A Road Map to Hope


A Road Map to Hope

In my last blog, I shared my experiences with the power of storytelling and its importance in the recovery process, my own and the hundreds of families that I have been privileged to meet over the years.

I invited readers to consider sharing their families’ recovery stories and to open to the possibility of the healing that is available when we connect with each other through this sharing. I am so thankful for those who reached out and did just that. I would like to share one of these stories with all of you.

I am grateful to the eloquent mother bear who took the time to touch my heart by sharing what was in hers. I am also grateful that she is willing to share her story here. I have changed the names below, but her story and her healing insights are real.

Dear Lisbeth,

Reflecting on the last five years, so many emotions have begun surfacing for me. I realize that I have placed myself in a sort of self-imposed isolation from the world since our trials with our Scott began. Fear of being judged or misunderstood by others has kept me there.

I have been stuck… merely getting through the days weeks and months. I have kept myself sealed in a “safe haven” that has thwarted my personal development and my ability to give back to others. In many ways, Scott’s illness has kept me in a kind of status-quo equilibrium.

At the same time, I have been enjoying the peace that has been afforded to us by Scott’s continuing recovery at CooperRiis for which I am so grateful. His recovery is mostly where I find my joy out of life.

But I am beginning to realize that I have kept myself from really living my life more fully and becoming the person I was meant to be. I want to do something that I can feel good about.

I am still very afraid to come out of this self-imposed shell, but I feel this opportunity to join with others through the Mother Bear Community Action Network is providential and has the potential to help me create some meaning out of the hell our family went through.

I am more than a little nervous but very excited about the possibility of helping other families by sharing our family’s recovery journey. I am grateful to be able to do so with the support of other mother bears like myself – those who have fought hard to find healing for our family members, often alone and seemingly against all odds.

As I write, the tears are flowing. I know I have so many built-up emotions that need to come out somehow. I know I have many stories that I still need to tell. And many stories I still need to hear.

I have begun reading the blogs on Mad in America. Your recent blog, A Mother Bear’s Story, resonated with me on so many levels. Your reassuring way of telling your story was so comforting and healing.

It made me realize that hearing from someone who has traveled the road to recovery before me, who has experienced similar challenges, helps me create a kind of road map that gives me reason to have hope.

I feel more equipped knowing what I can do today and where our family is headed. This road map, if you will, has taken some of the fear and worry out of my recovery journey. Knowing that our family is not alone in this journey gives me the confidence to believe we can overcome our obstacles together.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart,

Kelly, a newly minted mother bear

Mother Bear Community Action Network (Mother Bear CAN) is dedicated to uniting families to create a new mental health paradigm in which the whole person is supported, recovery is expected, hope is encouraged, the role of medication is carefully considered, the relationship between mental health and addiction is understood, and family and community are an important part of the healing process.

Mother Bear CAN is committed to empowering families through education about the many pathways to recovery, family-led community support, and access to recovery-oriented providers.

You can visit our growing network of mother bears (and father, sister, brother and other family bears) on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MotherBearCAN.


Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.


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  1. I’m grateful to be involved in the development of the Mother Bear Community Action Network that was envisioned and founded by my friend Lisbeth.

    Her wonderful blog post here that shares another powerful story of hope and recovery, is a historic unveiling of a grass roots network of support and advocacy, that I believe will grow into a national movement that will help transform our tragically inadequate children, teen, family and adult mental health system of care.
    Bravo Lisbeth!

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