How 1 Family Struck a Chord

Hello world!

Stacy’s Flutterings is back! I took a hiatus from the blog because, in all honesty, I thought the blog had run its course. That was then. This is now, and this 1 mom is back. It hasn’t run its course. Rather, it has just begun. I want to share what we have been up to as a family because what we are doing is so different than the norm, and I’m extremely proud of that fact. And what brings it all together is our unconditional love for one another and music, yes music!

If you are just now joining us…

I started the blog back in August of 2011. That year, for me and my family, was a time of healing. We had experienced the near fatal suicide attempt of my daughter Kim, and we were learning how to cope with the ramifications of that. We were also learning how to support her on her journey to wellness. Also, about a year prior to her last suicide attempt, she had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and anxiety disorder so we were busy learning how best to support her during this time as well. She likes to say that I was her voice at a time when she struggled the most with her illness. Fast forward to today, and she is doing remarkably well. I’m thrilled, and thankful, as her mother, to say that she has her voice back in more ways than one. She has always been known as our songbird, and once again she is singing too and pursuing her dream of becoming an established singer/songwriter.

Now that I’ve shared a little about how the blog started…

I’d like to share with you why I stopped blogging back in 2016. I felt that my daughter was doing so well that it was detrimental for me continue the blog. I was worried that I was somehow defining her with the use of the blog. I also felt that it was time for my girl to fly as an independent young woman. I didn’t want to stunt her growth as an individual. My thinking was that the blog had served its purpose, and the last blog post that I wrote, titled “An Open Letter to My Adult Child, Now a Mother Herself, Who Still Lives at Home,” marked the end of Stacy’s Flutterings as I knew it. No longer did this beautiful young woman need her mom to speak for her. I set my daughter free. This was an extremely significant time in my life too because after finding her after her last suicide attempt, that ended with her on life support, I clung to her because I feared that I could lose her, literally. It took a lot of healing to get to the place that I was the day that I wrote what I thought would be the last blog post. What I didn’t know was that the last blog post wasn’t the last.

What is different now is that…

it’s not just 1 mom writing, it’s 1 mom and 1 daughter. Kim has decided to join me, and I couldn’t be happier! We are 1 multigenerational family making it work, and music really is at the heart of what we are doing. Don’t get me wrong, mental illness still is a part of our story, but we’ve learned, and continue learning, how to cope individually and as a family with the challenges that accompany mental illness. Mental illness does not define us. We define us. And what’s really cool is that Bill, my husband and Kim’s dad, has joined Kim on her singing journey as her guitarist! I took the picture above last week while they were loading the Jeep with equipment for a gig Kim had that evening. She was actually teasing Bill and pretended she was helping him load the Jeep, when in all reality, he loaded the Jeep! I’m excited to share that he’ll start performing with her at her next gig!

The blog has a new look and vibe as we begin this next chapter…

and we hope that you will follow us as we chronicle our unique family story that involves mental illness, mental wellness, awareness, support, the ups, the downs and ultimately, phenomenal music by Kim and 1 cool dad!

~ Stacy (1 Mom)

Advertisements

The Sound of Silence

Do you know what depression or mental illness sound like? Can you hear depression in a friend’s voice? Do you recognize it in your significant other’s cry? And if you could hear mental illness, what exactly would it sound like? Mental illness has a few different sounds to me. It’s a whisper so quiet that only those paying full attention can hear. Even the ones who are paying attention sometimes miss the whisper, and it fades until it is unrecognizable. Mental illness can also be a yell. It can be a yell so loud that those around are frightened and try to avoid the sound as it pierces the sky.

Whenever I’m depressed, I go silent. My body aches, and I feel like I haven’t slept in far too long. Depression can be draining and so can mania. I once spent a whole year barely speaking to my friends, family and boyfriend at the time. It was easier to stare off into the distance and imagine I didn’t feel as bad as I did. It would be easier to not speak words than to simply say how I felt. Admitting I was depressed was easy. However, trying to find the courage, strength and energy to say any words was exhausting to even think about.

Important to note, I’m not the only one in my household that lives with depression. My mom also experiences depression. Since she is intimately familiar with depression, I asked her what she thought of this blog post, knowing that she’d be honest with me. With her permission, I’d like to share what she had to say:

“First, thank you Kim for asking me how I feel when I get depressed. No one really has ever asked me,  probably because I’ve never shared that I experience depression from time to time. I’ve only shared this with you and dad, and Paul and Katlin. When I think about how I feel, when depression descends for awhile, immediately a song comes to my mind. That song is “The Sound of Silence,” but it’s not the Simon & Garfunkel version that I’m talking about. It’s the remake that the rock band Disturbed did. When I hear the first 12 words,  I feel an eerie sense of familiarity. Those 12 words are painfully familiar to me. It sounds silly maybe. I can’t believe that words alone can have such an affect on me, but they do. If you decide to share my thoughts with anyone, don’t tell them the words. I’d like to invite them to listen to the song, especially those first 12 words. I think the words have a way of getting to the core of silence somehow. In silence, depression resides…”

Silence is not the only sign of mental illness. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) provides a helpful list of signs and symptoms. If you’d like to learn more, click here: Know the Warning Signs. I hope that you find this blog post to be helpful, if not for you, for someone you care about.

Until next time…

~ Kim (1 Daughter) and Stacy (1 Mom)


References

D. (2015, December 08). Retrieved April 20, 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9Dg-g7t2l4

Help With Depression. (n.d.). Retrieved April 20, 2017, from https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/depression

Know The Warning Signs. (n.d.). Retrieved April 19, 2017, from https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Know-the-Warning-Signs

Parekh, R., M.D., M.P.H. (2015, November). What Is Mental Illness? Retrieved April 19, 2017, from https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/what-is-mental-illness

 

 

 

The Truth About Empathy | Do We Really “Get it?”

I imagine that you’ve heard the word empathy. However, do you know what it really means? The truth about empathy has escaped many people, but there are those that know its true meaning. I’ve had a reoccurring thought lately that gets to the heart of empathy. What is this thought?

Do you ever have reoccurring thoughts about what others might be thinking about you…

especially in regard to how you orchestrate your life? I sure do. Even though I know that this type of thinking isn’t helpful, I still have moments where I think that I know what someone else is thinking about me. When I have those types of thoughts, I try not to linger with them for long because I know it’s self- destructive. Also, I try not to take these thoughts too seriously because I think it’s just part of our nature as humans. Even though I know what others think of me and what I do doesn’t matter, lately, I’ve had this reoccurring thought that perhaps others might think that I’m looking for sympathy through writing. It seems so strange to actually write out this thought. And by writing it out, I see how silly and unjustified it is.

Regardless of how silly and unjustified the thought is that others might think that I want sympathy…

now that I’ve shared this thought with the world, I find that I do want to clarify it. Maybe if I do, the thought will disappear into oblivion. The realist in me whispers, “No, it won’t.” I’ll give it a try anyway. I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me or my family. This would be sympathy, and I’m not seeking sympathy. I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me. And I certainly wouldn’t want anyone to change what has happened. To do so would invalidate my experience. Without my experiences, I wouldn’t be where I am today. What I do want is for other to “get it.” To me, if others could “get it” then we’d make tremendous strides in erasing the stigma of mental illness, providing the highest quality of care possible for persons living with mental illness and preventing suicide.

Without empathy, to me, it’s a hard sell.

How do I know? Because I’ve been there. Before my experiences with my loved one, I didn’t think about mental illness or stigma. I didn’t have to, and therefore I proceeded with my life as if it didn’t exist. If it didn’t exist in my life, as I knew it, why would it matter? However, once my life was impacted by the mental illness of one of my children, I took notice, and suddenly mental illness and stigma mattered. By the time it came to matter in my life, I almost lost a child. Let’s not continue to risk losing one another because we don’t “get it.” Let’s come together to share, talk and listen. Let’s come together and put aside our viewpoints. Let’s try to see things from the other person’s point of view. Let’s examine our attitudes. Let’s ask what the other person would do. Let’s walk in each other’s shoes so to speak so that we can make the world a better place for those we love and those around us. Let’s “get it” together.

You Are Not Alone

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.

References

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/

Where’s the village? Parenting Beyond the High School Years When Mental Illness Plays a Role

I’ve heard over the years, from family and friends, the African proverb that it takes a village to raise a child. I don’t know about you, but I tend to agree. After all, we don’t parent in a vacuum. By the time a child is grown, many people have come and gone from a child’s life. The interesting thing is that once a child is grown, it seems that the village disappears. In America, when a child turns 18 years old, we consider the child to be an adult. With adulthood comes independence; no longer is the same level of parental support and help needed or so the story goes. However, what if the child, now an adult, lives with the continuation of or the recent onset of mental illness? Now what? Where’s the village? Parenting, beyond the high school years, especially when mental illness plays a role, can be challenging. It can seem even more challenging if it looks like the village has left.

Who do parents turn to for information if their child, now grown, lives with mental illness?

We know that children aren’t born with a manual that describes how to raise them. We simply do the best we can with what we have. During our child’s younger years we have doctors, teachers, family and others to reach out to. However, once our child reaches the adulthood milestone, it seems that, as parents, we have nowhere to turn because our child is an “adult.” As an adult they are responsible for making their own decisions, and they legally have the right to do so. What can seem like murky territory can become even murkier.

Despite how murky parenting may seem right now, I have good news!

The village is still here. It just looks a little different. How do I know? In addition to being a wife, I’m a mother as well of three adult children. Two of our children are grown and live on their own. Our middle child, who still lives at home with us currently, happens to live with bipolar disorder. I’ve been where you are at. And I’m there now. I  know what it’s like to raise children, and I can empathize with parents who have an adult child who lives with mental illness.

Where can you go for information?

If you would like more information about how you can support your adult child who lives with mental illness, I have a few ideas to get you started. First, I can’t express enough how much personal therapy has helped me. If you are a parent of an adult child who lives with mental illness, I encourage you to give it a try. At the very least, you may learn coping mechanisms that you can add to your parenting toolbox, and you may learn about local resources that may be of help to you and your child. If you find that you are searching for a therapist, you can try using the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) Therapist Locator. If you live outside of the United States, you could try reaching out to your primary care provider for a referral. Second, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) provides helpful articles such as the ones noted below:

These are just a few of the articles NAMI offers that I highly encourage you to check out. And this is just the tip of the iceberg regarding information. I’ll be sharing more information and resources as I blog, and you can always go to the Mental Health Resources tab on Stacy’s Flutterings for additional resources.

Even though it may seem that the village vanishes when our children grow older, especially if we happen to have a child or children who live with mental illness, there are people and organizations ready to help. We just need to know where to look.


This blog post contains an excerpt from Simply 1 Mom’s Thoughts About Coping When an Adult Child Lives With Mental Illness.

References

King, S. A. (2015). Simply 1 Mom’s Thoughts About Coping When an Adult Child Lives With Mental Illness.

Growing Happily Beyond Our Expectations

I imagine that you, just like me, have dreams, goals and aspirations. However, while striving to fulfill your dream(s), did you ever think that you just might achieve it and actually exceed it? Here at Stacy’s Flutterings, we are doing just that and growing happily beyond our expectations. And I have great news to share with you. In addition to writing my next book, and blogging here on Stacy’s Flutterings, I’m now a contributor over at Lose the Cape, an online magazine for busy modern moms! This is such an important accomplishment for me, and I hope you’ll join me in celebrating this good news.

How joining the Lose the Cape team as a contributor surpasses my expectations.

Years ago, actually the year 2011 to be exact, I started this blog. It all started when I was talking with fellow volunteer Pat at the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition build in Ottawa, Kansas. We had been talking about mental illness which was the theme of that particular build and episode. During our conversation, I had shared with her our family’s story and how bipolar disorder and suicide had become center stage in our lives by then. As we conversed, she shared with me that she thought I should start a blog. Honestly, I hadn’t heard much about blogging up until that moment. My curiosity was peaked though, and I asked her for more details. Once the build was over, and Bill and I headed home, my blogging days began. I did my research, discovered WordPress, built Stacy’s Flutterings blog, and started blogging about how mental illness had impacted my family’s life. In addition to being therapeutic for me as a mom, the blog provided me with the means to reach out to other parents going through a similar experience and a way to advocate for the eradication of stigma. However, it’s now become so much more. It’s become a landing pad for half empty nesters who happen to have an older child, who lives with mental illness, still living at home. Here at Stacy’s Flutterings, parents can find inspiration, credible resources and hope. As you can see, Stacy’s Flutterings has wonderfully exceeded my expectations.

Why being a contributor for Lose the Cape is important to me.

I’m so thankful to Alexa Bigwarfe for bringing me on board as a contributor. This is an important accomplishment for me as a writer but even more so as a mom. She’s given me a voice as a mom of a half empty nest, a nest where mental illness is a part of my story. This is such an important milestone to me because this normalizes me as a mom. It makes me human thus my daughter is human. And you know what? That means that all moms who happen to have a half empty nest, with mental illness as part of the fluff, are normal and human too. We have so far to go in regard to erasing the stigma, but we are making strides, and this is one example! I truly have grown Stacy’s Flutterings happily above the expectations I had for the blog in 2011. I’m thankful for the continued support from my readers here at Stacy’s Flutterings, and I do hope you’ll come visit me on Lose the Cape as well! Until next time…

Growing stronger…

Hot Topic Tuesday | Gun Violence and Mental Illness

StacyFlutteringsCupwithSteamToday, on Stacy’s Flutterings, the hot topic is gun violence and mental illness. I can’t imagine a hotter topic. Emanuella Grinberg points out in CNN article that despite the gun debate nation wide, there may be agreement, no matter which side you are on, regarding the “need to keep firearms out of the hands of people with serious mental illness” (Grinberg, 2016). Would you believe me if I told you I’ve been on, and seen, both sides of the fence, and mental illness exists on both sides of the fence I’ve seen?

This topic touches painfully right at the heart of our home

I can’t begin to tell you how close this topic touches home for me and my family. My husband was shot in a drive by shooting that took place in Wichita, Kansas back in the 1990’s. He was among 8 survivors. Sadly, one man died in the shooting spree. Our life at that time was turned upside down. Now, years later, I usually choose not to think back on that horrific day, but I want to share with you that I’ve been there, and it was life changing. Gun violence changes people. Imagine:

  • A dear, loved and beautiful person, my husband and my children’s father, chased down while driving to work by a shooter in another vehicle
  • The man of my dreams injured by gun fire that grazed his ear and skull
  • The car, our only car, with the passenger side window blown out from bullets
  • The news that others had been shot
  • The announcement of the death of one of the victims
It does something to you. And can you imagine how Bill feels? Interestingly enough, the shooter lives with bipolar disorder, and from what we understand, he wasn’t taking his medications at the time. You can find more details about the shooting spree in the AP News Archive and in a previous blog titled Aurora, Colorado Theater Shooting: The Million Dollar Question from a Family Affected by 1990 Wichita, Kansas Shooting Spree.

Now for the other side of the fence

Would you believe me if I said that my daughter, who was 5 months old at the time of the shooting, lives with bipolar disorder? She does. She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in her late teens. Talk about being on both sides of the fence. I’ve felt, firsthand, the impact of gun violence, and mental illness was a part of the picture. I’ve also felt the impact of mental illness from a parent perspective, and I know that violence isn’t a part of her diagnostic picture nor a part of her story, ever.
Whose side am I on?
Due to my experiences, do I side with the National Rifle Association (NRA) or do I side with the opposition? And do I think that those with serious mental illness shouldn’t have access to guns? For now, I’ll wait on sharing my political views, especially since I respect that we each have a right to our own beliefs. However, I do want to thank Emanuella Grinberg for her thought provoking article. I encourage you to read it. Whose side are you on?

Growing stronger…

__________________________________________________
Grinberg, E. (2016, January 25). Gun violence not a mental health issue, experts say, pointing to ‘anger,’ suicides. Cable News Network, Inc. Retrieved from: http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/25/health/gun-violence-mental-health-issue/

In the World of Advocacy I’m Just a Parent, but it Matters!

purple flowersHello Dear Readers!

I’ve been away for quite awhile.  I’ve missed my little space here on the web!  I’ve given a lot of thought as to why I haven’t blogged since last fall, and I think I finally came up with the reason.  I think that the blog served a healing purpose for me personally.  First, the blog provided me with an opportunity to share my husband and I’s incredible volunteer experiences with the Karla Smith Foundation and ABC’s Extreme Makeover Home Edition with the world.  Not only did the blog allow me to share our volunteer experiences, but it allowed me the opportunity to share some amazing stories about the people we met in Ottawa, Kansas like “Cowboy.”  To read more about Cowboy just click here: https://stacysflutterings.wordpress.com/2011/08/15/cowboys-song/.

Additionally, the blog gave me a platform from which I could express my thoughts and feelings about my daughter’s mental illness.  It seemed that all of my pain, sorrow and even new growth I poured into my writing.  The blog therefore served a great and meaningful purpose.

Interestingly enough, I have felt the desire to blog again.  The other day, when I decided to take a look at Stacy’s Flutterings, I saw what appeared to be an emotional residue sprinkled across the blogs home page much like the dust you see on an ignored and discarded piece of furniture, and it had landed here on Stacy’s Flutterings when I stopped blogging.  The date is stagnant.  It reads November 18, 2013.  The pictures that are on display haven’t been updated, and yet within the stagnation I see a tiny sprout.  The sprout I see is a mother attempting to be an advocate for change as evidenced by images and comments that you see here and there on the blog.  For example, there is the image for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline complete with contact information.  It sits neat and tidy near the top of the blog.  There is also an image complete with an embedded link titled “Spotlight on Erasing the Stigma” on the right side of the blog near the bottom of the homepage.  Again, the image looks great, and it even includes a link within the image that takes you right to the blog post if you click it.

As I think about the blog I find that I don’t want the blog to look all shiny like a new car and to have a flashy blog name to capture readers attention as they peruse the web.  When I created the blog I had a much higher purpose.  That purpose was to increase awareness about mental illness and suicide prevention.  That purpose was to be the conduit that passes information, personal experience and knowledge into the hands of others and for Stacy’s Flutterings to be a beacon of hope.

It seems that as I type these very words I’m blowing off the remaining emotional residue and dust here on the blog, and I’m turning the last page to a successful chapter here on Stacy’s Flutterings.  As the pages settle, and I look ahead to the next chapter, I’m excited to see where I go.  It’s time I start blogging again and let the tiny sprout of a parent advocate grow.  So here goes!

If you are interested, check out CareForYourMind.org.  CFYM provides a place for individuals to talk about their personal experience and share their ideas in regard to creating a working mental health care system.  Please join in the conversation!  Your voice does matter!

Are We Enabling? Walking the Tightrope

photo (6)Have you heard the word enable yet in regard to parenting?  If you find yourself wondering what enable means, according to Khaleghi, enabling means “… lending a hand to help people accomplish things they could not do by themselves.  More recently, however, it has developed the specialized meaning of offering help that perpetuates rather than solves a problem” (2012).  Honestly, I hadn’t really thought about whether or not I enable as a parent until it was brought up at a support group meeting for families affected by mental illness.

There I sat at the meeting an exhausted and heartbroken parent with my shoulders slumping forward as if gravity had wrapped around my shoulders like a shawl and attempted to pull me down with the guilt of unsuccessful parenting.  Whatever my husband and I were doing, at the time as parents, didn’t seem to be helpful to our daughter in regard to her behavior.  At the peak of her illness her behaviors seemed out of control.  For instance, she self-medicated.  Even though we tried to stop her from abusing substances it didn’t seem to matter.  Try as we might, and try we did, it seemed that we were ineffective as a parents.  It was confusing because we have two other children that we seemed to raise just fine.  However, with my middle child, we were faced with challenges that we did not expect.  When she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder we had to figure out what that meant.  We had so much to learn.  It seemed that we were in survival mode.  We didn’t even think about our parenting skills.  It didn’t come to mind in the beginning.  Why would it?  We were busy trying to figure out what type of help would benefit her, what type of medications she needed as well as how to cope with her symptoms and the ramifications of her illness. Our parental skills were the last thing on our mind and yet how we parent has become such an important tool as we journey forward with her.

In regard to the meeting, when the word “enable” was said it got my full attention.  I sat up in my chair, leaned in towards the group and intently listed.  As a result, I learned that enabling our loved ones can actually do more harm than good.  Tom Smith, President of the Karla Smith Foundation, noted in his article “The Fine Line: Between Supporting and Enabling a Loved One with a Mental Illness” that enabling can interfere with self-sufficiency (Smith, n.d.).  Temporarily, the weight of parenting a loved one with bipolar disorder lifted.  It’s as if I tossed the heavy, gravity laden shawl of guilt I was carrying on my shoulders aside.  When I heard the word “enable” I thought, “Maybe this is what we’ve been missing all along.”  I felt excited for the first time in a long time because I realized that there was still hope in regard to our parenting abilities.  Perhaps we were enabling our daughter’s behaviors.  I found myself thinking, “That’s it!  That’s the answer!  We’ll stop enabling her behaviors, and things will get better!”  However, since that “aha!” moment things haven’t really gotten any easier.  In fact, I think it actually got a little tougher because now we have to think about how we are going to approach certain situations in regard to our loved one’s behavior and whether or not the boundaries my husband and I set either enable or support her.

As a consequence, knowing whether or not we enable our daughter feels like walking a tightrope.  As we attempt to balance our parental boundaries we find that we are still left wondering whether or not we are enabling.  If we lean just a little one way we could lose our balance and potentially create a situation for our loved one that may be harmful.  On the other hand, if we lean to far the other direction we could be helping her greatly.  There seems to be little room, if any, for inconsistency.  To tell you the truth, knowing whether or not we’re enabling her behavior seems difficult to say the least.  One way that my husband and I stopped enabling certain behaviors includes the fact that we stopped the flow of money.  Without realizing it we were actually supporting our daughter’s self-medicating behavior.  Each time we handed her money it allowed her to self-medicate.  Thus, we were in essence saying,”Don’t drink, but here’s the money you asked for, so go for it!”  How confusing is that?  I know it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this out, but we were so overwhelmed by her illness and just trying to survive as well as keep her alive that the concept of enabling escaped us.

Since that meeting, we have approached parenting our daughter a little differently.  We now ask ourselves, “What is in the best interest of our daughter?”  And, “What might be the consequence if we support her actions or draw the line?”  Usually, what helps us make a decision is that we also ask, “Will our actions hurt or help her?”  For us, asking ourselves the question, “Are we enabling?” hasn’t made parenting any easier.  We are making progress though!  I guess that’s all we can do as parents.  And so, we continue to put one foot in front of the other as we walk the line together.

If you would like more information about enabling I encourage you to check out Tom Smith’s article “The Fine Line.”  You can access it on the Karla Smith Foundation website at: http://www.karlasmithfoundation.org/THE%20FINE%20LINE.doc.

~~~~~~~~~~

Khaleghi, K. (July 11, 2012). Are you empowering or enabling. Retrieved from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-anatomy-addiction/201207/are-you-empowering-or-enabling

Smith, T. (n.d.). The fine line: between supporting and enabling a loved one with a mental illness. Retrieved from http://www.karlasmithfoundation.org/THE%20FINE%20LINE.doc

To Everything There is a Season

Stacy's Flutterings Lantern

When you reflect on your life, past and present, is it a new season for you?  Do you find another season has come and gone?

It is no secret that millions of people around the world are impacted by mental illness.  In America alone, one in four adults experiences mental illness in a given year (National Alliance on Mental Illness [NAMI], n.d.).  That is over 60 million Americans my friend.  I know.  I am one of the millions.  I have a loved one who lives with bipolar disorder.

Concerning the one in four adults who go on to experience mental illness, they have loved ones who are impacted as well.  Can you imagine what the numbers would look like if we tried to calculate the sheer number of people impacted by the mental illness of a loved one and/or a friend?  We may not have an exact count on how many of us are impacted by the mental illness of a loved one, but we do know that on a daily basis someone, somewhere has a loved one who has either just been diagnosed with a mental illness or who is being affected by mental illness.  This too I know.  It was about three years ago that I was one of those that would learn that my loved one lives with bipolar disorder.  Additionally, I would learn that I would become intimately connected with the world of suicide, in particular, I would learn more than I ever wanted to about suicide attempts.

In regard to when mental illness entered my life, and based on my experience, I felt that little existed to help me cope with my loved one’s illness.  I felt alone.  I felt a sadness so deep that I cannot describe it in words.  Slowly, as I walked the path with my loved one, I discovered that I am not alone!  There are people and organizations just waiting to help.  And that is how “Stacy’s Flutterings” blog came about.  I don’t want anyone to ever feel as alone as I did as I learned how to help my loved one.  Also, the resources that I have discovered are just too vital to keep to myself.  I had to share.  And so share I did, and I keep sharing as I go.  Of course, I will never know if this tiny space on the world wide web has truly helped anyone.  I will never know if this one mom among millions has had any impact.  My voice feels very small in this infinitely large world and yet I still sing the words of hope.

In an effort to continue to spread the news that there is hope I have created what I call “Stacy’s Lantern of Hope.”  If you have found yourself here, please join me by sharing my lantern of hope in an effort to let those know, who are either just learning of their loved ones mental illness or who are in the depths of the illness with their loved one, that they are not alone and that there are credible resources available.  Just like the words on the lantern say, my wish is that you will find hope when you least expect it here on Stacy’s Flutterings, inspiration to light your way and resources to help you navigate the turbulence.  If this is the beginning of a new season and the end to another just know that you are not alone.

Growing stronger…

~~~~~~~~~~

National Alliance on  Mental Illness (NAMI). (n.d.). Mental illness facts and numbers fact-sheet. Retrieved from http://www.nami.org/factsheets/mentalillness_factsheet.pdf