Kim’s words in the previous post exude strength, confidence, education, acceptance, treatment, therapy and unwavering support. Thank you Kim from the heart for sharing your thoughts! I am beyond proud of you, and I look forward to future posts from you!
Kim’s post about strength brought to my mind the idea of mental wellness as a whole. I like to imagine wellness as if it were a puzzle. Of course acceptance, education, treatment and therapy are extremely important and vital parts to the mental wellness puzzle. Just as important though is support. Not only do our loved ones with a mental illness need support, but we need support as well! I learned this about a year ago while in the throes of the mental illness of my loved one. I found myself feeling isolated as I learned how to wear the caregiver hat as well as the mom hat. And then one day…it dawned on me…I need help too so that I can be the best caregiver and mom possible. If I don’t take care of me then I can’t possibly begin to take care of anyone else. So, as scary as it was, I took action and began my search for a supportive network.
When I began my journey to find “support” it seemed, on the surface, that services and resources abound for a person coping with the challenges of a mental illness, and it appeared that there are very few services and resources for the families of a loved one with mental illness. Much to my surprise, as I dug deeper, I found ample services and resources to help me on my journey with my loved one.
My search reminds me of a show I have been watching lately. I have enjoyed watching Bering Sea Gold on the Discovery Channel. It is fascinating to me to watch as divers search the seafloor for that glittery grand prize – “gold!” And in putting together my wellness puzzle I struck gold as well. I discovered the Karla Smith Foundation. They are an amazing non-profit organization providing support for families affected by mental illness and suicide. If you get the chance check out their website by clicking on their name above. There you will learn about their story and how they are working to raise mental health awareness, erase the stigma surrounding mental illness, provide support, education and resources.
Once I accepted my loved ones illness and realized that I needed support as well my life changed in remarkable ways. Each time I attend a KSF support group meeting I learn something new, and I always walk away feeling supported. I am reminded that I am not alone. And sometimes that support is just what I need to get me through some tough times, and it is worth more than gold could ever buy.
In addition to the Karla Smith Foundation there is the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). NAMI also provides support for families and loved ones affected by mental illness. You can find your local NAMI by clicking here: FIND YOUR LOCAL NAMI. There are several other wonderful organizations offering similar support and resources, but I don’t want to spoil your search for gold. Thankfully, my search for a supportive network proved successful, and I have a more complete wellness puzzle. May we all find the pieces to our wellness puzzle including that extra special golden piece called support!