Loving and raising a child with mental illness is nothing less than exhausting, on a daily basis. We do not live day by day, yet minute by minute. Anything at all can quickly change a mood or atmosphere from calm to chaotic.
As a parent, I, we, accept this life. This constant chaos. This life of uncertainty. The innocent victims as I see it are the siblings of these intense, high maintenance, chronically needy, mentally and emotionally challenged children. And, of course, the affected child themselves.
These kids certainly in no way deserve this life they live. This life of wanting to belong. Wanting to fit in. Wanting friends. Wanting “normalcy” that most likely never or rarely comes their way. ( I am speaking from our experience) My son, Zack, wants all of these things. The stability he enjoyed at times is never long-lived. This fact is not lost on him, as he begins to feel “normal” chances are the medications always stop working that lead to a spiraling down of ability and functioning.
This prompts more calls to the doctor, more changes in medications, more possible side effects to look out for. Day in, day out. Hoping, praying that the “just right” cocktail of meds will soon be found.
My daughter, now 14, has endured a life certainly unfair as well. As do so many other siblings of children with some form of a
“disability” be it physical or mental. The constant appointments they are dragged to along with their sick sibling. Outings and vacations not allowed because her brother was “unstable”. For us, it was constant doctors visits, counselors, therapist offices she had to sit around in all her life, patiently waiting as her brother was seen. The sacrifice she has made being part of this family is endless.
The resentment she feels today, as a teenager, is certainly understandable, although heartbreaking. This life has taken a toll on her. On all of us. A mentally ill loved one, especially living with you, affects the entire family unit. Usually not in a good way. We live, function, press on, in a way that is normal to us, dysfunction at it’s best.
We just go on.
Because that’s what we do. It’s who we are. Family.
We hope, we pray, we laugh, we cry, we love, we support, we survive Together.
We are Family