• BSL

Part 4: Restoring a Family

It’s hard to wrap your head around what’s going on in another person’s mind, let alone if that person has mental illness. But this month, Mental Health Awareness Month—and every day at Big Sister League of San Diego—we try. To shed light on these efforts, we’re sharing one residents’ journey in four candid perspectives. In the final installment, Deb’s mother opens up about how the nonprofit helped turned her heartbreak into gratitude—and brought her daughter back to her again.

“When you live with mental health problems, you’re in it for the long haul,” Deb says. There’s no escaping the ups and downs. “You can have good days, good months, good years, good several years.”

And for some fortunate enough, their family is there every step of the way to bear the pain of their trials and the pride of their triumphs.

As Deb’s mother, Susan* has traversed that emotional spectrum for 25 years and counting. In her eyes, the battles steepened when Deb moved out as a teen. “She always wanted to live independently.”

But in doing so, she didn’t have the support to resist her addictions. With almost every relapse would come a family intervention, and sometimes a welcome home until Deb felt she could be independent again, then another relapse, and so the cycle continued.

In retrospect, Deb acknowledges, that cycle broke her family’s trust to a point they “didn’t want anything to do with it.”

Instead, they steered their energy into encouraging Deb into treatment centers. But even from there, the cycle persisted to the extent Deb was somewhat estranged.

For her mom, that was the utmost heartbreaking.