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Mental Illness in Real Life

I am probably not in the right frame of mind to write my first blog post for this site.  I am deep into a hardcore pity party that is raging as hard as Saturday night fraternity kegger after finals.  And I’ve been hitting the pity party circuit so hard this Fall you’d think I was getting paid for it.  Most of the time I am pretty rational and stoic about the life I and my family have been dealt, but today I’m an annoying sack of whine and four letter words, triggered by both of my mentally ill children destabilizing.  As many parents of mentally ill children do, when this happens I tend to isolate myself, avoiding friends, holed up in the house until I feel like I can deal with the outside world again.  It’s too hard to explain to the neighbors of people at work why my son needs to talk to me six times a day as his psychosis flares, or why I need another random day off to rush my daughter to the psychiatrist to assess if she needs inpatient care.  I mean, seriously, how do you explain to the neighbors why your kid is running down the street, barefoot, shirtless in the snow, 10 PM at night, screaming expletives at the top of his lungs? You can’t.  So today, when I had enough where-with-all to try and pull myself together, I reached out to the only people I know understand what is setting me off – my peers – other parents like me.

I’ve never been a joiner.  I know there are great support groups at my local NAMI chapter, but I have a difficult time sitting in a room with people I don’t know talking about my kids, their diagnoses, and my struggle with the hard times.  And when times are like they’ve been in my house lately, there’s no way I could tell a circle of people I don’t know all the irrational anger I have towards my kids’ symptoms and, sometimes, towards my kids.  I’ve been really lucky, though, that I’ve found some amazing online support groups full of parents like me.  An online support group affords me the opportunity to talk about all those deep, dark feelings with folks who get it without having to show up at a certain time and stare some random dude in the face while I rant.  I joined my first online support group at The Balanced Mind Foundation in 2006 and instantly realized that it is a safe place to ask questions, share my fears, and rant my guts out when I need to.  Over the years I have found other great groups of parents I rely on to bolster my strength when it wanes, including here at Support for Special Needs.  And I know that I couldn’t be the advocate I need to be for my children without the non-judgmental support of these parents.  I’ve even gotten to know some of the people I first met online in person.  Having these men and women and these groups is the most valuable tool in my fight to keep my personal sanity on this wild ride.  Without them I’d spend a lot more time in the fetal position, and I wouldn’t have the strength to pull myself up by my bootstraps the morning after my pity party and be the mom they need me to be.

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Editor’s note: If you’re on Twitter, I encourage you to follow her to get and give support. She amazingly real. You can find Chrisa here or her blog The Mindstorm: Raising a Mentally Ill Child. Please welcome her as a monthly contributor to our site, with her focus being pediatric mental illness.

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