Over a year ago, I decided to start a support group for parents with children who suffered from chemical imbalances/mental illnesses. I did this because our 17 year old daughter, Jordan had been suffering with quite a few since she was young. Unfortunately it took until she was 13 for me to realize that no matter what we tried and how we dealt with everything, it was not enough. At a certain point you kind of get hit in the face with the fact that your child is struggling way too much, that it is definitely not fair, and that no matter what you do, it doesn't help. Not an easy thing to admit. The child who I loved, cared for, and would do anything necessary in order to protect and spare from harm, was slowly being taken away from us and sucked into a world of pain and confusion.
The support group went on for about a year. After sending out a letter explaining how I pictured that it would work, (view the letter) I received positive support from many friends and acquaintances, even those who were not personally affected with mental illness. It was a small group consisting of parents with kids who were suffering with everything from Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), OCD, depression, ADHD and Aspergers, to drug abuse, and Autism. What was very clear was that we were all scared, had questions and we were all suffering along with our children. It was a safe haven to vent, share and sometimes cry.
Eventually I decided that the group was causing me too much stress, not because of what went on during the meetings,(that seemed to be helpful for those who attended, especially for my husband and me), but because of the low attendance. It seems that in this day and age, we are all overbooked, and putting our kids needs before our own. In my final email to the group, I mentioned that I would perhaps begin a blog instead of having the group. That was about a year ago. Today I feel that now may be the right time to start a blog. This past weekend there were many signs pointing me in that direction.
First of all, one of my best friends came to visit with her daughter this weekend. The amount of pain and suffering that she has dealt with and overcome boggles my mind. I have known her for over 33 years, none of which have been easy for her. The fact that she is raising a beautiful, healthy daughter on her own, proves to me that anything is possible, and gives me a huge amount of hope for my own daughter. My friend was reading the very first stages of a book that I am hoping to someday complete and publish about raising a child like my daughter. I have kept a pretty detailed journal since she was born, mostly for sanity purposes. Well, she asked me how Jordan's fits of rage as a baby played into the whole list of labels/diagnoses that they both suffer from. It's not depression, not OCD, or anxiety, is it?? I answered that I wasn't sure.
Then today I was reading the book Beyond Blue which is written by Therese J. Borchard. The description of her son's behavior blew me away. It was so similar to Jordan's. She was afraid that he would give himself a concussion from hitting his head against the wall or tile floor. Jordan slammed her head into her crib bars, which I thought was the safest place to put your child. When I went in to try and calm her down, she would have huge lumps on her forehead. Even though she was our first child, and I did feel pretty clueless at times, I knew that this wasn't “normal” behavior. Therese described the behaviors as “anxiety attacks”. Okay. That made sense to me. The realization that there are other families going through similar struggles, and that maybe it wasn't because of us that our child has so much to overcome, those realizations are priceless. It really does help to lessen the feelings of isolation, anger, and fear.
That is why I decided to try to start up this blog. Please feel free to help me, and hopefully in return, I can help you. Thank you. Lisa Beck