Friday, May 11, 2012

A Mother’s Message of Reconciliation and Restoration

By Dawn Brown, NAMI HelpLine Information and Referral Specialist
When mental illness strikes there is always collateral damage that extends beyond the person with the illness to include family and friends. Relationships are often strained to the limit as a person with mental illness struggles to cope with their symptoms and possibly refuses help and lack of resources and support can leave loved ones angry and burnt out. This creates a difficult situation that can result in more hurting than helping, and relationships can be damaged or lost.
Sadly, the most strained relationship is often between a mother and child. Whether your mother has a mental illness or you are the mother of someone with a mental illness, you understand the heartache that exists when the relationship is damaged or lost. Fortunately, even the most difficult situations can be improved, and working towards reconciliation and restoration with your loved one well worth it.
So, this Mother’s Day I encourage you to seek reconciliation with your mother or with your son or daughter. Hurtful words or regrettable actions can be forgiven; do not allow them to rob you of this relationship. Forgiveness is a gift to give and to receive. In many cases, it is the best Mother’s Day gift.
Restoring a relationship that has been damaged by mental illness begins with the acceptance that the relationship will be different. Making adjustments that can restore and sustain the relationship, include:
  • Realizing that you are not the cause nor do you have the cure for mental illness. Also, realize that you cannot provide all the care needed. Locate resources in your community. Day programs/club houses, NAMI Connection Recovery Support Groups, social services and case management provide social opportunities, support, and professional care that can greatly enrich lives, as well as, lighten the load.
  • Education brings understanding, and understanding brings compassion. Contact your NAMI Affiliate for information about NAMI Family-to-Family and NAMI Peer-to-Peer education programs in your community.
  • Remember to set and respect boundaries. Keep communication clear and concise. Revise your expectations. You should not expect everything or nothing from another individual, be realistic in your expectations.
  • Renegotiate your emotional relationship. Mutual respect will provide equilibrium.
  • Taking care of oneself is essential to having a strong and loving relationship. If you are ill, be willing to receive treatment and manage your illness by cooperating with your medical team and taking prescribed medication. If you are a caregiver, do not ignore your own needs. Providing ongoing, long term support requires you to be at your best.
Statistics illustrate the enormous size and economic impact mental illness has on the United States, but they do not reflect the impact it has on our families. We do not have to allow mental illness to damage or destroy our relationships. Do not give up. Forgiveness works to reconcile and love to restore. I wish everyone a Happy Mother’s Day.
Dawn Brown is a NAMI HelpLine Information and Referral Specialist and mother of six. Her son Matthew is living with schizophrenia. 

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

A very important person that was left out was the mother who has a mental illness. Our struggles have impacted and hurt our mother's and our children. And in many cases, they are the ones who have stood by us most loyally.

Stand4BPpeace said...

May God restore all families this Mothers Day and always. Great advice in the article.

Stand4BPpeace said...

May all families restore relationships with forgiveness. God heals. share your love. Thanks for the post. That is great advise.

mir1970 said...

This hits home because this Mother's Day they had to put my mom on a 72 hour hold. Truly the saddest days.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this article. I am a mother of a 23 year old daughter with Bi-polar. She is moving back home and will need stength. We both want to heal from the past and your article has come at the right time. Thanks for the great advice.

Anonymous said...

That is me too. But if you read it again and flip the perspective around to have compassion and forgiveness for yourself as well as everyone else then that's the key. Can't let guilt and fear enslave us.

Anonymous said...

I am so glad to see this. My son has struggled and lately, I have felt guilt ridden as to did I make the right decisions for him when he was younger (dx @14 bipolar and more, several hospital/residential placements), did I make things worse,even did I do this to him-- I know I did my best but it did strain our relationship and while things are now better (he's 22), seeing this helped me realize, my feelings, all these years later, are normal. So glad so many of you get "this"

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this caring article. My daughter has borderline personality disorder. Two years ago she cut herself off from the family and we don't know where she is. Mother's Day was painful. But I believe that she has the strength and capability to make a life for herself. I pray for her. Anonymous

Anonymous said...

It would be nice if my Mom apoligized and was more respectable, Dad too.

Anonymous said...

It was wonderful to read this article which validated so many of my feelings and concerns. My daughter is struggling with mental illness and two different addictions and it is heartbreaking to observe her go through this painful experiences and feel powerless to help. I realize that I must take care of myself because this process which has strained our relationship has taken a great emotional toll. Our relationship has undergone many changes but I hope it will eventually be a stronger one. We must hold onto hope.

Anonymous said...

I am a mom w/chronic depression. all the medications & combinations (for several years) did not help me. They kept me asleep/unaware for most of my childs childhood. She is an adult now- but very damaged/angry. i'm told i'm very resourceful- but I have not found 'case mgmnt' to help us. I depend on government for my financial existance (it's rules keep my adult child from being able to try to live her life-if she or i work that reduces the financial assistance making it not possible for her to save money to be able to leave and try to live her life )-so i do not have money resources. She is burnt out. I worry about her safety- but there is nothing i can do...as I am very much not well myself. I do not have supportive family at all-

Anonymous said...

that is a nice message; we need such encouraging articles during our walk in life. My mother is unwell at the moment and i feel i should show more love to her with texts and messages.Mothers Day Messages