Mental health disorders are truly hidden diseases at times because those of us with them become experts at placing them under a table where only a few know they exist. My daughter, during that time, was no different. We had known about the bullying taking place at her school, and had been advocates for her, but we had thought it was getting better when she stopped talking about it. We were wrong.
My parents have since told me that, at that time, Howie was telling them both things that sounded fearful to the point of paranoia, and that he was frequently agitated and depressed. I remember sitting with my parents at the small, round, cluttered dining room table and asking them, “What’s going on with Howie?” They told me that they honestly weren’t sure, but knew that he was suffering inside emotionally. They told me that they had made an appointment for Howie to be seen by a child and adolescent psychiatrist. I remember them looking perplexed, exhausted, and seemingly helpless to what was going on. It was exactly how I felt.
At some point I realized my heart was racing, I was breaking out in a cold sweat and my chest was tightening and and beginning to hurt. It was only a month later I realized I was having a panic attack. During my 25 years serving churches I had often faced hostility of all kinds, even death threats and now I was experiencing the toll all that had taken on me.
A psychiatric service dog is trained to specifically meet the needs of the handler by such things as: identifying what’s real; creating a personal space barrier; calming anxiety; blocking an impulsive, panic driven movement of darting into oncoming traffic; guiding back to safety. There are several wonderful, dedicated organizations that provide the training, resources and funding to connect service dogs with those in need.
When I was all of about 7 or 8 years old, my mother decided that she wanted my two-year older brother, Howie, and I to finally meet her older sister, Phoebe, who had lived for years in upstate New York. She also told us that Phoebe had some health issues. Bless my mom’s heart, but based on cultural, familial, and generational issues, she did not forewarn my brother and I that her sister actually lived in a sanitarium.
I am speaking out today for all the children who should never have to watch their moms fall apart and feel like they don’t matter… As a child of a woman who wasn’t strong enough to deal with things on her own, but didn’t have anyone to lean on. I am speaking out today, as a child of someone who SHOULD have had support. I am speaking out today because my mom lost her life to depression! She missed my graduation, she missed my wedding, and she will never see the smiles on her grandbabies face.
I’m proud of BringChange2Mind for helping to end the stigma of PTSD, which has lingered in my family long after my grandfather’s death in 1967, when I was a 7 year old boy. This is the first time I, or any of my family as far as I know, have ever shared this story outside of our family inner circle. It has hovered over us in many, many ways and still exists. End the stigma!
I have always viewed myself as a strong person. I was the one that people came to when they sought advice, when they needed a shoulder to cry on, and when they cried for help. I took pride in my “role,” it was something that was in my nature (and something that I am pursuing in post-secondary). But, what happens when the person who does the consoling needs help? That was a question I became faced with very quickly.
In both of these situations a huge double standard exists. Private and public insurance companies consider it cost effective to treat psychiatric illnesses utilizing clinicians with limited knowledge and training. And they are NOT willing to provide comparable access to care provided by those who have a deeper knowledge, specialized training and skill sets. To me that is analogous to saying that broken bones should be treated by a family practitioner rather than an orthopedic surgeon.