Sometimes a song gets in my head and wants to stay. The tune, the words play over and over in my mind in the quiet of my house. This morning it’s an old song from years ago called Pass it on. “I’ll shout it from the mountain top. I want my world to know. The Lord of love has come to me. I want to pass it on.”
Why the feeling? I spoke last week with a NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) group about our story and my book. I shared with them snippets of the agony I had when our daughter became ill and later received the diagnosis of schizophrenia. I felt hopeless, frustrated and terribly alone.
Fortunately, for our family, we found the proper treatment at the right time, she wanted to get well and we worked together for her recovery. Today, twelve years later, she remains in recovery.
She battled back from the harsh symptoms and went on to live a life similar to other individuals her age. She works full-time, manages all her own affairs and medications, and leads a social life that makes me tired. To say I’m proud of her is an understatement.
Why did it work this way for our family?
I wish I could give a concrete answer. I can only relay what happened in our family. But, I believe we had a miracle. Yes, a miracle.
- We turned to professionals who used their expertise. We had psychiatrists who cared and included all of us in the discussions.
- Amber had a wonderful counselor/therapist who walked closely with her for many years.
- We learned about the illness that invaded our child through classes by our local NAMI organization. Understanding helped me cope.
- Amber’s best friend came to see her and take her out socially every week. This action kept her immersed in social situations with people her age.
- Amber was driven. She pushed herself past what her dad and I felt comfortable with as she took two steps forward and then one step back.
- I leaned on my faith. I tried to center myself each day by reading and praying to strengthen me.
- We had the support of our families and close friends.
Yes, I think this formula produced what I feel is a miracle – professionals + education + support + faith + Amber’s determination = recovery.
It saddens me to know this isn’t the case for many families. As I volunteer with our local NAMI organization, or to speak to groups about our story, I hear heartbreaking stories of individuals who battle and the families who love them. I know they want the best for their loved ones, just as I did.
- To them, I want to bring hope that recovery is possible. To not give up, to continue to search for answers, to ask for help, to keep hope alive.
- To others who come to listen to an author, I want to bring awareness to an issue that affects 1 in 5 individuals and 1 in 4 families. These families need a community to stand with them, to let them know they are not alone in their journeys.
- I want to start conversations so everyone comes to understand it’s a brain disorder, not a character flaw. My daughter certainly didn’t choose to have schizophrenia.
- I want to pass it on: hope, awareness, and support.
Just in case you’re interested in the song, here’s one link:
Pass it On by Kurt Kaiser