Faith is important to me., My thoughts about Mental Health, Virginia Pillars

Memoir -Schizophrenia – Struggles – Healing. A review by Jean Heiman


Jean Heiman wrote a wonderful view for my book, Broken Brain, Fortified Faith, at Catholic Fire. According to the website’s tagline, “If you are what you should be, you’ll set the world on fire.”

First, thank you Jean Heiman. I appreciate your time to read Broken Brain, Fortified Faith and write a review. Your kind words mean a great deal to me.

Just a few lines of her review:

“This memoir describes how the family struggles with these difficult issues and responds to the setbacks with the help of trusted friends and support groups.”

“…I found it difficult to put down. It is a compelling read, understandable, and well-written.”

“…poignant, uplifting, and hopeful story of one woman and her family to conquer crises…”

“…recommend for all who have had to deal with the stigma of a mental health diagnosis…”

Please visit her website  to read the entire review at Catholic Fire.

I used my faith to get through my struggles while I dealt with the agony of schizophrenia as it unleashed most of the nasty symptoms it had to offer on my daughter. It’s who I am. My faith may look different than my readers, but I hope that will not deter anyone from joining our family as I detail our journey from despair to hope to recovery.  I also hope those who read my book, Broken Brain, Fortified Faith,  find the support and guidance as I did. It helped me cope and react with love, patience and a resolve to help her manage a painful and frightening time in her life. I found wonderful, free education and supportive people who understood our situation through our local NAMI organization, which stands for The National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Thanks so much for stopping by today.

Virginia Pillars

 

Advertisements
Guest Blogs, My thoughts about Mental Health, Virginia Pillars

Jessica…


May 8, 2017

I  read a story this morning that left me saddened for situations that I know are all too common. A young woman with promise and it sounds like a big heart lost her battle. Here’s her mother’s post. Let’s stop the stigma.

With the author’s permission to spotlight her blog today, I give you the first paragraph, but click on the link to read one mother’s story.  Please.

pickingupthepieces63 ©pickingupthepieces

Her Mission is our Hope©

This is my beautiful daughter. Born 4-17-86 died 3-10-15. Her death certificate says she died by a gun shot wound. That’s only part of the truth. That doesn’t explain the real cause which is Mental Illness, more specific Depression and Bipolar disorder.  ©pickingupthepieces63

 

 

My thoughts about Mental Health, Virginia Pillars

Elephant in the Room, Part 2


Yesterday, I compared the discussion about mental illness to the elephant that’s in the room. It’s a subject we all know about, but no one talks about it. Always there, it lingers in the corners of our lives.

Today, I want to expand on elephants.

I had the great privilege to spend three weeks in the African nation of Zimbabwe. It was my dream trip of a lifetime. While there, I stepped out of my comfort zone – big time! I spent three nights in a wild game park, in a designated campsite – in a sleeping bag – in a tent! On the way to the site, I saw elephants, zebra, giraffes, monkeys, baboons, plus others such as kudu and wildebeest. I’d also walked down to the riverbank, just below our campsite, and watched the hippos and the crocodiles swim and stare at me.

With a great case of the nerves, I climbed into my sleeping bag to attempt a night’s sleep. I fell asleep to the sound of the hippos in the river, who by the way sound like a Harley, and the sound of my companions strumming their guitars around the campfire.

During the middle of the night, after I finally feel asleep, a ginormous CRASH woke me with a start. Neither my husband, Roy or myself felt brave enough to investigate so we stayed in our tent until we heard the rattle of pans as our companions cooked breakfast.

“Did you hear the elephant?” was the first question posed to us.

“That’s what made that terrible racket?” I asked.

“Yeah, it was in our campsite!”

We went to investigate and discovered an elephant had ripped down a large branch of the Mopane tree to eat the leaves and small twigs. I guess it wanted a midnight snack.

So why share this story. Because I learned something about elephants that night. It entered in silence. I thought something that large would make a lot of noise as it entered and exited our campsite. It came all three nights, but the only time I knew it was near was when I heard the crash.

So much like mental illness – it entered our life in silence and the only way I knew it had arrived was when I heard the “crash.” My crash? A co-worker called me to let me know she suspected something was terribly wrong with our child. I rushed to my daughter’s side and brought her home with me. I could no longer ignore the “elephant in the room.” I had to face mental illness.

 

 

Faith is important to me., How To Eat an Elephant, My thoughts about Mental Health, Virginia Pillars

Elephant in the Room


We’ve all heard the term, “elephant in the room” – the subject everyone knows about, but no one talks about it. Well, not in polite company anyway…

When I grew up, back in the 60’s and 70’s, lots of subjects fell into this category. Pregnancy, for one. PG was the term I heard often when I listened to my mother and aunts talk over coffee.

Cancer was another one. When the adults in my life discussed the “illness,” they referred to it as “C.” I don’t know if they thought they would catch it or what. But I didn’t hear the word cancer.

Of course, mental illness. I heard the term, nervous breakdown once in a while, but I didn’t know what that meant. People kept these struggles behind their front door. We didn’t know about them.

Fast forward fifty-some years. We’ve changed our thoughts on what is a topic of polite conversation. We chat about pregnancy and cancer often, with either joy, as is often the case for expecting a child, or concern over the devastating illness cancer. We, as a culture, rally around those who face cancer with cards, letters, fund-raisers, and food. We promise to pray for them.

Mental illness has lagged behind the other two subjects as one we feel we can tell our family and friends to obtain support. It’s still the elephant in the room. There is still some amount of stigma and shame associated with this illness that science has proven to have a biological base.

I know when it struck our family in 2004, I reacted the same way. I kept it to myself. I didn’t tell those around me on a daily basis. I told immediate family and no one else. I was embarrassed. Why? Because I didn’t know other families who dealt with it. I thought we’d be judged. What had I done as a mom to cause this? Why didn’t I prevent it?

Once I realized that my child suffered from a broken brain, I changed my attitude. I reached out to extended family and friends. I found support. I found understanding. I found people who promised to pray for our situation. And I found healing.

One in five individuals deals with a mental health issue at some time in their life. One in four families knows about the pain that accompanies it. More wages are lost to mental illness than cancer, heart and lung disease combined.

Let’s start a conversation. Let’s talk about the elephant in the room. Let’s continue it. Let’s let others know of our struggles. Let’s support others in theirs. Let’s rally around families as they deal with the unthinkable. How about a gift card for gas? It takes many trips to doctors, therapists, hospital visits, and food. Can we send a card or note to let them know they are in our thoughts and prayers?

I’ve heard it said in NAMI groups, “No one brings you a casserole when your loved one is in a mental health unit…” We did. We actually had someone bring us a casserole when our child was in the hospital. But the best part – they sat and shared a meal with us. They stayed with us to listen and cry with us.  They reminded me of the friends at the end of the book of Job.  They didn’t say anything because they knew our pain was so great.

Because of my own experience, I reach out to others and give them permission to talk about whatever it is they need to say.

 

Guest Blogs, My thoughts about Mental Health, Virginia Pillars

Book Review by Jeanie Ewing


Thank you, Jeannie Ewing for this wonderful review!

Broken Brain, Fortified Faith

I stumbled upon this book when I was at my brief EWTN visit last summer.  It was atop a stack of books and magazines in the great room of the guest house where I stayed, and I picked it up, curious and intrigued.  After a moment, I decided I would swap this book for another I had finished on my trip.

A few months later, I discovered the author, Virginia Pillars, on social media.  We briefly connected, and I realized it was time for me to start reading the book.  The initial intrigue I felt was due to the fact that I also have mental illness in my family.  We do not have a history of schizophrenia, but bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder are both quite prevalent.  Plus, with my background and interest in psychology and counseling, I knew it was an important read.

Pillars’ book is a memoir, which is very fascinating and well written.  She describes her family’s journey through her daughter’s diagnosis of schizophrenia and several hospitalizations, as well as other tragedies they endured in only a two-year span: the death of her infant grandson and her daughter-in-law’s bout with cancer.

What sustained Pillars through all of this?  Her faith.  Like most of us, she was shaken and her faith was also tested, but she very honestly explains how she moved from discouragement to hope – through reading her daily devotionals to helpful books and connecting with close friends and family members, many of whom were true godsends to her at the time she needed the most encouragement.

Broken Brain, Fortified Faith is a book that will both inspire and inform anyone who is struggling to understand a loved one’s diagnosis of mental illness.  In addition to the eloquent underpinning of her grief journey, Pillars includes a short list of helpful resources for her readers to peruse more thoroughly, including the NAMI (National Alliance for the Mentally Ill) website and the books that helped her understand mental illness in general.

Above all, the best point she makes is how important it is for each of us to do our part in helping to change the culture of stigma surrounding mental illness.  If we learn how to advocate for those who suffer in this invisible way, we can help change people’s hearts and minds about mental illness.  The truth remains: we often fear what we do not understand.  Education and advocacy are key to unraveling the mystery of mental illness, and Broken Brain, Fortified Faith is a smart resource for those who work in the mental health industry or as a personal companion through the toughest moments you will face with your loved one.

Copyright 2017 Jeannie Ewing, all rights reserved.

My thoughts about Mental Health, Virginia Pillars

We’re in…


 

Statistics show that one in five adults are affected by a mental health condition in a given year. 20 % of our population! I admit, I didn’t think about this much. It happened to someone else, another family – not mine.

From 1975 on, when Roy and I got married , my family appeared to be “normal.” By 2004, we had four adult children, all of them on their own. They worked or continued to study while Roy, my husband and I worked and enjoyed our jobs.

In late 2004, we became part of the statistic – 1 in 5 individuals affected, 1 in 4 families and the 1 in 100 individuals that deal with schizophrenia. I could not ignore it any longer. Over the course of a few months, I took a crash course in how to handle a loved one with a mental health condition.

I’m so grateful I found our local NAMI organization. The National Alliance on Mental Illness offered me a shoulder to lean on and the education to understand. As a result of their support, I was able to react to my situation with love and patience. I learned all I could by reading books on the subject and taking the Family to Family class. But that’s me. It’s how I roll. It’s how life has taught me to react.

Our story has a happy ending. Our child lived with us for four years and came to understand her illness. She worked hard to move into recovery and stay there. It’s been nine years since her first episode of psychosis. With the help of doctors, therapists, counselors, family and friends she fought against the symptoms and won. Today she works full-time, lives on her own and manages all her own affairs. She understands her need for medication, regular doctor appointments and a counselor she can trust.

To say I’m proud of my child is an understatement. We may be part of the statistic, but it doesn’t define her or our family.  She isn’t schizophrenic, she has schizophrenia and she manages her illness.

As a result of my journey, I work now to bring awareness and hope to the families whose loved one suffers.  I understand that when a child battles an illness, the family’s life changes forever, too.  Now, I feel compelled to support other families who travel a similar path. I work to offer awareness to a wide-spread issue and also to bring hope that recovery is possible. I dream of a day when it happens for everyone. Until then, I plan to continue to involve others in a discussion about mental health conditions. It affects us all.

For information about free education about mental health conditions go to National Alliance on Mental Illness Programs.

To find publications about mental health conditions visit the National Institute of Mental Health.

Broken Brain Fortified Faith book coverBroken Brain, Fortified Faith

 

 

 

My thoughts about Mental Health, Virginia Pillars

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month


IntoMH-MHM-Twitter-HeaderDuring May, in honor of National Mental Health Awareness Month, I hope to inspire, inform, and get others involved in a topic that affects us all. I want to link to websites with the latest information about research, along with previously released webinar links.

I plan to post reviews or links to other blogs that discuss books, both fiction and nonfiction on the subject of mental illness.

I also hope to link to blogs that review my own story of my journey through mental illness with my daughter, Broken Brain, Fortified Faith .

I hope to accomplish this twice a week.

I hope you’ll join me as I work to bring awareness to a subject that I think is the elephant in every room. You know, the one everyone knows about but no ones wants to mention.

Let’s talk. Come join me. Bring your friends.

For more information on mental illness visit:

NAMI National Alliance on Mental Illness

Brain & Behavior Research Foundation

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: