My inability to talk about my feelings at that time left me stuck and frozen. Then I learned how to speak out and it helped so much. Now, nobody can say much behind my back because it has all been said. Family relationships are cast in disarray due to the confusion around the ill relative. Our other children suffered as they were emotionally enmeshed with their older sibling. Most other relatives did not know how to react. I believe that this is not unusual.
My children felt grief for what they had lost. They had been close to their brother, shared secrets, done things together and built a close relationship. It was hard for them to learn that mental illness, like other diseases, is a part of the varied fabric of life. They had to learn that mental illness was a biological brain disease and this took a long time to absorb. Invisible illnesses are always more difficult to handle than physical ones that everyone can see. There were people who asked them why ‘the psychologist or psychiatrist’ didn’t fix their brother’s problem. I
Strange behavior is a symptom of the disorder that can be embarrassing for a teenager to deal with. The needs of the mentally ill person do not necessarily come first and it is so important to set boundaries and explain that there are limits. This is not easy to do as parents often want to compensate by being extra good to their mentally ill child.
Mental health professionals have varied degrees of competence the same as any other doctor or surgeon, so it is acceptable to change doctors.
I remember feeling a whole lot of emotions like fear, guilt, anger, grief, sadness and confusion. Attending a support group for parents with children with various mental illnessness was most helpful. They became our extended family and gave the much needed support and advice.