explaining here. I have a son with developmental disabilities who was born on time and normal, but at the age of 2 months he suffered from cardiac arrest and seizures which impacted his growth and development. Since his age was so young when his life was impacted there was no other comparison of how he once was prior to him dying twice. His way of life is what we consider his “normal”. His development is only viewed as delayed by comparison of other children and statistics. Now had he been like the rest of my 3 children who had no known issues until way later in life then I would’ve had to accept and adjust to change from how he was to how he became. And with my youngest son, he has visible disablities so others can see he is challenged with things, such as his walk, his speech, his behaviors.

And with my oldest son, who was born normal, healthy and sailing through his growth and development. He reached early milestones of walking and talking when compared to that of others. Then many years later here came bipolar disorder! Which impacted his life, his views, his thoughts, his daily living. And it is not the same as before this illness decided to come in and hit him hard. But if you see him, he does not have obvious visible disabilities, and oftentimes the expectations presented to him are too much for him at certain times because of the symptoms that tend to flare up. Yet he tries very hard to work through, persevere, and prove himself capable. He isn’t the illness, but the illness is trying to hinder his development. He is intelligent. He is an athlete. He is hilariously funny at times. He loves music and was an honor grad. He is presently a college student. He is a believer of the gospel of Jesus and we are a Christian home. He battles everyday, as he explains to me. He dreams of becoming an Olympian thrower. And he has to work 100 times harder to achieve the same postive results as his peers, because of this illness. He is a normal young man, who is trying to beat bipolar disorder, just like someone who is battling chemo and trying to beat cancer. He is a developing adolescent, who is often misunderstood due to his inability to articulate his needs at times. He is still my baby boy, my son that I love dearly. He is changing just as we all have evolved and changed down through the years. His brain is what is sick with an illness that has no cure, YET. Plus let’s take into account he is finding ways to be independent and at the age where he’s still trying to figure out his purpose and future. So all I’m saying is regardless of the “disability, illness, disease, ailment, etc” being able to accept the present versus the past is what makes a difference. Well that’s helpful for me. Maybe not for everyone.

And to others who don’t get it, like some teachers, some first responders, even some medical professionals, there is NO ONE WAY across the board of teaching for ALL, there is NO ONE WAY of responding for ALL, NO ONE WAY of a single effective method. So just because “most” can learn, be rescued, or treated with ONE method, doesn’t mean that because you should dismiss that ONE who needs extra or different support. Sometimes you need to be that ONE to change how you teach that student, how you respond for help, how you treat that patient.

And to my fellow caregivers, parents, relatives of these loved ones, your either going to accept the process for what it really is or your going to live frustrated with always looking in your rearview.

Praying for change. Hoping for better days. Enjoying moments when life is good. Hugging often while I have opportunities. Laughing together. Creating new memories in the present. Loving each other.

Thanks again for listening, being here and following me. I hope to enlighten someone. Again, this is my journey, my views, my own opinions and what works for me and us. To each their own. Have a blessed day!