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Parents4Parents: Parent of Three Kids Diagnosed with Mental Illness - ASK ME ANYTHING!

CCadmin_SorinCCadmin_Sorin 2880 replies399 threads Community Manager
edited September 9 in Parents Forum
@MaineLonghorn is the parent of three adult children, all of whom have been diagnosed with a mental illness (ranging from mild to very severe). Two of her children have graduated from college, while the third had to drop out of school after studying biomedical engineering and applied math. He lives in supported housing in her area. All three of her children have given her permission to share their stories.

She is on the Board of Directors of NAMI Maine and speaks all over the state on mental health issues. She is also an ambassador for the ABLE National Resource Center (ABLE accounts are tax-advantaged savings and investment accounts for individuals with disabilities).

She will be happy to answer any questions dealing with mental health issues. If she doesn't know the answer, she will look them up or direct users to available resources.

_________

Are you a parent who accumulated expertise with certain schools or topics (e.g. financial aid, FAFSA, essay writing, test prep, etc.)? Do you have a unique story you want to share to help and inspire other parents? If so and want to be part of our Parents4Parents initiative send me a private message and we'll connect on next steps.
edited September 9
108 replies
Post edited by CCadmin_Sorin on
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Replies to: Parents4Parents: Parent of Three Kids Diagnosed with Mental Illness - ASK ME ANYTHING!

  • CCadmin_SorinCCadmin_Sorin 2880 replies399 threads Community Manager
    edited August 21
    @MaineLonghorn, thanks so much for accepting to tackle this very sensitive topic. This is more relevant now than ever. As cited by The Sacramento Bee, "a new report on thousands of university students across nine public research institutions in the U.S. shows how those challenges manifest internally, with more than a third revealing they have been experiencing significant mental health problems."

    https://www.sacbee.com/news/coronavirus/article245111930.html
    edited August 21
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  • mstompermstomper 1044 replies40 threads Senior Member
    Both of our sons have struggled with anxiety. Our oldest started having major problems getting work done after his sophomore year of high school, and has yet to fully find his footing in college. He did do well in a summer class, and hosts a podcast that has featured some well-known people in the film world. He's been clawing his way back. Our youngest had similar problems in high school (although in different classes; he aced English classes). He has been an A student going into his junior year of college and is also doing very well socially.
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  • PublisherPublisher 11912 replies161 threads Senior Member
    I have zero knowledge on this topic so forgive me if my questions are too basic.

    Is mental illness hereditary ?

    Do all three young adults have a similar type of mental illness ?

    Thank you for sharing.
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  • MaineLonghornMaineLonghorn 42700 replies2301 threads Super Moderator
    @mstomper, thanks for sharing. I'm glad your sons are getting help. Anxiety can be so crippling. I know it has been hard for me to understand. When my daughter was so paralyzed she couldn't make a phone call, I just didn't get it!" "Just call!" I felt like saying, but I knew that wasn't helpful. So I try to listen and support her the best I can. I do tend to prod her more than I would, otherwise. She was a little anxious about filing for unemployment, but I kept insisting she do it, and she got a lot of money as a result.

    It has been challenging to know how much to support our kids, since we brought them up to be independent and assumed they would be in their 20s! It's a constant question for me as to how much I should get involved. I take one day at a time and just pray I make the right decisions.
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  • PublisherPublisher 11912 replies161 threads Senior Member
    Does exercise help ?
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  • MaineLonghornMaineLonghorn 42700 replies2301 threads Super Moderator
    Yes, it's definitely been shown to be helpful. Our middle son has found it to be true. It's been challenging for him lately in Beirut, though. His apartment building has a gym, but it's closed due to COVID. And the city is still a disaster after the explosion, so it's hard for his girlfriend and him to run outdoors.

    Our oldest was an excellent runner in high school. He feels (rightly or not) that his illness was partly caused by his obsession with running, so he doesn't like the idea of intense exercise. He walks a lot, but I'm not sure how helpful that is.
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  • surfcitysurfcity 2855 replies64 threads Senior Member
    I’m so grateful to MLH for sharing her expertise here. I have dealt with some issues with my D and it is a long and lonely road. I will echo MLH advice to GET HELP. Don’t be afraid to ask your child’s pediatrician, ours was so helpful and so nonchalant about referring us to someone. It really helped us feel okay.

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  • PublisherPublisher 11912 replies161 threads Senior Member
    edited August 25
    @CollegeMamb0: Thank you for your insightful response.

    Do you recommend exercise for caregivers--such as parents--of those suffering from mental illness ?

    Do you have any thoughts or advice about diet ?

    @MaineLonghorn: How do you deal with stress ?
    edited August 25
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  • MaineLonghornMaineLonghorn 42700 replies2301 threads Super Moderator
    @HMom16 thanks for your observations about heredity. I know my daughter is very hesitant about having kids now after seeing her brothers struggle. Hard to blame her.

    @CollegeMamb0 great information about movement! I never thought about recommending yoga or something similar to my daughter. I will suggest it!

    Oldest with schizophrenia paces a LOT. The staff at his apartment building has mentioned it. I'm not sure how healthy it is in his case.
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  • CollegeMamb0CollegeMamb0 156 replies1 threads Junior Member
    edited August 25
    Oldest with schizophrenia paces a LOT. The staff at his apartment building has mentioned it. I'm not sure how healthy it is in his case.

    The pacing for your oldest is likely soothing for him. Are you able to ask him how he feels when he does it (not why he does it)? Rocking and humming are similar self soothing or self regulating practices. Ever noticed how calming a rocking chair is :smile:
    edited August 25
    Post edited by MaineLonghorn on
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  • PublisherPublisher 11912 replies161 threads Senior Member
    edited August 25
    Eliminating sugar & alcohol makes sense.

    This may sound trite, but my immediate family members swear that drinking lemon infused water has a very positive effect on an individual's mood and cognitive abilities.

    P.S. @CollegeMamb0: Despite your cautionary advice about caffeinated products--such as my beloved black, no sugar Starbucks Coffee--we can still remain as friends. :smile:
    edited August 25
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  • kidzncatzkidzncatz 1160 replies7 threads Senior Member
    @MaineLonghorn Do you have any suggestions for getting a delusional 23-year-old into treatment? My son has occasional emotional breakdowns but has not had a full-fledged psychotic break. He's semi-functional at this point, is doing well in online community college courses but has been unable to hold a job for an extended period of time and has no real plans for the future (well, at least not any "normal" ones). He was receiving treatment for about 4 years as a teen and did pretty well on Abilify. Around age 18 he stopped taking medication and has refused to consider any type of medical treatment since then. He self-medicates with marijuana (and sometimes hallucinogens) but thinks prescription medication is poison (has accused me of trying to kill him by making him take meds). To his credit, he exercises regularly (including running, street gymnastics, and Qigong), meditates, and has an excellent diet (has been vegetarian/vegan for several years and cooks his own healthy food). I have the book "I'm not sick, I don't need help" and have gone through NAMI's Family to Family course but I'm still struggling with dealing with him. Maybe therapy for myself is the best course at this time, but I'd appreciate additional suggestions. Like your oldest, my son paces a lot, and has done so since childhood (about age 5 or 6).
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  • milgymfammilgymfam 1642 replies28 threads Senior Member
    Thank you for sharing and being so open about your children’s struggles.

    My older daughter has a pretty severe anxiety disorder. She also has pretty severe adhd and for a while chose the route of medicating the adhd and using talk and cognitive behavioral therapy for the anxiety. She recently let us know that she was still struggling more than she wanted and asked her psychiatrist to start anxiety meds. She’s now on prozac but is having physical side effects that make me wonder if she’ll be able to stay on it. She gets especially anxious about illness and death, so covid has been an extra challenge for her.

    I have pretty extreme anxiety as well, in addition to also having SPD and ADD (the phone story could be me- I had a total break down a year ago because I had to call FA at my daughter’s school and just could not do it- she finally handled it herself but I felt like I let her down). My husband has some definite undiagnosed mental issues that hopefully he can finally get help for when he retires in a few years. Growing up with him (and probably me- I acknowledge and manage but my issues persist) was hard on my girls and I know that my daughter works through that often in her therapy.

    I have often worried about my younger daughter. She has seen a psychologist and deemed to have no anxiety or adhd, but she deals with a lot with this family and I have wondered how it affects her. She doesn’t make friends easily, spends most time not dancing/working alone, and is super sensitive to lights/sounds/tactile things/change.. to the point that I worry about college and a roommate. She says she fine and the doctors say she’s fine so I feel stuck with that worry.

    Anyway, you seem like an amazing mom, and thanks again for being so open.
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