Wow! So much has happened since I last blogged about Chloe and her progress. She has moved home and is doing great, and she is a very proud high school graduate!
We had initially planned to move Chloe back home in August to finish her senior year in southern Oregon, but as it turned out, her Utah school credits did not evenly transfer to Oregon. So, she ended up staying and finishing high school at her therapeutic boarding school and came home in mid-December.
We are so proud of Chloe and our family for all of the hard work we’ve done over the past two-and-a-half years. And, although she’s graduated her program, the work is not over. Life is a challenge and will continue to be for Chloe, as well. We’re finding out quickly with her home that her neurological deficit didn’t go away during treatment. Rather, we all must be diligent to use the skills we’ve learned to help manage day-to-day happenings and hiccups.
The transition into “adulthood” is slow but sure for Chloe. She’s been taking driver’s education classes and will find a job soon. I am working on rearranging and lightening my workload so I can be more responsive and present to Chloe during this time.
Over the past few years while Chloe’s been in Utah, it doesn’t seem like a lot has changed about the stigma surrounding mental illness. It’s still difficult to talk about my mental illness and our family’s story, and there continues to be little resources available to people who need support.
We have no doubt Chloe’s program absolutely saved her life – and ours. Still, we fight for reimbursement for her treatment from our insurance provider. She was there 28 months and insurance didn’t pay a dime. It has cost our family over $300,000, yet our society still questions why people don’t seek help.
I had the privilege of participating in Run With Grace this past week. The event raises money for underprivileged kids who are kind. Kind like Grace, who the event memorializes and died by suicide at the age of 15.
Every year, on the anniversary of her death, her mom, Susan, sends out a Facebook message reminding people, “Don’t forget Grace.” The run she started in Grace’s memory is a beautiful vehicle to create awareness about mental illness and suicide, and remind people about Grace’s short life. Because these days, it seems pretty easy to forget what we don’t want to face.
My work isn’t done – as a mom to my girls, wife to my husband, or mental health advocate and champion. As we embark upon this next chapter, my commitment is stronger than ever to support families facing the struggles of youth mental illness and continue educating others about its challenging realities.
Below is Susan Holt’s story about her family’s journey after her daughter’s Grace’s suicide… It’s beautiful.