My son came home a year ago last July. He had gone missing, and every phone call from an unknown number, every news story about an unidentified body that had been found and every account of someone killed in a police confrontation made my heart race.
In the months and weeks before we parted ways, my son was not easy to live with. You see, he does best when under the care of a doctor who he allows to help him manage mood swings and psychotic ideation. Over the years since he became ill, my son repeatedly went through periods of time when he did not want to be bothered with the medication that was recommended for him. The result was we lived in a household in which everyone walked on eggshells and an undisturbed night’s sleep was impossible.
Each time he stopped taking his medication, he would wander. Walking for miles on a couple of occasions to get home again, left him with badly blistered feet. Frequent confrontations, repeated falling outs with family members and an insatiable restlessness were the order of the day. Setting limits with him during these times was the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life.
Eventually “rescued” and forcibly hospitalized he has regained enough sensibility to rejoin the family and start again to cope with the life he must live. There are so many families, who deal with the complexities of mental illness. Globally, the numbers of those who live with mental illness remain a consistent percentage of the population, even given the fact that the mentally ill often do not have children of their own.
Mental health is not a guarantee and even in the best of circumstances is not to be taken for granted. Neither should it be cause for shame whatever the cause. Care and compassion are called for. There is hope; and help.