Far too often, there is a lack of empathy or understanding of the impact mental illness can have on an individual, their family and the community as a whole.
I know first-hand what impact mental illness can have on a family. My mother suffered from mental illness. From when I was about 6 years old my mother fought depression and emotional issues that took a toll on her daily life. She was diagnosed with having several nervous breakdowns during her life, spending weeks at a time in the hospital. It was always a difficult time for my Dad, brother and me seeing her this way.
My family would tell me stories of the difficult times she and her siblings had growing up. Did that play a role in her mental illness? Quite possibly.
As you can imagine my mother’s mental illness was hard on our family at times, especially for my Dad. Although I am sure it took a toll on him, he always remained her biggest champion, forever by her side. Reflecting on that now, I see that quality he had is true to his character and it helped keep our family strong.
The experience with mental illness so close to me had an impact on my job as a police officer. We handled many jobs involving EDPs (Emotionally Disturbed Persons). I guess that is why those jobs seemed to tug at my heart, especially when it was a woman around my mother’s age.
My intention in sharing this is not for sympathy, but simply to raise awareness to the fact that mental illness comes in all forms and it can impact any family. The world needs a little more EMPATHY!