Thursday, November 12, 2009

I'm an ignorant voice

Amber Osterhout, blogger and artist of Gaining Insight posted info today on NAMI's "In Our Own Voice" campaign. This is a program where those in recovery give presentations to share their experience of recovery.

After reading it, insecurity enveloped me and my heart sank. I wondered, again, why I'm doing this blog, and if it serves any purpose.

The insecurity made me feel that I'm an ignorant voice in mental illness awareness advocacy. I am definitely NOT "in recovery" (which is quite evident, I'm sure, from my last post).

Some points from NAMI's page: "Anyone familiar with mental illness knows that recovery is not a singular event, but a multi-dimensional, multi-linear journey... Understanding recovery as having several dimensions makes its uneven course easier to accept. Ultimately, recovery is about attitude and making the effort."

I gave up the effort for myself a while ago. I'm not much of a role model for Beth when it comes to confident recovery.... and I'm probably opening myself up to much criticism by writing from the perspective of the "uneven course" in this blog.

But the uneven course is living with mental illness, living Life on the Edge. I guess what I'm hoping for is to continue to find opportunities for Beth along her journey. I understand that each person needs to take charge of their own healing and I can't do it for her. Actually she does quite well at the hard work of managing and dealing with her illness. But at the current moment she is at a bump in the road.

What we both have a hard time with is trusting people... obviously .... paranoia is a major issue in Beth's life... one of those "Catch 22's" that makes it difficult (at times impossible) to interact and work with people, to seek out and stay within an extended "support network".

And then there's the frustration of dealing with the support network, who don't have all the answers, and sometimes don't even have a good understanding. Caseworkers in the past have actually encouraged her NOT to tell anyone she has a mental illness - "They don't need to know". Doctors put her on meds that they know are responsible for major weight gain and then continually nag her that she is overweight, making it sound like she's not actively taking part or working hard enough at her recovery. They use losing weight as the "fix-all" to other issues she tries to address. "If you lost weight you'd feel better". They don't give encouraging voice to the fact that she goes out and walks every day regardless of the paranoid voices in her head and regardless of how dragged out she feels because of the med. They don't believe that she doesn't drink or do drugs, continually asking the question but never listening to the answer.

I'm hoping that my coming out - at least through this blog - will encourage Beth to try again to do the same, and to regain her faith in a "recovery" process.

The good news is there is progress. Beth says the new med the Nurse Practitioner put her on seems to be helping with the paranoia and delusions. There aren't any local support groups around here and so her social interaction is still online, with the general populace. I hope the difficulties of trying to fit in there don't lead to another down cycle.

I continue to tell her about the things I've found, the blogs, websites and initiatives to fight stigma and support those with mental illness... Maybe? she, herself, still doesn't want to be part of the stigma of mental illness? She doesn't seem all that interested.

It is a journey, an uneven course... and I as a Mother can't stop trying to help - even if it is in an ignorant way...


Every Color Of Life said...

Thank you Pam for taking the time to answer these questions. I will continue to follow you.

Marty's Husband said...

Pam -- Well said. I find writing, blogging really helps clarify things for me. Often, I find myself understanding things around me better after writing about it. You do a great job of describing your life. So many, even the professional tasked with helping and understanding don't really understand psychological issues. Thanks for sharing.

Pam said...

Thank you, both, for being a quiet voice of understanding and friendship. It's a pleasant feeling to have a smile on my face.