When I got married I assumed I’d eventually become pregnant and give birth to children. Two or three years later I learned that was not going to happen. So my husband and I adopted a baby boy and then, a few years later, a baby girl. We were happy and busy taking care of our family. When our children were in middle school and high school they sometimes had problems fitting in. They had lots of ups and downs. Our son even talked of committing suicide when he was in middle school. Our daughter often had stomachaches and always chewed her fingernails until they were very short and her fingers hurt. When they were in high school something happened and our daughter refused to speak to our son for several years. This caused a lot of stress for my husband and I, and our son as well. After our son graduated from high school, he had a lot of trouble keeping jobs and managing his money. We spent a lot of money bailing him out. When he was 25, I talked him into seeing a psychologist. His diagnosis was Attention Deficit Disorder. He went to therapy a few times, but then wouldn’t go anymore. Our daughter married, divorced, and then fell apart. She couldn’t eat, or sleep, and was about to lose her job when she resigned. We’ve been trying to help her for the past four years. She’s been on and off medication and in and out of therapy since her divorce. She suffers from anxiety and depression. She has also talked of suicide.
It hurt to see our children suffering so much. In order for me to help them and thus myself, I first needed to admit that they had problems that I couldn’t solve by myself. I didn’t want to admit that they had a mental illness. I was afraid of the stigma that is associated with mental illness. I was afraid of what people would think. I worried about their ability to find employment.
I’m a reader, so I’ve read books and articles on the subjects of ADD, anxiety, depression, and adoption. This has helped me to better understand my children. My faith has also helped me to get through this. My husband and I sometimes took care of their finances, made phone calls on their behalf, and sent out change of address cards for them. We’ve helped both of them move a few times, and stored their belongings at our house. Right now our daughter is living with us and we have most of her possessions in our basement. We also have some of our son’s possessions at our house too. To protect our daughter and to keep her safe and alive, we sometimes hid her truck keys, medications, and the phone. We hid the phone so she couldn’t call her husband, who had a restraining order against her. My husband or I sometimes drove her to therapy and doctor’s appointments. There were times when I just wanted to give up, but I didn’t want to lose them. I was afraid they would either commit suicide or be killed in an accident.
My children are both doing better now. They are talking to each other. My son has found employment in another state. My daughter is on medication and looking to the future again. They both seem happier now. I am learning to accept them as they are, but also trying to help them to be the best that they can be.
I’ve certainly learned a lot from all of this. I now have a better relationship with both of my children. I now know a lot more about mental illnesses, especially ADD, depression, and anxiety. I’ve learned that I am a lot stronger than I realized. I can deal with a lot of stress and make difficult decisions. I definitely have a better understanding of mental illness now. I truly believe that recovery is possible. A diagnosis of mental illness does not mean a person’s life is over. It doesn’t mean a person can’t be happy, healthy, and self-supporting.