I live on the coast of Maine with Bobby my husband within some 30 yards of the ocean. Some 60 members of my family live nearby. There is a two mile dirt road that finally arrives at Route 77, which passes through what one might call a town here. It consists of a grocery store, a drug store between which is a small office space, a yoga studio and a restaurant. It is in that small office space that myself, three therapists and one administrator of our local mental hospital meet. We are all mothers of seriously mentally ill children.
We meet to share our experiences as mothers with children who are seriously mentally ill and see if we could reach out to other mothers in our town.
A few months ago in one of those offices, four of us met. We all have very sick mentally ill children. We call ourselves "The Mothers" and we hope to reach out to other mothers in our community and country. This is quite a task. I hope perhaps aside from blogs we can speak out about mothers and mental illness and we can empower mothers of mentally ill children.
So often, when there is a seriously mentally ill son or daughter who is a danger to himself or herself and others, there is often a divorce and the mother is living alone. Recently, one of "The Mothers" had to leave her house and go to a local Inn at some expense because her mentally ill son, according to the police who called at 11 o'clock at night, said he was coming home to kill her.
She went immediately to the local Inn and I was left wondering how does she manage the next night and the night after wondering where he is . . . in jail, stealing, sleeping in cars or shelters, plotting his revenge against those who have harmed him all his life (including his mother). "It is agonizing for him and excruciating for us," she said.
So many of these stories do not end well. It was about a week later that another one of us told our group that her son had committed suicide. That was all she could say.
I have not spoken about our child yet. I've tried but all my thoughts seem to get tangled. I will soon because our group shares an understanding of the terrible irremediable sadness and for some reason often shame, as if being a mother of an ill child is something we should be able to prevent -- to prevent our child from suffering again and again. We often feel defeated, ashamed, exhausted and angry.
I feel as if society treats mothers with mentally ill children like the Witches of Salem -- and that perhaps is one of the reasons the silence of the mothers is deafening. We need to face the fact that we are in the dark ages around mental illness.
Our civil liberties grant people the right not to be unjustly imprisoned. Does that grant the right to be unjustly killed? Does this proposal really pertain to a seriously mentally ill person who is threatening and dangerous to his family? What rights does a single mother or family have? A mother here was just murdered by her mentally ill son, what were her rights of protection, evidently none.
How does society protect people? Do laws for seriously mentally ill people exist? How many shootings of children's schools and other murders are caused by mentally ill people? How are the mentally ill getting the help that they need so that these tragedies can be avoided?
What are the answers; who is even asking the questions?
I would like to see "The Mothers," mothers of our country, become a powerful and healthy group for mental illness in their families. I feel it is long overdue, that first mothers help other mothers (speak out) and help overcome the shame and stigma and real physical and mental suffering mothers endure.
The Moms need to organize to help themselves, their children and often save their families. It is long overdue, this country needs stronger families and stronger support for mental health.
Click here for more information about our group in Maine.