Thursday, March 21, 2024

Mental Illness Is A Family Affair

   "No matter your situation, keep in mind that you don't need to know what you need to start getting care." National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, March 2024.       

                                       Mental Illness Is A Family Affair

    This quote from the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill reminded me that mental illness is a family affair. It doesn’t mercifully stop with one generation but randomly chooses its victims in generations to come. This means that parents and guardians, as well as the afflicted young person, need to be on the alert for behavioral challenges that could indicate the need to receive care.

           I was shocked and surprised to realize that among my 10 grandchildren, over half suffer from some form of mental health or brain challenge: bipolar disease, anxiety disorder, depression, autism, and addiction. The appearance of these maladies did not erupt into view until the young person reached out for independence somewhere in their early to mid-twenties. Adulthood is tough enough, but try making it when you’re saddled with the demon of mental disorder.

           I recall a grandson making a poignant statement when he was 25 years old, “I’m not sure I want to be an adult; it’s too f____ hard.” Aside from his poor choice of language, at my urging, this grandson sought mental health care. It was only during the treatment that he discovered the reasons for his disordered mind and spirit: he was experiencing deep depression and ADHD. Although he did not share his specific type of medications, I know he was on physician prescriptions. I also know that he found talk therapy very helpful. Above all, he no longer felt alone in battling his symptoms. After months of treatment, he now works full-time and lives happily with his partner and daughter.

           Isn’t it amazing how mental health care actually works when we allow ourselves the time and patience to heal.



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