Reading – 5 Things I Wish You Knew About My Child Who Has Mental Illness

We talk about stigma for folks dealing with mental illness, but probably no one get stigmatized more than children with mental illnesses. This a great story about how bad it can be for those kids, but also how, with the correct, treatment, these same kids can go on and lead great lives.

5 Things I Wish You Knew About My Child Who Has Mental Illness

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  1. I know you mean well, and refering to mental health conditions as mental illness is stigmatizing, in general, especially for trauma survivors. We are not mentally ‘ill’. This is an old paradigm of understanding the experience of those whose childhood was marked by attachment trauma. One of the greatest gifts you can offer fellow survivors is a new understanding of what it means to experience pain, what it means to feel supported and what it means to heal. This often requires stepping outside the definition that is offered to us by mental health professionals. I am thinking of psychiatrists most specifically. “Mental illness”, “mental disorders”, and the idea that the source of our pain and suffering is the result of a genetic brain disorder was created by psychiatry to provide scientific legitimacy to their profession. (See: Mad in America, Thomas Szasz, Peter Breggin for more). Also to make sure that they are taken serious as medical authorities – as doctors. But it’s time for trauma survivors, including you to take back your power on behalf of yourself and children misdiagnosed as having ADHD which is also often connected to emotional regulation issues and attunement. (See Mad in America, Bruce Perry, Bessel van der Kolk). Misdiagnosis by psychiatrists is often a common experience among the trauma survivor population (bipolar, genetic depression, ADHD, borderline) (Pete Walker) . These are considered brain disorders, but a person with a trauma history is not brain disordered or mentally ill. Instead they are experiencing the effects of a childhood experience of neglect, abuse, trauma and lack of the support of their primary caregivers. Consider that next time you use the term “mentally ill” and think about the message you are sending to others, including yourself, fellow survivors and mental health professionals. The truth is you do not need to accept the authority’s definition of you. And obviously you do not need to accept my words or perspective either. That is what empowerment means. It means creating your own definition and sense of identity that is informed based in your own experiences. That’s what is involved in healing from the effects of trauma, in my opinion. I wish you well on your journey.

    1. In this case, since the author or the original article used that term, and it’s their child they were talking about, I chose to continue using the terms they used. Had that chosen a different term, I probably would have followed along with that as well. So, I understand what you are saying, but in this case, I am but the messenger in a sense, of someone else’s story.

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