October 03, 2011

Mental Illness Awareness Week: No Longer Whispered in the Dark

It's Mental Health Awareness Week.

Yes, I realize I'm a couple of days late, but I've been kinda busy with things.

I love my child who has been diagnosed with several mental illnesses and disorders, just like I love my daughters who have no diagnoses. My kids rock!

The Boy came home from the hospital on Monday, and went back to school on Tuesday. His medications have changed, dosing times are altered, and he's still adjusting to the new regimen (and I am getting used to the more complicated schedule). I'm hopeful that we'll get him back on solid footing while we deal with his latest juvenile justice issues.

My daughter is upset that I talk so openly about The Boy's challenges with bipolar disorder and Asperger's...even his legal troubles.

Yesterday, he had a new diagnosis on his chart: Impulse control disorder.

No shit! Really? For years, I've been telling his service providers that he's so very impulsive. 

And I don't even feel like saying, "I told you so" - well, maybe I'll say it to The Mister, the man who thinks The Boy can control all of his behaviors, and just chooses not to.

I'm not ashamed of The Boy, just like I'm not ashamed of my daughter Erin's hypothyroidism. Both are illnesses - not character flaws. It's not anybody's fault (though I could have been more consistent in my parenting The Boy - that might have helped his behavior a bit, but it wouldn't have prevented him from getting those diagnoses).

The Boy's brain is just wired differently than the average person. This mis-firing of neurons and unique wiring of his brain is part of what makes him The Boy.

I like him again. It's sunshine and rainbows and unicorns. 

Better living through chemistry.

I'm not going to hide him away and feel shame about his diagnoses. I hope that my openness can get a conversation started about compassion and understanding, and spark a desire for better therapies and treatments. Let's just remove the stigma surrounding mental illness. 

After all, at any one time in the US, mental illness affects one in four families.

Your family may be dealing with a mental health issue right now.

I'm hoping for new drug discoveries and more research into how our brains function, so troublesome symptoms can be lessened, making The Boy be able to adjust more easily to things that he finds upsetting or unbearable to him. I hope for funding for research and insurance coverage for medications and therapies that work, as well as for evolving therapies that show promise.

Maybe my talking about it will allow you to withhold judgment of a child who is having a major meltdown in a store, or remind you to encourage your children to play with, and be friends with, children who have mental health issues.

We're all on this wacky planet together, wouldn't it be nice if we could all be more accepting, and allow our special needs kids (and adults)  to feel the warmth of friendship and acceptance, instead of the cold stare of judgment, and loneliness?

If your budget allows, and you're so inclined, consider making a donation to NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) to help them continue to serve as an advocate for families dealing with mental illness.

Or just be kind to someone who appears to be a bit "different". That'll work, too.


  1. Great post Kim. Bravo to you. We could use more kindness in the world.

  2. I think that you are awesome for being so upfront about it. Too many times parents are too ashamed or scared to talk about it. I have a daughter with bi-polar. It's her disease. We all have them.

  3. I think your Boy has to be the luckiest guy in the world to have you for his mom! We have ADHD and Bi-Polar here. I can't imagine the challenges you have when Aspergers is added. Your posts have helped me to be more accepting of our special needs kids at my school.

    Great post!

  4. Kim,
    Just wanted to say I finally got to check out your blog. You have a great voice and a lot to say. I love it!


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