Family and Friends

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Mental Health Documentary (⚠️TRIGGER WARNING⚠️)

Yesterday I watched a really interesting documentary about a family of 12 siblings, 6 of whom were diagnosed with Schizophrenia, varying in degrees of severity.

It gave me perspective on what life is like for people who’s loved ones suffered from mental health disorders. It also provided insight into why some people interact with me differently throughout the progression of my disease and how I’m not the only one who struggles because of it.

The documentary is called “6 Schizophrenic Brothers” (I found it on Amazon Prime but I believe it’s on other streaming platforms).

⚠️Trigger Warning: the documentary discusses very difficult topics, including: suicide, homicide, sexual abuse, domestic violence & substance abuse

‼️Additional Warning: I did find some of what the non-schizophrenic family members described how their siblings disorder affected them difficult to watch.

I debated whether or not to post this because of the potentially triggering subjects covered, however, I feel like it gave me a better appreciation for my loved ones and an understanding that I’m not the only one who struggles as a result of my diagnosis- something I find I fall short of considering/recognizing.

#FamilyAndFriends #MentalHealth #Caregiving #Schizophrenia

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Happy Mothers Day #Depression #Anxiety #Relationships #FamilyAndFriends #Mothers #MentalHealth

It’s Mothers Day here in Australia.

For many people, especially many women, one of the loveliest days in the year is also one of the loneliest.

Let's pray today:

"Lord, for mothers today we pray joy -
* for orphans, comfort
* for not-yet mothers, hope
* for mother's with empty arms, God be their comfort
* for single mothers, grace
* for the lonely, family.

May there be moments of comfort and hope today for -
* the mothers of prodigals
* the mothers who've lost children
* the mothers who don't know where their children are
* the mothers in war torn countries, whose hearts are surely breaking

May the embrace of grace displace shame -
* for mothers in prison
* for mothers who feel they have failed
* for mothers who can't be with their children
* for mothers trying to forget a termination.

May those who never held their own child, for whom today may be sadder than it is happy, know the love and joy of parenting within the church, for "As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; and you will be comforted."
Isaiah 66:13

And finally Lord, for all those poor souls everywhere who forgot that this is Mother's Day we ask that you would bless them in your abundant grace and mercy with the discovery of flowers and half-decent cards. Amen"

#hopechapelblacktown #blacktown #mothersday #allwomenmothersday

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Finding the Right Fit, From Inclusion and Beyond: A New Day Program for Jessica after 20 Years.

This is our daughter Jessica's story and the narrative for many adults who require assistance with all daily living skills and have a severe intellectual disability.

Finding the Right Fit

It's bewildering how we lose the dedicated funding and energy invested in including individuals like Jess in public schools once they reach age 21. Typically, opportunities for Jess and her peers in adulthood confine them to self-contained classrooms, with most activities being exclusionary. Finding the right fit after an inclusive public school education is difficult.  

When our daughter, Jessica, was born in 1982, we didn't know she had a diagnosis. She was our teeny first baby. Jess came home from the hospital weighing less than five pounds, yet she was born near her due date. We called her Peanut at the time. We discovered, much later, that Jess had a rare chromosome deletion and was delayed in all her milestones. Our daughter, age 41, cannot care for herself, uses a wheelchair, is non-verbal, and has a severe intellectual disability. Jessica is also the brightest, most joyful star in the room. 

Early Education

 Jessica's early education encompassed numerous schools and classrooms. Federal Early Intervention for Infants and Toddlers was not enacted until 1986. It was still 1982, and we enrolled Jessica in a local infant stimulation program for babies with developmental delays. She transitioned to a special education classroom in a center for children with special needs at age three, and at age five, she went to a school district Board of Cooperative Education (BOCES) program. The program was over 30 minutes from our home, and Jess remained in that program, which moved from district to district until she was twelve.  

Meanwhile, I worked with our local education district, Committee on Special Education (CSE), to include Jessica in our neighborhood middle school. Like the line from the old TV show, "Cheers," we wanted everyone to know her name.   At Jessica's CSE meetings, we planned intensely for her return to the district and entry into middle school. The school prepared to welcome its first student in a wheelchair.


One of the first times I knew this was a success was when I took Jessica to our local food market. Some of her peers were in the store, and instead of getting the "who is that in the wheelchair" glare, we received a warm greeting. The kids approached Jess, called her by name, and said she attends my school. This gesture brought tears to my eyes.  

High school was quickly approaching, and in our and the district's opinion, Jess needed another change as she prepared for graduation and adulthood. Full inclusion in high school would not have the same benefits as in the lower grades. We believed Jess would not get the same opportunities for friendship and socialization in a secondary school math or science classroom.   

Once again, Jess returned to BOCES, but this time, the setting was in our neighborhood school. Her teacher, Leslie (Les), set up a reverse inclusion program whereby interested high school students entered Jessica's classroom and assisted. Jess joined the chorus during high school and participated in other typical activities. She still hums the music scales learned in high school chorus over 20 years ago.

Prom Date!

Jessica's next transition was to an adult day program. At her adult program, we hoped that Jess would feel useful, have friends, laugh, hum familiar tunes, and continue to maintain the goals she achieved in high school and strive to reach new heights.   Adulting in Jessica's world is far different than in public schools. The regulations are less rigorous than in public schools, the staffing requirements are inconsistent, inclusion is non-existent, and the hope for daily experiences in the community has yet to come to fruition.  


Many of Jessica's peers, who have more life skills, are in supportive employment and other inclusive community adventures. Yet, individuals who require more daily assistance often get stuck in exclusionary settings.    Jessica's original adult day program started differently. They explored the community, took field trips, and left the building. We connected with many staff and developed relationships.

A lot changed after Covid, and Jess was out of the program for nearly three years. A few months ago, I visited Jessica in her current classroom, saw the lack of interaction and activity, and knew it was time for a change.

The system is broken. New staff often enthusiastically start their positions, hoping to make a difference in somebody's life. Yet, the red tape and restrictions usually knock them down. This profession requires a significant level of responsibility, yet the wages provided are not commensurate. 

Adult programs require a culture of creativity, respect, collaboration, and encouragement. Our daughter, Jessica, loves meeting new friends, cherishes music, and enjoys outings. A way to incorporate more community activities into a daily program should exist.  

Jess has been in the same day-habilitation program since graduation in 2003. After##@ 20 years, we have decided to transition to a new program.  

We HOPE for the future.#RareDisease #Parenting #Transition #SpecialEducators #SpecialNeeds #dayhab #dayprogram #Disability #IDD #Hope #FamilyAndFriends @amanda-buck @amanda-hvass @amanda-snyder @breecoffey @cherieehlert

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Going home #Depression #Relationships #Anxiety #PTSD #FamilyAndFriends #MentalHealth

I’m waiting at Manila airport for an overnight to go home. It’s been a whirlwind 3 weeks in Indonesia, Malaysia and The Philippines. I have lost count of the number of intense conversations, helping people sort out their lives and finances.

Now as we board the final flight I am so excited to be going to familiar faces and places. Growing up “home” was a place we avoided at all costs. It was violent and unpredictable. Home today is so different.

I have discovered over the years that “home” can also be a relationship with a friend, a happy place, a favourite coffee shop.

Who or where do you feel most at home?

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What’s your name? #Depression #Anxiety #Relationships #FamilyAndFriends #Hope #Shame #MentalHealth

What’s your name? People and life might try and call you many names. Names like, forgotten, broken, damaged or unworthy. They are not your names. Your name is also not hopeless, too much, victim or unwanted.

Your name is “precious, worthy, loved and unique “. You are a work in progress whose time to shine will come. You are not just a survivor but a thriver. You are not alone. You matter. Call the negative labels out for what they are, lies.

Hope calls your name!

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Constant struggle

It still hurts because it still effects me, and others. And to process this will open my eyes and hopefully not repeat this again #MentalHealth #Depression #BorderlinePersonalityDisorder #Anxiety #FamilyAndFriends

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Power of love #Depression #Anxiety #Relationships #Caregiving #FamilyAndFriends #Love #MentalHealth

I have been at the Orphanage in Indonesia for 6 days now. I am pretty exhausted. As well as teaching staff I have been conducting one on one financial counselling appointments with the staff, utilising my skills from my financial planning days.

Yet, energy seems to be replenished from interaction with the amazing children and staff. They are so grateful for the support and nurturing they receive. Some of their history is quite distressing but they focus on tomorrow and are grateful for today.

These has been an amazing opportunity and I am so gratified for the opportunity to be part of changing lives.

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The Real Luxuries

Yes, these are all wonderful! As we travel talk to family and friends, they are experiencing some of the same things with family members. They have brothers and sisters and other family members who they were close to at points in time, but aren’t any longer. Ones that they no longer associate with.

We all agree that we just got tired of the BS and the drama. We don’t have to live with that..I personally would rather surround myself with people who I feel simpatico with, and those that make me laugh, those that have gratitude, those that are positive individuals..

I started thinking about this drawing, and I realize these are stress releases. These little luxuries/indulgences, also make us grateful for the simple and uncomplicated things in life.

Things don’t have to be epic drama, or confrontations, and discord with others! I prefer peace..I should work to project and perfect that in my life.-What type of person do I want to be seen as? Project positive, and then,that’s what returns. #MightyTogether #FamilyAndFriends #Selfcare

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The face of hope #Depression #Anxiety #PTSD #Relationships #FamilyAndFriends #MentalHealth

After two long flights we arrived the orphanage in Indonesia. One of the children I was looking forward to meeting was a young girl named Abigail. One of my Granddaughters is named Abigail and not much older than the child I met today.

Abigail came to the orphanage through tragic circumstances. One of the orphanage founders was in a local village when she saw a baby being thrown out of a house window. The baby landed, unhurt, in a garden bush. When she scooped up the crying baby her mother came out of the house and said she wanted the baby to die because they already had children and couldn’t provide even for them. The mother begged to have the baby taken into care at the orphanage. She was grossly underweight and very ill. Her first 3 months in care were a constant medical battle for life. Today she is healthy, very happy and thriving.

Sometimes we can feel like life is throwing us out a window. Know though, you are loved, you are valuable, you matter. Someone cares for you!!!

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