Family members speak up. Hope has gone wild!!!! Part 2 of Oprah’s mental illness discussion

imageThis is a second chat about mental illness and the hope that is alive to assist loved ones with this very fearful topic. Fear is a theme that all of us come in contact with as living beings. I am thrilled that Oprah Winfrey and her team have started this open conversation about mental illness. In part 2 of her conversation in the month of March she addresses living with a family member that has a mental illness. There is no doubt mental illness is an unknown and scary topic to the majority of individuals. We see and hear about the negative and tragic events that people with mental illness face and manifest on a weekly basis. It’s a real crisis-like problem and our medical world is full of clinicians that over medicate just to make sure a person is safe to themselves and others. Our society is also afraid to speak up for help. It falls on the caregivers to advocate, fear is the number one block. It’s different and unknown, the caregivers are not choosing to “see” the illness, or have most likely distanced themselves from their loved one due to this overwhelming fear.

In my generation of children of the 80’s no one spoke of it. We were all expected to be strong and ignore any feelings of sadness, anger, or manic feelings. It is true that anxiety, depression, bipolar are part of my family history. I will not explain because it is private within my family and the relatives that are affected by it. When I had my breakdown 9 years ago my sister ran like a cheetah. Her children called me scary and I should not have been dragged to our family holiday dinner in my condition. My dear father was only trying to love and help me. How awful it must have been, his wife gone and me gone “crazy” so to speak. My mom was the glue/life force and she too was afraid when I had depression and anxiety in my teen years. It’s a cycle of thoughts and actions that as a family we form and repeat and until it is recognized that it is fear, no one will change. So, this is history now and as I said before I bled after I was removed from the medicine 18 months ago. I chose forgiveness and love instead of anger and pain. It wasn’t easy but love prevailed. I knew I would get ill if I pressed forward in hate. I still visit the pain as I recall it at times. That’s what yoga, mindfulness, forgiveness, therapy, and most important my faith in God has helped to guide me daily.

In the article the reader meets four families that have lived and have been brave and generous to tell their stories. I thank you for your sharing. One woman talks about her aunt and how unstable she was and how terrifying it was to be around her. Her aunt did not receive the correct care. This is a whole topic of its own. A patient needs to receive the correct care and it’s imperative that they follow up and get guidance for themselves. There are organizations to help, i.e. NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness). Please use this stellar resource it is helping people survive and cope. I have a friend and her son as a teenager had an emotional breakdown and suffered severe anxiety. Many years later after fantastic help he is at Harvard completing his writing degree and working at NAMI with other people suffering like he had. Happy story indeed!!!! Another story featured a parent of a boy that had committed a violent act. She knew something was different about him but never said anything. Gosh, she was frightened and ashamed beyond belief. No one wants to hear it or help you when your loved one is ill. It’s a lonely existence caring for a loved one with mental illness. In general, people exist in their own worlds because that’s the western way. We no longer embrace neighbors and help sick, we push people away out of fear. I truly hope this evolves; it’s a crying shame. I know there is hope and there are people that want to change, let’s keep praying. Lastly, there is a story of a woman that had a sister that had completely turned all their lives inside down with her bipolar episodes. This story broke my heart. It’s a bit close to home as I turned my family’s lives upside down for 8 years. We cannot be angry; it is horrible to live it and to be the person living it with a family member. My wish is for forgiveness and love and a new beginning. Please don’t run. It’s up to caregivers to try and find help. Perhaps it’s too much to ask but I’ll
take a chance. In closing, I’m choosing to find loving kindness and choosing to forgive. It’s a choice to face mental illness and live it to the best of your ability. Many patients cannot choose and many get locked away. For many it is the safest option and many severely mentally ill people benefit from a group like home.

I have transformed and had a renewal. It’s amazing but I do care for ones not as lucky. My husband and I are still getting used to the difference in me. He still needs to witness that I am stable. That I am not going to fly off due to medication and all the bad habits that defined my character for years. I choose to change, I choose to live and love. I choose to stop judging, assuming, and hurting myself by reliving all those exhausting stories and focus on my present. As a take away let’s honor our loved ones where they are and give them and others safety. Try to locate a good doctor and please go to their check ins it’s vital to everyone’s well being. Try and listen to your loved ones, we all need to be heard, even if it may not make absolute sense to you. I say thank you daily to my divine and put it in the hands of the universe to listen to my hopes and desires after my reawakening. Please do your research and find time to smile and laugh with your loved one. Bless all of you and continue to inspire. Be well, be bold, be the love! Blessings of peace, Mandy

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