How does you involvement in advocacy look from an outside view of mental health? Check out this short essay.
I meet a lot of people out riding my bicycle. Once I was out and I starting talking to this guy on his way home from work. I had an open mic contest that night and practiced my poem for him. I think it was The Grassroots Manifesto that night. Well, this guy and I became friends and I see him now and then in one of my good social circles and he told me he’d be interested in sharing this experience anonymously that shows his outside view of mental health.
Often, as advocates, we get wrapped in our own point of view and wanting to share our advocacy positions on the disease model or the distress model of emotional suffering. I know I get caught up all the time in preaching to the choir about my views about medication being helpful to some people, but harmful to others. This is an essay my friend wrote that reminds us how our suffering can be seen differently. It’s a an outside view of mental health that shows us what our passion and suffering might look to someone completely new to mental health advocacy.
My friend says, “I [also] hoped to illustrate another aspect, that sometimes our own personal feelings complicate things.” He points out that now that he knows more about recovery, maybe this story would have had a much better ending without the daughter being caught up in her labels. He also points out that cultural aspects are very important. “You need to know Mexican families, they add another dynamic that is different than American families.”
Outside view of mental health:
Sometimes it is Difficult to Like Someone who is Suicidal and is suffering from Mental Illness
My girlfriend came here from Mexico, with her two adult daughters and one adult son. I was attracted to her because of her beauty and her very Mexican eyes. Her daughter had the same eyes. They were defiantly mother and daughter. Both of them shared the same beauty. But I soon was learning about their family dynamics that was difficult for me. My girlfriend was a single mother, immigrant, and would give her life for her family. This meant that her family came first, for better or worse. This meant that I had to learn how to accept without question, her daughter who was bipolar, along with other mental or emotional issues, and was suicidal.
After we had been seeing each other a while, dating, spending time together, meeting each other’s families, she began to share things about her daughter. This is when related that her daughter had at one time attempted to end her life by cutting. She related to me, little by little, how her daughter had managed to graduate with an Associates Degree with honors and was accepted to college. However because of the family’s immigration status, financial aid was not available. Also, one factor that complicated her college career was the incident that happened at the factory where they worked.
Mom, the daughter and cousins worked at a factory. Part of their job was packing boxes, and a box knife was available. So, she cut her wrist and spent some time in the hospital, and as an impatient at a mental health facility. She lost her job at the factory, and any chance at college, for the time, even if she had the financial aid, which she did not. In the time that I was still in a relationship with the mother, the family was frequently in a crisis due to the mental health sufferings of the daughter. This put a strain on our relationship at times, when we she and I had little private time together, and one crisis or another would come up.
The daughter would disappear sometimes and be located by the police. Sometimes, I would call my girlfriend on her cell phone only to be answered by her daughter, because mom was at work, and would leave the cell at the house with the daughter. Or there were times when the daughter would be out with her boyfriend, and would answer the cell when I called. I feel ashamed now, that I became frustrated and impatient. Maybe I felt jealous of the time and attention she gave to her adult daughter, and it seemed to interfere with any plans for our future.
The last incident that the family suffered is when my fiancé called me from KU Hospital to let me know that she was with her daughter in the intensive care ward. The young woman had swallowed about seventy prescription sleeping pills that she had somehow acquired somewhere. She survived and eventually was released and went home. But again, for a time she couldn’t be left alone, according to her mom. Eventually we did not last as a couple, and the relationship ended, but not because of her daughter. Other problems existed. Still I will confess that I subconsciously or consciously resented the constant demand for my fiancés time and attention. I feel guilty about this.
I also have a funny story to lighten this up a bit about my outside view of mental health. When I first started dating, my fiance was very into group bicycle rides. He told one of the guys he was riding with about starting to date me, and the racer wannabe guy had this warning for Rod, “Well, do you know about Corinna…her background?”