Yesterday I had an energetic epiphany and decided to take a shower for the first time in a while. I will refrain from saying how long because it’s sad, and I don’t want to be sad. Suffice it to say this was an accomplishment for me, and I feel better for it. I had my cousin over for hang-out time last night and that was refreshing as well. We goofed around on my Ukulele (which I’ve been spelling wrong forever??). Today I got up and actually went to CVS to pick up my meds. It was the first time I’d left the apartment in over a week. It was nice to be a part of the world again. Sometimes I forget that it’s not the end of the world to leave.
This is a friendly neighborhood reminder that no matter how rough shit is, you just have to keep going. Eventually things will get easier.
I got an e-mail today from a parent of someone with MDD (major depressive disorder) wondering about services and support for parents. I was actually caught off guard because I have very little experience with helping people from that angle. My first thought was a book by Ann Douglas called “Parenting Through the Storm: Find Help, Hope, and Strength When Your Child Has Psychological Problems.” You can find her on Twitter @AnnDouglas as well. She’s very responsive. I’ve sent her a message to see if she has any suggestions. There are other books out there about specific disorders, as I know of many for BPD if anyone’s interested. Amazon is a great resource actually.
My other thought was maybe turning to Reddit communities based on the particular disorder your child has. Like, r/bipolar, r/depression, r/bpd, etc. You will usually find a lot of useful information there and support from people with similar experiences. You would be more likely to run into parents there than on other mental health forums which tend to be first-person, which means the poster has to be the one with the disorder. There are also Discord communities that revolve around mental health and a few might have support for parents.
If you feel like you want to be more involved, there are a lot of charities in the U.S. that do great work. In no particular order and in a by no means exhaustive list:
- To Write Love on Her Arms
- Bring Change 2 Mind
- Project Semicolon
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
- Brain & Behavior Research Foundation
- Treatment Advocacy Center
- The Trevor Project
- Stigma Fighters
- Giving Voice to Depression
I believe there is a dearth of services for the parents of those with mental illness. As a person with mental illness, I haven’t experienced the parental side but I can imagine how difficult it must be to see your child go through these things, and how helpless it might make you feel. My recommendation would be to seek therapy yourself if things are really tough, or even just to process basic issues. Literally everyone can benefit from therapy, regardless of how mentally healthy you might be.
I need to rant for a moment. I am volunteering on a Discord chat as a peer support moderator for people with mental health issues. We often deal with people in crisis and those who are on the brink, feeling hopeless, or who’ve been self destructive lately. I am astounded and horrified by the lack of available care in the U.S., U.K., and Canada. I was working with one woman in Canada who literally overdosed in an attempt to take her life, but she was released hours later. She’s been on a waiting list for a psychiatrist forever and it can take up to 2 years. The ER’s recommendation was that she go and enjoy nature, take a few days off of work, and go to CBT. Yes, CBT is a good recommendation for the long term but it is by no means a short term solution in an emergency situation, which this was. Another man I was working with has had all of his therapists quit on him (and this is in Massachusetts!) and tell him he was incurable because his BPD was too treatment resistant. He will never get better, they say. He was at his wit’s end and ready to give up. I couldn’t come up with any sound advice for him, aside from supporting him and telling him that somehow it would be ok.
How can the healthcare system simply abandon so many people? This is an epidemic. Our doctors and hospitals and general healthcare systems do not serve the public as they should. Mental health issues are on the rise, at the highest recorded level in human history. I’ve said this before, but depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide and 800,000 people per year commit suicide, 44,000 in the U.S. alone. That’s over 100 people a day in the U.S. If you can tell me this isn’t a huge problem, then I applaud you for your inventive logic. I am absolutely appalled and so frustrated.
Anyway. That is my rant.
To end on a happy note: I am learning the Ukulele and I’ve started with “I don’t know my name” by Grace Vanderwaal and “Million Reasons” by Lady Gaga. My fingers are sore and my arm hurts from toodling around on it so much. It is a great release and a wonderful outlet for my anxious fingers!