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.

From bitter to better. Moving Forward without you. #Truths #Stigma #MentalHealth

If I can be honest. If I’m allowed to express my truths. If I can tell others how it feels to experience those chapters of my life when my youngest son died twice in my arms on two separate occasions, when he was discovered to have significant developmental delays.  When my oldest son experienced anxiety, depression, and was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder. When my youngest daughter experienced severe depression that it lead her into a mental break and also had a seizure, and diagnosed with Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy.  When our world was flipped upside down and the people who we thought would be there, weren’t and the people we didn’t expect to show support, did.  When the trust became broken, when the pain became very unbearable, when we were thrown into the fiery furnace, when I had to quit my job once again, when I had no support from the ones I expected, when life became at a halt, when people said hurtful things, when people gave advice that wasn’t relevant to me, when people thought we didn’t need help but we did, when our faith in God was tested, tried and ridiculed, when people who I thought were my friends, suddenly became “busy”, when there was no one else but God, when prayer didn’t seem to work, when my light became dimmed, when I couldn’t see my way through, when doubt began to set in, when I got tired of being misunderstood, when I got weary, when I felt at my weakest, when our lives changed, when the wind blew everything our way.  WHEN my older daughter and mom treated the rest of us like we had “evil spirits” or what we were dealing with was contagious and could spread to them!

First and foremost to Jesus Christ who is my Lord and Savior, I thank Him for being my strength when I’m weak. For being my one and only consistency. For being my only hope in the midst of bad news. For being my peace when things became chaotic. For keeping me in my right mind, while everything and others were against me. For allowing me to see clearly just WHO to dismiss from my life and WHO to keep around. To realize that blood isn’t what bonds me to another, but it’s the sacrifices of love from others that withstand any genetic makeup.

Secondly, I have to honor my husband, who is my ride or die kind of guy. He is my biggest supporter, best friend, lover, companion, secret keeper, and cheerleader.

And to my children who have stuck around. The ones who supported each other, who overcame, who loved on one another, who fought together, who learned forbearance, kindness, patience, compassion, and who have always respected and honored my role as their mom, caregiver, voice of reason, annoying advice, correction, and views on life. I love you.

What I want others to know, is that my journey has not been “the dream” that I used to envision as a little girl who wanted a family. But it has been different and full of life lessons about love, forbearance, patience, anger, frustrations, family, compassion, empathy, sympathy, truth, honesty, fairness, division, strife, and how to move forward.

The trauma that my children have suffered has me on edge most days. What they may not comprehend is this. Just as their lives have been impacted, changed, not the same, and challenged, so has my own, as their mom, as myself, as a human. I too, have to learn to move forward, to survive in the aftermath of the traumatic events of our past.

For example, every time I’m away from home, running errands, on a date with my hubby and I hear a siren or I see first responders with flashing lights speed past me, my mind goes to thinking I need to hurry up and get back home to my kids. I begin to wonder if their okay. My moment of free time and enjoyment gets overshadowed by thoughts from my past. So now while I’m suppose to be enjoying my free time, my thoughts and conversation becomes consumed with the topics that exhaust me at other times. There is so much more little things that I am hypersensitive about now, like the tv shows I watch I feel as though I’m on eggshells if one of them comes to sit down. Especially if it’s a scene about depression or other familiar topics that they have experienced, so then I change the channel.

Things I want to express to people who hurt me. You became just like those who stigmatize and demonize people who live with a mental illness. You said very hurtful words that have caused damage beyond repair. You have been allowed to inflict pain in my life one too many times. You have now been dismissed. You have now become a chapter in my book. You are a thing of my past and will likely not be involved in my future. As for reconciling, that ship has sailed.

What I want you to know is: My love and my life cannot be brought. I don’t want your money. I don’t want you around me, when you truly feel a certain kind of way about me and my children. I don’t like being used, manipulated, persuaded by guilt. I value myself more than you see me as worth. I will no longer tolerate willfull ignorance. I am better without you. I can accept your apology but this doesn’t mean I want you around. I have forgave you not because you deserve it, but to forgive myself for being fooled everytime. I needed your love and support in the most trying times and you chose not to be around, stating you were busy. I will no longer make you a priority. I’m making myself a priority. I want no dealings with you. Family or not! I’m moving toward becoming a better me without you. I have no ill feelings and I wish you the best in life.

The truths, I have found more love, support, guidance, direction, instruction, correction, hope, inspiration, motivation from people on the outside than I have from some of my own family!

One positive thing I can grab from the bad moments in my life is that, while I was over here suffering, forbearing, battling, warring, praying, fasting, believing for better days to come, God was strengthening me, he was revealing to me the heavy weights, the people who caused me the most pain, the most stress, the ones who I had ALWAYS been there for, would drop what I was doing and come running to their aid, he showed me that when it was my time of need, these same people were no where to be found. He showed me who was only here by their own convenience, their own motive, their own selfish gain, and only when things were good.

I’m over you and I deserve better for my own self. I will no longer put an emphasis on the people who don’t, didn’t, or won’t support me. Instead my focus is on the people who did, do and will support me in both trying times and good moments. Because for my own self care I don’t need to keep being a lifeline for others when I could hardly breathe myself. There came a time when I was broken and in need of fixing. I was once weak but God sustained me and he strengthened me. I was running on empty with nothing more to give.

I needed someone to pour back into me. I needed a shoulder to lean on. I needed someone to pick me up. I needed you to see that I’m prone to becoming weak too. I’m not always strong. Don’t get me wrong, don’t get it twisted, I realize and I can understand every body deals with their own turmoil, struggles, hardships but it’s when I knew you were just choosing to not come around, choosing not to be supportive, choosing not to answer my call for help, choosing to avoid or ignore me, and to these same people who I had ALWAYS came running to rescue, sometimes in the most inconvenient times for myself, or interrupting my sleep hours, and yet I got nothing but dead air in return. So I get it for those who had their own obligations, but for my own family to treat me/us like this!? You get the picture. Time for me to let it go.

My picture of self-care. What do you do in any life threatening emergency situation? If a plane is going down, you put your own oxygen mask on first and then help others.

Before you enter a burning building you put on your own proper fireproof gear so you can effectively attempt to rescue others.

Self care is important. I hurted a little while but I’ve moved on. I’ve found that I’m better without the toxicity that some people brought with them. I’m working toward becoming a better me. I learned through all this, that I cannot expect others to understand what they either can’t understand or refuse to learn to accept. I won’t continue to waste my good energy on people who refuse to change. I won’t drain myself to empty while I continue to keep them filled up. I can’t afford to lose myself in someone else’s story anymore. Instead I’m sharing, writing, and telling my own!

So basically I said all that to say this, For all the times you didn’t call me back, didn’t respond to texts, pulled a no show, didn’t come through, said you were busy, and yet I gave you understanding. Just know when I don’t call back, I don’t respond, and I no longer come running to your aid, and I’m NOT busy, you’ll understand too! You’ll figure it out without me.(wink) 😉

Thanks again for listening and for allowing me to be candid. Thank you for respecting my journey. I hope to inspire the readers to make themselves a priority for once, and to do whatever is necessary for you own self care. I know I speak for others as I speak for myself. Please take care of YOU!

Have a blessed day.

The combative life. #Anxiety #PTSD #Triggers #Eggshells #MentalHealth

Forget about the “walking on eggshells” life, its become land mines for me.

While in discussion with other families, these are some of what we all had in common…

Being in combat isn’t easy. Buckle up because your about to take the ride of your life! Put on your armour! Be prepared for every thing and anything and expect nothing! Here we go….

It’s like every step I take, I’ve set off another bomb.

It’s like every door I try to run to for a way out of the war, just leads to another trap door.

It’s like tip toeing on creeky floorboards while trying to sneak away.

It’s watching the person you’ve always known, now exist within the same body yet their behaviors are uncertain and changed.

It’s hurtful at times to feel helpless while they need help and can’t see the need.

It’s having to be muted and unable to speak a single word.

It’s like watching all the hopes, dreams, and old way of living I once had, become shattered.

It’s like the whole world revolves around them as they become so full of themselves.

It causes me to whisper because my words ignite the fuse.

It’s being anxious about what my next action or words should be.

It’s causing me to feel uncertain.

It’s feels like I’ve become the easy target.

I’m darned if I do, yet I’m darned if I don’t do.

Its like being so ready to run that race, yet I keep falsestarting because the gun hasn’t fired yet.

It feels like trying to walk around in shoes that cause my feet to blister.

It’s knowing I have a choice to do otherwise, yet I choose empathy & forbearance, only to feel defeated.

It’s like a person sneaking up behind me and scaring the crap out of me.

It’s like I’m this little object in between those vice grips that someone else is controlling the squeeze.

It’s about agreeing to disagree just to avoid conflict.

It’s about not being able to watch what I want because I’m afraid I’ll trigger some thing.

It’s about no consideration for others yet consideration is expected in return.

It’s like being trapped inside of uncontrollable anxiety 24/7, 365!

It’s about wondering what I’m going to return home to when I walk through the door.

It’s being willing to live a life on their behalf, because they lack independence.

It’s like watching a cartoon character of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and I’m the victim.

It’s like standing in the middle of a hot dessert with no shelter from the direct sunlight, being burned with every step.

It’s about knowing when to intervene and what to do or say.

It’s about just letting go and letting their consequences play out.

It’s about having tough skin and trying not to take things personal.

It’s about knowing when to walk away, when to stay and when to run.

It’s about being leaned upon but having no one for myself to lean upon.

It’s about lending my support and not expecting any in return.

It’s a lonely walk at times, because this life is so isolated and misunderstood.

It causes a lot of concerns, red flags, and sleepless nights.

It’s become tiresome, exhausting, and brings out the worst in me at times.

It’s like being lashed out at, but it’s not ok for me to bark back.

It’s about having to tolerate things that upset me, while not being able to express myself.

It’s like trying to sit down to relax but I’m bombarded by flying nats.

It’s like my mouth, hands and feet are all bound and I’m helpless.

It’s about feeling like I have to rush my efforts to every request to keep the beast calm.

It’s overwhelming to have to breathe someone else’s air all the time.

It’s very frustrating that I make so many sacrifices only to feel like it’s not enough.

If I say something my words become twisted.

If I say nothing, it means I don’t care.

If I give advice I’m being overbearing.

If I don’t give advice, then I’m blamed for not sharing my input.

It’s about the unknown.

It’s about being uncertain of what to do or not to do anymore.

It’s like a blind and deaf man walking in a land mine.

It causes me to second-guess…

It feels like I’m being pushed away, yet I try to leave, and I’m being pulled to come back.

It’s about cringing when others say the wrong things because their unaware.

It’s tiptoeing when their asleep because you feel like those are your only moments to breathe your own air.

It’s almost like having to hide in a place where I cannot be found.

It makes a person feel lost and unsure.

It’s about trying to avoid what triggers the bad feelings.

It’s about how to manage the stress of others while trying to manage my own stress and the stress alone that’s causing everyone stress to begin with, which is all stressful just thinking about it.

Welcome to the eggshell life, the mindfield of bombs, the battlefield of continuous grenades, the trap doors, the landfield of mines ready to blow!

This life is tiresome, mostly frustrating and it requires ALOT of forbearance, technique, listening skills, and self-reasoning.

Just one question? Is anyone else fighting this battle too? Cuz this battlefield sure seems like a desert with no one else around but bombs set about everywhere just waiting to explode with every breath I breathe and every step I take.

I ask myself, what am I to do? Am I just chopped liver? Should I stay or should I go?

Thanks for being here and for listening.

This article was inspired by myself and so many others who have shared how they are “walking on eggshells”.

Tonight’s thought. #Triggers #Stress #Anxiety #Hope

Sometimes living conditions can be challenging. Especially when you are trying to manage everyone else’s stress, triggers, along with your own anxiety. Because you don’t want history to repeat itself. That part of history that no one wants to relive.

Instead you hope for a better tomorrow. A new opportunity to create new memories toward a better past to look back on as you continue to press forward in your future, while living in the present.

Blessings to you ALL! -Erika

No pictures here, just my views, just my voice.

Mental illness does not discriminate.
It does not care your gender, race, culture, religion, age, skin or hair color, shoe size, weight, height. So it can happen at any age to any person without warning.

Take care of your mental health as best you can. Become better informed about mental health disorders / illnesses. So that if it happens to touch down and impact you or your loved one that you will be better prepared on ways to get support and adequate treatment.

If your like me, I was once uninformed about the real facts regarding mental illness. I only fed my mind from what movies, media and false representations portrayed as individuals who have a mental illness/disorder. All of which, these are bad and create stigma and fear. The stigma is what causes fear in both the outsider who is led to believe false facts and it keeps the individual with the mental illness isolated and living in silence about what their dealing with.

I’m not a doctor. I’m not a licensed therapist. I’m not a mental health professional. But what I am, is a mother who has lived through some very trying moments with my children’s lives who have been changed, marked, and impacted by mental illness/disorders and also developmental challenges. I have my own experiences, views, opinions and voice, which I have chose to break my own silence and be the voice for others who will not advocate for themselves or are unable to speak. I have experiences with two very different worlds.

One being the “special needs & visible disabilities” world, where there seems to be somewhat more of an acceptable disability and their is more compassion and empathy. There is stigma over here too. There are even segregated categories and isolated community events. Other parents know what I’m talking about. You have those who are considered “high functioning” and those who are “developmentally delayed” (like my own son). Then you have “nonverbal” and various other “labels”. Labels by the way, don’t bother me. They’ve become white noise to my life And there may even be times I use them as a word to grab other people’s attention to better comprehend my articles. What does bother me is stigma, negativity, and false representations created by people who don’t know the truth or they speak about what they heard or voice upon things that aren’t true to their own life. Sadly there are times I have come across, even within this community we don’t fit in because maybe my kid is higher functioning. Or maybe my kid is verbal and others aren’t. Or maybe one is wheelchair bound and nonverbal, while someone else has the full use of their legs and ability to verbalize communication. So sometimes that creates separation. Honestly sometimes I feel like my son, isn’t “disabled” enough to be accepted in certain atmospheres. Its like others see him as not fitting into the “regular programs” because he’s delayed. I just see him as who he is. He doesn’t see himself as any less capable of someone else or any higher than the next. He is just super friendly, kind and socialable. And he just wants to be acknowledged by a simple “hello”.

The other being the “mental illness/disorders & invisible disabilities” world, where there seems to be more negative judgment, stigma and less acceptance, with very little to no compassion or empathy. Since becoming more involved within the advocacy for this world I’m in. It has been quite eye opening and I have become better informed on the side of speaking out and what needs to be said. Mental health laws need to change for the benefit of both parties. Mental health education should be required in schools and educators should be required to know this stuff accurately. There should be way more funding toward finding a cure for Mental illnesses. And there should be more funding invested into lab testing so people can be accurately diagnosed for better and more effective treatment. Oftentimes people go years being treated for the wrong diagnosis and that is why sometimes it will appear that treatment does not work. I just want both worlds to know that I am here and that I still have a whole lot more to learn but for now I’m using my own experiences to voice my views.

I’ve become their voice. That voice who isnt afraid anymore. That voice who speaks against stigma. That voice who will advocate for my children’s fair treatment and spread awareness to those who remain “untouched”.

You see my worlds are somewhat small and its by my own choice. Because I do what I can to protect my children from emotional harm and cruelty as well as keeping myself from becoming angrier with ignorance or wilfully ignorant people.

God gave me my voice to speak, so I’m using it for a greater purpose than to just talk nonsense.

Thank you for your support and following my journey.

Walking in a mindfield of eggshells.

In my own article here, I’m speaking with my own voice, that I didn’t used to have. I know this article may hit home for others who have experienced their own mindfield of eggshells as they tread lightly.

Sometimes during and after trauma, your life as you once knew it becomes a mindfield of eggshells. Life as it was before crisis and trauma, now has a different outlook.

The eggshells I’m referring to aren’t the kind you buy in a grocery store or come from a chicken. They are the shells that exemplify every move, thought, comment or gesture. From that moment when the trauma has begun to the point of walking in recovery, some of us are still trying to find our escape from the mindfield of eggshells. (Yes I’m saying mindfield, and not minefield).

It’s usually after a traumatic situation, that this becomes relatable. As for me, it began with my upbringing as an adopted child, being raised in what I now consider was a dysfunctional home environment filled with a lot of bad examples of love, compassion, parenting. It was only after extensive years of therapy and dedication to unlearn what I was exposed to was not “love”, “compassion”, or “good parenting” but rather tons of verbal mental abuse and persuasion. What a lot of people on the outside didn’t know was what went on in that house. Making me learn to walk on eggshells at a very, very young age. It also made me bitter and angry, and it wasn’t until I became grown that I began to advocate for myself. I became fed up with being the “victim”. I set goals for myself and moved out at the age of 18 and I have been independent ever since. What didn’t kill me made me stronger.

It wasn’t until my later years as a mom, advocate, wife, friend, and when my last three children’s lives became impacted significantly with different health challenges that the mindfield of eggshells would resurface for me. My youngest son has developmental delays, my older son has a diagnosis of bipolar, my younger daughter has had a horrific experience with psychosis. All of which have left me, walking on eggshells once again.

In one of my past articles, I made a statement that the mind really is a battlefield. Well I also believe that any individual who has experienced similar mental trauma is a “warrior” or a “survivor of war”. You don’t have to be an actual soldier who’s fought a physical war to become considered a warrior. That’s my own opinion and it’s coming from my life experiences and how I’ve been impacted. Some others may disagree and that’s okay.

What does my mindfield of eggshells look like?

  1. Hesitant to offer advice because its often received as criticism instead.
  2. Choosing my words carefully and selectively so they don’t escalate into a bad conversation.
  3. Whispering in my own house during a crisis or at elevated moments of behaviors or signs of aggression.
  4. Giving advance notice to others of what not to discuss or mention in the open.
  5. Not able to ask many questions because it seems to cause confusion.
  6. Feeling like I can’t be firm with rules because of fear that I could trigger another “setback”.
  7. Having to modify my t.v. viewing of shows I enjoy, so it doesn’t cause flashbacks or trigger bad memories.
  8. Feeling like I’m not breathing 100%, as if I’m partially suffocated by my own anxieties.
  9. I’m always on alert-mode concerning the chosen activities or public events we partake in.
  10. Lack of adequate sleep, waiting to enjoy some “ME TIME”.
  11. Living in the moment, enjoying good times when they are good.
  12. Always ready for “war” at any given moment.

What some may not comprehend is that its NOT just the individual with the diagnosis who’s life was impacted, it also has a great impact on the ones who stood in the gap and helped carry the burden, who lived through those moments of mental war as their voice when they couldn’t speak, or as their aid when they needed extra support.

And although my parents may have meant well, or maybe they were parenting how they were parented, it still didn’t make it okay to demean my value or inflict pain upon me. I honestly don’t think they truly realized just how much their negativity, dysfunctional marriage and emotional abuse toward me and one another impacted my thinking.

All those things listed above describe how I have been impacted personally as a daughter, a child, a mother, a caregiver.

And lastly, as a survivor, overcomer, supporter and advocate, there came a point in my own life that I took a stand for myself. I allowed my own voice to be heard. I broke my silence to set myself free from mental bondage. Unleashing family secrets and choosing just what battles I want to enlist in for “war” and which ones I no longer care to fight. That may sound cold, or harsh, but it’s called, “self-care” and doing what’s best for myself and my own children, regardless what anyone else has negatively to say, think, or assume. I know I’m also the voice for others, specifically those who have walked a very similar mindfield of eggshells.

Thank you again for being here. My hope and prayer is that this will strengthen another person who’s feet are growing tired.

Talking mental health, stigmas, labels, advice through my own experience.

My children each have different lives and different diagnoses. And honestly if our lives weren’t personally impacted by mental illness and other developmental challenges we probably would be uneducated and have no knowledge that these stigmas or labels exist. Unfortunately, they do exist and it’s tough enough to watch my children and others who have battled through a “mental health war” and survived through some of the most traumatizing moments in their lives, being stigmatized and labeled by some of the most misinformed people. Sadly, with my own experience, even some of the social workers and mental health counselors or psychologists fell into this category of stigmatizing their patients. How do I know? Because I witnessed it happen to my own family. When does it end? Where does it end? Where do we draw the line? How do we enforce change?

I’m so tired of the media and social media outlets posting and airing crap stories or voicing opinions, just to get a reaction, to get a click of a thumbs up or a like or a follower. And yet they have never been impacted or touched by mental illness but they have something to say! It’s frustrating to watch the people who aren’t properly educated or lived through the trauma with a person who has battled through a mental health war, give all these false perceptions. Every time there is a horror story or something dark, or a heinous crime the media ties the individual to being “mentally ill” so now everyone who isn’t educated and properly informed, believes that every individual that truly has a mental illness is now this “evil” or “crazy” person. Lawyers convince jury members and judges of the same to get their clients a lighter sentence. In my own belief, it is the evil practices and dark meditations of a persons thoughts that cause them to commit horrific crimes and kill people. Evil people are who do evil things. I will say I also believe it’s possible that an evil person could have a mental illness in some situations, but what point I’m trying to make is that I don’t believe it’s the mental illness that caused a person to do evil. I just don’t believe that. Having been through some very low points with my children and watching them suffer and battle through their mental health disorders, specifically episodes of psychosis, depression, anxiety, hallucinations and being in an altered mental state, not one time had they ever did anything evil. Never once had they ever threatened to harm another person or themselves. They may have expressed frustrations and anger because they weren’t able to be rational in those moments but they weren’t “crazy” or “evil”. Their brains were malfunctioning, causing them to become confused and disoriented. In those moments, they needed someone to be patient with them, not take things personal and realize that their brain was sick and that what was happening to them, was through no fault of their own.

I’m not going to make it sound like it is an easy thing to be around or that it is the same for every family that goes through such a traumatic time. But I am just sharing my own life experience with raising my children. And what I did to help them overcome as well as myself. Because what others may not realize is that it’s not just the individual who has the “mental break” who’s life is impacted but their loved ones suffer right along with them. At least in my family that was the case. Every one handles situations different and to each their own. So here are the questions for people when their in crisis. What do you do when your child suddenly isn’t the child you’ve known them to be their whole life? What do you say to them when they don’t believe anything is wrong? What do you when they refuse to take their medications? What do you do when they are extremely paranoid? How do you survive when your home becomes a “war zone” and your walking on eggshells and trying to avoid triggering them? What do you do when your child is angry and doesn’t understand why it’s happening again and they lose hope? How do you get them to feel comfortable leaving the house? How do you get them to trust again? Who do you call for help when things can no longer be managed at home? What should you say when your every word you speak is under scrutiny? These are just some of the questions that came up in our situations, each time. Unfortunately, there is no written rule, or guide to guaranteed success of what is effective during these times. There is no right answer to these questions. However, I will share with you, what worked for us at times, yes I said “at times” because it didn’t always work.

First and foremost, I’m not a doctor and I’m certainly not a professional therapist, I’m just a mother who’s been through life with my own children who have suffered mental declines and some low points of depression and some high ups of mania and euphoria. Now with that being said, here are some ideas to consider of what my strategies and plans my husband and I did.

  1. Don’t take anything they say, personal. This can be difficult not to, but you have to understand that it’s their illness taking precedence. They’ll apologize later, at least that’s what our children did.
  2. Practice Active listening. Active listening is letting them speak and patiently waiting your turn to reiterate what they just stated to you.
  3. If you believe in Jesus, than pray and trust in Him. I will be honest, there are some situations that you cannot just pray away though. Or so it seemed in my case. You just had to pray for the strength to make it through.
  4. Keep things real for them. Meaning that you “feed the beast” as I once heard a psychiatrist say. If they are talking about something that is delusional than you try to accept it as their reality instead of arguing with them or trying to persuade them otherwise. Remember they are in an altered mental state so they aren’t able to be rational at this time. For example: If they say they believe Aliens are invading their room at night, then you repeat, in the form of a question, “Aliens are invading your room at night?” and allow them to answer. And you can try and redirect by changing the subject to other topics but it doesn’t always work.
  5. Don’t feel guilty for forcing them to get treatment, the sooner the better. This can be extremely challenging especially if they don’t believe their in need of help. And if you’re a loving mom like me, it tears at your heart strings to feel as though you are betraying your child and going against their wishes. And it can take a lot of persuasion and you may need to actually call 911 for help. BUT if you do, I strongly suggest that you fully explain in details to the operator of your situation. For us, our children weren’t violent or a threat to others so we explained they were in need of mental health treatment, there are no weapons, and we just needed help to escort them to a hospital. Upon arrival of the officers, I asked them if they were trained to handle individuals with mental illness and they said no, so I expressed my needs before allowing them to enter my home. 911 will almost always dispatch police. Some states and counties have mental health professionals available, on-duty to come along, but in most cases not so.
  6. Be willing to manage their medications because most adolescent children will forget or won’t take it. Get a daily pill organizer or if your pharmacy offers pillow packs, do it. Don’t refill the empty slots until the whole entire week has been given. Otherwise you may double dose. Use a calendar as a back up to check off each day only after you’ve given it to them. If you just try and give it out of the bottle each day, it can be hard to remember if you’ve already done it, since each day can begin to get so routine, you’ll question, “did I already give them their medications?” It happens. That’s why I’m sharing this piece of advice here.
  7. If necessary while they are stable again, have them sign a medical release of information giving you permission to their medical records and ability to talk with the counselor and doctors. Due to mental health privacy laws, minors are able to make their own decisions and age varies depending on the state you live in, for some it as young as 12. They are protected by HIPPA and you as the parent don’t have rights to their mental health records in most situations, unless you get someone to break the law. In our state the age is 13 for Washington.
  8. Attend the appointments with them so if they are unwilling to share important details, you are able to give this information to their treating physician. Often times, they will not want to talk about what just occurred or they will leave out pertinent information because they just want to put it behind them and move on. Be patient with the process and make sure the medication is effective, otherwise inquire about changing it. Seek the best medicine with the lowest side effects. Any good psychiatrist is going to have this as their own concern. Some that aren’t so good will subscribe anything. Just speaking from experience. Don’t feel as though you have to stick with one you don’t like. And if you think the diagnosis is in question, seek a second opinion. Because symptoms can look very similar of several different diagnoses. You know your child better than any person who gets to visit with them for up to 30 mins.
  9. Be prepared to become your child’s advocate. If their a student in school, inquire with the counselor about getting either a 504 plan with written accommodations or an IEP for specific services. Just know that IEP’s don’t follow if they plan to attend college. And if they have to miss a ton of school, inquire about a home health tutor provided by the district. You might also be able to file for disability benefits for them depending on their diagnosis.
  10. If you have medical expenses that are your patient responsibility, inquire with the treating hospital/clinic about financial assistance or charity care programs. It could help reduce your out of pocket costs. This is especially helpful if your not able to afford it because you’ve had to miss work and go on FMLA unpaid leave to supervise their care. It’s usually worth completing the application.
  11. Be ready to wear your counselor hat. They will need to feel loved, accepted, safe, and reassured after they recover and come back home. They may or may not want to talk about it. Leave it up to them. Mine like to reflect at times, so I just listen and try my best to normalize things for them. Be their biggest support system because the world is an ugly and often cruel place at times. When they come home it should be their safe place. Refrain from saying, “it won’t happen again” because it very well could happen again and then you will lose trust if and when it does. Stay honest but hopeful. Get back to enjoying life while things are good.

So that was a little bit of our experience in what worked for us and what helped our children with their roads to recovery. It is also important that you have someone YOU can go and talk to. Whether it be your own therapist or a trustworthy person. But for me, I am part of a support group through nami.org in my local county and I have a therapist when needed. I am also an advocate for mental health awareness and I assist a church ministry that is headed by my husband which is specifically catered to other families like our own. Families that consist of loved ones who have mental health challenges, or special health care challenges. It has helped me fulfill my own purpose.

Well that is all for this article. I hope that I was able to be of help to at least one person who reads this. And I hope that for anyone who is brand new to learning about mental illness, that maybe you’ll have an informative outlook going forward. I also want to encourage anyone who may be suffering at this moment, that this too shall pass. With time, it will get better. Everyone’s “time” is different. Everyone’s journey is unique. What works for some, doesn’t work for all. But when you do find what works for you, stick with it. And don’t ever let others silence you from sharing your story. Share it, because it will likely inspire others to break free. And lastly, PLEASE STOP STIGMATIZING AND LABELING people with mental illness as something they are not!

Thank you for reading.

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