I can hardly believe it’s been seven months since Chloe’s been home… home with her animals; home in her own house; home in her own bed! At nearly 16-years-old, Chloe has endured more than her fair share of challenging times. However, what we saw during her home pass was a maturity and insight we thought might never be possible in Chloe. And, she has so much more opportunity to grow!
I think back to just a year ago when I was writing blogs about “Manic Marge” bringing home bunnies and “Impulsive Irene” picking up a new kitten because of the number of likes she received on Facebook. I also think about what a scary place she was in, both with friends and her state of mind.
It’s amazing to see the difference in her. She’s more accountable for her actions, aware of her behaviors and emotions, communicates better and shares with family, and she actually does chores without prompting!
While I feel so fortunate to have the family support and the opportunity to provide Chloe this amazing experience and schooling, I’m constantly aware and pained by the multitude of youth and families struggling with mental illness in our culture that offers little understanding or resources. In my support groups and in private sessions with parents, I hear the same narrative over-and-over again, families feel isolated and shamed by friends, family, the health care system and school system. Unfortunately, misinformation, lack of appropriate resources and stigma keep those who need help most during crisis confused and frustrated with little reprieve and hope in sight.
I am, however, encouraged by the continued support of friends and family who urge me to keep talking about our family’s and others’ stories. They believe, like I do, that if we continue to speak openly about mental illness, hopefully, it will help to normalize it and the needed resources will be allocated.
A friend recently noted that it wasn’t long ago that people would speak in hushed tones about “cancer” and “heart problems.” Now, we often share our friends’ and family’s health challenges openly on social media asking for blessings and support of loved ones. I look forward to the day we do the same with those with severe mental health challenges.