quevarraMartin Luther King Jr.  Once said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that Matter.” Over the last 13 years I’ve held a silence that at times seemed as if I really was dead inside. Me and my brother, closest of family and friends know our journey and everything that came with that. Our mother has battled mental illness for years.

In observance of “Going Green” for May Mental Health Awareness Month I wanted to share a snippet of my story… Over the last 10 weeks I have been teaching a class called Family-to-Family sponsored by NAMI Austin.  It teaches caregivers of family members with mental illness how to care for themselves. This week in class we talked about coming out of the closet about mental illness…lol..  I went on to tell the class, “Sometimes the heaviest load you carry could be the very thing to lift the load off someone else.” I paused for a moment because in that very second I knew I needed to share my story about my mom.  Closet door opens…. 

Living with someone with Paranoid Schizophrenia is one that totally changed my outlook on life and what is important.  I pondered on the questions I received from friends and family, “Girl how your momma doing? I called your momma and she seems different. ..  I have called your mom over and over again and she is not answering what’s up?  Girl I ain’t seen your momma in years… Your mom said the weirdest thing to me… Girl it is just stress it will pass.” My awkward pause of silence is because at that moment, as her advocate and caregiver I must make a decision of whether or not you can handle the truth…. or would you use that to hurt her.. or would you go and gossip about her to others….. until one day… God said to me “I am with her.. she was my daughter way before she was your mother.. so let go and trust me..You are not equipped to protect her like I can” 

We had to process and grieve who our mother was and embrace this amazing woman she is today! Did you know 1 in every 4 adults battle some form of mental illness? Did you know 1 in every 5 children battle some form of mental illness? Depression, Anxiety, Bipolar, Schizophrenia, Eating Disorders are just a few of the mental illnesses that some battle daily. One day God smiled on us and introduced me the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).  They gave me resources to help us navigate getting mom help. That amazing day in 2009 changed our lives for the better.  I pray that this little piece of our story encourages someone to fight the Stigma of Mental Illness.  Mental illness does not mean crazy…. What is crazy is that society,  and culture has conditioned us to be reluctant about it! For help and resources in your area contact NAMI.  You can learn more about NAMI Austin at www.namiaustin.org.

Quevarra Moten, May 2014


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