Monday, August 28, 2006

The tragedy of having a mental illness affects an entire family

I was reminded of this today from a nice phone call from a parent who tells of her own struggle with her son’s illness. The experience and emotions run the entire spectrum, from shock, and disappointment, to sometimes shame, and denial. The slow and time-dependant craw through all of this then is not only experienced by the individual, but often also by the family, who become de facto caregivers.

This particular parent called it a “grieving” process, which appropriately communicates the mammoth sense of loss and sadness that must be confronted. This, again, takes time—often a long time.

This process of coming to grips with a horrifying life long illness then get complicated by two more factors: the illness is still shrouded in stigma and myth, and almost no societal plan exists to inform and help people on what to do next.

Years of recovery time are sometimes lost in utter confusion about the path and treatment of the illness. Parents must connect themselves with others who are going through this—NAMI is a nice first start.

Ironically, at Caramore, we sometimes have to remind ourselves of the lack of knowledge out there on mental illness. We see so many similar stories and histories, that it becomes almost routine.

Personally, we at Caramore feel we have some nice methods to begin recovery for a person with a mental illness. We also feel that we can begin to alleviate a small portion of the suffering a family feels. We offer some hope amid the loss, for a life that wasn’t expected, but not too bad either.

D. Cooley

No comments: