Losing It.

Losing It.

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Today I lost my job. It isn’t exactly lost –

I know where it is. It was put in the capable hands of a woman who doesn’t have two kids with mental illness. A woman whose children don’t have countless appointments to attend. She doesn’t have to spend hundreds of hours negotiating the court system, the mental health system, insurance companies or the social security department.  She has also never ever had to send her children to schools, treatment centers or hospitals that are miles away from home.

I have been unemployed, under-employed and maybe even unemployable since my decision that being a mom was more important than anything an employer puts in front of me. Apparently that includes a paycheck.

Regardless of how I make a living, the fact is, I don’t. Not very well, anyway.  I used to be in a high-profile profession, making more money than I can even now imagine.  The choice to have children stopped my career path in its tracks. First when I was lucky enough to be a stay-at-home mom. Later, when I found myself a single mom with two kids….with those pesky mental illnesses; who although now are both young adults still need their mom.

Mothers of children with special needs kids are more likely to live in poverty than their peers. 29% of California parents have had to cut back or stop working to attend to their children. I say ‘mothers’ because divorce rates in that group are at 80%, mothers are most frequently left with the burden of care. *

Today I lost my job. It isn’t exactly lost –

I was relieved of it.  Because my son is in an intensive outpatient program for his severe anxiety, Three hours away from home.  Monday through Friday he and I have been living in a hotel. Apparently, employers don’t much appreciate it when you move away. Even if only for 3 weeks. Even if your job is a part-time job you do mostly from home.

Yet I can’t help but think that if he was undergoing chemotherapy that my employer would have been more sympathetic, more patient and not have scolded me for “not asking permission to take him for therapy.”  Yes, that is the very moment I lost it. My cool and my patience.

Mental illness is the third leading cause of death in people his age group.  Suicide rates are three times higher than cancer rates. 

Mental illness is a disease and it is life threatening. In fact, It is all consuming for parents who do not have the same resources or support as parents whose children suffer from diseases of the body and not the brain.

And so today I lost my job, but I will not lose my son, nor my way, as I continue my mission to do whatever I can for him.

For more information on the impact of mental illness on families please visit http://www.kidsdata.org/topic#cat=12

*Kidsdata.org
*Center for Disease Control

Tricia
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