A brief anecdote of how my journey as a caregiver to a family member with mental illness began
It was the summer after my sophomore year of college when I found out my mother had a clinical mental illness. I was sound asleep when the phone rang.
“Is this Chris Murphy?” asked an unfamiliar voice.
“Yeah.” I responded.
“Is your mother Patti?” the voice asked.
I rubbed my eyes and turned towards the clock. It was 3:45 A.M. “Yes.”
Over the next twenty or so minutes, a social worker from the Licking County Memorial Hospital detailed her encounter with my mother. Mom had been picked up in a rural community, a sixty minute drive from her home. She was ranting, screaming, and highly agitated about a number of things. I was told my mom would be held in the Emergency Department until I could arrange to pick her up. I remember getting off the phone and thinking, what in the world is going on here?
Now, as a kid, mom had some goofy personality quirks. No questions about it, but heck, I was a kid. It isn’t like I had another mom or family to index behavior against. But this? This was a little outside the realm of her “normal” behavior. The ride home from Licking County Memorial Hospital was my formal baptism into taking care of a family member with a clinical mental illness. She was fifty-three at the time and I was just twenty-one.
Over the past sixteen years I went from being a college student, to an established lawyer. During this time, I have encountered just about every-single legal problem one can, when caring for a family member with a clinical mental illness. There is no handbook of how to do this stuff. There is no go-to guide. And what’s more, no one really wants to talk about it. It is taboo.
So, with that said, rather than sit on top of my experiences, I thought I would share it. I think the best way to deliver the information is in articles. I’ll try to keep them short and interesting.