A letter….

At 13 years old I learned the name of the illness my mother had be dealing with for years.  It was written on a court document: paranoid schizophrenia.  It would be almost 20 years before I would actually learn more about the illness and would begin to separate my mother from her illness.  Over the years I have met many people that have a loved one (parent, sibling, child, spouse, or friend) that had been diagnosed with what is sometimes labeled a “serious mental illness.”  According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, “ One in 17 (adults) lives with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder”.  If I had the chance to tell someone what to expect, this is what I would say.  (This based off of my experience with my loved one, everyone’s experience will not be the same.)

For those that love someone with a serious mental illness…..

If you love someone that has a serious mental illness I don’t know if anything will fully prepare you for the roller-coaster ride that comes along with loving someone with a serious mental illness.  There will be high and lows, good days and bad days.  There will be feelings of guilt, anger, helplessness, and sadness.  You will begin to enjoy the “simple” moments that you previously took for granted.

You patience will be tested and used up, but you will find more.  You may say some hurtful things, hurtful things will be said to you-you will forgive and be forgiven.  You will learn about boundaries, but you won’t use them as you should in the beginning.  You will become OK with saying “no”, although you will likely feel guilty, say “no” anyway.
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The Founder of Speak Away the Stigma shares her story

Author Kendra Bell  host the podcast “Calming Sense” where she discusses mental health related topics.  Kendra reached out to find out more about Speak Away the Stigma and what led Christina Lattimore to become a Mental Health Advocate.  Check out Calming Sense and find out more about Christina, how mental illness has impacted her family and the future plans for Speak Away the Stigma.  img_0234

Kendra’s book, Battle Scars of the Mind: Do You Have What It Takes to Overcome the Enemy’s Temptations? is available on Amazon.  “Using biblical narratives and personal stories of others overcoming atrocities, Kendra brings a much needed, fresh insight to the important issues we face in our society. Using compassion and empathy, she shows you how to:
•Challenge negative thoughts
•Embrace healing
•Avoid temptation using biblical principles
•Overcome rejection
•Receive the gift of forgiveness, grace, and mercy
•Live a life of redemption”

**The November event PTSD & Her has been pushed back, however there will be a different awareness event in October or November!  Sign up to get our updates so you’ll be the first to know about our next event**


15 Questions for Your Consideration

“People talk about physical fitness, but mental health is equally important. I see people suffering, and their families feel a sense of shame about it, which doesn’t help. One needs support and understanding…”  Deepika Padukone

 Whenever there is a story about someone with a mental health condition in the news there are a wide range of comments and questions.  No matter if the person was killed, injured themselves or someone else, or if they are just displaying odd behavior, one question that will be found in the comments section:  “Where is the family?”.  While it is  a simple question, the answer can get complicated.

Most recently videos of Maia Campbell have surfaced, and there was a call for LL Cool J to help her (Her mother Bebe Moore Campbell passed away in 2006).  While it is easy to @ someone or retweet the call for help, Mr. Todd Smith, or anyone else, may find if difficult to extended the helping hand she truly needs.

I say this not to discourage anyone from helping someone with a mental health condition, but to help people understand that getting help for an adult isn’t easy.  I don’t want this post to discourage anyone with a mental health condition from opening up to their loved ones, many people that have been diagnosed are living great lives.

The point of this post is to help people understand that helping can get complicated and a support system is necessary (as with any other illness).  Without awareness and proper funding those that struggle with a mental illness will continue have trouble getting help and those that want to help their loved ones will have trouble finding and accessing the resources.

In minority households getting help for a loved one can be difficult because of money, time, awareness and the stigma associated with mental illness in our communities.

Here is a list of questions (and things to remember) I would like people to think about if your your adult daughter, sister, cousin, best friend, mother, wife or child’s mother had a mental health breakdown and was diagnosed with a serious mental illness?  (This could result in the loss of income, a home, or extended hospital stays)  

  1. Would you be embarrassed OR empathetic for your loved one?

In my opinion you can be both.

  1. Who would you turn to in order to get her the help she needs?

Maybe the better question how do you get them to agree to help because you cannot force an adult to go to the doctor.

  1. Would you let her stay in your home?

Remember she could lose her home because of the inability to hold down a job

  1. Would you try to get her admitted for inpatient treatment?

Remember, she is an adult  and she has rights.

  1. Would you have the ability to help pay her medical bills?

Hospitals aren’t free…..

  1. Would you have the ability to help pay for her medication?

Neither is medication…….

  1. Would you have the ability to help pay for basic necessities?

They will need food, clothes, underwear, toiletries…..

  1. Would you have the time to help her get public assistance?

Public assistance may be available but there is an application process.

  1. Would you make the time and effort to ensure she takes her medicine every day?

Again this is an adult and just like most of us when we start to feel better, we stop taking medicine.

  1. How would you get access to speak to her doctor, because doctor patient privileges…..

Yes, this still exist if your loved one has been diagnosed with an illness.

  1. How would you respond when your love one complains about the side effects of the medication?

A few side effects of  medications can include headaches, nausea, tremors, skin rash, fever.

  1. Would you have the money to help pay for an attorney?

It may be to get a Power of Attorney or Guardianship or Custody of children

  1. Would you be be worried about opening up to your friends and neighbors? What do you think they would say?

Many people feel shame when it comes to a loved one’s diagnosis.

  1. Who would you turn to for support for yourself?

Self-care must be a priority if you are helping care for someone else, maybe even get a therapist.

  1. How would you explain the illness to children in the family?

Yes, they deserve an honest explanation.

Read the list of questions again, but replace mental health breakdown with Epilepsy, Cancer, or Rheumatoid Arthritis.   Are the questions easier to answer?  Are your answers the same?