Monday, January 27, 2014

60 Minutes: Here's the Full Story

By Bob Carolla, NAMI Director of Media Relations

On Jan. 26, CBS News’ 60 Minutes aired "Nowhere to Go: Mentally Ill Youth in Crisis," an important story that has helped raise attention to failures in the mental health care system affecting young people and their families.

The full story includes an interview with a young man in an emergency room who had been experiencing suicidal ideation and a frank discussion with a group of mothers.

The centerpiece, however, is an interview with Virginia state senator and former gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds, whose 24-year-old son, Gus attacked him and then died by suicide in Nov. 2013. The tragedy involved a prominent politician and his son, but could just as easily have happened to anyone. 

Gus, who lived with bipolar disorder, had been discharged from a hospital emergency room the day before the tragedy because no psychiatric beds were available in the local or nearby communities.  “I really don't want Gus to be defined by his illness,” declares Senator Deeds in the interview. “I don't want Gus to be defined by what happened…Gus was a great kid. He was a perfect son. It's clear the system failed.”

Don’t Miss 60 Minutes Overtime

A supplemental video report, "The Stigma of Raising a Mentally Ill Child," is posted on the 60 Minutes website (and embedded at the top of this blog), providing additional discussion that includes a focus on the stigma that families often confront when a child lives with mental illness.

It took CBS News almost eight month to compile interviews for the story. “The really difficult part is to get anyone to come onto television to talk about it,” said CBS news anchor Scott Pelley. “Imagine being a parent appearing on 60 Minutes to talk about the serious mental illness of your child? Very hard to do.”

NAMI applauds CBS News for the report and especially those individuals who courageously participated in the interviews.
We are also grateful that  CBS News included on the 60 Minutes website at the end of each story’s text the following editor’s note:  Families in need of help with a mentally ill child can find resources at the National Alliance on Mental Illness: www.nami.org or 1 (800) 950-NAMI (6264).

NAMI also offers the following fact sheet and programs for family education:

What Families Can Do
NAMI Family-to-Family
NAMI Basics

42 comments:

solomon said...

I my self have bipolar type 2 and so dose my son. I took him to meeting with me to see that being bipolar is not a bad thing and to learn more about what can affect him. Simple things like sleep the food you eat making sure you know your limits and your strengths and to understand you are not your illness.I became a Chapter facilitator for the DBSA group in or area because i wanted to make sure people knew they are not alone

acconci said...

Thanks for posting this background video. I did not have an opportunity to see 60 Minutes last night. I wish that someone could speak to the parents of ADULT children (and or loved ones who are caring for an adult with mental illness) -- but most certainly parents, because our hands are tied. My daughter is severely depressed, I'm unsure if she is bipolar. She definitely has personality disorder. The family dynamic in my house is completely out of whack with her living here. But she cannot work, she spends most of her days in her room in the basement. She is now rrefusing medication and any talk therapy or to follow up with her psychiatrist. We are going to end up in the emergency room (again). Last time was about three weeks ago when she had a severe psychotic episode and broke things in our home and became physical with my husband (her stepfather) who was trying to calm her and get her to not leave the house. When she did agree to go to the hospital she got evaluated and convinced the psychiatric counselor that she was having a bad day because it was her birthday and she was despondent. The counselor told me that she did not see anything that would warrant her going upstairs nor would it warrant a TDO (I had done a TDO on her about a year ago -- that is a whole other story that I am happy to tell). My daughter told her that she would enroll in the partial hospitalization program. Once we left the ER she told me, "I'm not doing that, why would I? It didn't help before." As a parent, I have no recourse at all. I cannot do anything to get her treatment short of calling the police or waiting until she becomes violent or hurts herself. What is wrong with this picture? I am in a NAMI support group in northern Virginia and the story is basically the same all around the room. I feel like I am watching my daughter die slowly from an incurable disease. It is like the parents on the 60 Minutes video said, if your child had cancer everyone would be on board to help, but because it is mental illness you are on your own. I understand that locking someone up on a closed ward is a very serious and life-changing decision, but if parents or the people who know and love these people the most have no recourse for a person who will not seek treatment on their own, there are whole generations that will be lost. Advocacy is great (and I am a propenent of advocacy and raising money for causes that I believe in, so I do contribute to NAMI and support the walks, etc.) -- but the real change needs to occur in the system itself. I read blogs like yours, Mayo Clinic on depression, basically everything I can get my hands on, and they are all the same; if you are in crisis do A, B, or C...well, guess what -- the person who is in crisis is the last person who is going to be calling a hotline or seeking treatment. That's the last thing my daughter would ever do. She does not think she has mental illness. Or, if she does admit to it, she'd say that there's nothing to be done and she doesn't care anyway if she lives or dies. How about some advocacy for help for the families and loved ones to finally get the help our family members, friends, sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, etc., need?

Dale Cheung said...

I have a son with paranoid schizophrenia. Since his diagnosis I have been alone as no one that I know understands it. Its been over two years since his diagnosis. I don't know what I would do if it wasn't for Chestnut Health Services in Granite City,IL. He has a great caseworker and Doctor. They have supplied his medication as he has no insurance. I had to hire an attorney to fight for his disability and am still waiting, I don't know what I would do with out Chestnut. He missed taking meds and had a severe Psychotic attack. Since that happened I have to make sure he takes his meds. If Chestnut did not help with this I don't know what would happen to him. The System needs to change why should it be so hard for someone with a severe disease be put on hold for so long, this is cruel to him and myself who is suffering to keep up with all that is required taking care of a sick loved one.

Anonymous said...

Very glad to see that these issues are being discussed so openly. Without this awareness and acceptance, these tragedies will continue unnecessarily. I would have liked to see an additional piece on the December 26 killing of Margaret Rohner, who had also sought very recent mental health care for her son. Frequently it is the families of these individuals who need the most support and protection, yet they are left on their own to fend for themselves.

Diane Christiana said...

Very sad indeed

kdos said...

acconci --our story mirrors yours. It has been going on for almost 7 years. It is really a double whammy that my son has paranoid schizophrenia AND anosognosia. The inability to understand they are ill is just about impossible to deal with. Yes we read Xavier Amador's book, but it has not gotten us anywhere yet. So--No doctors no meds and life in the basement with no friends continues. He is 26. A son with perfect SAT scores, so much potential --tragic.

Nancy said...

My mother was a paranoid schizophrenic. There needs to be an overhaul in our government so that people who truly need help, receive it.

NAMI is a wonderful organization. Please read, "American Psychosis" by Dr. E. Fuller Torrey.

Nancy said...

As a daughter of a paranoid schizophrenic, I am thankful there are discussions on mental illness. In many cases, it must be treated by a professional or there can be serious consequences. NAMI is a great organization.
There needs to be an overhaul in the way these cases are handled.

Anonymous said...

PLAN of North Texas has a program that is the model for all other mental health services to follow after a patient has been released.

Gregory Stuart said...

This report further misleads and adds to the stigma of mental health.

The ONLY diagnosis mentioned (one time) was Bi-Polar. The condition and actions of Gus were clearly schizophrenic, not a regular or commonly exhibited symptom of those with BiPolar disorder. The public is led to believe that Gus's actions were as a result of Bi-Polar illness. Never was the word Schizophrenic used or mentioned.

Half truths are worse than lies as they propagate stigma and the public's continued misunderstanding of this, and other diseases.

Anderson Cooper's coverage of this story does discuss, in detail the effects of many mental illnesses, including the death of Anderson's brother by suicide.

fox rox said...

It is hard for anyone to be looking after a mentally ill person. However, if you are the one who has the mental illness you are the one in pain enough to try and end it. I was born with bipolar disorder 1. As a small child I know what it is like to want to end life and throughout. I have rapid cycling which makes it hard to stay in a routine. I do not take any medication for it due to my convictions and also due to a serious allergy problem, though I understand if people do. I reached the grand age of 50 last year. All you guys out there who are bippies like me, we can make it. We have the most amazing gifts, we just have to find them. You all need to know how to live with it as it does define you regardless of what the others say, however, it does not own you. We are amazing and we need to stay here, without some of us, combined with a smattering of autistic traits, ADHD etc many of the inventions, precious arts, ability to run huge businesses, act, dance, take risks, and create beautiful poetry, would ever exist. Humanity would not be where it is today without the brilliance of the ones who were different. Believe in yourself, even when you are at the bottom of that darkness clawing about, with all those voices and the pain. Come back and rise again and again. One day you will be proud you did just that.

fox rox said...

I have bipolar 1. All my life has been different. I am female. I have been through a life of epic proportions. I do not have meds as they scare me and I have allergy problems. We are in ourselves amazing. We all have gifts which others often do not know about. It is time for us to find those gifts and start to show who we are. Poetry, acting, dancing, mathematics, writing, entrepreneurs, people skills. We are often able to do more in the work place at any one time due to mania, we can be great athletes. The only time we cannot do those amazing things is when we are low. In that dark well, maybe with hundreds of voices, a head full of junk, time to defrag a disc clean. Drink water, sleep, with or without help and slowly get back to being one of the most amazing human beings in the world. I am proud, I made it to 50 last year. My children are proud of me too. :)

LVacula said...

As a parent of a mentally ill child of 21 with a newborn child of her own, I can tell you her childhood was no playground most of the time, she was diagnosed as having Early onset bipolar disorder with schizo-effective disorder and cerabral palsy on top of it all.. she is now living in New Jersey and NO ONE IS HELPING HER, NO ONE IS SPEAKING ON HER BEHALF.. I will not move to that state because of financial situation. What happens to my grandchild? Even though my child needs help, who is helping both of them.. the answer is NO ONE, not the state, the family and not the friends.. because my daughter has the CP .. I believe this is creating just enough naivate' for her not to listen to the gremlins who are surrounding her every waking moment!... the question is not what do we do, how do we help provide the best possible treatment. She was from birth banned from ever having or owning a handgun,I tried raising her with that awareness.

Kenny said...

Sharing is learning and reduces the stigma. NAMI gives the strength of numbers to advocate, educate and find support, but each of us must confront the stigma when and where we find it.

marcie said...

I recently lost my mom who cared for my brother who was diagnosed with schizophrenia some 30 years ago. He has only lived with her. Now he is in an apartment alone. Just got him into department of mental health, but am getting frustrated with the inconsistency of what they say. I don't know what to do. I don't want to see him homeless. He can't live with me too many bad memories for me.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for airing this program.

Anonymous said...

OMG.The entry from acconi is so much like my story. Thanks for sharing. My 19 year son has bipolar and substance abuse issues. We are waiting for residential placement...

Anonymous said...

Congratulations to CBS for airing this story front and center and hitting the issue directly. It is a failure of society to shun this issue.

Society tends to think of autism as just cute little pre-schoolers who need help with snack time. No one wants to address the reality of what happens when those cute little kids grow up. It is so true that if you break a bone there are 25 medical workers ready to help. But if it's a mental issue, YOU'RE ON YOUR OWN basically. In many states the issue of parent's rights to intervene complicate things even more.

What a failure of society to face up to this health issue. Total failure. This is even more pronounced in the fact that our veterans who have sacrificed for our country are dying of mental health issues once they get home. This is the first war in our history where there have been more casualties from suicide than on the battlefield.

Yet the cowardly politicians fail to even address this aspect of mental health. They are happy to duck the issue completely. Sad, sad failure.

Thanks again to CBS for their work. I hope that more programs are aired to educate the public.

desertrider760 said...

Mental illness is NOT what we are, its a part of WHI we are. I've lived with MI probably most of my lif; in my youth i was always high n I didnt understand why.I hated getting high but it was my way of escaping it, of coping I just didn't know. In the Latino community its VERY rare for anyone to talk about it; its seen as weakness. I think MI is very prevalent in our youth n it's very sad indeed

Shared Vibrations said...

It is with tremendous grief that I respond as the mother of an adult son with
a serious mental health diagnosis. Only another family member of a loved one in the midst of a serious mental health crisis can even begin to understand the heartbreak. Right now, my son is homeless and alone, walking the streets of Phoenix, AZ, sick in body with pneumonia and in mind with schizoid affective disotder. I am reaching out to other
parents to learn how I can help my son from where I live in NC.

Anonymous said...

Our 141/2 year old daughter was recently diagnosed with schitzophrenia. In the last 5 weeks she has been admitted 3 times now. Her mental health issues started last June. Since then we have had only about 6 good weeks. We are frustrated with the mental health system with lack of bed space, over worked, lack of communication. They need to do more to help the families with dealing with their child. My wife and I are desperate to connect with another parent who as walked the walk with their teenage child with this mental diagnosis.

Anonymous said...

The following is request for national dialogue on shootingsand MH to for priority consideration. If California state agencies would get behind and lend support to this, the outcome would be favorable PR and possibly set a precident for the entire country to begin to address. As with Kelly Thomas incident, to kill first, ask questions later is
retroactive policy and does not stem the violence or keep up with it.

It is past due to open a sustained national dialogue on gun control, school shootings, and mental health factors. The President began that discussion after the Gifford shootings in Tucson. Let us all pick it up again, for healing and recovery's sake of our troubled times.
I would participate- am both a mental health consumer advocate and member of CA state governing agency.

Prevention and Early Intervention: With increasing and frequent school shootings, it is vital that mental ilness is recognized and treated at early stages and not as retroactive disease after a catastrophic incident. Society also needs to be spared the huge expense of institutional and correctional treatment.
MHSA was designed to get people who wish and can do so off social security and back into the
workforce. Otherwise the result is never-ending learned helplessness on the pubic dole which
is not only astronomically expensive, but one of the saddest conditions of modern times- despair, sustance abuse identity loss, mortality rate- long list of others. Often CA counties have inadequate treatment planning, system of care progress under MHSA, instead ushering in disability income, which is a quick fix and does nothing
for self determination, recovery, engagement supposedly administered by state agencies.

mary ann Kirisits said...

I agree with all that has been said...and am glad for public education. But I feel little like we are chasing a runaway train on the back of a tortoise. The downhill spiral of these young people with bipolar and schizophrenia is a living he'll for all. I lost my son to suicide at the age of 25. The priest at his funeral said succinctly: society has to wake up and realize that mental illness is a fatal disease. There is progress but not enough funding...worst of all, the meds are worse than the illness. I missed the show but I will look it up and watch. God bless the producers and families that cAme forward on such a prominent venue.

Anonymous said...

I feel we as NAMI families need to request NAMI or our state NAMI post a list of good highly reccomended general physians, clinics and hospital centers that do indeed forcus on wellness. In my rural area some travel 2 and a half hours to get good treatment. Some ERs are not hekpful. Some clinics dont get it. So affiliates are not consistantly active.

Anonymous said...

I am a parent with mental illness. I've been diagnosed with Bipolar, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and AADD. As a young adult I had no resources available to me. Parents didn't believe in such things. Just said I was crazy, different and mean. When I tried to get help I became an embarrassment to them. My father was the Mayor of the small town we lied in and so I received beatings and yelled at so much that I soon hated myself. At the age of 30 I lost a daughter and other traumatic events that happened the same time left me with suicidal thoughts. I checked myself into a hospital and was appointed a Doctor for my care. I found myself in the situation with my Doctor making advances that I rejected. Soon afterward I was told I could not make it in society and was to be sent to a state mental institution. Saved by my mother (who was also my abuser) I got out and was determined to prove them wrong. I had always wanted to go to college but fresh out of high school was told by my family under no circumstances would this happen. No one in my family had ever went to college and they were successful. At age 39 I went to college and kept a 3.8 GPA. Always on the Deans list. I made many wrong decisions though out my life that lead to many tragic results. This time was no different. I married one of my instructors in College and the only great thing to come from it was my son. My husband was an alcoholic and abuse was on the way. I've fought tooth and nail to keep my head above waters. I now find myself slowly drowning. I'm to afraid to go to a hospital. I live on disability now. I've done a good job bring my son up but now he see's me sinking further into depression. My insurance will not pay for the therapy that will help me and the counseling it will pay for is to far for me to drive. I have been unable to find a Doctor in my town to take me as their patient due to the lack of money. My son is 13 and needs me. I've lost trust in myself. My willpower is gone. I have no interest in anything. The things I use to love to do is a thing of the past. I can't stay this way. I want to live again, with joy and laughter in my heart. I want to find help so I can be a useful part of society again. I want parents to know that if they have a child with mental illness, love them. Help them and never give up on them. I don't know where to tell you to get the help if you have little money, I'm fighting that battle now. Nami gave me some places to call and I have found a group that I hope will work out. I just have to walk out the door but I'm so full of fear I'm not sure I can do this with a group. Shame fills my soul and I find myself paralyzed to act. I feel it's to late for me but then I see my son and see the love he has for me so I must find away. Parent help your children so they don't end up like me.

Anonymous said...

As a person with mental illness, I can tell you that what a child needs is love and acceptance from their parents, no matter what. They need someone to hold their hand and they need to know their parents are not disappointed in them because of their mental illness. I know I have put my parents through some rough times, and I feel terrible about that, but it was not my fault. My parents have stood by me no matter what. I know that they will do anything for me. Your children need you to be supportive of their decisions even if you don't agree with them. There are a lot of different treatments out there and one thing doesn't work for everyone. Say things like "whatever you decide, know that I love you." so that when they do come to the right decision, you will be right there to cheer them on. And yes, it is very, very hard, but sometimes you just have to sit there and hold your child as they cry. There is nothing you can do to make them stop crying. They don't expect you to make them stop crying, they just want to know you are there.

Anonymous said...

I am wondering since so many people are talking about children and medication if they and their doctors are really reading about the dangers. As a health care provider I have noticed that medications are prescribed that have BLACK BOX WARNINGS for children UNDER 25! Read the warning labels about suicide on the label...suicide flipped is homicide. It can turn that fast. I there really that much of a change in the increase of mental illness? Many of the causes of Autism well just read them.....environment. Not everything can be fixed with a pill....mental illness is a physical illness that is why it is treated with medicine BUT there is a lot of just plain bad behavior which is treated with behavior management...there is a difference! Physicians give medication with pressure from the parents for quick fixes. It should be the last measure and then the patient has to take it and that is only their choice. Reward systems work that is why we go to work everyday....

Susan Regan said...

As a former nurse who was successful at managing my mental illness with the help of good MDs, therapists, and medication, I recently had a major depressive episode lasting approximately 2 years. As a result, I lost 3 jobs and insurance. The treatment options for me were nearly nonexistent I, too, tried to get help in Virginia through the CSB programs. I was literally cut off during my treatment, without access to meds and all treatment I still have no understanding as to what happened because despite calling, leaving voicemails daily for 3 weeks, I have never heard back from anyone. I even spoke with an Advocate for Human Rights, who assured me he would follow up and call me within a week. Never heard from him again. Bear in mind, I had no money to pay for any meds or treatment. I spiraled into near catatonia with the feeling that suicide was my only option. Finally, my daughter became so alarmed, she flew to Va. and brought me to her home in Illinois, where I was able to restart treatment immediately. Thank God I had her. I'm doing much better after 5 weeks. But what about those folks who do not have such advocates and family? What happened to me should never have happened, just as what happened to Sen. Deeds family. And we have NO idea of what's happening to those without a voice.

Anonymous said...

I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 19 and substance abuse disorder at 22. I am now in recovery from both and work succesfully in a high demand/high stress field helping others who self-identify similarly. I also take care of and support my family. I say this becuase although I had numerous struggles early in my diagnosis there is hope with the right combination of support, medicine and therapy that things do get better and it will not be all doom and gloom. Look for local Peer Support Specialists in your area who have similar experiences and use what they learn to help others. Moreover, while the system is broken in many ways there are great people who are doing great things to make it better and make sure families and those who live with a mental health issues get the care they deserve and the life they choose.

Anonymous said...

I've been going through this situation with my daughter for over 10 years. Now that she is an adult she decides whether to take her meds or not and eventually gets taken away in cuffs when she does not.

Anonymous said...

Thank all of you for posting your experience and for 60 minutes and NAMI for bringing more awareness to this health crisis in our country. My amazing 20 year old son, who was diagnosed with bipolar 2, took his life six years ago, while on the waiting list for a bed in a psychiatric hospital. It's a tragedy and I am trying to learn how to live with a lifelong broken hear.

Anonymous said...

Having a son and my husband who is a veteran with mental illness, we were so Blessed to find NAMI!! My heart goes out to parents and loved ones with the mental illness. God says we are to come along side the weaker body of Christ. Sadly, folks judge instead of love.
As a mother and wife, watching this illness take over in my loved ones lives is heartbreaking. As I am sure it is for our loved ones. As I am sure it is for all of you all too. We have an opportunity to help one another even though at time we are overwhelmed, I feel Nami has been the fore runners on education and support.

Anonymous said...

I can relate to kudos and acconci. My son is 34 and lives with us. He has been diagonised with paranoid schitzophrenia and anosognosia as well as an arthritic condition. He was very bright and in the gifted classes as a young boy. He has been going to college on and off since high school.. He was taking full semester classes until about two years ago when the thought disorder would interfere with the completion of classes. He decided to take one course to which he could not even manage. Now he does seclude himself to his room for long periods, tells me he doesn't like people. He has not eaten a meal with us in over two years. Accuses us of putting stuff in his food. Becomes frustrated and breakers things around the house. He has one set of clothes, has been throwing his things away. Didn't shower for a year and has had every symptom of every mental illness. He is overwhelmed with our personal items around him....his room is entirely empty except a recliner. He refuses to sign a release and is very private. From what I understand, nothing will help until he realizes he is sick.

sally said...

I am the mother of a 34 year old paranoid schizophrenic who has been confined to jail or hospital for 14 months awaiting sentencing in criminal court. His father and I have been trying to get help for him since he was 17 but hospitals and doctors have sent him back to the streets until he took matters into his own hands. He suffers and I suffer because I have no control over his suffering. Very few people have even wanted to discuss my son with me, including most of my family.I can't understand why, in the greatest country in the world(?) we allow our mentally ill and their parents to suffer because society is afraid to deal with the fact that this disease exists. Nothing much has changed since the dark ages with this issue. And by the way, my sons father has moved to another state. Many people just can't deal with it.

Sherry said...

Acconi~ I wonder just how many other people out there have the same story as you do. I know I do! My daughter is 25 and was diagnosed as Borderline Personality Disorder at age 17 when she was cutting and attempted suicide. She has been living mostly out of her car or on "friend's" couches for the past 2 yrs, after her husband left her because he couldn't take it anymore either. She comes by our home periodically and spends a night or two, or longer if she's in the middle of a psychotic break. I've tried tricking her into getting help, but the system failed me. I too, am watching my daughter slowly deteriorate and it's breaking my heart. She also has anasognosia and I have also read books by Amador and numerous others. I'm also trying to fight for Laura's Law, which was already passed in California, just not practiced in our county, but it allows parents to get their adult child treatment involuntarily. My daughter knows all the right things to say to law enforcement. God help us all!

W. J. Coats said...

My son has bipolar disorder, and has been on meds for it for close to a year now. Often when I've taken him to see his therapist, I've mentioned the flyer that's posted there for a bipolar group for teens. This week he asked if I'd take him to a NAMI bipolar group that meets nearby, and we went. So much pain and hardship was expressed by the people who attended (12 in our room, and there were three rooms total), but so much relief and gratitude as well for a place where it's safe to talk about feelings and experiences without fear of being rejected or seen as some kind of freak. Accepting mental illness as just a part of who a person is, as something that's a normal part of the human condition, is one of the biggest, most courageous, and most helpful things a person can do, whether that person is the one with mental illness or a friend or family member. Just do your best to love each person for who they are.

Laurie said...

My teenage daughter has been suffering with depression, bipolar and ADHD. She has many friends with varying degrees of mental illness. It's been a struggle for me as there are no support groups for teenagers with mental illnesses and their parents. Even through NAMI (at least since the last time I checked a few years ago) and my insurance company only has psychiatrists for adults on the plan. These psychiatrists won't treat adolescents so I have to pay full price for her doctor's visits with a doctor who does. She has friends who struggle as well and they seem to be a support group for each other and she self medicates with pot, which seems to help her. She was sitting in the office at school the other day and noticed all the anti drug and drinking pamphlets but there was nothing about teen depression which can lead to drug and alcohol use. It's the disease no one talks about. And for me, I just feel alone in this. My friends are there for me, but they don't understand what it's like to see your child in so much pain and being virtually helpless to make it better.

Tricia Slavik said...

You mean I am not alone? In my frustration and struggle to get BOTH my kids help. Before they end up in the Emergency room. Somebody make me a casserole.

Thank you NAMI for being an advocate for us weary parents.

Tricia S.

Sue Smith said...

I am a 76-year-old mother of two children. My daughter, dually-diagnosed with BipolarI and Borderline Personality Disorder, committed suicide in 2002, when she was 36.

My son, now 51 and diagnosed with Bi Polar II, and has been battling severe Depression(in various stages)since he was 19.

I can relate so profoundly with ANY parent that watches helplessly while this crippling disease brings suffering and grief to the family unit. I cannot even begin to count the number of times that I have accompanied (over the years) both of my children to emergency rooms and hospital wards. The personal agony cannot be measured. The distress and confusion of the child is interminable without proper treatment.

I feel so much compassion for those like ACCONI who so desperately seek a solution
for her daughter who is literally in a life-threatening crisis.

To recount my personal story would take too much space here, but I can say with absolute certainty that I share all of the fears, all of the gut-wrenching grief, ALL of the endless paralyzing emotions that one goes through in raising children with Mental illness.

Since my children were small in the late Sixties, I have been perpetually shocked and horrified by the blatant and destructive misunderstandings of Mental Illness.

In the Sixties I was a victim.
Today I am a Crusader. I read, I learn, I am a member of NAMI.

It's so ridiculously simple. The Brain is just another part of the body. It can malfunction just like a kidney, just like a colon, just like a heart. But the kidney, the colon, and the heart can't think and they can't talk to you.

The individual that is mentally Ill has a malfunctioning brain that requires theimmediate attention, proper treatment AND compassion.

It is CRUCIAL that the general public be EDUCATED to understand Mental Illness and to remove the STIGMA that perilously impedes the progress of the Mentally Ill.

Anonymous said...

I sympathize with all the commentators especially the comment 'I feel like I am watching my daughter die slowly from an incurable disease.', I feel the same dealing with my son who is 22. He refuse to even talk to a therapist and we cannot get him diagnose all because he is an adult.
I feel strongly we need to have the law changed such that parents whose children are under 26 and have mental illness should have more influence than just stand back in despair. While the law tries to protect individual privacy and decision making, it is only meaningful when you have a sound mind to be able to make those decisions. How can you make good judgement when the basis of that is deceased? Mental health issues surfaces disproportional with young people, that is why I would advocate a change in the law is needed while the parents are still alive to be able to provide help that is so needed and the prognosis is so much better when treated early. It is not even just financial. I would be happy to spend some of my retirement money to give my son a chance in life but I don't have that opportunity.

Anonymous said...

My son was diagnosed with Bi-Polar I in 2004. He substance abused until 2009 which made it impossible to get him stable. He also went on and off his medication. A roller coaster ride to say the least. God bless all the care takers of those with mental illness. It falls on the shoulders families and I feel there is still stigmatizing attached to the diseases. Last week a young man shot and killed his mother because she wanted him to take his medication. So very sad!

Anonymous said...

As a woman suffering the symptoms of schizoaffective disease, one must realize we need to separate the symptoms of mental illness from the true person that lies within. After watching 60 minutes again last night regarding the stabbing of a Virginia governor and the suicide of his son, again we are confronted with the lack of resources to treat mental illness. Mental illness is a treatable disease which makes this story the more tragic. But it is a life long journey to recovery and it is not an easy journey. This is a journey that must include the person with mental illness, the family, the community, and the healthcare system. So why are we falling behind in treating the mentally ill? I believe it is because mental illness is not viewed as a medical illness and still viewed as a personal choice or defect in one's character. There are excellent medications out in the market to treat mental illness but many are extremely expensive, have little research attached to them, and not accessible to the mentally ill. We need to work as a society to ensure the best medication is available to the mentally ill and realize this is a illness that can only be overcome through awareness, education and the help from all facets of society.