As of this week my blogs will be posted on our website as our homepage: hopeforhurtingparents.com We appreciate your patience as my dear husband re-builds the site. It’s gonna be great!
When your child is diagnosed with a mental illness it can feel overwhelming. You may become depressed and fearful not knowing what to expect or how to respond. I did. A stranger to the world of mental health, it was all foreign to me. If that describes you, read my last four blogs. They’re all about mental illness. They’ll help educate you, strengthen you and lessen your fears. In today’s blog I’m going to share 3 things I wish someone had told me when I first learned of my daughter’s mental health challenges. I think they’ll help you.
1. Your child is still the same person. They suffer with a mental illness, or they have a mood disorder. There is a difference. If they had diabetes, you wouldn’t say, “My child is diabetes”, would you? If they had cancer, you wouldn’t say, “My son is cancer”, right? They aren’t their diagnosis. It doesn’t have to define them – don’t let it. Be careful how you talk to them and about them to family and friends. It matters. They’ll take their cues from you.
2. This isn’t a death sentence.
It’s not the end of the world. Your son still has a bright future ahead of him – a life full of meaning and purpose. Your daughter’s dreams can still be fulfilled; her goals reached. Their future just might not look the same as you or they once imagined. Yes, this is disappointing, but once accepted, adjustments can be made. Pour on lots of encouragement as they discover their new path – everyone needs a lot of that.
3. Have realistic expectations.
Your child’s life may not be a steady uphill climb. There may be many ups and downs, “bumps” in the road; but then, hasn’t yours? Discovering the right combination of medications isn’t always easy. They may not always cooperate with their treatment plan. At times they may stop taking their medication and experience a setback. They will have their fair share of challenges and disappointments. The right career path could take time to find and relationships can be messy. But, with lots of patience, compassion, understanding, unconditional love and on-going support, they can thrive.
4. You are Not Alone.
Many others are going through the same things you are. You’re not the only one, even though you may feel that way. The sooner you both find support, the better you will do. Check out NAMI: Free classes to educate and inform, and support groups (nami.org).
My mother lived most of her life with bipolar disorder, but she took such good care of herself, I never knew it until I was in my forties. She had a beautiful marriage; was a wonderful mother, grandmother, and devoted friend to many. If she were alive today I think she would say she had a very good life full of purpose, love, and joy. Your child can, too.
This Bible verse is so encouraging:
“As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion . . . ” (Psalm 103:12) ESV.
What would you add to my list? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section. We need each others help.