Maria Figueiredo is a remarkable woman who experienced growing up with a single mother with BiPolar disorder as well as having an autistic brother in New York having immigrated from Puerto Rico at the age of 14.
Maria goes right into detail about her experiences growing with a mentally ill parent and shares numerous stories that we hope can help other people in similar situations.
By sharing her authentic story we hope to encourage people to please share their experiences online in order to create awareness around children growing up with a parent who has a mental illness.
There is a significant lack of online content for young people to learn from those from lived experience, so please reach out.
I was able to relate to Maria a lot and I am sure you can as well if you grew up in a similar situation.
To hear more visit www.livedexperiencepodcast.com
Hi everyone, my name is Joel clear on the host of the authentic combos podcast if you're wondering what it's about, it's about exactly that. As its title says it's about having authentic and genuine conversations with people from backgrounds such as business, sport, entrepreneurship, self development, and more importantly, people who work in the mental health space. It does have the mental health awareness focus has various topics which aren't really well known. However, I hope you do go to some previous episodes to learn more about the story about why I do this. So if you do enjoy the content, please make sure you subscribe, or you can hook up on social media by checking out the notes as well and checking me out on the authentic combos podcast. We'd love to hear from you any improvements and how to make it better. If you do me a favor, make sure you leave a rating and a review on wherever you leave your podcasts that will help me out as well. So I hope you enjoy this episode of the authentic combos podcast. So hey, guys, welcome to another episode, the authentic commerce podcast with Joel Kleber and with me today is Maria all the way from New York. Now, the way this has come about is basically I had a video and you're saying before Maria, you search for hashtags regarding issues in this space, and you didn't really find too much, but you came across a video with a pretty in depth comment on it. And when I read it, I thought wow, would it be great to have someone like yourself, I know has gone through a similar experience to myself and obviously many others just to talk about from your perspective as well. And you've also got a social worker, youth worker background as well, which I think would be really, really important to talk about, because in this space, and a lot of people when they're young feel neglected by youth workers or social workers, and there's not much support, this would be great to hear from your perspective as well. But maybe you're doing a rough introduction about yourself and your circumstances just growing up with this.Maria Figuiredo:
Hi, guys. So um, as I had shared earlier, my mom is diagnosed with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and OCD. And I have a younger brother who has autism. So growing up was a bit rough. I am currently in the Bronx, New York, but I started life in Puerto Rico. And we The reason we moved to New York was really because it was limited. And resources for like autistic children and even people with mental health issues is a big problem in the island. Like in the Caribbean, in general, it's kind of like it's mental. So it's not real, it's all in your head. So it's ignored often. So we moved to the Bronx. And as an 18 year old, I joined a program as an employee, which I joined when I was a teenager, to kind of get some sort of help with navigating, you know, life in the Bronx at the time wasn't that great. I went to a public school with a lot of issues, a lot of gangs and all this other activity on top of the stress of being at home. So I was enrolled in this program, and I had a counselor who helped me a lot to this day, he's like a dad to me, I come from a single family, single parent household. So he played a huge part in kind of being that support system and dealing with what I was dealing with. And, you know, feeling like the adult in the household and dealing with like, taking the parent to the appointment, and then taking little ones at the appointments and things of that nature. So I worked for them later on. And I learned that I wasn't the only kid. At that time, I was 18. So I figured myself an adult, I wasn't the only person dealing with this. And I always wanted to kind of give back to the kids. And you know, now I'm in HR. So it's a little different how I do things more like through events for the staff and stuff. But while working with kids, it was I was really big on like learning about mental health, what to do, who to talk to like, how if you feeling some sort of way about what's going on at home, please come talk to me share your information, like I will give them books to read and kind of walk them through their day by day stuff. It was really good.Joel Kleber:
Thanks for the Thanks for letting us know that Mary that's really important. And that's very similar to sort of what I have, but I didn't have a sibling with with autism. In regards to what you're just saying. When did you first become of your were aware of your mum's condition? Was there a moment that you remember? That is something Yeah.Maria Figuiredo:
So for me it was when I came to New York. So it was a huge change. For all of us, obviously had to learn, we all had to learn English to kind of navigate, you know, the US. And she went from working full time to not working at all, she became disabled. She was a welder and a carpenter and the construction worker. She was very busy, which I guess didn't allow her to really think a lot or they didn't give us time altogether to experience everything going on in her head. But when we came here and we all sit in one room and we're really in close quarters is when I realized like something's off. This isn't like normal. And then later on 15 she wants to her first appointment and I went with her. I was always like, the kid that went with the parent like I wouldn't want her to all of her psychologists appointments, psychiatrists, doctors. So I kind of learned her diagnosis really fast and you got to see all of those medications and comments and things that made her uncomfortable. She was always this really strong woman and did not like people seeing her vulnerable at all. So I became that person that, you know, saw everything, but she didn't want me to share. Like, it was just like, No, no, no, you don't tell anybody this, you don't share this, you don't have there you have you say this, like, there's no issue that I learned 14 years old, like, Oh, this is not what everybody else goes through. Okay.Joel Kleber:
I think that's very common what you just said. And when you sign that stuff, I'm nodding my head smiling, because it's exactly similar to me was the same thing was one on one, she'd be like, you don't tell anyone you know, don't tell anyone at school. Don't tell anyone. It's very embarrassing this and that, right. And there's still a lot of stigma. In Australia, it's sort of you know, there's a lot of campaigns around people with depression is probably the main one here. There's a lot of awareness around that issue. But outside of that issue, there's probably not much awareness. I don't know what it's like in the States, is there many campaigns that go on TV, regarding depression and stuff like that? Or is itMaria Figuiredo:
um, they've paid a little bit more attention to it now. But again, it's circulating around depression. And then the focus is always on the person with the issue, not so much. The household nucleus, like I know, again, I know, like wish the social workers and the psychiatrists and psychologists would have been like, oh, there's children in the home that we kind of find the program for them more like an after school program. So they're not, you know, in close quarters all the time, it was just like, Oh, she has an issue, let's just give her these medications. And we'll be done with it. It was kind of like a in and out, there was never like, Oh, you should bring your kids and do like, counseling together and then counseling apart, there was no real processes. And then every campaign is around depression and suicide and things like that. But no one really gives attention to what comes with all of the different types of disorders and you know, having a depressive stage versus a manic stage, like all those layers, andJoel Kleber:
Does your mom talk, what is your mom 102 with bipolar, she more manic?Maria Figuiredo:
So the thing with her is, she can swing in any direction very quickly. And for me, it was a very specific kind of experience. So she's very smart. And this I'm taking a deep breath, because it's hard to talk about it. She was very smart about what medication did what. So when she wanted to feel like you can conquer the world, she would take one thing, when she wanted to go to sleep and just be done with it, she would take another thing. And that kind of affected everyone. And at an early stage, I learned like because the little one is autistic, he's baby, the older one is not really present. So who takes the majority of like, the verbal and physical thing, it was the middle one, which is me, which is her support system. And I got to understand that later on in life, but it was very difficult. I'm dealing with it. And I get emotional about it, because I'm trying to understand his still. But yeah, it would be a swing, she would wake up at 3am to start cleaning and she's like that all this energy and she does all the stuff and she you can't tell her anything. No, none of that. And then by 3pm she's done. She's just laying there. Probably just lost all her Spark. And you're kind of just left to pick up the pieces.Joel Kleber:
That was your mom ever hospitalized when you when you're growing up. Did you ever have to go to any psychiatric places and stuff? Yeah.Maria Figuiredo:
Yeah. So there was this one time, I think I was around like 15 ish 16 here in the Bronx, um, she had to go to Lincoln hospital. She had attempted suicide with her own medications. So she had to go away and I didn't have any family here. We came here and our own basically and relied a lot on who was back then my stepfather not any longer rest in peace to him. We relied a lot on him and his family. And it was kind of like staying with strangers. I knew she was in a hospital. I knew the reason but I didn't know what was going on. I was like, Oh, I can't visit so that it was school, I had to make sure my little brother goes to school to make sure we both eat and do our homework, but she's not here. So it was kind of like an awkward. Stay here.Joel Kleber:
I didn't want it to you at all. Did anyone explain it to you?Maria Figuiredo:
No, I just remember I came home. And I'm looking around as I use to do this walk through every room. And when I come to my mom's room, I'm like, when I you know a tap. She's not moving. So then I opened the restroom door and I noticed I had this funny feeling in my chest anyway. And I go notice all of her medications and I kind of learned really early to look up what these medications meant. Sadly, and I was just like, Oh no, I called my staff. We had the ambulance she had to go and it was just like, Oh, she's gonna stay in there. And I was just left in limbo. And I didn't really ask again not speaking English kind of hurt because I couldn't communicate with his family and him as much. He didn't really want to communicate about it was just like your mom will be fine. And I'm like, okay, but I'm here. And I don't know what's happening. So did youJoel Kleber:
ever have to go into those into the placesMaria Figuiredo:
to pick up? Yes. And it was, um, I know that it ruined her spirit because she was so used to being so autonomous, and doing everything on her own and being like, our superhero, literally, she would do everything. And being in that room, and being in those spaces where you have to rely on everybody else. And you haven't taken medication, when they tell you and you have to eat when they tell you definitely like she did not like it. And that was the only time she was hospitalized. They attempted to do it again. And she, like grabbed me by my arm and dragged me out to clinic. It was like we're running. Like I ran through a park in Harlem, I don't even know where I was. I was like, okay, we're running. She doesn't want to go. And they were gonna force her but they didn't get her nothing.Joel Kleber:
Yeah, so she only had to, she only been hospitalized one time, she just one time, which is a good thing, which is a good thing. Because with my mom is basically every year or every two years, she'd go into basically a psychiatric ward here for three years. And then, you know, that's probably where we differ a little bit is where my experience was, I had to go into the psychiatric wards all the time as a young kid, right? So six years old, you got to go on a psychiatric ward and come back out and go back inside. Very. So that was the difference probably with us there. But in regards to not being explained stuff, I find understanding that no one really bothered. Was it something you just had to figure out yourself? Or did anyone sit you down ever and just say, look, this is what this is what it is, this is what it means this is what it's going to happen. Bah, bah, bah, like, there's anything like that.Unknown:
No, there was really no one that like, stood behind and said, Let me talk to you and kind of explain everything to you, I kind of got to put the things together myself. As I went to each appointment, and learned all these different words, and would pick up a prescription, I would like, take a picture of prescription meme, and like, try to find the information myself and kind of understand and when they would give her her diagnosis. I would like write it down and kind of learn on my own, no one really sat there and said being the you're the next person at home, and clearly you're taking her to every appointment, let me try to explain this to you. Not really, they would just tell me all your mom just has issues. We're trying to work through it, and we're going to help you but there was really no plan to help. There was no really like, this is what we're gonna do. We're gonna give you this support, there was none of that. We just said I can only assume that if kids are going through that right now. That's just horrible. Because I felt like an adult I was a child felt like I had responsibilities of an adult but with no guidance. It wasJoel Kleber:
I think a lot of kids in our situation would would have felt the same would they do feel that adult pressure even though there might be 14 1513, whatever the ages, they still have that emotional pressure from the circumstances at home, right? And I get no. And even though they might be people might be almost a kid they're really not they're a little adults or they're adults in regards to what they experienced in the home. I think it's what a lot of people forget with mental health is it's not as you said, in American society, they just want to let's say the Lord focus on depression, that person with the depression, but around that whole circle with these issues, there's so much more things and if you've got a kids in the household, it's not a safe environment. This is the thing a lot of people don't forget is they're actually a very, can be a very dangerous environment. If someone's medical, or high, they go like kids, we're gonna go drive down over here, and I'm gonna be doing 100 Ks or sorry, 680 miles on the road. It's a very it can be dangerous environment, and no one ever considers that you never ever see it mentioned. So we're just half the reason for this discussion is to try and share your experience and our experience in regards to this and just try and make more people aware and, and that other people who are going through it. It's a quite common thing, which is, which is a scary thing, isn't it?Unknown:
It's very scary. No one really told me. I wish there was like a guide. Literally what your, you know, podcast was about and I found so important. It's like, these kids need that I you know, even when I was 22, when I was still trying to help, I needed that I had to learn all this stuff on my own. You know, I had moments where she's like, oh, we're going to do this. And I'm like, that's not safe. And I would have to grab my little brother by his arm, and I'm like, you're not going, you know, I remember this really traumatic moment where like, she wanted to attempt suicide again. And she this time wanted to take my brother with her. And I was just like, no, we're not doing that. And it was like a tug of war in front of the door. And I'm like word No, you know, and I had to kind of like, talk her off the ledge on my own. And at that point, my stepfather wasn't there anymore. It was just us and I'm like, Mom, your mind. You're not doing this. Like you're having a moment. I just need you to come down and think about it. There's no reason why you should do this. And she just walked out. We were both left there and I'm like, I can do anything. Like, if I leave the little one here, you know, it's gonna be a problem. If I take him with me, God forbid, he says something, there's no reason for both of us to be traumatized to this level like, it was, it was a lot. And I wish there were more programs where there would be someone to say, you know, this is what we should do. This is who you call, here's like our number where someone's always going to be available for the situations. In the case that she's having a manic episode, this is what you should be doing and who you should be calling. And I also feel like here in the US, they're very loose with prescribing things. There were a lot of things that shouldn't have been prescribed. And there were a lot of things that could have been managed. They there were medications that I know weren't supposed to be long term prescriptions. And there were, and it caused a lot of issues. Like once she had to get off of it, it was you know, it was horrible. It's your system getting off of something that's loving laying it off, so it was even more dangerous. So, again, that's why I looked at the podcast, and I was like, oh, if I would have had somebody to sit there with me and have these conversations and hold my hand, at least half of the time, I would have been so much better. Like she had moans, she would just kick me out. And I would be like, the street just outside like, okay, and I was sleep, I would sleep outside waiting for her to calm down. And then just go up like, oh, you're over it. Okay, cool.Joel Kleber:
Yeah, and I think people just realize how much you know, emotional trauma that you experienced in the home, right and sad to have that even that experience of what you described before about, you know, your mom's you know, you get your brother in your mom's gonna say do do this eidetic. Like, that's happened to me as well. It's similar, it's similar sort of thing. But um, it's a very emotionally hard thing, and you sort of harden yourself eventually don't know, you've got to harden yourself to that, right. And that can affect your later on in life, you know, as, as we probably would both know. So it's, it's, it's not that good. Because you know, you're growing up, this is your parent, this is a person who supposed to get guidance from whatever, you've got so much instability, you've been emotionally hard yourself, you've got to try and critically think, which I think is a very important thing. I don't know about your experience. But my mum used to say a lot of crazy things about people. And when you're younger, you believe what they say, right? So then as you get a bit older, you think maybe that's not so true. But you have to try and develop that at a younger age. You don't know that, but you eventually work it out. But that's something I found out as well.Unknown:
Yes, I definitely. Like I remember, I brought two friends home, just to like, hang out. And once First of all, she made the whole situation uncomfortable once they love she said so many things. And I was like, at first I believed her. I was like, Oh, do they not really like me, or they just hear like, you know, make fun of my situation or whatever the case. But then as I got older, I just had to take everything she said with a grain of salt because I ended up kind of learning like she's, you know, judging people based on whatever it's going on in her head and whatever she's feeling at the moment. And she's not seeing people for who they are like I had this counselor, like I said at the place that I ended up working with kids and he was he played such a huge role in my life. I, my father was never present, this individual took that role, like he took me in and he knew what was rough. Like, I don't know if you know much about the South Bronx, but it is rough. Like when I was growing up here, it was rough. Like I went to a high school that was four floors, 4000 students, or all the four floors had individual gangs. And every day, it was survival mode in school. So school wasn't so much a place where you want to learn, it was a lot of like, Am I going to be okay today? Do I have to get into an altercation today? Like, is there going to be an issue in the school today or we're going to be on lockdown today? Like it was rough. Like, if you ever look up the South Bronx, you'll see what I'm trying to say without kind of bashing it. It's just rough. Being in that school and always being on survival mode, and then being in survival mode at home was very tiring. So when I met him as my counselor, he was just like, allowing me to be myself. And at first I was very closed off. I was like, I'm not talking to you about the stuff like Why should I talk to you about this? Why should I trust you, you know, kind of having my mom in the back of my head. And then eventually I trust them so much that I was like, you know, she's doing this that she's pushing the limits with what she says about me or she says about my brother, what she's doing. She's taking this medication over this and I will talk to him and he made me understand in a way it's like, it's not really who you met before. It's not really who you're seeing right now. And she's fighting her own battle in her head and just try to keep a cool and collected calm approach because she is not herself right now. She's not the self, you know, as a kid, like right now. She's going through a moment. And he tried to explain it to me in a way that I would understand that will always be like why and he's like, it's not It's a chemical thing. Yeah, that was nothing to do with you. It's not personal. It's not like it's Maria's, you know,Joel Kleber:
I had your phone out to separate, because I found that very hard, I still the person, it's very hard exam, because I say separate and separate the honest from the person. And it's a lot easier said than done. So, yeah,Unknown:
it was so hard like I would, I would go to his office, I would slam the door, and I'll be like, I don't know what you're talking about. How can I? How do I know that about me? And he'd be like, it's a, it's a chemical thing has nothing to do with you. Like he would factor that into my head? And I'm like, I don't know how, how do I know that? How is it? How do I know it's not me, especially when she's like, much gentler with my little brother. And then I came to understand, she sees a similar battle that he's going through in his head. So she's probably much kinder, much softer, and much more mindful of what he feels because she may see like, he's also going through something of his own that she identifies with. But I didn't see that until I was already a grown adult, you know, like, but as a teenager is like, Why is she so nice to him. And then now when she sees me, she's ready to go off and treat me like I'm some sort of animal and I couldn't do anything. So that was one of the roughest things I had to like, to this day, when I get memories come into my head, I have to tell myself, she was not herself, something went off in her head. And it's easier to go with the strongest one, right? I always saw it that way. As you know, I got older, I'm like, I'm the strongest one, I'm always the one that's there. So of course, you're gonna act up with the one you're most comfortable with. And I learned that with kids too. Like, when I work with seven year olds, if they're comfortable with you, they're going to act out, they're going to do things and say things and be crazy in front of you and throw tantrums because they're comfortable with you, they know that you are they're safe. So like, they're safe with me. So they're gonna throw tantrums. And Maria, I don't want to do it. And then I understood like, that's why she would act the way she would act with me because regardless of whatever was happening, I was her safe zone, I would always go to the doctor with her. I skipped school to go to the doctor with her, you know, I would make sure that she took her meds, I would try to convince her not to over medicate or under Medicaid. When she will, now she still has liver cancer. So I would try to help her, you know, like, consider certain things and I would translate medication and paperwork and all that stuff for her. So I felt like that's probably why she would take out that frustration on me or whatever she was feeling at the moment, because I was like that place where she knew, like, I would eventually understand and get over, I still have to accept thatJoel Kleber:
and still have to accept that because you are the daughter, you know, you're the child and it's very hard to accept this, it's very mature of you to say that when did you sort of realize I was at something a bit older, or was it a bit early on as your counselor helped me to realize that fact.Unknown:
Um, it's definitely getting older and learning more and more about it. So eventually, I went to the University and I decided to learn and take up my major psychology and through that it was mainly because of her that I took that major in the first place, I wanted to know I wanted somebody that does this on a daily to explain it to me. And I read the books and all that stuff. And I started to understand and then there were like a few movies here and there, you know, that I would watch to kind of understand, it was definitely age. So I got it. So, um, some of them are more on different types of spectrums, but like I watched Sibyl. There were a few. I can't remember titles for some reason right now. But there were a few psychological drill thrillers that I had to understand and kind of go through and I use one for like, one of my classes and I was like, Oh, this makes sense. And you know, and then of course, when she got diagnosed with cancer, I was trying to be more gentle, and kind of not rebel so much. I had a little rebellious woman like most teenagers do. And I was fed up with everything she was doing. But then she got that. And also I was like, I need to kind of man up again, you know, and I did but as an adult that's kind of hard because now finds it very difficult to talk about emotions, even right now. I'm like, getting emotional, and I don't like it.Joel Kleber:
I think that's a common, but it's a common thing. I think, Maria for people who go through your situation and similar sort of situations is that you have to become so emotionally deadened during the experience, right? Because if you don't, you would just crumble every as you said, you went to a very tough school, right? So imagine you show any weakness at the school. You know, the way kids are the way teenagers are you get preyed upon. So you got to be tough exterior all round, right? So I think it's a very common thing to find. It's hard to, to express yourself as you get a bit old because you've shut up used to shutting yourself off so much. Nothing, it's only natural to protect yourself right from all the drama in home, and then you've got the school. Whereas I'll be different a bit lucky, like, my school environment was pretty good. And I like sports and stuff. And I was, I had no trouble at school, whereas I hated going home. So I hated going home, but you've had School, which was very on edge, and you had home as well, which is very honored. So how did you de stress? or What did you do for yourself to cope? during that time?Unknown:
Honestly, I can't really pinpoint anything to the stress, I'm going to be very real with you. So again, school was very, like survival first, then class, you know, and you kind of get the vibe, just getting to school, right, you get off the public transportation bus, and then you have to go through a metal detector. And take all your layers off, and there's NYPD everywhere, there's police everywhere in the building, and automatically you start hearing like, there's gonna be a fight, this time, they're gonna jump so and so and I never really had a distress moment, I will go home, try to be in my room and kind of take a deep breath, and then handle whatever was happening at home. But until I got to the program, and even then I would not be free of stress, which is probably something that I'm still learning to do. Also, I was, I'm now learning to kind of like calm down and relax, and I don't have to be on the defense or on survival mode every day. But back then it was just like, you know, wake up stress, go to school, even more stress and get home even more stress. And I remember that when I would go to the program, and I would be at peace. And she would see that for some reason, she would come over there and start losing her marbles like she would spaz out in the program for whatever reason, like I remember, she would come in and she's like, she's hearing all the damn time. And I don't understand why the hell she's here. And she would just throw tantrums. And I will be sitting there like, in behind the counselor, like, embarrass Evelyn. Oh, she's here screaming, there's like 50 other teenagers here. They're looking at me, like my dog, crazy person that brings her crazy parent, like, I would just sit there like, Oh, you just for some reason. In my head. It was like, You don't want me to be at peace at this moment. Like, you saw me at peace, and you had to come here and disturb that. And, you know, it's it's a different level of things and learn how to, like, accept what's coming to this day. I just tried to tell myself, like, it was never personal. You know, even as an adult, I had to eventually kind of get away and not interact with her at all. Because it came to a point, it was a really hard moment for me. She asked me to take my brother, my youngest brother, when he was like, 1819. So the movies, um, and his autism, he's very particular where he goes at what time and he doesn't like social settings, and he doesn't like doing things alone. And he, there's, there's just certain things with him. He's functional, but it's just when it comes to the social PCs. You know, it's hard for him. But at the time, you know, she had kicked me out and I had finally gotten an apartment with my fiance. And we were like, you know, my now fiance and we were trying to make our life and he called me and I was like, I can't take him I'm in the middle of work. And I was working with kids. I was literally, you know, about to get my kids in a line to get them on the bus and whatever. And she lost it. She acted like I told him that I would never take him like she lost it lost it now, somehow, some way and someone sold her a gun. I don't know who and I don't live in a state where that's legal. So that is just boggles my mind. And she went to my now in law's house with it in a bag. And I had to drive there with my fiance and I'm like, Oh, she's like it. And I started having a little panic attack. I had to go to the cops. It was a big thing. But since then, I just don't see her in person. I can't really talk to her because there's like a whole other protection, order protection and everything. So I had to learn that I couldn't take on everything right. I can't be there for everything if it's going to possibly cost me my life, but it's already kind of cost it cost me like my mental health in a way like it's cost me that already. But my life like that's a little too far. And yeah,Joel Kleber:
I think it's a common thing. And not not not that it's story. But what I mean by separating yourself from that as you get older to protect yourself so you can move on. You know what I mean? Like I always call it paying your dues, right? You've paid your dues in this moment of time, and you're like, if you want to put a stop in it, you've got every right to do so. Whereas people from the outside don't see it that way. They think oh, you should put your money. I'm or whatever, right? I've had this similar thing. You know, I talked to my mom every day, I'm a little bit different, but um, you know, I'm still the similar, I've moved away from, you know, from her and I pay my dues and her fears and her fears is something I don't want to really get involved in. And I still am. But I understand exactly what you're saying. So you've compartmentalize that you've separated yourself, you've paid your dues here, you've done, I'd say, Do you've done your time, you know, and you need to look after yourself to sort of move on and build your own life. That's the way I've used.Unknown:
Yes. And it's always every time, right Mother's Day comes up. And, you know, it's always like, oh, but she's your mother. And I love her. I don't love her any less. I don't I don't love her any less. I don't hate her. I don't, there's none of that. It's just an order for both of us to be some sort of happy, we have to be the way that we are. Yeah, because when we're both, like, in contact, and close, it's an explosion. You know, she's trained me to be this tough person. And she's trained me to be this, you know, I will say I am very tough, right? So, you know, I grew up having to, you know, physically and mentally defend myself. So now, as an adult, I'm very tough. And I've learned to be outspoken, and it's like, now, I pay my own bills. And I, you know, I have my own job. So I will stand up for myself. So as being together, that's so explosive for us right now, neither one of us would be happy in that moment. You know, and I give her chances here and there, where it's like, I'll send her a message. And, you know, she's on Facebook, and she's, that she's there. So I'll send her a message. But once I feel her coming too close and getting, you know, to that point where now she's going to cross that boundary again, I pull away.Joel Kleber:
And you got every Watson This is what I think people don't from the outside don't understand is when you say got a parent with that condition or with those conditions, exactly what you said, I'll beat it to your mother be good to your mother that is don't understand if they had the same thing, they would completely understand what you're thinking that awareness point of view, people don't understand the standard condition. They might know the name of it, but they don't actually understand what bipolar schizophrenia, bipolar, schizophrenia, OCD actually entails, that I understand it.Unknown:
And I always compare it to domestic violence, I always say, you know, would you tell a woman or a man to stay with their husband or wife, if they're getting beaten every day, you know, and if they're getting cursed out every day, and they're getting abused every day, verbally, physically, you know? No, so you cannot do that to a child to you know, that has become an adult and can make their own decisions. That's I always say that, you know, I love her. I don't love her any less. I love her more, if anything, because I actually understand what she's going through now, more than I did before. And I still know that I cannot be there every day, I cannot be there in person, I can't be on the phone with her every day because it is explosive. And it will damage the both of us. And there's no reason for that. So I always tell people when they're like, Oh, that's your mom, you have to love her. Regardless, I never said I love her. I just said that, in order for me to love her. And I have to make those decisions as an adult.Joel Kleber:
What did you do to cope growing up? Because as you said, it was so hard? You know, I didn't have that, that other school stuff. I'm just trying to really, how did you cope? How do you mentally get through it? What was there anything you did, or that advice you could give for someone with that sort of really stressful situation?Unknown:
Honestly, I feel like my only way to cope was really try to make her the focus, I didn't really have much out like, you know, some kids have sports and they have art and they have after school like she purposely did not enroll us in any after school program or anything of that nature. And when I did have my program, it eventually became sort of toxic for that program that I left. Because I was embarrassed, right? You know, when you think about it, you're 1415 and your mom is coming to the builder. We're also teenagers there, right? And you're going to be a moment where you're growing up, and you have your mom going there losing her, you know, pardon my language, but losing your shit. And everyone is just like, oh, and eventually while they keep talking about it and kind of making fun of you and making fun of this situation, I just decided to let it go. So when I would come home from school, I would just, you know, eat dinner at the table like she wanted and let her go on, you know, saying whatever she wanted to say. And I will go to my room. And eventually I just started writing things in a notebook, just to get that out. Right. So I would just open my notebook. And I would just write whatever I was feeling whether with a poem or just a drawing or writing it out. So at least that was a little bit of an outlet. But I wish I had like, been able to continue the program or play a sport or things like that. I just feel like she wanted us home. Yeah, as much as possible. She had that thing where she didn't want to be outside too much. So she didn't want you to the outside to watch.Joel Kleber:
So in Australia, there's a program which which I know of is called satellite foundation. So what they basically do is they bring kids who are identified with a mentally ill parent if it's bipolar, schizophrenia. And actually bring them together to like art and music classes. So from the countries in Australia, and then they bring them together and they run these classes and stuff like that. So, but the point of it is you get kids who are in a similar situation as you doesn't really matter what the activity is, I guess. But long as you know, that kid, they all going through the same thing. And they're not their parents aren't there. And I just talked about how to deal with it and stuff like that. And it's been quite a while some videos on longer, but that's a similar thing I'd love to see that would help people like yourself, and myself, people going through that situation now, which we didn't have. And it's very impressive in terms of how you cope with it. Like, I just can't I, I can't imagine this school stuff. Because there's a city before I had, I was lucky, odd sports, I play guitar, I had the school where I could just throw myself into it and forget it. And then I could carry 10 miles. But you know, you've had a full on foreign, crazy experience in regards to the stress that you would have been, I can't imagine the emotional drama. So what I'm going to ask you now is that counselor sounds very important to you, obviously. So when did they get involved in your life? or How did that come about? And then what were the some of the things that really helped you by having that person involved?Unknown:
So when I first went into the program, you know, I met my first counselor, she was supposed to be my counselor, and I looked at her, I sat across from her and I'll never forget, I sat across from her and I looked at her and I said, you're not going to be my counselor. I was very rough. Like I said, I was a tough girl like I was, I had all that alpha female energy, you know, and I looked at her and I said, you're not going to be you're not going to be my counselor. And she looked at me, she's like, Oh, well, why I said, This isn't gonna work out, you're not gonna understand my problems. You're not gonna listen, this is not gonna work out, you find me somebody else. And to this day, I apologize to her. I have her on my Instagram. I'm so sorry. nastasia Have you ever hear this? I'm sorry. Um, but you know, I told her, and they found me a gentleman named segundo. And he has gone through something similar, right. So him growing up in the South Bronx, when it was way rougher than it was when I was here as a teenager. His mom also had mental illness issues. And he identified with me and that he was able to kind of gain my trust through that, you know, and he would be so raw with me, right? So, you know, he would straight talk with me, right? Like, it wouldn't be like a constant like, so how do you feel? And how are you doing? It was more of like, so was the problem to do? You know, he will give me the whole New York accent like, what is it today? And I'll be like, pseudo. She's just driving me nuts. She's doing this after the third. She drove me crazy. I don't know what's wrong with her. And then he would be like, a completely understand my mom. And he would tell me, my mom used to beat me and told me he she loved me. And I'm like, the same thing is going on here. So can you tell me like, what, what can I do, and he will just tell me, you You love her. You love her as much as you can. You do as much as you can, but it's not your fault. You know, and then, and he still says it to me, he texts me every other day. To this day, he's like a dad to me, literally. He'll tell me, she loves you, as she's going through whatever she's going through. And you cannot save her from it as much as you want to. That was another thing. I wanted to save her from it. I wanted to stop it, you know, always try to find a way to stop it. And I couldn't. And I felt like I had failed. And he always made it very clear to me that it was my fault. And I'm so grateful to him. And I ended up with him because I had told somebody else that I for some reason, they wouldn't be fit. And it worked out. It was somehow it worked out I was able to sit with somebody that would identify with me and would talk to me would share his experiences with me very clear, you know, which probably a lot of places here in New York wouldn't advise him to do that. But he would do it anyway. You know, I'm here. Like I said, I grew up here in the South Bronx, when it was burning down and buildings burning and crackle was a thing. And my mom was having her issues and would do such and such, and I just need to tell you that it's going to be okay, you're going to get past this is not your fault. And you do the best you can. And once you can do better, you do better, you know, for yourself, not necessarily for her. But you know, he would he was always such a great support, I would get there. And even if I was talking to him, and I didn't want to look at him in the eyes, because then for some reason To me, it's like he's gonna see me cry, and that's gonna show my weakness. I will draw it I will have my face out and be like, I'm pissed off. And we will let me keep drawing. I'll put it on my wall when you're done. But talk to me, you know, it was somebody that to this very day, I text him, oh, he'll randomly text me. He'll be like, you know, just remember. You're brilliant. Like he'll just say things that I didn't hear at home.Joel Kleber:
But what's amazing to me is that that one person with lived experience had that much of an impact on you. Right? So that's the one thing and I have and I think they come from a place of least experience which is really, really important because I remember growing up with a lot of psychology and I always try and put some social workers something into me as a sign. I was like you had a parent with this and they go now it's like, I don't hear from you. I don't want to No, because you're gonna, and they would patronize you all the time, I always speak down to you because you're a kid. And they would think, you know, you they've got to talk to you like a 12 year old when you know, you've seen things and experience things that they would they probably wouldn't experience. So I think the lived experience part's really important. It's just amazing that story, Marie, just how that one person with the lived experience, they could talk to a real person that in patronizing talk down to you, they would, you know, and then basically, they said, some massively key important things in which was, you know, once you can do better, you do better, right, you got to go through it, get to that point, get through it. And once you can do better, you can do better. And what I think a lot of kids do their situations and realize you actually get a lot of really good skills and, and character traits you develop during that time, which you wouldn't have maybe developed in a cushion. If we had, let's say, two family, two parents, and no, both incomes in a cushy environment, you wouldn't have that resilience, or that skill set, or that character traits that you would get normally. Is there stuff that you think you've developed, with your experience that you wouldn't have probably otherwise develops, let's say for some more. Definitely. Um,Unknown:
there was a point, right, and I was 17. And she kicked me out. And all I had was a blue nose Pitbull in my bookbag. But it taught me, pardon me, I'm a little sick. It taught me to be resilient, right, no matter what happens, I have my own back. And that can survive anything. And I was 17 years old industry until I found a way to live somewhere, right and put four walls around me and a roof. But I definitely think that right now, even in the workplace, or even through this pandemic, it taught me to be resilient. Right? Most people were like, Oh, my God, we're going through COVID-19 shut everything down, like freaking out. And I'm like, this isn't the worst I've been through. I was 17 years old on the street with a puppy like, this doesn't bother me. And I think that I built that, you know, I'm resilient, I'm strong, I'm organized. And I tackle things strategically, so that I can get things done the right way. And I, I, most of my friends are like, you have this wisdom about you that it's not common for a 28 year old, you know, like, even at 22, I was sounding like this. And people just always gravitate towards me to ask me for advice or opinion or just to vent. And I'm like, I learned this because I had to be in a household where I was, in a way kind of like the support system for an adult, you know, not many 12 year olds have to go through their mom's cabinet and pick which pill happens at what time, you know, or have to help their mom get up because she just doesn't have the energy to do so. or help her get off of something that she's not supposed to be on like, is this so many things I learned and I think like in the workplace and working with kids are now in HR. When I see somebody, for example, in HR, you see someone acting a certain way. Most people be like, oh, they're crazy. You get them out of here. And I'm like, Wait, hold on, let's take a moment, let's analyze what's happening. Let me check in with this person and see what they're feeling what's going on. And then half of the time is just like they're going through a hard time they need somebody to talk to them, they need support, versus most of the staff. It's like, Oh, no, get them out of here. They're freaking out. Why are they cursing up a storm, like things like that. But it's like, I'm more human. Right? In a way I'm like, I'm more understanding what may be happening under all those layers, because I had to learn to understand that from my own parents, and even my brother, because you know, autistic kids are very different. They live on a different spectrum. And he is, he is a whole other thing to deal with. It's hard to get into the device feeling. So if he does share, you're blessed. And it was very hard to understand both of them. It was just like, I was like a ping pong ball, I was going from one to the other. And now as an adult, I can look at folks and really not judge them. And just be like, hold on, let me try to understand this person a little deeper, and see what I can do to help them. And with all the resources I learned on my own, now I can give that forward, right. And it's just a good feeling to know that a 28 years old, I feel like I've impacted a lot of people in a good way. And I'm paying it forward that way. So whether it be a child that I've worked with that currently even invites me to like graduations to have, or adults that I'm friends with that, oh, I'll be able to kind of help them go through whatever they're going through and kind of let them know it's going to be okay, I've been through where so you're going to be fine. You just kind of have to take your time and you know, and even within my own relationship, I now have become way more vocal about when I get some sort of feelings in my head. I don't know if you ever get a memory from like, whatever you've been through and you kind of feel down. I've learned to tell my fans I'm like, I'm off. I don't feel that great today. You know, like I feel down I feel like I want to cry like I'm very open now versus if you would have caught me then five years ago that wouldn't happen.Joel Kleber:
Yeah, so growing up Did you sorry dinner Did you growing up? Did your did your friend's parents? Or did your friends know about your circumstances? Oh,Unknown:
I didn't. I, I told you I invited two friends in my house and two individual times. And it was just like, I'll never do this. Again, I'm not telling anyone anything, because she's just goes off, right? She used to go off, I had a one female friend come over, and she just repaired a new one. And the male friend that came over, she also wrote them a new one. So I was just like, I'm just not going to talk to anyone about this, they're never understand because I always got the, that your mom, you just have to love her. And you have to deal with it. I always got that from everybody. So at some point, I just kind of closed the door. I was like, Okay, I'm not going to talk about this anymore. I'm not getting anything out of it. Now, howJoel Kleber:
did you do? How did you go around educating yourself around your mom's condition and stuff growing up? Was it something you sought out on read books? or How did you How'd you do that?Unknown:
Um, so I would do books, right? So I learned, I had a teacher and I would just be like, I'm curious, maybe like, you know, in high school here, once I was able to kind of communicate, you know, in English, and I want them to the college advisor. And I was like, Hi, Miss Rogers, um, I want to go to school for psychology. Like, just, you have any books. And honestly, I don't think I had a real interest in going to school for psychology, I was just trying to understand what was going on at home. And she would be like, Sure, go to this section of my room, there's this stuff there. There's something called the DSM five. And I was just like, Ah, okay, I'm not, well, DSM five now, but back then, you know, DSM three, or four, and she'd be like, you can find it here, you can go to the public library. And that's what I would do, I would track all the way to the library, I would go to her room, and I will open books and try to like, understand it. And then imagine me trying to like, you know, I will have a dictionary and like an English Spanish dictionary, and then the books and I'm like, Okay, hold on, because I'm kind of not understanding what this means. So let me go over here and figure it out. And then let me come back. So I'm kind of research until the beautiful internet world came into my hands. So then that was it. But once Google came about, I was just in there, like, Oh, what is this? What can I do about schizophrenia? What can I help her with? How can I cope with it? AndJoel Kleber:
yeah, but growing up, how did you reconcile the feeling? So I went, I went through this, like, when you you have your family, right, but if you went to a friend's family's home, which might be let's say, they might have a, you know, relatively, you know, you go back to your your wise mind like this, you know, what, what the hell is going on? How did you deal with that, because I went through that a lot growing up, and I'd always be afraid I'd never want to be at home, always get a friend's house, and then be like, be part of the family for two hours or three hours. And I go back to, you know, my situation, cry.Unknown:
I would go to my room and cry and try to understand what the heck was happening, why I was built this particular card, why I was just confused. And I will go to my friend's house, and I would look at her mom, baby, like what I call baby hair, right? But it's really just a caring mom that wants to just love her daughter. So I would see her mom like, Oh, honey, what do you want to eat? I'm going to make you that. And I'll put your stuff away. You want that? I'll buy that for you. Like it was just I will be like four bucks. I'll be Oh, yeah,Joel Kleber:
it's crazy. That's a weird feeling. Yeah.Unknown:
And then she will just put her plate down. And because my mom has OCD, I had to clean everything. Like there was no plates out, no nothing. So I would automatically pick up her plate and my plate in her house and like go to Washington. her mom's like, No, no, no, it's okay. And I'm like, man, I will come home and look at my mom and be like, What? Why? Why was I given this? You know, I just, I wouldn't even ask my friend, I would just tell my friend like, you really need to count your blessings. WhenJoel Kleber:
I found it very uncomfortable, like I don't be like we used to stacks. You know, man was hospitalized. I used to stay at miani aunties and uncles are beaten. And with some friends, families and stuff growing up, I always felt really, it was good, but like, which is really weird. Like, you just sort of like this is not this is like, yeah, pretty normal. And, you know, it was very, it felt uncomfortable, you know, to have that sort of normal environment almost, which is a bit sad, I guess. But um, I didn't feel comfortable with some stability, almost even though I wanted it, but I didn't feel comfortable being around it. I wasn't used to it. And I thought it was just very, very, very strange. I was just saying, gee, now we'd be like, you know, be very Massey wouldn't say anything. You know, we've offered to do things and stuff. And I tell us now it's like, Okay, well, they buy things and I was very, very weird. It's a weird feeling. I think a lot of people in our situation growing up have that, you know, that envious or that? Let's say you almost go into the victim mindset, which we know doesn't really get you anywhere. It's very hard to transition out of that. And I think a lot of people there's a lot of people who have opposition so you actually don't and that obviously affects them. Moving on, you know, Woe is me, but trying to transition out that Pick the mindset of an envious mindset when you're younger, you're realizing that when you maybe get a bit older, can really help you move on. But um, yeah, I went through the same thing. It's very, it's a very weird, weird feeling.Unknown:
It is. And then because like, we came to New York, I didn't have, you know, the cousins or the, you know, grandma or grandpa or anybody, right? So it was just like, it's either my house, or I get to spend, like, she would freak out, if that would take three hours of me being out. So I would literally spend like an hour and a half and then kind of calculate my travel time, you know, from my friend's house to my home, so that there will be no more minimal issue, there was still like a speech, but I would try to minimize it as much as possible. So imagine all those feelings and not having like cousins or, you know, nephews, or anybody come around and, and not having that extended family. There was no extended family. It was just me, her and my youngest brother. And it was confusing, why I would go to my friend's house. And I was just like, really question myself, like, Did I do something wrong that I ended up in this situation? Yeah. And so to say, sometimes I ask myself that, and then I have to remind myself like, No, no, don't go there. Because it's not true. You know, there's other people like you out here. You're not the only one. But yeah, it was very difficult is difficult to understand. And now I, I, the day that I found your video, your podcast on Instagram, I was actually thinking about, like, kids going through this right now, when you're home. There's no other, you know, here on lockdown. It's like your home, you can't go anywhere. So I already was feeling trapped. And I was able to walk out of my door. So I can only imagine when school is at home. When there's no after school program. There's no none of that. And you're stuck at home. Like, I immediately got emotional because I I don't think I would have survived that.Joel Kleber:
Yeah. And Australia, I agree. And then run it in Australia. They run it basically, they're running campaigns for domestic violence, but only really that they don't run anything else regarding this stuff. And, and this issue, which is still a big problem in America sounds very similar is as I said, there's no, there's a lot of awareness around depression and suicide, which is a really important thing. Don't get me wrong. But in regards to this sort of stuff, there is absolutely Zilch. And the only thing that you'll see online from YouTube in regards of video contents, basically psychologists saying, from their perspective, you know, the 10 things kids go through in this situation, whether there's no one really talking about sharing their stories, which is quite disappointing in a way, because I know there's a lot of significant people in Australia and prominent positions in government, especially who have gone through who had similar things I must have, because statistically, we would know, they would have to go through it yet no one really says anything. And I think it's a big, big problem, because it's such a prevalent issue based on like, I think America looked it up 4.7 million Americans have bipolar, and that's just bipolar. Right? So you take that, and then you extend it out and multiply. That's a lot of people, you know, and Australia, I think, yes, that's 250,000 kids in the state of Victoria, have a parent or guardian with a mental illness. So it's a large amount of people yet, you'll never ever see much done about it online right.Unknown:
Now, and from my time working with, so I worked with the range of seven year olds all the way to well, the summers ahead 20 year olds. So that's like a huge range. I'm talking about these things. And you know, I had a few kids that would share certain things. And I'm like, you know, clearly school isn't walking through these items. Clearly, the school counselors aren't walking through these items, clearly, you're not getting any of the support. So I would tell them, like, you know, my story, the older ones that could understand, right, you know, this 1617 1812 year old sometimes, depending if I had anybody in that group, what that could be like, and we have these groups where we would do prevention, because of the, you know, right now, the use of pills, and heroin and things like that are, you know, at a dangerous rate here, but I would also set one day to kind of talk about like, mental illness and things of that nature, if they knew what that was, did they have any knowledge and then I would share my knowledge and do they know what to do in case of certain situation. So I took it upon myself to add it to the curriculum, but it was never something that they had experienced before. And through that, I had a lot of kids that were comfortable telling me so many things like, in the Caribbean, it's kind of difficult to come out, like whether you're, you know, gay, you know, whatever the case may be, and I had quite a few kids feel comfortable telling me before telling their parents, and I remember this one girl, she was like my mom, she would never accept that. But what I'm like, you know what, if you don't, you're not ready, that's fine, but I'm not gonna judge you for it. And I will walk through all of those things with them. And like you said, live lived experience. People are needed. They're needed. You know. I have so many kids in my Instagram. Well, now they're grown up, right? But I still call them my kids that have gone through that stuff and we're able to talk to them. about it and they felt so much better going back home after like 6pm was done and they had to go home that I was happy because I know what it felt like to come home and still be stressed out about it.Joel Kleber:
I was gonna ask you as well, I know where you personally like you get to an age we at nights in New York, right? I can go and do something, you know, I can make my own situation or whatever. Did you When did you start? Because there's a lot of baggage you obviously get from going up in that situation and emotional baggage. Did you ever did you deal with that, like at a younger age? or How did you reconcile that trauma that you've gone through because a lot of PTSD, which people don't realize, actually, you might not think you have it, but you sort of do get a lot of trauma and childhood? Right. So how did you move on with that? Or how did you deal with that?Unknown:
So I, I ignored it until I was like 20, some 21 2021. But I was like, more stable in a way like I you know, I didn't have to figure out where I was living and where I was going to get a job and things like that. So I already had a steady job, I had a steady place to live. And I was in a relationship with my now fiance. So I had to kind of address my trauma in order not to cause any issues in our relationship. So, you know, I'll watch a movie about a certain topic. And there was a time I caught a panic attack, just watching the movie where the woman was being battered by her husband, because I saw that happen to my own mom. But I didn't know I was just one minute I'm watching the movie. The next minute, I'm like crying shaking, you know, can't control just what's happening. And I had to address my trauma with him because I had to understand like, we are a unit now we are a family like he's my family now. So it's like, in order for this to be a healthy relationship, I have to address everything that's going on with me internally, all of those battles I fight internally have to be shared. He can't just I can't assume here can read my mind. He You know, he can't he can't just be like, Oh, she said, because of x, y and z, I would tell him you know, today, I had a memory that came through my mind. Or you know, Mom, Mother's Day is coming up. So I'm going to be feeling a certain way, can we do something different? You know, that kind of stuff. For our no for work, I'll take the day off and all the time, do you mind being there for me, and he will do it. And I've learned to communicate my feelings, I used to not communicate those at all. And probably like ruined a lot of friendships and a lot of relationships. But now where I'm at is really talking about what I'm feeling, how I've felt what I've dealt with, and how I'm dealing with it now. So you know, getting away from that old crying is weak, it was one of those big things because I would never really cry in front of anyone, or share with anyone. So that's why it's hard for me to even have this conversation. But I decided to it's kind of like me addressing that PTSD, me addressing the point that I was told to never cry about. And to talk about it, you can't feel any sort of way about it. If you feel some sort of way about it, you're weak. And you know, now I'm learning as an adult that if I want to create a better world for those around me, and hopefully when they have my own child that I need to address what I have going on inside first.Joel Kleber:
This is fantastic. And it's it's brilliantly said that I had a minute had the perspective to do a lot of people don't do it. And the stuff you're saying a lot of people don't do that they carry through to their 40s in their 50s and their 60s, and it develops into alcoholism and various other things to cope. Whereas if they just had the the maturity and the perspective of you just to sort of, you know, deal with that you deal with at a pretty young age 20 or 20 one's a young age because me personally, I didn't do it to my late 20s I'm 32 now but 2829 I didn't even talk to a psychologist or someone I think you call it therapy doing therapy over there may be a bit over here because I've gone to a psychologist is a man's very, very hard and it's not something that a lot of blog blogs, you know, obviously blogs don't do do so it's something that the government sort of trying to, you know, with the depression and stuff trying to make it a lot more easy, but it's still not an easy thing and are presumed to be the same. Well, maybe you have a little bit of therapy you have a lot of I hear therapy always referred to is thatUnknown:
seat my experience with therapists hasn't been that great. Again, it was kind of funny to see a therapist Tell me Oh, that's your mom, you have to kind of you know, try to deal with it and not rather like understand and listen. Um, so I had a really funny experience with that. And especially especially because I would go to the appointments with my mom, I kind of got to see that careless side of folks, right. So my mom was at the time when like Medicaid so specific doctors are assigned for that particular insurance. So the more insurance insurance money you pay, essentially you could get better doctors. That's just what it is here in the USA. So with that being said I would go there and it was kind of like oh yeah, you're here. Okay, I'm gonna we're gonna try this medication today. And to me that always sound is so weird, like, we're gonna try this with you, you know, she's not a guinea pig, and neither are the ones that live with her, you know, like, essentially, you're not going to deal with whatever comes with this, you know, at home, I have to deal with it. So I remember there were times where she, they gave her lithium, and we had to get her stomach pump. You know, here I am 19 years old, taking her to the hospital and holding her hand, you know, because she had to get her stomach pumped up of everything they gave her with the lithium. So I never really had that great experience with when it came to that. I'm learning to trust that a little bit more now, and looking into certain types of therapy, rather than, you know, folks that are really easy with the pen and the prescription pad kind of thing.Joel Kleber:
Did your mom ever had to have electronic convulsive therapy a CT?Unknown:
Um, there was a suggestion of it. But she did not like the idea. Glad Oh,Joel Kleber:
well, that's like, that's good that she didn't have to have that because it's not a good thing. But that's good. Lucky. That's not a nice thing. So can I say what what would you want to see happening moving forward with this sort of stuff? Like, what do you think would like you had a really good counselor, so going to help you out and that lived experience person I think's extremely important in this space? Which is why when I do this, well, as I'm not comfortable doing this stuff myself, but the reason why I do it is because I hope that someone who sees it, you know, has an a similar background can share their stuff, and it can sort of flow on effect, right? with more people. But there's a lot of people in our situations, I can imagine who don't say anything about it when they really should, because it'd be people now, going through the situation. And luckily, with the internet, we can put this stuff online, and maybe someone can consume the content or get shared to the content, where they can listen to it. So what would you like to see what would you want to see moving forward? For people? Let's say in your situation, what would have helped you? Which Yeah, besides are going to, you would think would have helped you? Well, how would you like to be treated differently?Unknown:
I think that if, for example, if you're going to get a patient where you know, it's going to be diagnosed with a certain, you know, diagnosis, of course, you should look at their background as a psychologist or psychiatrist and say, okay, they have children in the home. So how can we combine services? So obviously, there's not a psychologist and a psychiatrist only in a hospital of some sort, you can, you know, go through the channels of the insurance company and say, Hey, can we find, you know, a program for the kids to attend, where they can connect with other kids that are going through this and the same for the parent, because for her, I know that a lot of her life was working, right. So the minute she stopped working, and God sometimes worse, because she didn't have that thing she loved doing. So now she was focused on what's going on in her head. 100%. So I think giving those individuals something like a group activity where they can get their stress out, and also get to know other folks that are going through and also parents and how they're handling things. supervise. Of course, you know, and the same thing for the kids will be great and assigning someone, you know, like you and I, that have gone through something that wants to do that, you know, provide bags for the kids to say, you know, how is your day, it's as simple as How is your day? How are you doing and once the kid unloads, kind of really go through all of that with them and walk them through the path and let them know it's going to be okay, because a lot of kids, unfortunately, I, you know, I would lose space in my hands. If I can't say how many times I heard I'm, you know, Miss Maria kind of just want to end it all. And I will just in my head, I will have to kind of activate all those buttons and say, No, you're not, you know, we can make it if I made the you can make it and that a lot of the times I could see it in their eyes. They're like, you know, Miss Maria made it, I can make it. You know, so having someone interact with that kid identifying from the job, okay, now, we're diagnosing you bipolar? Are there kids in the household? How old? Are they? Okay, What school do they go to? You know, and within the school, are there programs, if there's no problems within the school, what's the nearest thing to their home or school where they can go to, and kind of have a space, you know, to kind of relax and be themselves and then prepare for whatever is going on at home? It's kind of like, to me, it was an everyday battle. So if you would have trained me, you know, to understand what's happening and how to deal with it better, I think I would have been better off.Joel Kleber:
Yeah, I think I think the acknowledgement of what you said before surrender to you is very important. I think that I never had that which basically saying you're going through some pretty shit. And then I'm, you know, at 89, and you can then go do your own thing, but you just got to pay your dues, unfortunately, for that time, and do best as you can and then, and then move on and use those skills and the resilience tools, the resilience, for example, you can apply to your study into your work life or to a business or whatever you want to do. I think that's hugely important as well. I was gonna say, Did you ever have the fear because I know this is common, I think common over here and obviously kids who grew up it's a genetic condition, right? So and I learned that very early on so always right Jesus, I don't want to be bloody luck here. Right? Did you ever have that few how'd you reconcile of that?Unknown:
I had that fear. I fear coming to me like that. 1718 and I was like, I don't want to have this. And then I in my head, I told myself, you're not gonna have kids. Immediately I told myself, no, we're not doing kids, because God forbid, you turn out like her. I told myself, I've shared that with friends, you know, and, and I had to kind of learn that I'm 10 times better off now. So why would I deprive myself of something like that, just because I think I'm going to end up that way. And then I, you know, having a partner with me that really says, even if you're diagnosed with something, we're going to help you through it, it doesn't mean that your life ends, because you were diagnosed with something, you're a human things happen, you've been through a lot, you might have PCs, do whatever the heck else is. But it's not going to end who you are as a person, which is somebody that cares about people and tries to help everyone because you needed that help. And I live by that, you know, I always tell my friends and people I interact with even at work, you know, I'm like, I always want to give others what I didn't have, which is a support system, and somebody to talk to, and somebody to listen to you and kind of help you go through things. So I always told myself, nope, you're not having kids, you're not doing this, you're not doing that. And the diagnosis was over. But now that I've been, you know, blessed to have the partner that I have, and the folks that I have in my life that say, if you are so what, you know, you're, you're not bad, because you got diagnosed, you're not going to just stop your life, because you've may have been diagnosed with the Whoa. And I've been again, I've been very blessed with that. I'm grateful every day.Joel Kleber:
Fantastic. And what are you doing now for the TV, we're on Samadhi. So you said your HR manager at a company, what HR work in HR,Unknown:
I am a recruitment specialist, but I recently came into that before that I was an HR generalist. So I try to kind of put my two cents into everything, like event planning for staff. So we'll have wellness events, right, where we get to talk about this stuff. And recently, because of the pandemic, you know, it came about that I called, like, 80 staff, to like, make sure that they were good. And that was a great thing. You know, checking in with people. This was something that was so good to me, that it kind of felt like I was back where I was working with the youth, but now was full blown adults. So now I would call them and say, Hey, how you doing? Are you okay? And at first, it would be like, they would think it was work related? I'm like, No, I want to know, how are you doing? Are you okay? How are you doing with the kids at home? Are you stressed out? Do you want to talk about anything? Is there anything I can help you with? And I find something for you. Like, if the kids are at home, and they're driving you crazy? Do you want me to find like a virtual event, or, you know, trying to help folks like, if you're having issues that you want to talk about, but maybe not with me, it's fine, I can give you the phone number for you know, employee assistance programs, where you may be able to talk to a therapist on the phone, you know, there'll be somebody that neutral, you'll just find a space in your home and have that conversation. So now I do it on a different scale. Because you know, I'm an HR, I get to come and say, Hey, we should have a wellness event, or Hey, we should have check in calls, or we you know, virtual events, what our staff, but I still get to do those little things with folks. That's how I implement that into my life.Joel Kleber:
And moving forward, are you comfortable? This might be a tough question. But are you comfortable with your experience you went through now? Have you been able to reconcile it fully? Are you still going to work through reconciling it? or How? How you accept? Or do you like how it's made you into the dog? You know, how do you reconcile, um,Unknown:
I'm still working through it. Because there's, of course moments where you're like, I hate this, I hate what I went through, and it sucks. And I wish I didn't have it. But then there's moments where I really analyze everything I've been through, and I go, I even though I grew up way too fast, and I didn't need to grow up that fast. I will say that it's made me into the person that I am today. And I wouldn't be able to survive the things that I go through now, as an adult. Without that knowledge, you know, and, and it's turned me into a person that I am. Again, I'm very tough, but you know, I'm also very loving and caring and, and supportive because of it. So I can first the first layer is a tough layer. I tell people all the time, I may not seem like, at first, like I'm too open or too outspoken or anything. And that's just that first layer that I'm very cautious about who's around me.Joel Kleber:
When I meet someone, I'm exactly yeah, right. Exactly. That's super serious face. Exactly. What's this person's deal, you know, and then it might take me five meetings with him to sort of, you know, ease up exactly this and I think it's a common theme.Unknown:
So now I'm more vocal about it. Like I'll, I'll go out with friends and they'll bring their friends that I don't know and I would just have a face and be sitting there and I'm like, Okay, let me just say Like, when we're going around introducing ourselves and be like, Listen, look very serious, maybe standoffish to you, but it's just, you know, I like to learn who I'm around before I let you into my world, because it is my world, I've worked very hard to build it. And I'm not just about to let anybody up in there. Because it's, it's, it's a gentle space for me, you know. So yeah, I'm learning, I'm learning more and more to kind of continue to nurture myself because there was barely anybody there to do it with me. Um, it's an everyday battle, sometimes some days are harder than others, especially now, my mom's birthday is coming up. So I tend to get a little more emotional, you know, but I'm learning I'm learning to be open, I'm learning to be, you know, real, right. Because when you're growing up with this stuff, you kind of close yourself off. And for me, it was be tough at school, be stuff, be tough at home, and then you tell from the program be tough at work, because you have no other option. This is where you have to be. And now I'm learning like, no one can be myself, I can be, I can be software, I want to be solved, like I can be gentle when I want to be done. So I can cry, when I want to cry, I can, you know, have a moment when I want to have a moment, I can be angry when I want to be when I have that come up. It doesn't make me any less of a person, it doesn't make me any less strong. It's just I can be myself now. And that's, that's something I'm learning every day.Joel Kleber:
I think that self esteem is really important as well, it's very hard. I think during that time, self esteem sort of lacks. During that time, as you said before, you know, you go to friends houses and stuff, and you just you just don't understand it. And you can hard to reconcile. So as you get a bit old trying to work on self esteem, and confidence, which is probably something for most people anyway, regardless of circumstance. But I think self esteem really takes a hit during those years and trying to build yourself up later on is definitely something that's going on. So if you got any sort of advice, or what tips would you say there's any sort of, say younger people who do stumble across this, what would you sort of tell them,Unknown:
um, honestly, the same thing I was told, you know, just do what you can do for yourself. You know, whatever they're going through in their head is not about you don't take it personal. It's something that didn't happen because of you. It's not your fault. It's just something that's going on, it's chemical, it literally has nothing to do with you. Try your best to understand it. Try to do your best to live your life and learn yourself and grow. Talk to someone that you trust, right? Because talking is very important. And try to love yourself in the process. That was something I left that in, really learn how to love myself until later on. So the if you love yourself more, you'll really see that it's not your fault, and you're doing the best you can until you know better than you do. ButJoel Kleber:
that's very, very important. And what's your handle Marie on Instagram table? Give me a followUnknown:
Oh, Tom is at underscore underscore Maria tortilla.Joel Kleber:
No worries, I'll put that on the video as well. So thanks for your time. Thanks for your time around as sort of an easy thing. And I appreciate you. You're doing this and appreciate your comment as well, because that's what sort of prompted this whole thing. Right. So that's people should understand that like, you've got to say something. So you said that comment and then look, well, you know, we're doing this now from across the other side of the world. So people need to start saying something and sharing online and reaching out to others in line if they need to. I think it's really important. So thanks for that Maria really appreciate it.Unknown:
And if anybody wants to talk about it, and they have nobody to talk to feel free to hit me up, I've gone through it and I'm more than happy to help everybody else.Joel Kleber:
It's fantastic. Thank you for that Maria. Appreciate you.
Lived Experience Expert
Maria Figueiredo is a remarkable woman who experienced growing up with a single mother with BiPolar disorder as well as having an autistic brother in New York having immigrated from Puerto Rico at the age of 14.
Maria goes right into detail about her experiences growing with a mentally ill parent and shares numerous stories that we hope can help other people in similar situations.
By sharing her authentic story we hope to encourage people to please share their experiences online in order to create awareness around children growing up with a parent who has a mental illness.
There is a significant lack of online content for young people to learn from those from lived experience, so please reach out.