Helping Children Cope When a Loved One Suffers from Mental Illness

I have a loved one that suffers with severe mental illness. He's a brilliant, beautiful, creative person who told spellbinding, captivating stories of far away places and taught me to not be afraid of the dark. But just as quick and easy as flicking a light switch on and off, our lives changed from moment to moment.

As a child I didn't understand. I remember thinking everyone's home was just like mine... a place where the stairs turned into an escalator only for the person who knew the magic word and where the cupboards were locked at night to keep out the mischief-making fairies.
Continue Reading


3 Strategies for Supporting a Loved One with Depression

Your loved one has depression. Maybe they’re isolating themselves. Maybe their energy and mood have taken a nosedive. Maybe they’re irritable and angry. Maybe they aren’t enjoying much, if anything, anymore. Maybe they’re having a hard time concentrating or remembering things. Maybe they’ve mentioned feeling hopeless or worthless. Maybe they make negative comments about themselves. All. The. Time. Maybe they wear a happy face, but you know they’re struggling.

And, understandably, it’s really hard to watch. Because all you want to do is fix their pain. To make it go away. To make it all better.
Continue Reading

Anxiety and Panic

Waiting for an Autism Diagnosis

Tommy was having trouble growing up.

He wasn’t talking at age 2. We waited it out for a bit, but, at 3, when he was still barely communicating, we sought out professional speech therapy. We found a great therapist at our local children’s hospital. With help, Tommy began to communicate more. The therapist worked on his vocabulary and eventually on one-step commands.

Continue Reading


What Did Your Parents Teach You?

What teachings did your parents offer you in your childhood and teen years? Be mindful as you answer that question of the spoken and unspoken teachings and messages that were given to you and what you received.

Let us first consider the spoken teachings from your parents or primary caregivers. The elements necessary to parent a child well are multi-faceted and require consistent love and effort on the parents' part. The parents' attitude and energy level also must be considered. The parents' history and background are factors in how well or effectively they teach by word and example.

Continue Reading


Ode to the Duke

I saw my shrink today. I call him “The Duke.”

We had a perfectly fine half-hour meeting. He wrote me some scripts and listened to my current take on my life. Mainly, we talked about my son Tommy’s fear of entering sixth grade. The Duke warned me that the junior high years are awful and to brace myself. The Duke is a straight shooter. At the end of the appointment, I asked him how he thought I was doing.

Continue Reading


Good Qualities of Adult Children of Mentally Ill Mothers

There isn’t really a huge trumpet blowing for the qualities that blossom in the children of mentally ill mothers. Not even much of a toot. But there’s a whole orchestra booming about the downsides: the lack of self-esteem, difficulty forming relationships, trusting people, or most uplifting of all: the inevitability of developing your very own mental illness.

Just for once, let’s not go to that particular concert. Because maybe, if you’re the child of a mentally ill mother, you also have the capacity for things like this:

Continue Reading


Family Matters: Self-Preservation Tips

“Maybe when he is older, he will understand mental health’s impact. He will have a girlfriend and, one day, he will get it,” my late mother whispers to me.

I nod, more to appease my weary mother. Her eyes glow when discussing her three sons. With an infectious cackle and mischievous smile, she would tease me about my eccentricities. When I absentmindedly misplaced that night’s homework assignment, she would endearingly refer to me as “Barnacle Breath.”

Continue Reading


6 Reasons Why I Hate My Therapist

Editor's Note: This is intended to be a humorous piece.
So just when you are getting sick and tired of all those people giving you heartache for no apparent reason at all, you decide to shoot yourself in the head and find yourself a therapist so that he can give you more heartache than all the people put together.

But there is one big difference between now and then: Earlier you were getting your heartache for free. This time you are paying for it.
Continue Reading


How to Deal with Difficult Parents

As kids, we put our parents on a pedestal. When we were growing up, they could heal every wound, solve every problem and fix anything that was broken.

As adults, we realize they don’t actually know everything and also have shortcomings. Sometimes, the tables turn -- our parents begin to come to us for financial help, relationship advice, or career guidance. We may start to feel like we are their parents and have come into a role of supporting them much sooner than we expected.

Continue Reading


Confidence-Building and the Special Olympics

Tommy was terrified to travel to Columbus. He was scheduled to compete in the Special Olympics that weekend. Tommy has anxiety disorder, ADHD and autism, and anything out of the ordinary such as a road trip to a place he’d never been before threw him way off. “Talk to Daddy,” he kept telling me. “I don’t want to go. Can you tell him I don’t want to go?”

Steve was not surprised at Tommy’s resistance to going to a new place and doing a new activity. It was the story of our lives.

Continue Reading


How to Promote Your Child’s Good Mental Health

Everyone knows the importance of good mental health, but how do you help your children achieve it? Here are some points to consider.

1. Give your child unconditional love.

Every child deserves and needs unconditional love from his or her parents and other family members. Love, security and acceptance form the bedrock for a child’s good mental health. Make sure your child knows that your love doesn’t depend on them getting good grades...
Continue Reading