It was pointed out to me recently that I have a unique opportunity to help many people with this blog; as a patient, as a mother, a daughter, and as a wife. Having a disease that no one wants to understand, is a difficult thing in a world of difficult things. However, despite the fact I will start writing posts about this disease, in the slight hope that someone will see something they can use, there needs to be a rider here. I am not a doctor, I am a patient. I am not an expert on anything, except my own journey. What I know, may not work. It may not help; but it may, just may, give you a moment to think of something you may not have considered.
I can not imagine what happens to a mother who is told her child has a mental disease. I can only speculate that the emotions, including fear, terror, hopelessness, guilt, worry, stress, and the absolute questioning of everything you thought was right in the world, is devastating. The problem with many of the mental diseases is your child doesn’t get it when they are young. I was diagnosed at 19, long after I left my parents home. There was absolutely no way for my mother to control me or to some extent my ability to handle this disease. It was too late for her to instill the lessons of prescription management, it was way too late for her to learn my triggers and what precipitates my episodes. It was largely out of her control, and she simply had to wait, eight hours away, while I spent the next decade trying to learn and figure out what being bi-polar actually means. I simply can’t imagine that worry.
But there are some things that might help parents. I will have to put this in a series of posts, because what I am about to try to teach is important. It needs to be learned, taken in, and digested in order for you to determine how it will best help your child.
- The first lesson, may not be the most important, but it is up there. For all of you mothers and fathers who learned that your child has a mental disease, and immediately ran to your computer to look it up on the internet…STOP!!!
There is some great information on the internet. There are some well written, and possibly helpful sites to find paths on how to deal with this disease, or any mental disease. But there are just as many ridiculous hints, ideas and thoughts about the disease. Just because it says it was written by a doctor, and it looks official doesn’t mean that it actually is.
I don’t mean to point to a specific site, nor a specific doctor. What I am trying to tell you is that mental diseases are hard to understand, and NEVER fit a specific pattern. My triggers are not your child’s triggers. My medicine won’t necessarily work on your child, it’s why I never mention everything I am taking. My journey will not be the same as your child’s, I absolutely guarantee it.
That being said, the internet can be useful for some things. If you have a specific, and I mean specific question, gently use the internet for a resource. If you need ideas, gently use the internet for a resource. However, remember there are much better resources; and always use the internet gently.
If you are truly dedicated to helping your child, find a support group. There will be enough opinions and thoughts that it may help. Make sure it is moderated by a therapist or at least someone who has extensive experience in mental diseases. Using your church is not a bad idea, as long as you understand prayer, while important, isn’t going to save your daughter or son. Sorry to say it, but just falling to your knees will not make your child better.
I also encourage newbies to go to therapy. There isn’t anything wrong with seeing an expert to talk about your own feelings, and to get thoughts about how to handle this news. There is certainly more good than bad in trying. Promise yourself you will at least try. Not to control your child, but to control yourself. Do it for you, and do it for your child.
Do you remember when you first held your child in your arms? The first time those doctors handed that really tiny burden into your open arms? You probably did something instinctive to all animals…you comforted your baby. Many mothers do this naturally, simply by lying the child close to your heart. You may not even remember doing it. But you gave your child something more precious than a pathway to heaven itself, you gave them comfort. The beat of your heart became a safe haven in a terrifying world; one of lights, loud sounds and strange smells. In all the chaos, you gave your child a moment to find the strength to relax and be comforted. That gift, that single moment that you probably don’t really remember, was priceless.
It is a gift that you can still give to your child (and not by reading an article on the internet). Yes, you probably can’t put your son’s head up to your chest and make him listen to the beat of your heart; but you can find a way to be the safe haven that you child has depended on since the moment they were conceived. You can find a way to let them listen to your heart for one more moment, and rest. Give your child that safe haven; the road they are traveling is horrendous. They need that more than they need anything else. That, I know is the truth.