You are invited to look closerMy friends I'm sharing a series of blogs called "Open Book - Mental Illness" from tomorrow. It's a heavy topic but is a serious social issue in the Caribbean and the world.
There are many families with loved ones who have some form of mental illness. My friend Lisa Fraser Gallagher has shared on her personal experiences with mental illness and she is an excellent resource on this topic.
In my family one of my sisters and my mother are mentally ill. Like any other disease if you are unaware of the symptoms, left untreated it gets worse. There is no cure for mental illness. It can be managed, however not many people are willing to accept their loved ones are mentally ill.
In Trinidad & Tobago there is societal acceptance of mentally ill behavior once no one is physically hurt. Hence, we have many street dwellers and vagrants living a homeless life by choice because of their mental illness.
To offer help to mentally ill persons can be challenging as many times family members are too ashamed to accept that its not okay to let your loved ones roam the street. Its also not okay to leave mentally ill persons to handle life on their own. What is freedom if a loved one is in harm's way based on their mental illness?
In the past 15 months the struggle to keep my sister and mother safe proved to be an emotional journey that no one should go through. The choice of allowing one's mother to be free to live as a vagrant or street dweller was real ( I cannot accept this); or to use the services of caring professionals at a private assisted living facility recommended by doctors seemed a lifeline. Not everyone in the family will agree, and even when they do, the pressure to 'not have your mother or sister in a home' can bring out irrational behaviors in some folks.
The reality is, mental illness is real and socially it is very taboo to admit family members have this disease. For some religious beliefs supersede medical facts, for others if you're not close you won't get the 'calls'.
Its important to understand mental illness so it is not normalized. Over the next few weeks I will share some insights from my experiences with mentally ill family members, and hope it will help others with similar challenges.
An 'open book on mental illness' is needed, maybe this will be a place to start.
Let me begin by saying my mother has been mentally ill for over 40 years and was retired medically unfit to work in the teaching service. My eldest sister is has been diagnosed as bipolar and has had 3 major breakdowns in 18 years. My 'open book' begins tomorrow.
Credits:Images — pixabay.com
© Donna-Luisa Eversley and D-WORDSLAYER, 2019. All Rights Reserved