I imagine that you are reading this blog because you, just like me, have an adult child who lives with mental illness or maybe it appears to you that your adult child may be living with an undiagnosed mental illness. Perhaps you are a relative or a friend who knows someone who has an adult child who lives with mental illness. Maybe you are a professional. Regardless of who you are, I’m glad you are here. To parents of adult children who happen to live with mental illness, you are not alone.
To those walking a similar walk to mine, I can empathize with you.
I am so sorry for any challenges you have faced past and/or present. I know what it is like. If you are not familiar with my story, I encourage you to read the “Welcome” page on Stacy’s Flutterings. You will see that I can empathize with you. I have been there, and I am there now.
How do I know that we walk a similar walk?
The proof is in the numbers. If we just look at how many people are affected by bipolar disorder globally, the numbers are staggering. The World Health Organization notes that about 60 million people worldwide are affected by bipolar affective disorder (World Health Organization [WHO], 2015). Can you imagine the number of people affected by mental illness if we add in all of the other mental illnesses? It is eye opening, isn’t it? And each one of these millions of individuals, living with bipolar disorder, has a parent. I am not saying that the parent is involved in their lives or anything about parenting other than the fact that each person has a parent, biological or not and absent or not. Therefore, parents too are affected.
If we are not alone then why does it feel as if we are?
Over the years, as we have coped with the illness of our loved one, we have felt very alone, and to some degree we are. Of course, no one can live our lives and therefore experience what we experience. In all honesty, there have been times, throughout the years, that I wish others could experience what we experience just so that they can empathize with us, not sympathize, but truly empathize. This is not reality though. The closet we can come to garnering true empathy is to share our story with others living a similar story and to those willing to listen. And this is precisely what I am doing. However, it is not just empathy that I seek (so that we can erase the stigma, prevent suicide and make positive changes to our mental health care system), but I do not want other parents, walking a similar walk, to feel any more alone than I did. If you are one of those parents, when times get tough, and you are feeling isolated, remember that you are not alone. Join me as I continue to share more about our experience. I have so much good news to share with you. When we think we’ve reached the end of the story, it really has only just begun…
This blog post contains an excerpt from Simply 1 Mom’s Thoughts About Coping When an Adult Child Lives With Mental Illness.
King, S. A. (2015). Simply 1 Mom’s Thoughts About Coping When an Adult Child Lives With Mental Illness.
World Health Organization. (2015). Mental disorders [Fact Sheet]. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs396/en/