The Forgotten Ones
Everyday people in America are struggling to cope with addiction or mental health in their family. With the rise of the opiate epidemic and the increasing awareness of mental health, more and more people are entering treatment and seeking help for their mental health disorders. But what happens to those individuals loved ones or family? The ones that have been dealing with the ups and downs, the mood swings, the overdoses, the denial, and the insanity of addiction or mental health. Frequently, family is left in the dust to suffer and try to figure things out on their own. They do not see a psychiatrist, attend a support group, or enter rehab or a hospital. They are forgotten. Despite the fact that their own physical and mental health has been impacted, they are not the "client" and therefore are only considered a part of the background.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 25% of US adults (ages 18 and older) and about 13% of US children (ages 8 to 15) are diagnosed with a mental disorder each year. If we included all the family and loved ones that suffer as well, how high would that number be? I frequently treat individuals that are suffering because of addiction or mental health in their relationships. They often suffer just as much as their loved ones. They frequently lack coping skills, resources, or insight into their problems. They often do not realize how much growing up with an addicted mother or a mentally ill sibling can impact their perception of the world and their behaviors.
These individuals often find themselves unhappy but do not know why. They are not the person with a mental health disorder? They are not the person with a substance use problem? Often these “forgotten” present as very successful people. They work, have great jobs, and often look so different on the outside from their loved one who have been diagnosed with mental health or addiction.
It takes a little for these individuals to open their eyes and realize that their problems are real and that their feelings are valid. They need to know that you do not always have to be the strong one. It is helpful to reach out for help and you are far from alone. You can benefit from treatment just as much as your loved ones. The help is there for you if you are ready to take it.