- Do you know that only one lesson on mental illness could make all the difference to young people whose lives have been thrown tragically off course by no fault brain disorders such as:
- Bipolar Disorder
- OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) and Panic disorder?
The Surgeon General’s Report on Mental Illness states that nearly two-thirds of all people with diagnosable mental disorders do not seek treatment.
Innovative lessons can put a human face on mental illness and confront the myths that reinforce the silence. Students learn that mental illness has never been more treatable than today. They can learn to watch for the warning signs of a mental illness and how to overcome the stigma surrounding it. Everybody should hear the following:- Mental illness is nobody’s fault. No one can cause a mental illness. Parents are NOT to blame.
Lorraine Kaplan’s son was smart. At 17, he had top grades, was a debater as well as a top trombonist in his school. But, seemingly overnight, he became obsessive and then began hallucinating. ‘The doctor told us that he had schizophrenia and that we would be walking on eggshells for the rest of our lives,’ said Lorraine. ‘He added: ‘I am going to give you some good advice too. Don’t tell anyone.’ So, for ten years they didn’t tell anybody as the stigma seemed too much to manage. One day, they realized how many people were in the same position and that contributing to the silence was not the way to go about changing things. So, Lorraine Kaplan became a vocal advocate, hoping to change things for the next generation, trying to teach that a mental illness is treatable.
Four of the top ten causes of lifetime disability are severe mental illness. At any point in time, one in every ten adolescents are affected by serious emotional disturbances according to the Academy of Child ad Adolescent Psychiatry in the USA. Of those needing treatment, less than one in five will receive it. Adolescents experiencing a mental illness often turn to drugs or alcohol, or self-medicate.
HAVE YOUR CHILDREN EVER BEEN TAUGHT ABOUT MENTAL ILLNESS IN SCHOOL ? IF NOT, MAYBE IT’S TIME TO START PROGRAMS OF THIS KIND?
I usually blog about mental illness and how our family coped with all the problems it caused both for us and for our son. I have often mentioned how my late husband used humor to get him to smile instead of becoming heated and talk about his demons. Well, the three of us were out one evening visiting friends and were pleasantly surprised to find that one of their grandchildren was present. After supper, the little boy approached my husband and asked a surprising question … surprising because it was the kind of question children usually ask their own parents or grandparents: “Do you know how I was born?” he asked.
Without hesitation my husband replied:- “Yes I think I can answer your question. I am sure that your mom and dad got together in a google chat room. Then, they set up a date in a cyber café on facebook, sneaked into a secluded room and googled one another. Once there, your mother probably agreed to download from your dad’s hard drive. When he was ready to upload, they discovered that neither of them had used a firewall, and since it was too late to hit the delete button, exactly nine months later, a little pop-up appeared that said in the most adorable voice, “You’ve got male! Congratulations.“
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?
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.
I had a problem explaining Alzheimer’s disease to our young grandchildren. After agonizing about how to go about this, I sat them down, and came up with the following:
Your papa has an illness called Alzheimer’s disease that makes him act the way he does. It’s like having a broken bone, but with Papa, a little piece of his brain is broken and doesn’t work the way it should. Because of this, he can’t remember what you told him yesterday. Because of this, he forgets how to use the television remote. Because of this, he falls asleep sometimes when you are telling him something important. Because of this, he forgets things as well as people’s names. BUT, the part of papa’s brain that is for loving, is still working well, and I know that he loves you all very much.
I have reblogged this as I received so many requests to do so. Whenever I read it, I get tears in my eyes when I remember the looks on the children’s faces during the above explanation.
Forgiveness means letting go of and accepting what has occurred because no matter what we do, the position isn’t likely to change. Forgiveness means dismissing the blame. Choices were made that caused us to hurt; maybe we could have made different choices?
Forgiveness means looking at our pain and learning lessons from it.
Forgiveness means starting over with the knowledge that we may have gained something after all.
Elaine Benton has her own blog and is also a regular blogger for the Huffington Post. She lives with and has learned to cope with two diseases, Parkinson’s and Gaucher.
I quote from one of her blogs: “Life is what you make of it. You have the power to live and enjoy life in spite of ill-health. Although some illnesses cannot be cured, you can make the decision to live your life to the full and embrace the positive while acknowledging one’s disability.
Living with two diseases makes me look at the world in a very different way, and sometimes I get impatient with people who gripe about inconsequential matters.”
This is the link to Elaine’s blog.