Guest Blog Post: By Denise Mansfield Mental Illness from a loved ones perspective

When my daughter’s symptoms started to arise, I tried to rationalize with her. It turns OCD isn’t a rational illness. This part was particularly hard as she was always so grounded and down to earth. I tried everything from praying to long conversations. Till I finally realized she needed professional help. I think, as a parent, you feel you should be able to do something about it and the truth is mental illness is something not often talked about (including how to help people suffering). Leading to a lot of people not knowing what to do.

I look back now and wished when she originally got treatment that I would’ve understood how important it was to continue therapy and stay on the prescribed medicine. Medicine is one of the main reason’s I believe it’s important to seek treatment as quickly as possible. The majority or a lot of meds take at least a couple weeks to really have an impact. Also, when talking about meds it’s important to know that if there is any side effects make the doctors aware. Don’t be afraid to try the same med at a different time if there were no side effects.

There is also the importance of knowing the next steps if outpatient therapy alone isn’t enough or if the person is a danger to themselves and refuses treatment. I got to learn all about this the second time my daughter had severe symptoms. Again, I tried to rationalize with her, which, didn’t work and we ended up going to a psychologist. When we first met with a psychologist, the second time my daughter had severe symptoms, she had my daughter sign release forms, so luckily I was able to talk to her and the doctors throughout the first hospitalization. However, during the second hospitalization I was unable to speak to my daughter, due to the severity of her OCD symptoms she was unable to sign anything. If at some point she hadn’t gotten up the courage to sign papers I would’ve gone a few months without hearing from her. This made me realize the importance of advanced health directives. I would strongly encourage everyone 18 and above to have one filled out.

Additionally, it’s important to know the hospitals that we encountered were safe and the staff was fairly nice. With this being said, if a problem does arise their social worker is the first person you go to. One of the things that we kind of make jokes about now is that at all the hospitals she went to patients have a phone that all the residents have access to and this often led to interesting phone conversations anytime I tried to contact my daughter.

Another thing that is important to know, is that one of the things that makes it easier to handle having a loved one going through something like this is to talk to people who have gone through a similar situation. The whole situation has given me a better understanding for people in general, and more specifically people with mental illness or have a loved one suffering from mental illness. Along those lines, I also realized how many of the patients had turned to drugs as way to cope. This is a very poor coping skill. Well, I think that conveys enough information. Wish all of you the best.

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