Don't get me wrong, I love my biological family but I love my NAMI Family just as much.
As a parent of an adolescent with a mental health diagnosis, you need your family to support you and be there for you and your child. You want to feel the support, the love, and the understanding. You don't want to deal with the judgments and receive advice that you know would only make your child's situation worse than better. The worse stigma is when it comes from your family. It took me a long time to understand why it was that my family was so judgmental. It was the fear of the unknown and lack of education that kept them from understanding where I stood. I couldn't blame them and I certainly couldn't hate them for it. Although, I am guilty of the two. At the time, I just needed someone to say "Hey it's going to be okay."
It wasn't till I moved to San Antonio and signed up for NAMI-San Antonio's membership. I was so excited, I signed us up for the NAMI Walk and got our team together because I knew somehow I had to bring awareness to my family and friends. It was something I was very grateful for after participating. Then came June 2011, I met a great couple by the name Ed and Jackie Dickey. They were my instructors for NAMI-Basics. I was taking a class to become a facilitator. NAMI's Basics is a class that is for parents with children and adolescents with mental illness. It gives you a lot of in depth information about mental health diagnoses, medications, and lots of resources for you to use if you need them. The first day of class was very overwhelming. I was in a room full of parents who were in the same shoes I was in. You can imagine the sigh of relief I let out. I couldn't believe how relaxed and relieved I felt knowing that for a whole weekend. I would get to spend time with a large group of people that understood how I felt. Stigma free. Thank you Mr. and Mrs. Dickey for hosting that class back then. You have no idea how much it helped.
Once I became more involved with NAMI, I joined the board. I have met some wonderful people and I have to say that they are the most supportive and understanding group of people I've met. Thank you Liza Jensen, Cliff Mcglotten, Dr. Sally Taylor, Cecilia Hellrung, and all other fellow board members; you all have been so supportive. These people are my second family. I didn't know what it was to have support till I got involved with NAMI. I highly recommend NAMI to anyone that needs education. We need more involvement from the community. Sign up and become a member.
Another entity I'm grateful for is Clarity Child Guidance Center. Since my son's first hospitalization there, they have been great. He has two awesome doctors that care a great deal for him. I love the fact that we are all on the same page about his care. The one thing about Clarity that I remember the most is knowing from the time I left after an admission that my son would be in good hands. I remember talking to one of the RNs about how I really needed a break because every visit was difficult and emotionally draining. He said "You go home and relax. Daniel is in good hands and no one here will judge you for taking a break. We will take good care of him." He was right, Daniel was in good hands. They have excellent staff all around and I will always recommend them to anyone that needs help. Thank you Clarity Child Guidance Center for always being good to us.
When you think you have no family to support you, think again. There are many people out there that are willing to help you during your time of need. I didn't know that till I took that step and found them. Family isn't just biological. Family can become a group of strangers willing to be there to help and guide you when you have no one else.
I have included two buttons for donations to both NAMI-SA and Clarity Child Guidance Center. Your donations will help either of these non-profits to educate, advocate, and support those living with mental illness and their families.
Have a great day and never lose hope.