Remember the joy of learning you would be a parent? You dreamed of your child’s future. Maybe you figured out how old you would be when your child graduated from high school.
But what if, by the time your daughter was seven-years-old, she was screaming, “I want to die.”
This happened to Charity Marie. “Time stopped in that moment. I lost the ability to breathe…”
Her journey with daughter, Libby, thus far, is heart wrenching. This courageous woman deals with struggles few parents can imagine. Less than 1% of children develop paranoid schizophrenia, a neurological brain disease with no cure.
Read her incredible story of love, heartache, and determination.
She needs us to care.
Visions of Liberty: Parenting a Child with Severe Mental Illness
Any hope my daughter Libby would outgrow her fears ended unexpectedly one sunny summer day in July 2017, as we stood in a local children’s hospital room listening to my ten-year-old describe a skeletal figure holding a knife dripping blood, standing behind the doctor.
As she cried and told us she thought the figure would kill everyone in the room, my parental identity and dreams for her shattered into a million pieces. I listened to her say once again she wanted to kill herself, which she’d been saying for three years. For the first time, I understood a little better why.
It hurts. I can’t even tell you how much.
She was admitted to the local behavioral health hospital for a ten day stay and prescribed medication for anxiety and depression. And over the past six months, we’ve tried to pick up the pieces and find our new normal as she continues to suffer from debilitating hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, and other symptoms she can’t control. We’ve witnessed her battle every day against demons we can’t see or understand.
Since then, her medication was changed and she’s now on a heavy cocktail of medication to control the worst of her symptoms, which has thankfully restored some, but not all her ability to function. It wasn’t until December 2017 we really began to understand the battle we face will be lifelong and will get harder as she ages.
She’s had three subsequent inpatient stays for continuing symptoms since July and as of January 2018 has been admitted to the nearest residential treatment center for long term care, two hours away from us.
The loneliness and isolation are very hard to take. Some days you just need to feel like someone else cares, that someone will do something, anything to help make the situation a little better. In the last 30 days we’ve had so many medical emergencies, I’m mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted in ways I’ve never experienced. We haven’t had a good weekend in six weeks.
And I’m doing all of this while working full time. I don’t want or need pity. I do want solutions, help, support. I want to see change. This illness is hard enough without the roadblocks making it worse. I shouldn’t be fighting with medical professionals and the insurance company to get her treated. I shouldn’t be facing bankruptcy because the medical costs of her care are so high. Where will we be in six years or as Libby approaches 18? I don’t know, and I’m honestly scared to find out.
Schizophrenia is a brain disorder that needs so much more understanding. Until it impacted me, I didn’t know about it either. No shame in that – but everyone needs to understand more than they do.
Together, we must do more to help people who are struggling with mental illness – any mental illness – to cope better, to BE better, and to heal. If we all try to understand a little more, try to be kinder, we can give hope to those who are struggling and those trying to help them.
Behavior has a reason, even if it seems it doesn’t and it’s NOT because someone is just “crazy”.
As a society, we must do better to understand mental illness and to support those affected.
Read more about this family’s struggle and leave encouraging comments.
Please help Charity Marie with Libby’s ongoing, lifelong medical expenses and care for severe mental illness.
Charity Marie is an Award-winning children’s author, a paralegal for a personal injury law firm, as well as a licensed realtor.