Today I had coffee over in Redmond with Lisa. I met her when I spoke to the NAMI Eastside public policy committee about SB 5706. Lisa has been on the same lonely journey as all of us. I know she'll be sharing her story with all of us on Support SB 5706 soon.
She is supporting our bill because she's been there. Her daughter is now an adult and still struggles. Lisa said something profound that is relevant to the long term impact of our work:
"Now that our daughter is in her 20s, mental health is asking where the family is. We say, we have been here all along, but you kept pushing us away ever since this all began almost 10 years ago. "
Our state mental health system has an absurd logic of not letting parents of 13 year olds make medically necessary decisions for their minor children, but coming to the parents of a young adult with mental illness who is unable to take care of herself.
This inability to supportively launch our children who struggle starts at age 13 when the state starts sending the message to children that they are on their own. It continues in jailing our mentally ill instead of treating them and killing our sons and daughters who suffer from psychotic episodes we seem to be unable to prevent.
I'm not speaking in hyperbole about death. The following is from an email I received from NAMI Seattle yesterday:
One of our Youth Mental Health Awareness Month Committee members... "experienced a terrible tragedy. Her brother Alex, who was living with schizophrenia, was killed by police last night [Tuesday] when their family called for assistance in getting him to the hospital. He was unable to be revived after being tased."
My heart aches for the families of children, young and old, who struggle to live with debilitating mental illnesses. I am filled with gratitude to connect with others who share my journey, even if it means the heart breaking condolence shared with a grieving sister because I know if I can see her, she can see me.