Mother highlights struggle of parents, children experiencing mental illness
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MOUNT VERNON — For many parents, speaking with other parents revolves around their children’s achievements, but for parents of children who struggle with mental illness it can be difficult to find a source of support that will understand the achievements their child makes each day in dealing with their illnesses.
Jami Ingledue, a parent advocate of children with mental illness, spoke at the 69th annual NAMI “making a difference” celebration dinner, Thursday at the Glenn A. Gallagher Centre, about her experience raising a daughter who struggled with severe mental illness issues, including depression, anxiety and ADHD. Ingledue, who writes the column Behind Domestic Lines for the online magazine The Wild Word, read selections from some of her blog posts, including her article “Mothering Through the Darkness,” which was previously published under a pseudonym in order to protect her daughter’s privacy.
Ingledue highlighted her struggle to find parents she could speak with about the stress she experienced day in and day out to support her daughter through trying times that were physically, emotionally and also monetarily draining.
“I’ve gotten to know a lot of other parents in this journey, and they’ve really become my heroes because they work so hard all the time to just get their kids up to ‘normal’ — that would be great — but just to be able to make it through the day, they work so hard for that,” Ingledue explained. “Other parents who haven’t been through that, just don’t understand the full breadth of it. The support piece for parents — and I’m so thankful that NAMI does such great work in this area — because it’s so hard to find [support].”
Ingledue also shared her piece called “Ten Things I Want Parents Of ‘Normal’ Kids To Know.” The list she shared, Ingledue noted, came from her own struggles that she faced and from the struggles of the individuals she met through the private Facebook group. Ingledue recited the issues that parents can face, which largely stem from the ignorance of other parents to the behind-the-scenes struggles that parents and families of mentally ill children go through on a daily basis. Issues such as judgment about the decision to medicate their child, being second guessed or having “solutions” suggested, being perceived as rude or unorganized when late because their child is having a melt down and the loneliness parents feel when it seems like other parents won’t understand their struggles because of the stigma surrounding mental illness.
“You don’t realize the millions of children living in this United States that have these disorders,” executive director of NAMI of Knox/Licking County, Dodi Melvin, said. “It’s astounding really and it’s time for us to talk about it. And have a place for these [parents] to go that they don’t have to search on Facebook to find help. Even in our small community, there are few places where they can go and talk about their kids. You know we can talk about our kids with tonsillitis or appendicitis — you know you get ‘Well how’s your kid? Is he getting well?’ — you don’t get those kind of accolades when you have a [mentally ill] child.”
To read Ingledue’s blog visit thewildword.com
Melvin also used the dinner and meeting Thursday to say thank you to those in the community that help NAMI function and help those who are challenged by mental illness. Pastor Mark Wildermuth and the Faith Lutheran Church congregation were awarded with the Jerrald “Jerry” Townsend You Made A Difference Award. Melvin explained that Faith Lutheran has made NAMI a priority through donations and support. Also recognized was Tricia McPherson with the Newark branch of the Main Place. McPherson received the Franklin Miller Jr. Award for Volunteer of the Year.
“She has reached out to our people and our support group and our family to family classes and she stays after work and she takes in the class time as well,” Melvin told McPherson. “What you do for us is very much appreciated and we couldn’t do it without you.”
Melvin thanked additional volunteers.