As a child of a mother with mental illness that was undiagnosed for years I thought everything was normal but now looking back as an adult child I remember mom not being around much and me living at family member’s homes quite often and quite frankly our lives being chaos. When I was 14 I ended up moving in with my father and stepmother; something that I had always wanted to do but never got to until then. At 16, my father ended up passing away and I became a very rebellious teenager: running the streets, drinking and even trying drugs. I did end up graduating by the skin of my teeth. I really don't know how; I was never at school in my senior year. Out on my own at 18 I got a full time job and got married at 20 and had a child a year later.
I have been able to get my mom get the right diagnosis after so many years and was able to establish the relationship that we never had.
I tried for years to keep a relationship with my mother but found it very hard. Knowing now that she was again undiagnosed and was committed to drug and alcohol treatment centers for years when all along the bipolar stayed hidden away. I ended up having to keep my mother out of my life for nearly 20 years because now looking back the symptoms of bipolar that all of the family had to go through. In 2004, I took the NAMI's Family-to-Family education program. And actually the first night of class I spent the day helping my aunt (my mom’s sister) do an involuntary commitment of my mom. All I can say is that from that moment on, when I stepped into that program, it has been life changing ever since. I have been able to get my mom get the right diagnosis after so many years and was able to establish the relationship that we never had. Granted, the disorder did take a lot away from her over the years.
In 2006, I became a NAMI Family-to-Family teacher. In 2008, I became a state trainer. NAMI gave me my mother back and we are now a team with her illness. We go to doctor’s appointments together and we both understand how important it is to stay on top of the disorder. I have learned that I could never of known what no one told me as a child and as an adult child. Thank you NAMI! I am now able to pay it forward!