Hoping to someday find M's brother adopted in the U.S. -
Myckola Oleksandrovych Markov - 8/26/2003

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

You're in a Mental Hospital...

We've all seen them, and probably at one point participated in it on social media.  "You're in a mental hospital… tag the first 8 friends on your sidebar in order and…"  

Funny right?

I used to think so, but since joining the ranks of a special needs adoptive mama, I now have friends that have children with all sorts of special needs, including mental health issues.

The things that my friends have dealt with and been through hurt my heart.  The struggle for them to get their children the help that they need is often met with such stigma.  No one wants their child to be mentally ill, but those who are living this reality are in their own personal level of hell, mostly brought on not so much by the child, but the lack of resources, support, and understanding that they receive.

Some of my own children have been diagnosed with things like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and Major Depressive Disorder.  Some of these things can manifest with symptoms of psychosis.  The first thing we've dealt with when sharing even the slightest bit of information with anyone was "Don't medicate your kids" and "Not everyone needs to know."

Of course any medication for any child should be administered after careful consideration with a medical professional, and no, not everyone needs to know.  But just being on the tip of the mental health iceberg scares me to death because of the immediate stigma and unwanted, unhelpful advice.       

I see the "Mental Hospital" joke going around FB again, and this time it just pierced right into my heart.  At one point in time, I might have played along and tagged my friends, but I cannot imagine the hurt that would cause my friends who are currently visiting their child in a psychiatric hospital.  I just read on my friend's blog how difficult it is for them to plan Easter with one child hospitalized for psychiatric issues.  This isn't a new thing for them.  What they've dealt with most likely would have broken me.

Another friend is also dealing with mental health issues with her son, and she has been so strong to keep pushing to get him the help he needs.  So when I see it made light of while I know my friends are in pain, I just want to smack people right out of their dream world.  I know my friends see these posts too.    

Please think before poking fun at anyone.  Its really not funny.  People with mental illness have faces, names, birthdays, favorites colors, feelings, and families.

To all of the mamas out there with kids that have ODD, PTSD, GAD, MDD, OCD, Bi-polar disorder, schizophrenia, and much more: I see you.  I might not say it, but I see you and I admire you.  You fight the battles that no one talks about because deep down they are scared by that which you do every day.    


ErinL said...

Yes, Yes and YES!!! You want to know what bothers me most about that? It is the description of the patients "the person running around naked" or "the person sitting in the corner drooling". NOT FUNNY. First of all I have spent more time than I ever cared to visiting my child in a psychiatric ward and this is not what they are like. These are real people, in my case real children, who are hurting. Come with me and listen to the girl screaming and sobbing on the phone with her mom saying "I'll take what ever meds you want me to take just get me out of here!!" I can't imagine the pain that mother felt. She probably did that to keep her daughter alive. It's not funny.

Kate said...

I come from a family with a history of mental illness severe enough to warrant a psychiatrist, meds and the occasional in-patient stay starting in grade school. As a result of timely, appropriate mental health care, both of us are college-educated, happily married and gainfully employed. I haven't been hospitalized since college (I'm nearly 40) and K hasn't been in going on 5 years (she's 30).

However, folks (family, friends, my parents friends, etc) were, to a person, incredibly supportive -- lots of casseroles, visits (pediatric unit encouraged visitors at lunch & anytime after 4, so long as the kid's not in the ICU) and behaved exactly as they would if K or I had been getting chemo. I can't conceive of getting through that without tons of support.

(Literally half my college/grad school girlfriends landed themselves in-patient for a week or two at some point. As did half my parents friends. It's effectively an Upper Middle Class Girl Rite of Passage).

This is a whole lot of words to say the stigma around mental illness is on its way out.

We witness a miracle every time a child enters into life; but those who make their journey home across time and miles, growing within the hearts of those who wait to love them,are carried on the wings of destiny; and placed among us by God's very own hands. --Kristi Larson