Ann

I relate to your story as the daughter of a mother diagnosed with bipolar disorder, depression & schizophrenia shortly after I was born 45 years ago. My dad was you.  Until the day he died, he loved & cared for my mom through her illness, many hospitalizations, treatments, med changes, etc.  She was not the woman he married, his dreams shattered I'm sure.  He was the most caring, loving, humble, brave man I've ever known. He always put on a happy face for us & others.  He didn't complain or show any negative emotions.  I think he wanted to protect us from it as much as he could. We know that's not healthy either, but he did what he thought was best at the time. He raised me & my older brothers to the best of his ability working two sometimes three jobs to support us.  As a middle school aged child & teenager, I spent a lot of my weekends visiting my mom in different psych wards instead of doing normal kid stuff.  Long story short, our family was so different from most.  This was all happening in the 70's & 80's when mental illness wasn't talked about much at all & the medication concoctions were a mystery.  I had a great relationship with my dad as a kid & as an adult. My dad died suddenly at age 67 almost 12 years ago, & the only regret I have is that I never took the opportunity to ask him how he coped with it all, what got him through.

I have had the recent opportunity to tell my story, my perspective, to grad students who are getting their masters degree in education, wanting to better understand & care for students whose families live with mental illness. I'm not a professional, so I just tell my story from my perspective.....how my dad loved my mom unconditionally & how it all affected me.  I love & realize how amazing my mom is, still living & surviving with her disease. ***

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