Research is advancing in this area of mental health. The primary goal is to find better ways to shorten the episodes associated with mood disorders, prevent relapse, and decrease the harmful consequences of these episodes.
With this fast and ever changing world, childhood has become something much different than it once was. With an overload of information streaming at them and less time to play, an increasing number of children are affected by mental illness. We can't slow down the changing world, but we can work to understand how these changes affect our children. If we do not provide a continuity plan that attempts to help them, the number of our children affected can only increase
If you are born with thought process that is different than what we call "normal," living in a world that doesn't understand you and offers inadequate support becomes very difficult. We must work to not only understand their thought process, but also to work with the community at large to reduce the stigma attached to young people suffering from mental illness.
Before I lay out Milan's Continuity Plan I want to share a few thoughts from my son Milan's journal.
"I finally got a book to write my thoughts in. My mind always goes to many strange places and I think about so many things, but I can't think of anyone to tell these thoughts to. So, I'll write them here. This way they will be tangible, so maybe someone will read this one day and be able to listen to my thoughts, because I won't talk now. I sometimes feel that someone is trying to talk to me, and I'm pretty sure I know who it is. My shadow. That's what I think of when I think of him. He is not evil, but he is not real either, and writing about him makes him less real. And that is good."
We all have to come together so we can better understand mental illness. Milan was hospitalized twice, and each time he felt worse once he came home. He said this was for various reasons. First, the transition from a very routine oriented environment to school was rough. This was not helped by the fact that returning from a long absence meant that he had to complete large amounts of make-up work. On top of this, he mentioned that he already felt he had poor social skills that were now made worse by the fact that he had to answer the question of where he had been. He said he was either forced to tell the truth, which was uncomfortable, or lie, which didn't feel great either, but was much better than the embarrassment that came from telling the truth. Consequently, the very stress that put you there in the first place is back and has increased 10 fold. This the cycle of anxiety, guilt and shame begins again.
That is exactly what happens to many kids today, and it is taking a huge toll on society. We are spending billions of dollars on mental health care and it isn't working because we don't always address the social stigma attached to mental illness, and we don't properly address the problem of mental illness. These kids are beautiful and smart, and instead of becoming successful productive people, they are in and out of hospitals, living on the streets, and saddest of all, losing their lives. We have to face the possibility that finding cure maybe decades away, and by than millions more children and families will be affected.
We need to spread the message that these kids are born this way, and the best thing for them is a world that accepts, embraces, and understand them. Milan was extremely gifted, and if he were able to share his thoughts and fears with others, he probably would never have sunk as low as he did. Today as I read through Milan's journals or school poems, I see just how early he realized that his way of thinking was not like other kids'. If he could have talked about his "shadow" to someone who would have understood his struggles, then maybe he could have been saved.
Depression might not take hold of so many children so strongly if early in life we teach them about mental illness, and provide positive coping skills. We all know that depression does not happen overnight; it gradually builds until the world you are living in is so far away from the reality of others. Talking about it with people whom you trust, helps create the bridge between these two worlds. If we don't create this bridge by building trust and understanding, the ability to hold on to hope and make improvements will slowly diminish, and many children will simply sink into a deep depression.
Milan didn't want to die. He tried so hard to conform and be "normal," but without the support of the world he lived in, it was impossible. He never liked using drugs, but sometimes he used them to numb the pain. Similarly, he didn't like drinking, but sometimes he would drink to numb the pain. He hated himself for this, and that only added to his anguish. He tried medicine and therapy, but nothing seemed to work. He listened to what the doctors said, yet despite this Milan lost his life at the age of 19.
I believe, as Milan did, that if we incorporate the Continuity Plan into our everyday lives, kids affected by mental illness will enjoy a better quality life, the stigma associated to mental illness will begin to disappear, and instead of falling into the darkness of depression, our children will have a good shot at becoming productive stable members of society.
Milan's Continuity plan would allow children to continue their lives through these ups and downs, and would provide an environment were they could be understood. Additionally, children would be able to continue with schooling while in the treatment clinics, (often for a long periods of time) and continue treatment once they are back in school. There is a lot of work to be done, but in the long run it can eliminate stigma and the expense of long term care.
I understand that in order to incorporate Continuity Plan through out our school system as well as our treatments centers, some legislative laws have to be changed. The means to implement continuity plan are available, we just need Education and Health Policy Makers to want to do it. Parents, schools and communities need to become partners in advocating for young people and demand for positive changes on the policy making level.
April 22 - 1993 - Milan Matic - March 7th 2013
GISS would be group-help program where young people affected by mental illness can get together with others that have similar problems.
Groups main objectives:
The idea is to not use electronics such as cellphones or computers so everyone can fully participate and engage in the conversation.
Foundation will provide pens and paper for writing notes, and games will be provided to keep the environment fun and relaxed. Chairs and tables will be provided, but there should be no requirement to seat unless you want to. Moving around and engaging with others through play and laughter gives joy opportunity to grow. Drawing upon, and giving support as a group, can go a long way in reducing ones sense of isolation.
Jenga is our signature game and the Foundation will provide Blocks for building Information Tower. There are 54 blocks in one Jenga Tower, and every week one block will be filled with positive coping skill. Once the Information Tower is complete information will be transfered to booklets that will be availabe to everyone.
We can introduce other games as we go along, but the Information Tower will be Foundation's signature game through which we will be building, sharing, and creating together.
Everyone should be encouraged to share. There is nothing odd or crazy about any thought for it is yours. Talking about it can make it less real, and we can start building communication bridge from one thought process to the next. In moments of mania it is extremely important to have something to hold on, a thought that ties you to this three dimensional world we live in. Mania can make one feel invincible where the rules of physical world might seem to not apply to you. This false sense of feeling is dangerous and those with mood disorders as well as those that love them know just how dangerous it can be. Having a safety mechanism in place is crucial.
Fragmented thoughts suck, but rambling them out loud to those you trust can at a very least provide opportunity to let them out, and at best slow them down where they make sense.
No thought is to odd for it is yours, and therefore deserves attention and validation. It doesn't have to be true. If it originated in your thought process it is valid and talking about it can only help. Exposing it you gain the power over it. Ignoring it gives it a power it doesn't deserve.
I don't know why there is so much sadness. I wish I did. I do know that Love is powerful, and that together a lot can be done in making life better.
To provide structured and safe environment the group will have a facilitator. This individual will have responcibility to help select and record chosen coping skill.
Family and friends of the affected youth are encouraged to volunteer as a facilitator. This, for them, could provide a deeper understanding as to what their loved one is going through and provide ability to offer better quality of support. One doesn't need to be a doctor to lead the group. They just need to care. This is about everyone working together through learning and leaning on each other through shared experiences.
Meeting others that are affected goes a long way in reducing persons sense of isolation. Being heard and understood can provide the validation one needs. Even though your internal struggles and overwhelming feelings do not represent your actual reality, they are real and there for valid.
5:00pm to 6:00pm session with kids age 8 through 13 (Subject to change).
6:30pm to 7:30pm session with kids age 14 through 21 (Subject to change).
If you are under the age of 18th you will need a Foundation permission slip signed by the parent. This is to fallow a basic law guidelines. You are a minor and therefore required a parental permission to participate.
If you are over the age of 18 you will sign a Foundation Form. This is to let us know that you understand that this is a open group discussion . We encourage sharing of ideas, thoughts and feelings. We will use the most helpful coping methods chosen by the group to make our Information Tower as well as our booklets. It you are the one whose idea is chosen, we will use the information but will not attach the name to it. This is because we promote equality among all and it is our belief that we are here to help one another. Giving is best when done knowing that you do not expect anything in return.
Diversity is perhaps the greatest gift that we were given. With out it we would not be able to learn anything.
Given the nature of our Group we want to provide privacy for all participating. Although we encourage you to talk, and share inside as well as outside of the group, we do ask for you to not use any names. This group is about sharing information in the organic, kind and helpful fashion.
This is for our records.
We will categorize them as volumes, and once we have enough volumes we will create Foundation Book. The goal would be to publish it and help as many people as possible. It could also provide necessary funds for the Foundation to grow and expand.
GISS is about helping each other heal, and learn positive coping skills through shared knowledge.
* October 25th, 2015
* March 14th, 2015
* October 26th, 2014
* March 14th, 2014
The map to the side illustrates the location of Duke's Country Saloon.
Or make a donation directly from our PayPal page:Make A Donation
After making a donation, you will receive an email confirmation containing a receipt for your donation.