I think today is a good day to talk about mental illness. Specifically the stigma of mental illness.

First I’ll tell you about me – I for one, am no longer working. I have left my job. Before quitting I attempted to go on short term disability but was turned down because I’m just not that sick (see my post about my mental health diagnosis). Now, I do not believe that I am that sick and that I am battling mental illness. But, I think I could be at risk, given the lat 2 years of my life.  And, I have had some pretty low times right after a miscarriage, which I’m sure would be classified as some sort of depression, but, I always pull myself out of it. And, knowing I’m at risk as I’m dealing with each miscarriage, I have sought help. I asked my doctor for help when I realized how stressed out I was and he set me up with an amazing counselor. I trust her and I know I can call her tomorrow if I need to.   I am utilizing all the medical resources available to me to ensure my adjustment disorder doesn’t turn into something else.

But, I believe that others are suffering and are not getting the help they need. I blame society. I blame all of us.  We are all guilty. We all suck.

We are not doing enough to help people who are suffering with their own internal demons.

Here are a few examples:

My first example is someone in my husband’s family. He is in his 60s. From my husband’s childhood memories and more recent tidbits we hear from family members, we have pieced together that at some points this individual lived with his parents as a grown adult for years at a time because he “wasn’t feeling well”; he has never been able to hold down a job due to his problems; he is a hoarder; he has seen psychologists; we think he’s been medicated at times, etc. Again, we have no idea what the real problem and we have no details on any diagnosis. For his entire life, his family has enabled him to carry these demons and not address them – his parents bought and paid for his home, his parents paid for and now their estate is paying all his bills, the siblings are cleaning out his home for the second time in about 5 years.  Now, there are plenty of highly qualified mental health experts out there, why isn’t he seeing anyone regularly? Why doesn’t he have a team of doctors working with him to help him? Imagine what his life could have been and still could be, if he received proper treatment? Instead the family is so scared to admit the truth about the situation. They are too embarrassed to seek help and admit that someone in the family suffers from mental health issues. And so the people he needed the most, who should have known better, have let him down. And continue to let him down.

Another example is my step-brother. I have no idea what all he has been diagnosed with. I’ve been told, or rather have over-heard and put pieces together multiple conversations to determine that he has OCD and depression. He also has addiction issues – I’m not sure which feeds which, nor does it really matter. And, I’m not sure if this is the complete list of ailments. The big difference between my first example and him, is that my parents have worked to provide him medical support, and likely will continue to.  I suspect they work hard not to enable him, but have in the past and likely will in the future got him into addictions treatments and treatment with various mental health experts.  But, I don’t really know.  I do not know details about his diagnosis or his prognosis.  So, my point is that I, one of his immediate family members doesn’t know what is actually wrong with him.  Why don’t we talk about this stuff??

Why won’t we address mental health problems and work to assist the people who are dealing with them? Why do we let this category of horrible diseases silently affect people? If we won’t even talk about it openly, then how are we supposed to help the person suffering? How can we expect them to seek treatment when they must lurk in dark corners and hid their issues from society?

My question today is why are we doing this? We are we, in a modern society (Canada) allowing mental health issues to destroy lives? We have the ability to help these individuals, why aren’t we taking the responsible steps to help? I understand the need for privacy, but if either of the individuals had an “acceptable” disease like diabetes or cancer or colitis, we would both discuss the problem and medical prognosis and we would help them! We would do anything to help them! Heck, I’m living proof that our medical system even provide mental health support to people going through miscarriages, so why can’t we provide support to others in need (note that I sought out help because I recognized that I might need some help to develop effective coping strategies)? Modern medicine can help!  So why are we, as in our society, living behind a vale of silence? Why are we accepting this? When are we doing to change? How many more lives need to be lost to the stigma of mental illness before we start to provide adequate care to those in need.

If you like this post, please feel free to share it and please return to myperfectbreakdown.com to follow my journey.

Please do not tell me I am not a mother. Just because my child is not here, and yours is, doesn’t make me less of a mother. I am still a mother. I still had a child. I still loved my child. I still did everything in my power to protect and care for my child. Some things are beyond our control and I work every single day to accept that fact.

Please do not tell me that my child(ren) do not matter because they are not here. Whether my child died during pregnancy or they were still born or they died shortly after birth, my child still counts. Please, do not tell me my anything different.

Please do not tell me that my child who died during pregnancy is not a child. We all have different opinions on the moment life begins, please have the decency to respect that my definition starts are conception. I loved my child, just like you did when you found out you were pregnant. We had different outcomes, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t love my little baby any different then you did

Please do not tell me that you understand our frustrations of being parents without a child. If you have a child, you do not understand what it is like to balance 2 lives. Our private life where we cherish our memories, and our public life where we actively work to reduce your anxiety when and if we choose to talk about our situation and circumstances. We know it’s hard on you, can you please try to respect that this is hard on us?

Please do not ask me if I have children or how many children I have, unless you are prepared for the truthful answer. It is unfair to expect me to lie about our children, simply because it is too hard for you to understand. They are my children, they are part of my life and they do effect every decision we have made since they lived and died.

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Please, on celebrations like mother’s day or father’s day or even Easter or Christmas, quietly acknowledge with us that today might be hard. Be honest if you don’t understand, or if you cannot imagine, but please understand that these family gatherings, with all the other little ones running around, may not bring us the joy that they bring to you. These days are hard on us as we are reminded of what we do not have.

Please do something little, like send us a card, to let us know you care on these difficult days.

Please don’t be afraid to talk to us about our children; however short their lives. We love them and carry them with us daily. Please feel free to share your memories or your lost dreams with us. Although we don’t want to live our lives focused on the heartache, we do appreciate knowing that you care and that you think about us and our children.

Please do not cower to your fears about how to talk to us since we’ve gone through a loss. We are still human. We might be a bit more messy, but we are still human and you can talk to us about anything just like you did before. If something is too hard for us to talk about, we’ll tell you or we will simply change the subject.

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Please know that we are absolutely delighted for you and your family even if we aren’t so good at saying it.

Please know that sometimes we don’t see you as often as we used to, but we still love you and your child(ren). Maybe we skip family gatherings or we don’t visit as much as you’d like. But, know it is because we are coping the best we can. We are coping with our fears, and one of our coping mechanisms are to distance ourselves when it’s too hard.

Please know that we will come around, eventually. We just need time to deal with our emotions and make sure that when we do see you, we can put on the happy face without a complete mental breakdown that would take away from your excitement.

If you like this post, please feel free to share it and please return to myperfectbreakdown.com to follow my journey.

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