Abby: Reflecting on What She Can Do

Abby has learned about managing the many emotions emerging from her family experiences. Key lessons include the importance of taking care of self and coming together as a family.

I think the good part has been for me being able to realize how important it is to take care of yourself. My dad and I feel like all of us have to realize if you’re feeling off or anything, going back to your home base and taking care of you is really important. There are both challenges and good things about coming together as a family. I think we spend more time together than we would have because of the tensions and challenges.

She is more understanding of what others go through. She commented, “I feel like when we talk to people, everyone has a story connected to mental health and no one really talks about it.” It was difficult to realize she and other family members could not make their mother better. She wondered if her mother would get better faster if she visited her more often or called her more. On days when her mother acted more “normal,” Abby explained she would then think her mother did not need help. In retrospect, Abby realized “my mother needed more help than anything we could provide.”

Initially, Abby and family members rotated the responsibility to visit Mandy so someone would visit every day. However, she now sees the stress that resulted for family members.

Looking back on it, my mother didn’t even know what was going on then. Not that we shouldn’t have visited her, but we strained ourselves and our work life. We strained our relationships with our significant others slightly because I need to go visit my mom. You’re doing all these things. I just don’t think that one person can change chemical imbalance. That’s what we all thought. If we make her happy, she’ll get out of this.

Abby and her family have weathered incredible challenges in their family life. They have persevered in finding effective treatment for Mandy and supported one another in making decisions about how to manage coping with the adversity of the last six months. Abby has worked hard to succeed in her life roles of daughter, mother, wife, sister, and new employee. She has gained insight about the importance of self-care and increased her knowledge about mental illness and the healthcare system. She has learned to see her mother as someone who lives with mental illness and is also her mother.


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