“Quickly you will understand you are more alike than different.”
What kind of stigma did you experience/observe?
Having a child with a disability like mental illness makes it difficult to share updates about your child with family and friends. People that do not know about or understand mental illness have a difficult time relating to your child’s unique story. We celebrate milestones just like you do.
My daughter has Bipolar Disorder, severe anxiety, depression and ADHD. After years of struggling to get Jennifer the right kind of treatment and services, we discovered Guild Incorporated while attending a local chamber of commerce event for work. Once Jennifer was able to get needed medications, find additional life skill services, and move to a safe, affordable apartment, I was able to “let go and just be a mom.”
The journey we took to get there was long and often difficult. After many years of searching for the help and guidance Jennifer needs as an adult with a lifetime disability – there is hope and progress. Jennifer has been relatively stable for the last 3 years. She is maintaining her own apartment, finances and health care with help from her case management team. She advocates for herself on those things needed to maintain her independent living. She prides herself in all of the progress that she has made living in her apartment with her cat Tricky.
Our family has accepted that Jennifer’s life is unique to her and although some of life’s milestones Jennifer may never experience – like getting married and having a child – some milestones are monumental and worth celebrating specific to Jennifer and her mental illness.
For me volunteering is a way to “pay it forward.” I use my community connections and professional network to get the word out and build awareness about mental illness. To me it’s not work. It’s a lot of fun to use our family’s experience in this positive way!
What could someone have said/done to make it ok?
The best advice I can offer is get involved to learn more. Start with the great information here, but each of the Make It OK participating organizations have ways for you to learn and meet people living with mental illnesses. Quickly you will understand you are more alike than different.