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Podcast: Parents of Children With Mental Illness

Chrisa Hickey’s journey into mental health advocacy started when her son, Tim, was diagnosed with very early onset schizophrenia after being admitted to a psychiatric hospital for the first time at the age of 11.  He had been showing symptoms for years and had received a half dozen different diagnoses. His family was desperately looking for answers.

Tim’s illness took a toll on the entire family, which was only exacerbated by the lack of information and resources available to them.  In America, fewer than 100 children per year are diagnosed with very early onset schizophrenia. Chrisa had to find information and resources for herself and didn’t want anyone else to have to start from scratch.  And so the Parents Like Us Club was born.

Join Gabe and Chrisa as they talk about the struggles of dealing with a mentally ill loved one, especially a child.  And find out what has helped Tim, now 25, achieve the happiness and stability he has today.

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Guest information for ‘Parents Mental Illness’ Podcast Episode

In 2009, Chrisa Hickey began writing a blog about raising her son Timothy, diagnosed at age 11 with childhood onset schizophrenia. Marian, one of her readers (who later became a friend) commented that parents raising children with severe mental illnesses were sort of a strange little club, and that there were other “parents like us” that should be part of the club. In 2015, the club was formed. Chrisa began collecting stories of other Parents Like Us and posting them to her blog, www.themindstorm.net. But this didn’t seem like enough.

In 2019 Parents Like Us Club Inc. became a 501(c)3 charity with the mission of bringing together parents raising children diagnosed with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression, and other life-threatening mental illnesses and serving three roles for this community:

  • Give voice to families raising children with severe mental illnesses by sharing their stories with other parents, the public, and the medical community
  • Provide resources and information for parents so that no parent has to try and figure out the complex maze of educating, treating, and caring for a mentally ill child on their own
  • Give parents the extra support they need by funding in-person advocacy services to attend school meetings, doctors appointments, meetings with social services, and judicial processes with parents, to help them navigate the complex issues that surround raising our kids

About The Psych Central Podcast Host

Gabe Howard is an award-winning writer and speaker who lives with bipolar disorder. He is the author of the popular book, Mental Illness is an Asshole and other Observations, available from Amazon; signed copies are also available directly from Gabe Howard. To learn more, please visit his website, gabehoward.com.

Computer Generated Transcript for ‘Parents Mental Illness’ Episode

Editor’s Note: Please be mindful that this transcript has been computer generated and therefore may contain inaccuracies and grammar errors. Thank you.

Announcer: Welcome to the Psych Central Podcast, where each episode features guest experts discussing psychology and mental health in everyday plain language. Here’s your host, Gabe Howard.

Gabe Howard: Hello, everyone, and welcome to this week’s episode of the Psych Central Podcast. And today, I will be speaking with Chrisa Hickey, who is the mom of a young man with schizophrenia and an incredible mental health advocate. I’m proud to say that I’ve worked with Chrisa in real life and she is doing incredible work. Chrisa, welcome to the show.

Chrisa Hickey: Thank you, Gabe. How are you doing?

Gabe Howard: I am doing very well. You know, we’re both mental health advocates, so that’s just generic. We can get that right out of the way and nobody knows what that means. But as longtime listeners know, I live with bipolar disorder. So I always do my speaking from the lived experience, what it’s like to live with mental illness. And why I’m so drawn to you and why I like talking to you and learning from you is your lived experience, and the majority of your advocacy is from the, you know, I hate to say caregiver, but from the family member, from the mom who is advocating for her son. Can you can you kind of give us that story?

Chrisa Hickey: Sure, a lot like your story, I’m sure no one gets it, wakes up one morning, goes, I want to be a mental health advocate. For us, it started when my son, Tim, who will be 25 in a week or so now, was four years old. We knew that there was something going on with him. We just weren’t quite sure what it was. And we started going through with doctors and neurologists and neuropsychologists and therapists and everything else. Long story short, after several different diagnoses and all kinds of issues, he ended up on his first psychiatric inpatient stay at the age of 11 when he attempted suicide. And doctors there said, well, what no one wants to tell you is that your son has schizophrenia. And I said, no, he doesn’t. Because kids don’t have it. And I didn’t believe it. And then six months later, he tried to kill himself again. And I went, OK. Obviously, you have a problem here. So at that point, the advocacy was personal. It became “what do I need to do to make sure that my child is getting the best care possible?” And I can try and give him a life and adult life. Because at this point, you know, you worry about whether or not your kid is even going to make it to adulthood. So that kind of morphed into all kinds of things you do when you have a child, especially with a serious mental illness. It really does become a family disease. Everyone’s affected. Parents are affected. Siblings are very affected. Everyone’s affected. So when I started doing my advocacy work on that, I found other parents who were struggling with the same kind of things we were trying to figure out. I started sharing information and started my blog and getting people to help share their stories. And we basically built this. I ended up building this community of parents who were all trying to help each other because not even our clinicians really could help us very well because it’s pretty rare. I mean, there’s about 100 children in the US every year, diagnosed with childhood schizophrenia. So we’re a small fraternity.

Gabe Howard: That is very small. Even if we go with every single child who’s diagnosed with mental illness, that number is very small. It’s bigger than the hundred, but it’s still very small. And of course, we’ve all heard it said a thousand times in the mental health community, mental illness is not a casserole disease. When people hear about stuff like this, they avoid it. And here’s the question that I want to ask specifically, because I hear this all the time, and I do not have children and I am not a mom. But did people in your community blame your son’s illness on you? Because you always hear that society blames moms for mental illness.

Chrisa Hickey: Yeah. Well, for us, it’s a little bit different because Timothy is also adopted. So a lot of what we got was, and no joke, people would say, well, this is obviously because he’s a product, you know, of his birth parents. Why don’t you just return him?

Gabe Howard: Wait, what?

Chrisa Hickey: Yes. He’s not a toaster. It’s not like, you know, gee, this toaster is not toasting right anymore. I’m going to take it back to the manufacturer. People would literally say to us, because he was adopted, obviously, it’s not our fault. It’s something weirdly genetic with his birth parents or his background and whatever. Maybe we should just go and, you know, not get a kid that was so complicated.

Gabe Howard: Wow.

Chrisa Hickey: Which just stunned me. Yeah, it totally stunned me. But I’ll tell you what really did happen with neighbors and people at school and stuff. What they wanted was their kids to stay away from him because they were worried that he was he was dangerous or erratic. And that’s the thing. Whenever you hear about schizophrenia, your mind always goes to — insert horror movie here. So, you know, you get little kids were like, oh, my God, he’s got this terrible disease or a split personality thing. Half the world still thinks that’s what it is. You know, we need to keep our kid away from him.

Gabe Howard: And it’s hard for children anyway because anything that makes a child different —  bullying is a real thing and cliques form and — but now your son is in a position where he could definitely use support and use friends and use understanding. But of course, he’s not getting it because kids are being children. But then there’s another layer. Parents are influencing their children’s behavior. And I just I struggle with that idea so much that a parent would tell their children, don’t play with another child because they’re sick. That’s just so scary.

Chrisa Hickey: That’s the problem, though. They don’t see him as sick, what they see it as, and this is why a lot of parents get blamed, they see it as a personality defect, right? Or a behavioral defect. It’s like the kid is not spoiled. He’s got an illness. But, you know, and I don’t know if you know this, but when NAMI was originally founded, it was founded by a group of parents — moms in particular — who were tired of being blamed for their children’s schizophrenia.

Gabe Howard: Yep. “NAMI Mommies.”

Chrisa Hickey: Yep. So that’s how it got started, and it would be great to say that there had been progress since they started this in the early 70s, but there has been very minimal progress. And it’s not just the public. The worst thing we fight against as well is a lot of clinicians don’t understand it, especially in children, because there is such a behavioral component. You know, it’s so hard to diagnose a child because when my child throws a temper tantrum, is it because he’s trying not to listen to the voices in his head or is it because he’s frustrated or is it because he’s a kid?

Gabe Howard: How did you as a mom, decide? When the tantrum occurred, how did you personally make that determination?

Chrisa Hickey: It was difficult to tell. And because it was difficult to tell, we started treating them all the same. The one thing with him it was easy to figure out was if he would escalate quickly, it probably was because of his illness. If he was just mad because we weren’t having Spaghetti O’s for dinner, that was something easily diffused and he wouldn’t escalate. It would be easy to talk him down. So I would start talking to him slowly, trying to understand what was going on in his head. And if it kept on escalating, then I knew that we had a real problem we had to deal with. But initially you don’t. Especially with the kids, you have to start treating them all the same, and that’s the hard part. Especially, imagine it happens in the grocery store. How do you explain this to people while you’re sitting there saying, OK, let’s sit down and calm and talk about what’s going on? And everyone’s looking at you like you’re crazy.

Gabe Howard: Right. So to take a step back. You said that you could tell something was wrong as early as four, but that he wasn’t diagnosed until he was nine. Is that correct?

Chrisa Hickey: Well, his first diagnosis was at the age of four. And at that point, they didn’t know whether it was an autism spectrum disorder or an emotional disorder. So he basically had this diagnosis called PDD-NOS, which is pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified. And from there he transitioned through several. So then it went to OK, it’s definitely not autism. This is emotional. So now it’s emotional disorder not otherwise specified. And then maybe it’s bipolar disorder or maybe it’s bipolar disorder I, or maybe it’s II, or maybe it’s bipolar with psychosis, blah, blah, kind of kept going, you know. When they finally said it was a schizophrenia, it was a doctor who had been consulting with the therapist. And the therapist had been reticent to tell us that she was positive it was schizophrenia. And he just basically blurted it out.

Gabe Howard: Wow. What were the specifics? What were you witnessing? What was your son doing?

Chrisa Hickey: He had a couple different things that were pretty routine, so he had some, which now we know are delusions, of course. Now there’s a clinical term, we call them delusions. But he had some weird idiosyncrasies, like he couldn’t put water on his face because something horrible was going to happen to his face, I don’t know, was going to melt him or whatever. But you could never put water on his face. He would have conversations with nobody. And I’m talking long, complex conversations with people. Like when I’m driving and he’s sitting behind me and the hair on the back of my neck stands up because he’s having a huge hairy conversation when no one is there. He had very little outward emotion. He wasn’t very happy. He was never very sad. He was just kind of flat. Right? So now we know clinically they call that “flat affect.” And when he had anxiety about all of this going on, he had some incredible rage. My husband and I were actually trained when he was eight years old in how to do a therapeutic hold because he was so strong. Well, here’s an example: at the age of eight, he took one of those kid desks with a chair attached to it and the lid lifts up, picked it up over his head and threw it at a teacher.

Gabe Howard: Oh, wow.

Chrisa Hickey: So he was pretty strong. So we actually were trained by clinicians on how to do a therapeutic hold, because if we didn’t, he could literally hurt himself or one of us. The rage was the hardest part to deal with.

Gabe Howard: So now you’re faced with all of this. You got the doctors, you do all the right things. You’re advocating for your son. We could probably talk for hours upon hours how difficult it is to find the right care, the right treatment, the right clinicians. But moving all of that aside, let’s talk about medication. Did you choose to medicate your child? Because it’s debated a lot.

Chrisa Hickey: It is. So initially we didn’t want to medicate our child because the last thing you want to do is — and it’s the prevailing thought out there, right — I don’t want to put this poison into my kid. But it got to the point where after several hospitalizations. I mean, he had 16 hospitalizations between ages of 11 and 14. So you get through the first three or four hospitalizations, you finally realize that you can’t do this just with behavioral intervention alone. You know, we didn’t want to put the poison in Tim. So we started very slowly and we wanted to start with — does he need a mood stabilizer? Does he need an antipsychotic? And we start working with the doctors to try and create whatever the cocktail is. That’s right. But every time you put these pills into your kid, a little part of you dies inside because you’re thinking — and I hear this a lot from other parents — the number one thing they say is when they have to give their kid meds or put their kid in the hospital, is that they failed as a parent. It’s self stigma.

Chrisa Hickey: And that’s the hardest part. And it’s a cliche. And we all say it’s like if your kid had diabetes, you wouldn’t feel that giving him insulin. But it’s really true. My kid has a brain disorder, not a brat, not a behavioral issue. He has an illness in his brain. And if I can give him medication that helps that illness in his brain, let him live the life that is most fulfilling as possible, then that’s what we decided we had to do. I think the hardest part for parents with kids, though, is unlike adults, kids change a lot. They grow. And as he would grow and get older, we would feel OK, we’ve put him on meds and he’s doing stable. And then six months later he’d have a growth spurt and everything’s out the window. So we’d start the whole process over again. And so every time he would go onto meds, it would change or something, we would all brace ourselves because we didn’t know what was coming. Most parents don’t want to medicate their kids. Kids are getting stigmatized for taking the meds they really need.

Gabe Howard: Again, I’ve never been a parent, but I can talk about my personal experience when they were like, hey, you have to take meds in order to be human. I’m like, you know, I’m 25 years old. I’m a grown ass man. I don’t need this. I’m fine. I’m fine. I’m fine. You know, I was very much in the I’m not sick. My mom is good. So therefore, I can’t be mentally ill. Plus, I have a personality and a job. So, sickness is for other people and other families and other problems. The medication was, you know, pardon the pun, a tough pill to swallow. And that was in me. And I’m making the decision for me.

Chrisa Hickey: Can I ask you a question about that, though? Is that because you saw the medication as because of your personal failing? Because I think it’s so ingrained in our society that mental illness is because we’re weak or we’re spoiled or not parented well, or we’ve got a personality defect that even to ourselves, when you are telling me I have to take a pill so I can act and feel normal, we feel like failures.

Gabe Howard: Yes. And it’s a little deeper than that. One, it was a reminder that this is the suckiest part about being on medication. You know, picture it: twenty five year old Gabe. I’m still that age where I think that I’m invincible. And of course, I have bipolar disorder. So I go through mania which tells me that I am, in fact, not only invincible, but God, because that’s what mania is like. And every morning and every night, I have to take a handful of reminders that I’m weak. That is 100 percent true. That is a demarcation twice a day that I am different from my peers. Now I’ll add on to that that my peers, you know, they’re good people. I have no negative stories of my friends being mean to me on purpose. They would all make little jokes. All there is Gabe with his granny pill minder. Oh, Gabe’s got to go to the pharmacy with all the grannies. They thought they were being friendly and ribbing me about it. It hurt and it hurt in a way that I couldn’t explain. I couldn’t put my finger on it. We’ll be back after this message from our sponsor.

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Gabe Howard: We’re back with Chrisa Hickey, founder of the nonprofit ParentsLikeUs.Club.

Chrisa Hickey: I have said to people before, and people look at me like I’m wack when I say this, but I do feel like we’re really lucky that Tim was diagnosed so young because when Tim was eleven, he didn’t get a choice whether he took his meds or not. He didn’t get a choice if he went to his doctor or not. He didn’t get a choice if he went to therapy or not. He did it because he was 11 and I’m the parent. So by the time he was 18 or 19, it was such a routine for him, he didn’t think about it.

Gabe Howard: And this is an incredible point to bring up because you’re absolutely right. I was 25 years old when I was diagnosed and I had a choice.

Chrisa Hickey: You have a parent who also has a mental illness or you have a parent who doesn’t understand it and is still trapped in that kind of stigma and blame cycle. The number one reason kids who die by suicide. I mean, children who die by suicide die because they weren’t in treatment. And the reason they weren’t in treatment is because their families didn’t want to believe there was something wrong with them.

Gabe Howard: And why do you think that is?

Chrisa Hickey: So I just think that when parents think a kid is depressed, I don’t think they understand. Suicide kills more kids than anything in the world except car accidents. I mean, it kills more kids than cancer and every birth defects combined. Suicide, depression. There’s “little d” depression like, you know, oh, my friends never call me, I’m so depressed. And then there’s “big D” Depression, which is clinical. And with all the stresses that kids are under now about, you know, achieving and getting into good schools and scholarships and student loans cost so much. And what am I going to do? That when a kid shows something that actually looks like clinical depression, they don’t want to believe it because if they believe it then that whole belief about what your child’s life was going to be, it’s shattered. You know, it’s something a lot of us parents have to go through if we have a kid with a mental illness. You actually go through a mourning period when you actually accept the fact that your child has a mental illness. That what I expected my kid to grow up to be and have for his own life is gone. When Tim was little, he was a gorgeous child. He loved to sing with the radio and everything. He talked about wanting to be a pilot. All kinds of stuff, you know. And when they told us he had schizophrenia and it really digested, it’s just you could almost hear the glass shatter and you go through an actual mourning period where you’re mourning someone who’s still alive. And you end up doing it more than once as you go through this whole cycle. And I think a lot of it is because these parents don’t want to have to think about what happens if.

Gabe Howard: Because it’s scary and they don’t have anybody to talk to. Which is what you learned early on. You couldn’t just reach out to the other moms and dads and say, hey, I’m toilet training and it’s a nightmare. These are the things that parents do. These are the things that people do. We reach out to like minded people to share stories and get advice. But you didn’t have anybody to reach out to. And that was why you started blogging and that’s why you built a community. And that’s why you launched ParentsLikeUs.club, which I didn’t even know .club was a domain address.

Chrisa Hickey: It is. Isn’t that cool? Yeah. Well, you know, when I started the blog and other parents were sharing their stories and I started sharing them on my blog as well. One of the moms there said, this is like a club. All these parents like us. We’re like this big club. And I’m like, Bing. There we go. This is what we are, we are this sad little club. So we kind of formalized the name. And I had a section of my website just for the Parents Like US Club, where people can share their own stories anonymously or not anonymously. It is totally up to them. And then over the years, a friend wanted to start a support group on Facebook. So I helped her with that. We have a support group, a closed support group on Facebook that has now over almost ten thousand parents in it with all different kinds of brain disorders, not just mental illness, but kids with autism and other things as well. We wanted to formalize it, help people even more. You know, navigating medical staff and the job stuff when you’re an adult is one thing. Now you’ve got a kid. You’ve got to navigate school and you’ve got to navigate doctors and you’ve got to navigate a lot of times the criminal justice system. How do you navigate these things and how can we help parents that don’t know where to start? So we formed the 501(c)f(3) charity, Parents Like Us Club and we’re doing three things. We’re giving a platform for parents to be able to share stories. However they want to share. Video, they can give us blog post, they can do an audio. Be anonymous, not be anonymous, whatever.

Chrisa Hickey: Because we know and you know, as we share our stories, it’s important for the public, other parents, and especially for us clinicians to hear these stories and understand what families are living through. The second one is to give find resources for parents, because the reason I started my blog was I had to do research from scratch and I didn’t want anyone else to have to do research from scratch when you’re dealing with that. So how can we get all the resources out there? So they’re available and they’re indexed and you can find them when you Google it, you can find us and we can get different clinicians and people to actually go into a directory and tell us they actually specialize in helping kids. And the third thing is we’re going to be giving micro grants to families that need them to have professional advocacy work with them locally when they go to an IEP meeting at school or they’re going to see a new psychiatrist for the first time, or they have to go down and sit down with a lawyer and talk about the juvenile justice system because, A, it helps to have a neutral third party that is really an expert to take that emotion out of it and really understand what your rights are and your child’s rights are, and B, what’s the best course of action for your kid and what you want to get out of them. So those are the three things we’re trying to accomplish, but we’re [unintelligible] this year, so we’re just getting off the ground.

Gabe Howard: I think it’s absolutely incredible. You know, when I was diagnosed, again, I was 25 years old and my parents and my grandparents reached out to meet other families, other family members who had, you know, family members who had mental illness, who had, in my case, bipolar disorder. And again, I wasn’t a child. You’re actually right. It’s you know, my parents were scared. My grandparents were scared. My family was scared. And they reached out to get that help. And I’m so thankful that they were able to find it. They’re in a big city. And there was support groups for this. The thing I like about your organization is it’s on the Internet. Like my parents aren’t shy. My grandparents weren’t shy. They started calling emergency rooms and therapists that, like where’s a group? We’re willing to get in our car and drive. But I talked to so many people that are like, oh, we’re not going to go to that support group meeting. We’re not going to walk in there. Somebody might see us. Or they’re in a small town. I don’t want to say that is your support group anonymous or is your club anonymous? But there is a certain layer of anonymity to it because it’s online. Or can you sort of talk about that a little bit?

Chrisa Hickey: There is and you know, obviously there’s always the option to be anonymous when you’re online. I think what a lot of parents do is, you know, you think about and again, it all kind of comes back to that stigma we’re all ingrained with. The worst part, I think for kids, too, is a lot of clinicians fall into the stigma category. So it’s like the reason Tim’s therapist was timid diagnosing him as schizophrenic is because they didn’t want to put it on the chart. You know, it’s on their permanent record kind of thing, whereas I’m like, you know, like I care. But a lot of parents are worried about that. They’re like, you know, I don’t want to hurt my kids’ chances to get to college. Maybe you work at a job one day, so I don’t want to put their name on the Internet and associate it with a mental illness. That’s fine. You don’t have to. But the nice thing about it being online is we talk about kids with serious mental illness and we talk about serious. We classify that as schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder and severe clinical depression. So those are the diseases for kids that become fatal, frankly, as far as mental illness goes. If you take a look at the pool of people in the United States, just because that’s where I know best, if you’re talking about schizophrenia, 100 kids a year get diagnosed.

Chrisa Hickey: Small pool. Bipolar disorder, I or II or other type for kids, becoming less common because now there’s other DSM 5 things for it. But you get about two to three thousand kids a year get diagnosed with that. Severe depression, much more at 10 to 15 thousand kids a year, kids with severe depression. And that’s every year. So you’re talking, I don’t know, 20,000 people that need to find each other in the three hundred and fifty million people in America. I don’t have a choice but to go to the Internet. I mean, if I was back in the days, you know, when the NAMI moms were all starting to get together. I would’ve been screwed. My son, we lived in Chicago, not a small town. When my son was diagnosed and his psychiatrist, who was the head of child psychiatry for one of the largest mental health groups in Chicago, said Tim was the most severe case he’d ever seen. And he was 65 years old. And all I could think of was first my thought was, oh, great, my kid is, like you said, some sort of record for being whacked. But then the other thing I thought was how few and far between is it that my kid is the only one this guy in the second largest city in the country has ever seen?

Gabe Howard: And how lucky are you? You know, that’s the thing that goes through my mind. How lucky are you that you live in Chicago? Could you imagine if you lived in rural Ohio or or just anyplace rural?

Chrisa Hickey: Where we live now. Yeah. Now we live in rural Wisconsin. Yeah.

Gabe Howard: Yeah. Is there and I don’t mean this in any insult to anybody that lives in rural America, but there’s not gigantic hospitals in rural areas. There’s just not enough people.

Chrisa Hickey: No. So now I live in very northeastern Wisconsin, very, I mean, my town is 300 people. So if we had lived here when he was 11 and he was, we had to figure out what’s going on with him at that age. I would have had to go to Madison, Wisconsin, which is four and a half hours away, to even get come close to finding a clinician. And then when I got to Madison, the average wait in Madison right now for a first appointment with a child psychiatrist is 17 weeks.

Gabe Howard: 17 weeks, and we’re hearing that all of the time. This isn’t new news to anybody who’s done even the most basic mental health advocacy, that the wait times to see professionals are there so long. They’re insane. They’re insane.

Chrisa Hickey: They’re terrible. You know, a child psychiatrist is even rarer than a psychiatrist. So because it takes more schooling, right? If I go to school and go to medical school and become a doctor and then I go to my specialty and I become a psychiatrist to become a child psychiatrist, I’ve invested in even more time. And it’s not like they’re gonna make any more money being a child psychiatrist. So there’s really no incentive for them to do that. So there’s the shortage.

Gabe Howard: I am so glad that you were in a place where you could advocate for Tim. How is he doing now? You know, we’ve heard a lot about his childhood. I know that he’s almost 25 years old now. What is Tim’s adult life now?

Chrisa Hickey: It’s good. So we did move to rural Wisconsin. We moved back to the town my husband grew up in, actually, and the number one reason we moved here is because this is a much better environment for Tim than in Chicago. There’s too much stimulus in Chicago. There’s too many ways to get trouble in Chicago. And he’s very anonymous in Chicago. Here in this town, Tim is able to live in his own apartment because he only lives a mile away so we can help him when he needs help. He has a small part time job with a family friend who has resort cottages. So he’s got some sheltered work where if he’s having a bad day and he can’t show up, it’s no big deal. He can come to work everyday. And if he misses a day, no problem. He has friends here. We live right on Lake Michigan. He goes swimming in the lake in the summertime. And he has his own dog now and he has his bike and he rides all over town and everybody knows Tim. He really is a happy person. And he’s very, very stable. And a lot of the reason he’s stable is because he has an environment that supports him, because we’re in a small town where my husband grew up, we’re not anonymous here. It’s like having 200 extra hands to help watch him. Couple weeks ago, you probably know he messed up his meds a little bit, ended up in an emergency room. The paramedics all showed up when he had a problem with it because he lives across the street from the fire department. And, they know, know him personally. When he got to the emergency room, he knows the nurse there because she’s a neighbor. And, you know, when he was having an off day, I’ll get a phone call from one of his neighbors. You know, have you seen or talked to Tim today? He seems a little off. So we’ve created this environment for him where he’s very insulated. And I know that not only now at twenty five, but when he’s 55 and I’m no longer around, he’s still going to be safe and happy here.

Gabe Howard: Chrisa, this has been absolutely wonderful. Thank you for all that you do. Thank you for starting the nonprofit. And I don’t know if Tim has ever thanked you. But as somebody who lives with mental illness, you know, moms like you, parents like you, family members like you, they make such a big difference. It made a big difference in my recovery. And I know it made a big difference in Tim’s as well. So thank you so much for everything that you do.

Chrisa Hickey: Thank you. And thanks for having me. I really appreciate it.

Gabe Howard: Hey, it was my pleasure and thank you, everyone, for tuning in. Remember, you can get one week of free, convenient, affordable, private online counseling anytime, anywhere, just by visiting BetterHelp.com/PsychCentral. We will see everybody next week.

Announcer: You’ve been listening to the Psych Central Podcast. Previous episodes can be found at PsychCentral.com/show or on your favorite podcast player. To learn more about our host, Gabe Howard, please visit his website at GabeHoward.com. PsychCentral.com is the internet’s oldest and largest independent mental health website run by mental health professionals. Overseen by Dr. John Grohol, PsychCentral.com offers trusted resources and quizzes to help answer your questions about mental health, personality, psychotherapy, and more. Please visit us today at PsychCentral.com. If you have feedback about the show, please email [email protected] Thank you for listening and please share widely.

Podcast: Parents of Children With Mental Illness


The Psych Central Podcast

The Psych Central Podcast is a weekly podcast hosted by Gabe Howard. New episodes are released every Thursday at 7 am and can be found at psychcentral.com/show or your favorite podcast player.


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APA Reference
Central Podcast, T. (2019). Podcast: Parents of Children With Mental Illness. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 14, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/blog/podcast-parents-of-children-with-mental-illness/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 18 Sep 2019
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 18 Sep 2019
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.