Pain of mental illness

Re. 'This is a poor kid suffering': West Kelowna mother can't find help needed for schizophrenic son (Castanet, Match 27)

I read the recent article about a mom with a son w with mental Illness.

I can feel her struggle, her pain as I am also a mom of a beautiful “broken” boy, diagnosed with schizophrenia. No one knows the heart-wrenching ordeal of watching their child deteriorate, being desperate to find help and laying awake at night trying to think of solutions unless they have gone through it with their own family.

We see them, they are standing by a store or a road. They are sleeping by a bush along the street. They are pushing buggies. They sit on curbs or in the park. They are those who are without homes. We all see them. They are the lost forgotten souls.

You cannot imagine that is your loved one, you cannot believe it. How did this happen?

Statistics show 80% of homeless people have mental illness. That means most of them are struggling with a brain disease like Alzheimer’s. They have probably been in the hospital at some time, or numerous times. The article states they are discharged with a care plan and linked to community services and a discharging plan always considers where a person will be discharged to and where they will live.

The Interior Health spokesperson goes on about its services and ends (by saying) many factors go into this plan. I have a question. What plan?

Let me share our family’s experiences.

Our son was diagnosed at 18 years. He is now is 40. Once your child is an adult, we, as parents, have no say. Many times I returned to the psychiatric ward to find my son discharged, only to find him down the street still in his delusional psychosis.

My son was about 24 years old when his psychiatrist first discharged him to the Gospel Mission. He has been discharged, given a tent and an address to go set it up. We found him the next day. He had no idea where the tent was, he was hungry.

I called his (care) team. The police came, there was nothing they could do. He turned to drugs to escape his tormented mind, to self-medicate, an ugly cycle of hell.

We are told that is what he is choosing, he has his rights. Never mind that he is incompetent and we are also told he has the mind of a 12 year old. (Did you know his rights are more important than the community’s safety? But that’s another letter.)

Our medical system is broken. As this mother (in the story) says,”we’re throwing our mentally ill children to the wolves….we’re destroying families.”

There is such a lack of support for parents and no regard for what parents have to offer. Little or no information is given. Meanwhile, the family is hurting, coming to grips with this intolerable situation, isolated as it grapples with understanding what is happening with their child.

Our medical system must change. I believe (I hope) in the future they will look back and say, “how could we allow this for our society’s people with mental diseases.”

For all the aching parents of beautiful “broken” children, my heart shares in your pain.

Corine Alderliesten

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