I started to attend a no-cost support class this past week sponsored by NAMI, National Alliance on Mental Illness, called “Family to Family” at my local library. This class is very needed as families who have loved ones dealing with various mental challenges including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, psychosis, schizophrenia, etc., desperately need mental health support.
Difficult to Diagnose
Two years ago, my 26-year-old son was diagnosed with severe depression, then six months later, a different psychiatrist changed the diagnosis to bipolar disorder with psychosis. More recently he was diagnosed with severe depression with psychosis. His illness seems to be complicated and difficult to diagnose.
Update October 24, 2018
After further research, we finally got a diagnosis for my son that closely matches his symptoms. He is dealing with Bipolar II disorder.
The majority of people desire to help those with cancer. Why is mental health support overlooked?
It was really nice to gather at this NAMI meeting with people who understand what it is like to live with someone who has mental health challenges.
I have noticed people know what to say and do when someone has cancer. Both meals and a listening ear are eagerly offered. On the other hand, why is mental health support overlooked?
Ignored, shunned, or shamed
Those dealing with mental health challenges are usually ignored, shunned, or even shamed. I think many people lack knowledge about mental health like I did until my son got sick. Some react with innocent ignorance of mental illness, but many choose to be judgmental rather than to listen and learn.
Video about the reality of exposing mental health challenges.
As shown in the video, exposing mental health challenges often result in a negative outcome; therefore, many with mental health challenges hide their disorders striving to get along in society.
Possible behavior changes of one with mental health challenges.
All those at the meeting shared the shock of watching a loved one (varied in age from mid-teens to the early twenties) move from healthy to mentally ill. We listed various behavior changes as we exchanged information with each
- More nervous
- Increased criticalness, anger, and even abusiveness
- Impolite or inappropriate verbal observations
- Irrational thinking; inability to reason
- Believe they are someone else (usually a famous person or someone they admire)
- More emotional; cries more, more anxiety
- Very fearful
- Inflexible; Does not respond favorably to change
- Isolate themselves
- Cannot focus or concentrate
- Neglects personal hygiene
- Devastated by peer disapproval
- Loss of relationships
- Asexual or hypersexual
This list is by no means all-inclusive. I was surprised the behavior symptoms were similar for all loved ones, although, the loved ones had various mental disorders.
Why is mental health support overlooked
It helped me to feel less lonely, and made me feel more positive about the question, “Why is mental health support overlooked?” NAMI is one source offering a gathering place to give support and share information about mental illnesses.
No cure for mental illness
I was also surprised when the NAMI teacher taught the concept, there is no cure for mental illness, and that the process of living with a mentally challenged person is ongoing and cyclical, beginning over again each time a loved one has a relapse.
Wow! All three psychiatrists that assessed my son thought he had a chance of getting well. However, according to the NAMI course curriculum, “getting well” means being stabilized with medications and counseling, but never being cured.
I think statistical numbers show that mental illness is incurable so I understand why NAMI feels it is necessary to prepare people for the most probable outcome. However, this causes me some turmoil. Some would say I am in denial, but my instincts tell me, we as a society lack knowledge, both medical and faith healing intelligence.
I feel that I must continue to hope for complete healing of my son while using all available resources. Prior to seeking medical help for my son, he was healed of a few multiple personalities through the power of prayer and words.
Told to pray more
One woman in the NAMI class mentioned people had told her she needed to pray more and go to church more often. These accusations are brutal and very hurtful. Unfortunately, sometimes those who do not understand mental illness are judgmental and presume they know the answers, although, they know nothing about mental illness.
God used the power of words to create the earth, it seems if we knew more about how to use words with faith, we would become witnesses of complete healings. I don’t believe it is has anything to do with praying more or attending church, it is about gaining the correct knowledge.
I say various healing prayers each day (not all of them at once) for my son as prompted by the spirit with the hope he will be healed. If I don’t currently have enough faith or know the words to use for him to heal, it is my hope, I will be given all I need to help my son completely heal in the future days/months/years ahead.
Top Featured Photo by Cristian Newman