Hello from Cinda
Although I teach about mental health conditions and disabilities in my work as a professor in special education I have learned that it is far more difficult than I ever imagined for a mother to watch her daughter spiral into suicidal depression and through the many other symptoms that accompany bipolar disorder. It is also so much more difficult to find treatment and resources than I, with all my “education”, ever thought it would be. I did not expect to spend time in psychiatric units with my daughter while teaching a class on emotional and behavior disorders to graduate students. I believe that it is only through the support of our family and friends and the amazing care of doctors, nurses and counselors that we are all here today.
I still don’t know all the answers but I have learned so much and in many ways our family has been strengthened by this terrifying journey. I have learned how many people are touched by mental illness (1 in four families!) and how many are afraid to seek help or share their experiences because of the stigma that is still prevalent. I hear from students who are afraid to share their struggles with anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorders or depression because they are worried that it might affect their job search if others know their stories. I hear from people in treatment for mental illnesses who have been told by family members to never let anyone know about it. There should be no shame in the treatment, management and recovery of mental health conditions!
In sharing our story I want to remember and honor the patients in the psychiatric unit who we came to know; those who we turn away from on the streets, those without family or insurance or kind care. I also want to thank and encourage all the professionals who work so kindly and respectfully with patients, clients and children from every walk of life.
I hope we can provide additional information and insight to teachers, counselors and health professionals in their work and mostly to the brave people and their families that struggle with mental illnesses every day. Our efforts are for a just and humane world for those living in the darkness of mental illness and who deserve the right to live in recovery. We are honored to join the fight for the supports needed to assure everyone a good and healthy future.