I'm off to get NAMI-fied!

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by gcvmom, Sep 17, 2009.

  1. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Tonight is the first of the six-week NAMI Basics class I registered for. I hope this is as good as everyone says it will be! I'm also hoping to network with other parents of mentally ill kids who live in my county. There's supposed to be about 17 attending tonight.

    I will check back with y'all later to share my newfound wisdom! :tongue:
  2. ThreeShadows

    ThreeShadows Quid me anxia?

    I sure do admire your determination and tenacity. You are one strong Mama.
  3. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Have fun!
  4. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    Have a wonderful time, and if you happen to meet anyone who commuted from my area, please let me know.
  5. Christy

    Christy New Member

    So, how was it?
  6. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    I hope you plan on shariong whatever answers you get. LOL! NAMI advocated in my area to train cops on approaching MI people and I have been impressed with them for that. I don't know that they've been able to accomplish much around here in spite of their efforts but at least they try. If they can help parents with knowledge, that's sure worth something.
  7. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Well, I'm back!

    I'm impressed with the class so far. They gave everyone a nice binder full of the course materials -- didn't have the supplemental handouts yet, but they promised to have the rest of it next week. This is only the fourth time our county chapter of NAMI has conducted this particular class, so I feel very fortunate to have been included.

    There were over 20 of us tonight. Mostly moms, but a few dads were there as well, including one ex-husband who was not convinced his daughter had any mental health issues and felt they were more parenting related since he says she's just fine with him (can you see me rolling my eyes?).

    Tonight was mostly spent talking about the stress and shock and denial we all go through when we first realize that our child is "different". The "Welcome to Holland" story was shared. Everyone went around the room and briefly explained why they were there. I thought this was mostly for parents with kids under 18, but there were several who had "kids" in their early 20's. Majority of people had a child with bipolar. The moderator/leader has an adult child who's schizophrenic. Someone else had a psychosis and mish-mash of other diagnosis's for their child. A few had Asperger's.

    Anyhow, this was only the second time in my life (and it all happened this year) when I've been in a room full of other parents with kids that had issues similar to my own! The first time was this summer with the ladies in Ohio. And I have to say, I felt very comfortable and very familiar with everything that was shared and discussed. Almost to the point where I feel like I am an old pro, (at least compared to some of the parents who are just now figuring out there's something going on with their kid) but I realize I have MUCH still to learn.

    I'll probably end up sharing this CD website with some of the people there, since there doesn't seem to be much in the way of support groups in my county for parents of underage kids with mental illnesses. And then I'll probably feel the waters for any interest in starting our own face-2-face support group, even if it's a very informal group.

    The main tenet of NAMI is that mental illness is as much a physical disorder as diseases like diabetes or cancer. One of their goals is to eradicate the stigma associated with mental illness, or as they like to call them, brain disorders. There are many universal aspects of brain disorders, and many of them are functionally related. Most of us on THIS board have learned already that our kids have MUCH in common despite the different diagnosis's they all have.

    Here are some of the facts they covered tonight:


    And I found this on the NAMI site tonight that I feel is worth sharing:


    They also talked about the stages of emotional reactions among family members dealing with mental illness. We all start out in the shock and grief phase, then we adapt and try to cope, and then with any luck we learn to advocate. But it's a very fluid process, and just because you move on to one phase doesn't mean you won't have something happen to knock you back to square one emotionally. Sort of like the situation with a child whose diagnosis is evolving, and just when you think you understand what's going on, something changes and you are reeling from the new issues that you are suddenly facing and trying to figure it all out. I could relate to that very much. Some of us live in a constant state of waiting-for-the-other-shoe-to-drop!

    The last bit of info they covered tonight had to do with Positive and Negative symptoms of brain disorders. The Positive symptoms (not that they are good in any way) are behaviors or symptoms you never saw before but that are present when your child is ill with their disorder. Things like irritability, abusiveness, rages, unpredictable reactions, obsessions, uncontrollable sadness or crying, self-injurious behaviors, inappropriate or bizarre behaviors are just a few on the list. Negative symptoms are behaviors that are unique to your child and what makes them who they are, and these behaviors typically disappear when the disorder is in an active state and include ability to focus and concentrate, ability to express joy, pride in appearance and personal hygiene, pride in taking responsibility, optimisim and faith in the future, emotional resiliency, self control, enjoyment of family and friends, and personal insight, to name a few.

    In other words, brain disorders result in traumatic changes and losses in our children!

    The final document in tonight's session is a brochure entitled "Parents and Teachers as Allies." I haven't read it yet, but I suspect it is something I'll want to copy and distribute to each of my difficult child's teachers this year!
  8. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    It sounds very enlightening! It is great that you met other parents and felt support plus feel like you can learn something. I don't know if our NAMI has ever given classes like that but they sound very useful. I can't help but wonder though- is it a little like preaching to the choir? I mean, it seems like it would be more helpful to send someone from NAMI with us to advocate for our kid at the sd or court, Know what I mean?? Or at least do more to make a dent in the way the real people in our lives think. No matter how much info I'm provided, it doesn't make any difference if I'm dealing with people who don't want to listen to the parent. Ok, that's the devil's advocate in me, I guess!
  9. Christy

    Christy New Member

    Great Idea! Our new NAMI chapter president is trying to make providing support and info to parents with special needs children under age 18 a priority. We are working on putting together a weekly support group.