I watched a YouTube video that was posted on Out of a Great Need and it really moved me. In fact, I felt myself tearing up as I drove to work this morning. I love the way Garen Staglin talks about his efforts to not only change the outcome for his son who was diagnosed with schizophrenia during his first year of college, but to also change the way these types of brain disorders are viewed and treated.
As I remembered what my mom went through, I was saddened to think about all of those years that we felt isolated and judged because of false perceptions about illnesses like schizophrenia, not only in the general public, but in the medical community. How many years did we flounder, trying to keep my mom’s illness a secret from everyone as if we should have been ashamed of it? How many times was my mom deprived of the care she needed because insurance companies did not cover mental illness.
Not only is it sad to me, but it makes me very angry now. So angry that I never want to be silenced again. I want to speak up about these so called mental illnesses which are actually brain disorders to make sure they are taken seriously and get the attention and resources they deserve.
When I was recovering from an eating disorder I remember sitting in support groups and hearing people talk about their childhoods and how their parents had failed them. I understood where they were coming from, but I never felt compelled to blame my parents for the things that happened when I was growing up. It wasn’t my parents who failed, it was the system that failed my mom, my dad, and my siblings. In fact, I am now in awe at how well they did considering all of the obstacles they faced.
I am not ashamed any more and I will share openly in order to break down any barriers that remain in a healthcare system and society that has been broken for too long.
I have shared openly with my children because I never want them to feel ashamed of their family history. My sisters haven’t yet told their children and that is up to them. I just got fed up with pretending none of this happened in order to avoid being stigmatized. I am tired of people with illnesses that affect their brain being treated like second class citizens.