When we began our Behind The Wall project, our main purpose was to understand how parents of adult children living with serious mental illness cope and manage the day-to-day dramas and crisis that seem to come with mental illness.
A family member had just been diagnosed with serious mental illness and we were searching for resources to help us accept the diagnosis, address the roiling emotions, and care and advocate for our loved one. And, the bigger question, how can our family support the parents of the individual living with the illness?
As parents, we know that the most practical child-rearing advice has come from those who have experienced it before us—everything from potty-training, sleep strategies, to getting kids to eat vegetables. So we again turned to other parents. While researchers and psychiatrists provide invaluable insight and information about the brain and effective treatments, no one can truly understand day-to-day challenges better than a parent who lives with a mentally ill person.
I daresay, not even a person who has a serious mental illness can truly understand what it is like being the loved one, caregiver or advocate. The challenges are not greater or lesser, just different.
She says, “When I accepted his mental illness, his life got better.”
In the process of collecting stories for Behind The Wall, we always asked parents what advice they would give another parent whose child is newly diagnosed. Maika, whose son Riley lives with schizophrenia, regrets not accepting the illness earlier because the sooner a person begins an effective treatment, the better the outcome. She says, “When I accepted his mental illness, his life got better.” Acceptance is for many, the most difficult step. Not just for parents and loved ones, but for the ill person too. But when loved ones find acceptance, it becomes easier for an ill person to recognize it too. And then chances for effective treatment improve.
What can make acceptance come easier is knowing there is hope. That’s what contributors want other parents to know. Rebecca has one daughter who lives with depression and another diagnosed with schizophrenia. She advises that, “As hard as it is right then, it can get better. It’s very hard to remember that when you are in the middle of it and your child is telling you, ‘I hate you and I can’t be in the same room with you.’” That is not to say the journey isn’t difficult, just that it can get better.
We again came across a video made in Britain. For anyone who has been newly diagnosed with a serious mental illness, or has a loved one who has, this is a valuable resource. What these individuals say is what our contributors told us too.
For anyone who has been newly diagnosed with a serious mental illness, or has a loved one who has, this video is a valuable resource.
What these individuals say is what our contributors told us too.
Click Here to view this video.
We are always interested in hearing from our readers. What has helped you parent a child living with mental illness?