Author Archives: Jill

About Jill

Author of books and articles on support and experiences of living with a mentally ill family member. My aim in blogging is to let others see how a loving family, with a father and husband who is able to give unconditional love, can help the family cope. Many call me the blogging grandma.'

white roses in a vase

My friend is in trouble. What can I do to help?

When my friend was in trouble, I spent a whole lot of time thinking and wondering how I could help her and her immediate family. I cooked for us and for her, but how could I tell her that that I wanted to help without offending her? So, I spent time trying to solve my problem  and this is what I came up with. I prepared some questions to use when I next saw her and here are some I came up with.

Has your cleaner returned from her vacation yet? If not, allow me to send mine over just this once.

I have so much food left over from lunch today. I would like you to have it.

I have no idea how you are feeling but I want you to know that I will always be there for you when you feel like talking.

I am not busy today so if you need help folding your laundry, do let me know.

Tell me one day what it’s like to be ‘you’ for 24 hours. I want to know.

I bought flowers to cheer you up. Is it okay to bring them over and put them in a vase?

white roses in a vase

The Shocking Truth

If my son had been run down by a vehicle, I would probably have spoken openly about it, confident of obtaining sympathy as well as empathy. But, psychosis defies empathy. Only those who have experienced mental illness close up, buy the idea that it is a behavioral disease.  My son was deeply affected by the medications he took, which made him walk stiffly. Although I hated the  expression, the hospital staff called it ‘a Parkinsonian shuffle.’ Much later, we learned that it was a side effect of the haloperidol medications, inducing indifference and to stop sequential thoughts. My son experienced intellectual paralysis. When he once tried to explain how he was feeling, he once asked; ‘Do you see and hear the swarm of helicopters hovering overhead?’  ‘Yes,’ we answered. ‘Well, that’s the kind of noise I hear in my head sometimes and it stops me from listening, hearing, thinking!’ Our family loved playing scrabble but he told us that he could barely build a three-lettered word any longer. I looked at my son with his tangled mass of hair – lying sprawled on his bed, and I hugged him saying; ‘I love you’  tears streaming down my face.

My Markers

colored markers 1

We can learn a whole lot from markers. Yes, the colored markers that we all use from a very young age. Some are thin, others are fat, some are dull, others are bright. Some are light, while others are dark, some work well while others don’t. There are colored markers that have unusual names like cerulean and ochre, yet … they all live peacefully together in the same pencil case.

When it comes to mental illness, let’s all take a tip from these markers and accept everyone even if they are different from the rest of us. Let’s behave toward a person with a mental illness the way we treat someone with a physical illness. Let’s be helpful to those who need help, and most of all, let’s drop the word STIGMA.

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Lets talk about mental illness …

mugsPLEASE find it in your hearts to donate money toward research on mental illness. Relatives of people with mental illnesses are starting to lobby their governments for more money for treatments and research. Some are beseeching top scientists to push for higher stakes in their research. I know how often I prayed for a cure when my son was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia – when not one single medication helped relieve his symptoms. When some people hear the word schizophrenia or bipolar illness, they have been known to withdraw their support even though millions of people all over the world are living with mental illnesses as well as other brain diseases. Some are curable – but we have to work that much harder to cure those that are not.

 

A rocky period when your children are teenagers …

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APPROPRIATE FOR PARENTS OF TEENAGERS.

 

I visited a friend who was in the middle of a heated argument with her teenage children. I felt rather uncomfortable about having walked in at such an inopportune moment but she was far too busy to notice. A while later, she turned to me, and in the most ordinary of tones said: ” Mother Nature is truly wonderful, you know. She gave me 14 years to develop a deep love for my children before turning them into teenagers!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

The BULLY’S MOTHER.

bullies 1“Who is this student’s mother? Where is she?” A large man with a deep voice yelled. “I need to speak with her now.”

Claire knew that no matter what  that man was angry about, her son, Roger,  was the target of his rage, and that his mother; ME, was the person he was searching for. She would have loved to run away and hide but her sweet, fair-haired son, Roger, was approaching and the red-faced, enraged father was grasping him by his collar. Claire breathed deeply, aware that other mothers were holding their children’s hands, relieved that their little darlings were not the culprits. “I’m his mother,”  Claire managed to say before the tirade began. “What’s wrong with your son?” the father yelled. “I was walking  along, holding my daughter’s hand and chatting to her when your aggressive son came out of nowhere and hit her without provocation. What’s the matter with him? Do you and your husband or boyfriend beat him up?” Claire glanced at her son who was wearing that now familiar expression of sheepishness and defiance while the angry father was probably waiting for me, his mother, to get my Roger to apologize. BUT,  I knew that it was not  going to happen. I blurted out ”I’m so sorry. I will talk to my child,” and looked into my son’s eyes wondering for the 100th time what was wrong with him and what made him hit other students?” I was angry too, because I was no longer an ordinary mother. I was the mother of The Bully, a title I’ve lived with for years. When my toddler  was barely three years old, my girlfriend’s husband said that my darling child had intimidated their son and was too rough. Then I was asked  to remove him from the playgroup because he’d boxed a child there and was no longer welcome. After that, angry mothers, raging fathers and tearful schoolchildren came to complain. I sought the help of a therapist and did my best to implement what I’d learned there. To no avail. As Roger grew older, there were less complaints.

One day, soon after my younger son had started  school, he came home sobbing. “What happened?” I asked. “He, he, he took my lollipop.” “Who did?” “The big boy.” “Did you simply give it to him?” “Yes.”  “Why?” “He said I had to.” And Claire felt  more relieved than she had felt her whole life. Her younger son, the Bully’s brother, was now the victim. She and her husband had one son who was a bully and the other, a victim.

Both boys came from the same parents and lived in the same house so, how could they have produced two sons so different?

Can anyone explain this phenomena?

 

 

 

 

CONSIDERATION TOWARD HANDICAPPED PEOPLE

disabled

Insufficient  consideration is given to people with handicaps. Car manufacturers advertise cars with large baggage compartments for wheelchairs, yet, very often folded wheelchairs do not fit in.

Airplane toilets are  notoriously tiny and uncomfortable; not only for a handicapped person, as they are very cramped. Every toilet should have a bar for the occupants to hold onto and the toilet paper rolls should be hung in a user-friendly spot.

Hotel showers need to be equipped with plastic chairs or wheelchairs that have been treated to withstand water, so that a handicapped person can sit while taking a shower.

Beaches also need to invest in specially designed wheelchairs that can run on rails into the ocean, enabling handicapped persons to get into the water for the first time in their lives. I witnessed the expression on a man’s face while he used one of them in Eilat, Israel. His expression was one of pure ecstasy.

There are supermarkets  that provide devices that magnify price tags for visually impaired people. Some doctor’s waiting rooms have chairs without backs or armrests that are not possible for a handicapped person to feel safe on and offices put official forms onto tables that are too high to allow easy access to the handicapped person.

I am friendly with a couple  who used the  concept or universal design when building their home with the needs of one of the occupant’s in mind at all times. Their kitchen was cleverly designed to cater to her needs, The doors aresufficiently wide to allow wheelchair access or ambulance stretcher access. Their shower is large and the toilet higher than the standard ones. Toilet paper rolls were hung in a sensible place. Even the flower beds in the garden have been raised and the outdoor space resembles ‘The Secret Garden’ by France’s Hodgson Burnett.

All the floors are covered with non-slip tiles. Light switches are at a comfortable height too. A great deal of thought was put into the construction of this house and they did a wonderful job. She was responsible for the charming decor.