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When was the last time you were proud of a particular accomplishment? An accomplishment by a family member? Your mentally ill loved one? While I was driving the other day, my mind was jumping from pillar to post and I thought about one of my daughters and how proud I was of her accomplishments. She earned her B.A. and M.F.A. on her own dime pretty much. She has a great work ethic and has raised a wonderful daughter. And, she is an accomplished artist and college instructor.
Then my mind went immediately to her sister, who has been ill for the past 25 years. Most of that time, she has been very, very ill and hospitalized more than 25 times. For a millisecond, I started to think about her journey in a negative way. And then it hit me, I am so very proud of her too. She has struggled with not only schizophrenia and anosognosia, but jail, losing custody of her son, living in sub-standard board and care/group homes, the side effects of various and sundry medications, and homelessness. Just one of these circumstances is enough to cause sorrow to one’s soul. But, through her delusions she still puts one foot in front of the other and somehow, she perseveres. I am so proud of her. Do I wish she would accept the help she so desperately needs? Yes. But, still, I am proud that she perseveres and that she is still on the planet.
When I co-teach a NAMI Family-to-Family class or facilitate a support group, I often hear family members say: “Why is he/she doing this to me?” “I’ve done all I can to help him/her.” “I have nothing left to give.”
Is it frustrating to try repeatedly to get the services you need for your loved one? Does it break your heart that your loved one doesn’t want your help? Yes, and yes. What’s the answer? It’s simple and it’s difficult. You do everything you can when you can. Whatever that means for you. It can be telling them how much you love them. It can be setting boundaries about their behavior in your home. It can be calling the police (always ask for a Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) officer) to get them help and into the hospital.
Don’t let your loved one’s mental illness keep you from being their advocate. Take pride in all your efforts. Take pride in their battle to maintain their dignity and health
You can show that pride by walking on June 12, 2021 in Wolfe Park at NAMI Franklin County’s 19th Annual NAMIWalk. Or check your local NAMI affiliate for the date of their NAMIWalk.

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