It’s Just Not Fair.

Disneyland

I just got a text from my mom

“Ash went to the hospital today.”

It’s the 3rd time since April she’s been in.

My sister was diagnosed with Bi-Polar disorder when she was 13 and at 22 years old it doesn’t get any easier. It’s a disease that she has to live with day in and day out and continuously manage.  I am so proud of my sister. At 22 years old (hell since she has been diagnosed), she has always done the RIGHT things. She stayed away from drugs & alcohol because it will only make things worse for her disease. She takes her meds every day without a fuss. She goes to group sessions, individual counseling, etc. She helps other people that also suffer from Mental Illness by sharing her story and experience…and just being a friend to those that a lot of people look at as “crazy”. She knows when her mind is not right and tells my mom and dad,  “Time to go in for an oil change” when she isn’t feeling healthy. *She calls her trips to the hospital “oil changes” because she goes in, gets tuned up, and is ready to be on the road (back in the real world) after a few days, weeks, even over a month at times.

I’m so proud of her. She’s had to make more adult decisions about her health and mental state than I have had to make in 30 years. She is a survivor. She is a warrior. She is determined not to let this disease beat her. And I am so proud of her…but today as I sit at work (moments after getting the text from my mom)…I’m really upset. I’m not sure why this hospital stint is hitting me so hard. I don’t normally get this emotional when it happens because we have been through them so many times and I know her strength. I know she is working with a great Doctor and has an amazing support team. I know she is going to be OK in a matter of days…but right now, I’m angrier than normal.

Maybe it’s because I just watched this incredible video of a woman with schizophrenia on The Frisky yesterday. I was moved by it. And so desperately want it to be Ashley (my sister). Click Here to See The Video

Maybe it’s because today when I was looking up Entertainment News for the show I watched a video about celebrities with Bi-Polar disorder.

Maybe it’s because I just spent a week with my sister earlier this month and saw how much progress she’s made but how much of a struggle it is.

I wake up in the morning and take pills to lose weight, make my hair grow quicker, etc and she’s taking pills to keep her sanity.

It’s just not fair.

And I’m mad.

I’m mad at the disease. I’m mad at the stigma that goes along with Mental Illness.

And I’m sad. I’m really sad for my sister. Really sad that she has to go to the hospital in order to feel safe…from herself and her thoughts.

And I’m really proud. I’m really proud that she recognizes it and does something about it…and feels no shame in doing so. She is a leader.

But I’m really sad.

I don’t want her to have to be a leader. I don’t want her to have to be afraid. I want her to be a 22 year old girl, dancing on a bar somewhere, making out with her boyfriend at a Ke$ha Concert because “Crazy Kids” is LIKE TOTALLY HER FAVORITE SONG. I want her biggest worry to be what outfit to wear or how is she ever going to ever pay off her student loans working part time at Chili’s. I just want her to have the same “weight of the world on her shoulders” that other 22 year olds have…that I had. Not this.

It’s just not fair.

Here’s a pic of my cousin, Mickey, Me and my sister at Disneyland July 28th.

 

 

  • Annette Pellens

    God bless you Brooke Nicole… And our Ashley.. We all love your family sooooo much.

  • BreAnne Ruelas

    Love you guys!! Ashley is amazing!!

  • life.editor

    I love this blog…. you should also be proud of you and your entire family because you are ALL tearing down the stigma that goes with mental illness… By sharing you are helping, by helping you are actually helping all of the loved ones to understand that their feelings are normal and real and justified….. Be you Brooke you are the best roll model for her…. a real loving caring sister flaws and all!

  • Carrie bigelow

    Brooke, you’re all strong, determined, wise women. We’re praying for you each, for strength, mercy and more wisdom from above. This was honest and touching and I hope you’re also receiving comfort from sharing it. I love you, near or far.

  • Mary Rita Nommensen

    Brooke,
    Beautifully written,it brings tears to my eyes. So proud of you are not ashamed to share your feelings about Ashley or your family. Your Mom & Dad did a great job raising you, Chris & Ashley….

  • Shelly B

    Brooke as I sit and read this I have tears in my eyes. I too have been dealing with something similar with my daughter. She suffers from panic attacks from change, from life. The things that make us mad or cuss that go wrong in a day, make my 18 year old hyperventilate and fight to breathe. Its mental illness. I hate those words. Mental what is that? Something our world has such a stigma about. Yet people like your sister and my daughter exist in that world unseen most of the time. My daughter was accepted at Clemson I move her Friday. Since her graduation in May it has been a struggle at best. Not because she doesnt want to go, not because this isnt the dream of a lifetime to be accepted into the pre-vet program but the change. The struggle she knows being so far away without me, without people that know her struggles will be there to lift her back up. She too is on meds which help most days. Mental illness is inviseable it is something most cant see so they dont accept it. Try telling that to housing as you struggle to get your daughter in an enviroment she can handle. She has a service dog that can detect her oncoming panic attacks. She sees a counselor and a physician who both have written letters to the college telling them this dog is so needed. Not asking for special treatment, not asking for the dog to be allowed everywhere on campus just at her dorm so something is familiar for her at night to calm her. So explain to me why the one lady in housing says to me, “Do you know what all I have to do to get this dog approved?” (its not the first service dog at the school mind you) As I am sobbing on the other end I respond to her, “No ma’am I don’t.” Does she know what i am dealing with, a kid who is screaming she would be better off dead so no one would have to accept what she goes through, a kid who tells me as she is fighting to breathe she is scared out of her mind and can’t see she isn’t the only one, a kid who says she is so tired of taking medications just to survive life. We can see cancer, we can see a disease, no one sees mental illness unless that person is so far out in left field. This lady in housing works with disability. I sure hope she didn’t treat another parent the way she treated me and I sure hope she doesn’t act like this when she meets with my daughter or there will be hell to pay from her momma. I follow this site (http://ok2talk.org/) and I read the stories there is a video too and the one boy who says I just want to fit in. Yes that’s my daughter. Just once she would like to be known as who she is not what she has. Maybe someday, maybe one day she will feel as though she already does. My hope is that she can look in the mirror everyday and be as proud of herself as I am. I mean come on its not everyday a kid like her gets into the vet program at Clemson with her academics. She is wonderful to me and always will be.

    Thank you Brooke for being real and talking about your sister. It helps us know that its ok to talk about it, and to know that yes my daughter is not alone.

  • Dee

    Brooke, thank you for sharing so honestly your heart for sweet Ashley. Those of us who know her, love her dearly. She is a trouper, a fighter, a darling, a sweetheart. She is Ashley, at once strong, and fragile. She is beautiful, and we count it a blessing to love her.

  • Brooke Ryan

    I am so sorry that your daughter is going through this Shelly and that the housing lady treated you the way she did. I wish I could say that that was a rare case but just like you said before, Mental Illness is an “INVISIBLE” disease. People don’t understand it. People are afraid of it. It breaks my heart. You hear a person has cancer and immediately you feel so bad for the person & ask if there is anything you can do. You hear a person is BiPolor or Schizophrenic and you run the other away. That stigma needs to change.

  • Brooke Ryan

    Thanks Carrie! Love you. Miss you. And thank you so much for your prayers.

  • Brooke Ryan

    Thank you. I am so proud of her. She allows her story to be shared and is not afraid of what people will think or say…because she wants to help others.

  • Brooke Ryan

    Love you Bre. So proud of you!

  • Brooke Ryan

    Love you netter!

  • Brooke Ryan

    Thank you Aunt Mary Rita. Love you guys. Thank you and Uncle Mike and Alyssa for always being so good to her.

  • Brooke Ryan

    Thank you Dee. She really is.

  • Liane

    Beautifully said, Brooke. You have every right to be mad, to be sad…and sharing it like you have might help someone else who is trying to understand a similar situation. Your family is so full of love for one another. The Disneyland pic makes me smile.