NAMI Family-to-Family Testimonial
This story was provided by Krista, a Family-to-Family class member & Certified NAMI instructor.
November 29, 2016 will forever be imprinted in my memory as the day that launched me on an unexpected and often challenging journey in helping my adolescent son survive his anxiety, depression and resulting self-medication.
While sitting in a business meeting that day, I received an alarming text from my son’s best friend (and girlfriend) letting me know that she was terribly afraid that my son was suicidal. Reeling and in crisis-mode, my husband and I immediately sought emergency care that led to a weeklong hospitalization during what we hoped would be a wonderful holiday season. Of course, as many families will understand, our journey didn’t start that day. That day was actually an early turning point after a period of trial-and-error treatments. At that moment, our safe world seemed irreversibly shattered, and our hopes and dreams for our son, then a high school senior, seemed lost.
After his hospitalization and with the help of intensive therapy, medication changes and the support of family and friends, my son went on to complete his senior year and attend his first semester in college. That time of transition was fraught with a whole new set of fears and anxieties – on his part and on my part as his parent, trying to guide him through the tumult. Finally on a cold February day in his second semester, I asked the important question: is it time to come home?
His return that spring launched us on an aggressive treatment plan as well as his own self-led realization that his self-medicating habits were destroying his life and robbing him of a chance to see joy.
Now, 6 months later, I am continuously amazed that he is happier and healthier than he’s been in years – all while being committed to his new journey.
As many caregivers can attest, the toll of dealing with chronic illness and challenging behaviors can take a toll on the health and life of the caregiver – especially a parent, a sibling or a spouse. As my son was dramatically improving, my own well-being suffered in the aftermath of the shock and trauma. That’s where NAMI’s Family-to-Family class became an important part of my own healing journey. There, I was united with other family members committed to understanding our loved ones’ illnesses, to supporting each other through challenging lived experiences, and to learning how to advocate for our family members and others.
Because of the NAMI class, I realized that above all else, I am committed to shining a light on mental health issues to reduce and ultimately remove the stigma. That’s why I am thrilled to share my story, to advocate and to help equip other family members to support their loved ones. Please join me in this healing journey: Join NAMI. Participate in a class. Lean on the comfort of a support group. In doing so, I believe you will discover that you can use your own lived experience to save or enrich a life.