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I’ve Built My Life Around You…

By January 26, 2017 May 15th, 2020 No Comments

“Well, I’ve been afraid of changing cause I’ve built my life around you…”
Stevie Nicks

What an amazing parents weekend we had with Chloe this past weekend. Both with her and the information we received from our treatment team at program. It’s almost overwhelming to me how much growth e’ve seen in Chloe, changes we’ve implemented and information we’ve been absorbing during the four short months since we sent her by secure transport last September.

The Stevie Nicks song, Landslide, was the perfect theme for this past weekend, which focused on the process of change and how incredibly difficult it is to change a pattern that you’ve used for years but that no longer works. If you have a family member with a mental illness, you know that dysfunctional behaviors can easily take shape and control your life due to crisis, desperation, misinformation and lack of resources.

Looking back over the past few months, I’m amazed at how far we’ve come. I remember that wicked September Monday morning like it was yesterday. Waking her from a dead sleep to find two strangers in her bedroom while we explained they would be taking her away to a program. Her anguish over the next several months as to how we could have done that to her; denial of the hole she was in; and her inability to see how to get out.

Over the past weeks, we’ve had so many beautiful conversations and aha moments with Chloe. From letters she sent us from her first day at the program – included with a recent update of how she liked Maple Lake; to an open and honest email she sent to Jeff apologizing for her behavior while communicating her hurt; to sentiments she’s expressed, like, “I know I won’t be here forever but I don’t think I’ll be ready to come home this summer. I like my teachers and the staff and I have friends here.”

Chloe is also doing amazing in school and was on the high honor role this past quarter!

The last activity of our parents weekend was visiting an attraction called Provo Beach Resort, which had a ropes course. Chloe was required to do the course blindfolded while Jeff and I guided her over the ropes. Wow, talk about building trust! It was amazing to see her power through it sight unseen.

Although the weekend was very positive, it’s darn hard to make changes. Change requires consistent awareness, communication and growth. We always return from our visits with Chloe wiped out and drained. However, we’re encouraged that, together, we’re working on making changes and building our lives around each other.

I know for those of you who live with a family member with a severe mental illness, just surviving day-to-day is a struggle. In my next blog post, I’ll be sharing some tips and information we learned this past parents’ weekend.

Andrea Berryman Childreth

Author Andrea Berryman Childreth

Andrea Berryman Childreth is an award-winning author of the book, ON THE EDGE: Help and hope for parenting children with mental illness, founder of The Lemonade Project, advocate and parent coach. She has first-hand experience with parenting a mentally ill daughter and has struggled with mental illness, herself. Her goal is to help empower people to openly share their stories and improve access to equitable mental health services.

More posts by Andrea Berryman Childreth

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