The shame of mental illness

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The shame of mental illness

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How do you explain your child's mental illness to friends and family? Man, I'll tell you. We didn't for a long time. We actually disengaged from the world. We hid. Family, there is family that we haven't spoken to in years. They don't know why. I think the reason is, you feel shame. You are seeing their family do well, their kids do well, their kid is on the honor roll, excelling in sports. Their kid is going to get a scholarship to college and your kid is struggling. It rips your heart out when you see other kids doing really well, and your kid isn't because you have really high hopes for your child. At a certain point in time, you have to face the reality and say, "Look, I'm glad your kids are doing really well, but we are not. If you can't understand, then I understand. If you need to disengage from us, I understand; but we have to do what we have to do. We love our kid as much as you love yours, I'm sure. So you need to understand what we are going through or, at least, you need to try." It's all you can do.

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Jay Gaylen

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Jay Gaylen is the dad of a now 22-year old daughter who was diagnosed as a teen with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), Bi-Polar II and ADHD. Jay and his wife, Renu, adopted Joslyn from Thailand. The process started when Joslyn was just nine months old. It took nearly two years to complete the adoption process — a good reason why Joslyn is a RAD kid. They sought help from numerous resources before discovering NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness). Jay began lecturing for NAMI’s Parents and Teachers as Allies program while being trained to teach the Family to Family and Basics courses.

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