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Raising a Mentally Ill Child

Posted Dec 02 2008 1:51am

One in five families deals with serious mental illness.

Think about it.

If you’re not one of those families, you likely know one…

or two…

or three…

Canada’s Globe and Mail recently began a series on the mental health crisis in their country. It’s a crisis that mirrors a similar situation in the US, where depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder affect 13 to 22 percent of kids under 18.

The series, which I’ll reference and excerpt this week, covers topics like denial, disbelief, fear, rage,  and safety. You’ll learn that seventy percent of adult patients with mental illness can trace symptoms back to childhood; many “vividly recall the first frightening moment of infinite sadness or the anxiety that makes you want to strip off your own skin.”

This article, featuring the Bishop-Quigley family and their ten year-old daughter Erynn, and written by André Picard and Erin Anderssen, graphically illustrates the challenges families face when a child is mentally ill. Read the excerpt below, and thenfollow the link for the entire story, to discover the risks, the cost, the emotional toll and challenges millions of parents face every single day. After you’ve read the story, come back to me and leave your thoughts, ideas, concerns.

“On a Monday morning in September, 2006, during what they call their “darkest of days,” Heather Bishop and Sean Quigley committed their 10-year-old daughter, Erynn, to a psychiatric hospital.

The breaking point came after a Saturday shopping trip to a Sam’s Club in their hometown of London, Ont. When Ms. Bishop casually suggested to Erynn that she put a toy back on the shelf, the girl’s expression clouded, then she erupted into screams. There was no way to bring her back: Soon, she would be throwing punches. They had to get out of the store.

Mr. Quigley slung Erynn over his shoulder and Ms. Bishop abandoned the cart piled high with groceries, just as they had done dozens of time before. This was no simple tantrum. It was everyday life for the couple - trying to protect their daughter and everyone around her while she was consumed by rages she barely remembered afterward.”

For the entire stoey and to learn more about the Quigley family? Click here.


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