Out to Lunch
Recently I went out to lunch with my co-workers.
One asked about my family, so I layed it all out, my wife was fine, my son was adjusting well, youngest one was great, but my middle daughter has a new diagnosis; Schizophrenia.
I went on briefly to describe the change in diagnosis with the MD and the telemedicine my wife encountered during the visit. This was met with indifference. There were no follow up questions or comments about it. Everyone went on to discuss another topic and I pondered why people do not want to discuss mental illness.
For years mental illness was a hushed subject. It was an institution where strange people were locked away from civilized people. Topics like mental illness were rarely discussed 20 years ago and at times it seems nothing much has changed.
Services are difficult to get, the state makes parents and caregivers jump through hoops just to be turned down for services that are needed. Some school districts do not want to address the issues concerned about mental illness and one principle suggested we continue to either homeschool or to find a private school to send our daughter to. Ahh, the dilemmas of parenthood.
I could describe the hours spent by both my wife and me on the phones with pharmacies, doctors, therapists, and teachers just to obtain help (and maybe a sympathetic ear), but very few will actually listen. Most have said, "I am sorry there is nothing I can do." And I do not believe that. What they are saying is that they do not understand mental illness and they do not want to address it.
Multiple doctors have been sought out as well as many therapists who have both said things like, "I think she is making it up." Unfortunately they are not the ones who have to live with the illness. And it is not a curable illness, it is a prolonged, treatable with (expensive) medication but not an exact science illness. What works well for one will not for another and symptoms fluctuate from person to person. Her symptoms affect our whole family in what we do, what we say and sometimes where we go.
With all that said, I wonder what my co-workers will say when I tell them on Christmas day, December 25, 2008, at about 9:00 pm my youngest daughter had another grand mal seizure, it was her fourth grand mal that we have witnessed. She is diagnosed with epilepsy. Maybe this is another one of those subjects that co-workers do not want to listen to as well.
Do people want me to tell them that everything is fine and life is a bed of roses? Or should I be truthful and tell them what my life is really like when I get off work?