My first solo episode!
It's about time I shared my lived experience as that's what the podcast is about, so I have decided to tell my story in 10 - 15 minute solo episodes to give you an insight into the otherside of mental health that is not often talked about. There is a severely disproportionate amount of mental health awareness that does not focus on children who have a parent with a mental health condition, I hope through sharing my lived experience that it makes more people aware of what young people go though with having a parent with a mental illness.
Massive thanks to the friends families I have mentioned in this episode, there is a lot of good people out there and I don't know where I would be without your support back in the day!
You know who you are!
If you are someone who can relate to this episode and would like to share your lived experience with others please email firstname.lastname@example.org
So today is the very first solar episode for the experience and my name is Joel Kleber. I'm the host of the lived experience and most talking about sharing your story and how powerful the experiences in regards to mental health or mental illness and I thought it's about time to share my story in full sort of people who know me know it a little bit. I don't know to the full extent of it, and I hope to do these solo episodes. They won't be hour long monologues probably anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes just recounting stories from my childhood and even adulthood regarding having a mother with bipolar disorder one. Now my name is Joel Kleber. As I said at the start, I'm 33. I live in Melbourne, Victoria, have always lived in Melbourne for last probably 10 years and grew up in warble and also Perth and my lived experiences by having a mother with bipolar disorder one and she was a single mom. And just look at recent update regarding that she's got now it's called I think it's called Supra nuclear palsy PSP, which is a brain brain disorder that causes problems with movement, walking in balance, and I'm and basically, you know, there's no cure for it. And in the space of two years, she's gone from being able to operate a household by herself, to now being in a nursing home and basically just just cannot move and needs assistance with everything. And it's been very confronting the last two years just to see how quickly she's that deteriorated. And it's, you know, it, there's no condition of an inner history of it in our family. You know, I spoke to the neuroscientist about it, when she came up from Melbourne, in a in a Flying Doctor Service about it. And he basically said, it's not genetic, there's, there's nothing in the family, so don't worry about it, which was a selfish reason I asked for myself, but yeah, it's just one of those things that just come out of nowhere, you know, I, the only thing I can really put it down to is that she's got an extensive history of mental illness from a young age. And he's had a whole large range of, you know, anti psychotic drugs and electric shock treatment, which is a CT, over the years, you know, and had so many treatments of that. So, that obviously doesn't help the brain even though there's not much research online saying that this directly cause it, you know, there's some stuff with AC T, saying AC T, long term doesn't affect the brain, but I, you know, I really, from my lived experience, I don't believe that for a fact. And if you do have anyone who's got, you know, a mental health condition, and they do try and use AC T on him, I would suggest that you really talk about that with the doctor, because, you know, I didn't have much say growing up with it, and they just used to AECT my mom all the time. And, you know, I'm not, I don't know, directly if this has had an impact on this progressive Supranuclear palsy condition. But you know, it's hard not to sort of think that it has paid have played a factor in it. So my lived experience, as I said, is having a single mother with bipolar disorder one. Now bipolar, sort of, you know, means a lot of things used to be called manic depression, and people think you're up and you're down, up, and you're down well, with my mum being bipolar one, it's sort of meant she was way more manic than depressed. And there were times of depression where she, you know, just stay in bed a lot, but it was more the manic stuff, which really affected us growing up lots of unusual behaviors, and it's just not a normal, normal childhood, you know, from a very early age, you're exposed to lots of things and you don't know any better, but you don't have a normal family. Put it that way, once you become aware of it. So the first time I really became aware of my mother's mental illnesses when I was around seven years old, and I think I was in, in Perth a time in primary school and, you know, dropped off to school we know much was much was happening or much was even wrong at all. And then basically, you know, I think the police came to the school and you know, had to pull out pull us out of class. And, you know, and take us to the principal's office and and basically say to us, you know, your mother is now in hospital. And we you instantly think you know what's wrong with our two physical condition. And they didn't really say too much. So they took us in the back of the DV van to, I think was the Human Services offices at a place called Mirrabooka. Now, if you know, Perth at all, no Mira Booker had dodgy knees, it's a very dodgy suburb. And we will take you to this Human Services Office because we had no family in Perth at all, my mum, for whatever reason, decided to leave all the way she's one of 11 in Melbourne, and go to Perth, to make it on our own, with my father at the time, so it wasn't probably the best or most responsible decision at all by both of them. Because if something happened to her, it was just basically us left to you know, whatever happened at the time, which was what what ended up happening. So all of a sudden, we get we get taken to this. This this Human Services Office with this old guy, I remember him you know, this balding guy or this or the vulture haircut, this old sort of suit in this dodgy sort of shopping center. And we're just sort of left there and this sort of, you know, the police were really good and just sort of it's sort of hard to know how to handle it and I just left to stay with this guy. And then all of a sudden, I think within a couple of hours, we will then take into a couple of suburbs away to a foster home. So within the space of banged up to that school thinking everything's going really well, you're, you're you come back, and then all of a sudden, you're in a, you're in some strange lady's house, in a suburb, you don't know. And it's a really traumatic experience to get back in it. I didn't know much better at the time. But it was a very traumatic experience, even thinking back to it now that we had no explanation now and told us exactly what was wrong with us. So the thing with us is, well, we'll told she was in hospital, and we didn't know what was wrong with her, they wouldn't tell us. So it was very hard to understand that as a young child, if someone said, Oh, your mom's broken your leg or broken hip, or whatever, you could understand that and you want to go see her. But they didn't really tell us, they kept us in the dark, which made it even worse. And, and another thing which made it even worse was that we did have a dad at the time, but he was working in Saudi Arabia, and he was only coming home for two weeks a year. So he was in there. And it was hard for us to understand as well as kids will, you know, if mom's sick, where's dad, and he wouldn't come back. So he wouldn't leave his job to come back to look after us, which was also very hurtful and very, very traumatic at the time. But you know, that was our first experience with mental health and mental illness. And that was minus seven. And then from that point on, you sort of your childhood goes, and then you sort of, you know, thrust into this world of being a young adult, because things that go on from from there and never really the same again, you know, and I definitely in regards to memories and stuff, I do remember the time pretty vividly because it's a very traumatic experience, it's probably something I haven't really dealt with properly to this day. And I'm trying to, I've reached out to a lady called Tamara hill in the States, he's one of the best YouTube channels, I recommend for anyone who's got some PTSD or childhood trauma or a parent with a mental illness, she's got really good YouTube content. Because I've just found it really hard in Australia to get help. I don't think the Australian psychologist really equipped I've tried a couple of times, and it just got me nowhere. So I've reached out to her through a couple of international consultations, and I'll let you know how that goes. But the this whole subject of having a parent with a mental illness, it goes really under understood by the members of the public, by just people in general, you know, kids in these situations, they're not really considered, from my experience, you know, and which is half the reason why I wanted to do this content. And half reason why I'm sharing this to you, is because that if you do have these mental health fundraisers and things like that, there's some really good organizations to help kids and, and help them process this sort of information and give them support. So I recommend that you throw your funds behind that rather than your big organizations, because they have all this awareness, they have all this money. But these these things like you know, children with mentally ill we have parents with a mental illness, it's a massive issue. It receives no attention, which is why I do these podcasts that I'm sharing with you because I encourage others to share their lived experience, especially if you've had a parent or have a parent with a mental illness. So yeah, so after that, sort of experience, you know, we were at this, this foster home with this lady and as I say this, if you've gone from one day of having a normal normal life, and then all of a sudden you're in this foster home in this strange house, you don't know what's going on and, and it's very traumatic and you cry, you cry a lot. You know, the seven years old was very religious, believe it or not, for anyone who knows me. Now I'm a pretty big atheist, but I was massively religious. And that was drummed into me, by my mum is a massive Roman Catholic, and all I can remember doing is crying in bed and praying to Jesus, you know, that someone would, would help myself and my sister. And it never came to help. So we, you know, I did that every day, and every day, and then eventually, you sort of slowly process the information of what's going on, and you just go to school, I think we're at school the next day or the day after. So you can imagine, you've come out of school, and then you know, you only had one day off. And then the next day after that you're back into school as well, with no sort of debrief or no counseling or no help whatsoever. I do remember some sort of social worker being involved at the time, but I just think they came to check on the lady, I don't really think they came to talk to us, and we were really shy kids. So I don't think we would have given them much anyway, but it would have been nice to have someone actually persist with us. Because looking back on it now, we never had any real counseling or help from psychologist or, or psychiatrist in any way. You know, which was really disappointing. I think it would have helped a lot. You know, luckily enough Touchwood I think I've turned out okay. But um, you know, I can see some I mean, kids in this situation can go completely off the rails because it's a very traumatic experience. And people can cope with trauma differently. You know, they might cope with drugs, alcohol, as an adult because of these incidents that happen in childhood, and to not support kids at that stage properly. Like, it's such a detriment to the community, because if that person doesn't turn out, well, for example, they're going to be such a drain on the economy and all these sorts of things. So just some really good early intervention with kids who live in these situations or have parents with mental illness will go a long way to helping the economy and obviously helping the person long term as the city was It was such a crazy situation being a seven year old. And all of a sudden your mum's in a psychiatric ward. And you're not really told much you don't, you're not really even explained what bipolar is, you don't know what it is, you know, your mom's your mom. And that's her behavior. And that's how you know, you don't really know too much. You know, the only thing you really got to go off is comparing it to other households when you go there. But there was nothing really too much with us. At the time. Father was earning a lot of money and sending it back to mom who, unbeknownst to us wasn't properly paying them more generally sorts of things, but I'm just buying stuff. So we will probably pretty well for a short time because you're just spending in buying us all these toys and stuff with the money that was meant for the house, which all came crashing down, which I'll talk about later. But yeah, so seven year old kid foster home, not much support from the government and then probably the next day or two. You're then basically back to school and away you go. And, and that experience with the foster family and the lady I can't remember too much about She was a lovely lady. I think she gave us money for staff. And we this is back in the day, when as a seven year old, you could go to the shops and bison lollies and stuff in the milk bar. So we did that. But we never really talked about it at all. The way I cope with my trauma or cope with it as a kid was really just crying every night crying every night praying to Jesus, that you know this would be over and be reunited reunited with your mom. And as a kid time is so long as well. So I think it was a three month or two month stint her first time in bed that seemed like a year. And what happened is I think I don't know if was the first week but it might have been the second week where they allowed us to go and see our mom in the psychiatric ward, which is called Rylands NW and pretty soon it's called grey lens. And as a kid, you don't really care. You just want to see your mom, where is he? Where is she and then all of a sudden, you know, we've been driven I can't remember it was by the social worker by the lady itself. I think it might have been by the social worker or someone came and picked us up. And then took us to see a mom at grayling psychiatric ward. And now we just wanted to say Mum so you get a couple of kids were being paraded to see a mum and I think at the time she would have been starting to have a CT and things like that. electroconvulsive therapy is what they use to help people get back on track, we always told it was to reset the brain and, and that sort of thing. But you know, the after results of a CT you know, the person control a bit, you know, they can be saying all these crazy things and, but we don't care, we just want to see our mom. So we will take it into the psychiatric ward in gray lands in Perth. And it's a massive facility. It's a massive sprawled out facility. And they were taken in them and were taken to see our mommies and Milla for psychiatric wards. So we're just a couple of kids, psychiatric ward with open with patients everywhere. So there's patients everywhere mum comes out, we're glad to see we run and hugger and cry and all that sort of stuff. And my mum's a very social friendly person. So what she did is she automatically just go very proud of it, children go around walking us around and parading us around to go and meet everyone in the psychiatric ward meet my daughter mate, my son, all this sort of stuff. And, you know, seven years old, you're shaking hands with someone, he's got cigarette burns on their arms, or he's got his cuts in their arms and who's just some sky smells of cigarettes, but you don't really want to meet them, you're there to see your mum but will parade it around to meet all these people in it that in itself, when you think back in it was very traumatic and was very responsible of the of the of the social worker at the time. Because, you know, it's bad enough being there as it is. But it should have been in a controlled environment, or at least, you know, somewhere, we could have been in private. After that we'll take into a room and then we're able to sit with our mom in a bed and stuff like that. I'm just just low talker and listener and all that sort of stuff. And she would have been ranting and raving about all this other stuff about these conspiracies and stuff. But we were just happy to see her. And then as you can imagine, I think after an hour or two, we then had to go. So um, you know, take him back. And then when can we see again, we had to wait to the next weekend. So it was once a weekend, we could see. And that was so long, just going in there and seeing her every time and she didn't get better quicker though it took a long, long time. And we'd always go in and she's had a CT the day before or something like that. And she's been drooling and saying all these conspiracies and all this sort of stuff. And as a seven year old, it was just very hard to know, because you believe everything your parents tell you and we I certainly believe everything she told me as a young person until I got a bit older. And but that's your mom, you love him. And that's what you do. But that experience itself, like just thinking back in it now like there's so many kids who would have seen their parents in psychiatric wards or a parent in a psychiatric ward and that the support and that the management of the kid itself in there is not the best, I don't know what they do now. But you know, having being allowed to being paraded around the psychiatric facility meeting all these patients and stuff, definitely not the best thing for you. The I just want that you just want to see the person and and you need to have a bit of a debrief as well, to understand what that place is and what the conditions are and all that sort of stuff. And at this stage, we still never had bipolar explained to us. I don't think we met her psychologist or psychiatrist who was treating her once which he thought would have been the case. You know, like if the psychiatrist or psychologist knew those kids involved you think they'd want to meet us and explain to us what they're doing to our mom and all these sorts of stuff and they never did once which is a massive bugbear of mine with the system and something they really need to do. because what they do is they see kids as an inconvenience the psychologist or psychiatrist, and they're not even considered in how they treat the person. So they just want to treat the person and get that better, which is fine. But you've got these, these lives, which are so impacted by this person, and they don't know what's going on, you don't explain it to them. So that's a really, really big thing that needs to change. And I'm not too sure where it's at now, I hope it does change. But what I'll do guys is I'll end the episode there, if you have managed to listen to the end, thank you very much. I'm going to do this in stories. So I'm going to try and sort of go through a timeline, put some new stuff in, put some some incidents in and try and sort of give you a really good picture of what my lived experiences and just some facts about the mental health system and mental illness itself. Because I think, you know, anyone who's listened to me talk, I said, the Mental Health Awareness movement is fantastic. But there is massive brands who just focus on a couple of things, which is minor depression, and anxiety. And obviously, suicide is a big problem. But what they don't tell you is suicide is that the percentage of people who commit suicide or bipolar schizophrenia, for example, right, so, you know, I think there's a there's a study that I rent read there from 2009 2009 teen which said, the 1600 people in Australia, with bipolar, committed suicides at 1% of the population, roughly with bipolar, and 1600 of those people committing suicide a year, which is a massive number, which you would not know about, from how they talk about mental health awareness, and the Mental Health Awareness movement. And also employ you guys, if you are a child, or if you are an adult, and you can relate to what I'm saying anywhere in the world. please nominate yourself to be a guest, I will have you on because I want to share your experiences, I want to share your stories, it's really important to get this stuff out too. And for me, I'm 33 I used to, you know, hide from it a lot. Because there's a lot of stigma with mental health and all you want people to look down on me. So, you know, I haven't even really probably dealt with it fully what happened to myself regarding having a parent with a mental illness, but I'm sort of something I'm truly working on. And this podcast is actually really therapeutic for me. So for whatever reason, I can feel happy telling you the list now the sort of stuff as opposed to a psychologist so if you did enjoy this episode, please make sure you leave a review. Also head to the website, which is www dot lived experience. podcast.com and that way you can nominate yourself a guest as well. I'd love to have you on and two episodes in a week. So we're going to get consistent with this. And I'll have another episode next week, which we all do with the guests will be part two of my lived experience journey. The thank you take care
Host of the lived experience podcast which started from my frustration about the lack of content there is around children who have a parent with a mental illness. Mental health awareness is limited to depression and anxiety, my podcast goes beyond that.