It is a crisis, in that there is no where to turn when your daughter, or best friend disappears right before your eyes (into another world inside of their own minds) and there is nothing you can do to make her come back
I called her China. She was fragile as a teacup.
My most favorite memory of this woman was seeing her from the front window of my parents house one beautiful summer day. I can clearly see her riding on the handle bars of her then boyfriend’s bike down the street to my house. She was laughing with her hair blowing in the wind. She had on jeans, loafers without socks, (way ahead of the fashion trends) and a white tapered button down shirt.
Such a classic look. That was the China that I knew and loved. Carefree, joyful, with her own unique style, unafraid to be herself. When they arrived at my house and I gave her a hug, I couldn’t help but notice how strong her body odor was. I just thought, hot summer day, riding bike, sweat is ok. It never occurred to me how often this was the case with China as I accepted her for who she was.
unconcern regarding ones own hygiene is often a warning sign of mental illness
It wasn’t until many years later, becoming a mother and having my own daughter show signs of not seeming to care or to be aware of her own hygiene that I remembered this about my friend China.
China met a wonderful man after we graduated who seemed to “get her” We all loved him, he was wonderful to her. The day of her wedding I dressed in turquoise with a silk flowered tapered jacket. I went solo. When I arrived to China ran out to me and said you have to be in my wedding. She threw a bouquet in my hands and the next thing I new I was getting my picture taken with the wedding party. She dressed like a hippie girl with a wreath of flowers in her hair. Then she moved to California.
A Change in Personality. If someone is acting like a very different person, or not acting or feeling like themself, this is a warning sign.
One year later she returned for the “visit” My friend and I hosted a dinner for her and I picked her up at her mom’s house. The dinner was bizarre, as China talked nonstop for 5 hours, until her voice began to get hoarse. I drove her home and watched her walked to her mom’s doorstep. Then I went home.
She did not go in to the house, but began walking from her home to downtown, which was approximately 6 miles. She ended up on one of the bridges over a raging river, and was going to jump. Two boys saw her that night and talked her down. The next morning I received a call from the hospital psych ward telling me that she had requested to see me.
I was 19 years old I had never been around anyone with mental illness.
I was directed into a room that was locked and was let in. There I found my delicate teacup, wrapped in a straight jacket sitting in a padded room. I sat down and I can only remember saying, “what the hell China?”
Straitjacket use was discontinued long ago in psychiatric facilities in the US. …
10 ways you can help a loved one with mental illness
If hospitalized go visit. They may not be the person you know but they will remember your kind gesture.
Offer to take them for coffee, lunch, or whatever you might know they enjoy. Remember to keep safety in mind. If they have been released from hospital on a LRA (least restrictive alternative) and are at risk to flee bring them lunch or coffee at home.
Bring out the board games. TV and movies are mind numbing and do not require human interaction
Set boundaries. “I love you and I can listen to your theories for 20 minutes then we can talk about something else.” “I love you will support you in any way I can. I cannot let you abuse me verbally ” Do not insert a “but” in those boundaries.
If it is your loved one seek out friends and organizations that can support you by understanding what you are going through. NAMI is an organization that supports families.
Take care of yourself, get exercise, eat right, take out time for you.
If it is a friends loved one, offer to give them a break by coming over and being with the person, especially if they cannot be left alone.
Offer to check on the person if they need to leave town.
Find common ground with the person with mental illness, maybe they love art, or are creating art, collections, etc.
FInally do not feel shame or forget they exist. It is easy to just shove that person under the family carpet. Mental illness is difficult because it affects a persons mind and everyone can see right away that they have it. Similar to Multiple Sclerosis, or any other debilitating disease. It happens to some people and we can only do what we can do to help them. If your family member does something to embarrass you, show them love and gently excuse them.
As a mother of a daughter who has gone through the mental health system. I have a pretty good idea what happened to China after that event as I did not see her again until we were both in our 50’s. She was probably prescribed heavy duty psych meds, sedated for healing, stabilized, sent back to her husband but he was not able to manage her care. She then probably had one break after the next each one more severe until she was finally stabilized with Lithium and eventually ended up in a group home never to see any of her friends and rarely any of her family again.
Stigma: a phenomenon known as social distancing, whereby people with mental issues are more isolated from others. Eradicating the stigma and social distancing of people with mental illness must be a top public health priority in order to improve worldwide mental health and reduce economic burden.
surgeon general 1999
She died of kidney failure related to the long term use of lithium.
Side affects of this and other psychotropic drugs make them unattractive to the person with mental illness to take.So many people with mental illness do not take their meds for this reason.
It is similar to taking chemo. Chemo drugs, are actually like a poison that kills not only cancer cells but all cells. It is a decision one must make to determine if quality of life is more important than quantity. It is not a fair choice for anyone to have to make.
“Over 80 percent of people with serious mental illnesses are overweight or obese, which contributes to them dying at three times the rate of the overall population.”
The guidelines and regulations in the mental health arena have grossly changed since China was committed to her first institutionalized setting. The idea now is of attempting to integrate those with this type of illness back into society. It is a good idea, but the way it is done in our state was simply to close down wards and take away funding for most help agencies.
That leaves the mentally ill out on the street living under bridges or in their mom’s basement.
I am on suicide watch today. In my own home. My daughter feels she has suffered long enough with this mental anguish and wishes to not live anymore. “Get some help for her” people tell me. Okay.
That is easy to say but how can you help someone who will not accept it.
today the sun is shining, so I think I will see if she wants to go outside with me.
Sunshine is the natural vitamin D source which is one of the natural mood enhancers. That is one reason why people suffer from SAD seasonal affective disorder.
Today we will dance. We will share the sun and we will remember China.
doing short burst of moderate intensity physical activity creates a new brain pathway that even if for only a few minutes gives her relief will perhaps become a habit for her and eventually create a new life of joy.
This is just one of many stories of the pain of mental illness that because of the stigma still associated with it are left untold and unresolved.
Many organizations are working hard to be the voice of those with mental illness.
This organization promotes exercise as one of the foundations to achieving mental health. They go on to say that :
The key thing to remember about starting an exercise program is that something is always better than nothing.