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Pat's Story  •  •  • 

We adopted our daughter at age ten. Right away we saw that she struggled with making friends and with interacting appropriately with others. Several psychological tests resulted in numerous diagnosis including Aspergers Syndrome, Bi-polar disorder, emotional disturbance, PTSD, ADHD, etc. We experienced years of medication experimentation with little to no success.

As she grew into a teenager there were times that she would get so emotionally distraught that we would need to put her in the car and drive. The motion seemed to be the only thing to calm her down. There were multiple visits to emergency rooms, sometimes waiting days for a bed in a psych facility. At one point she was aggressive to the point the police were called, she threatened to kill herself then waited several days in an emergency department for a bed. When she crossed the threshold to the inpatient unit, she turned back to me and whispered, “Don’t worry mama, I am not going to kill myself, I just need help.”

This has been an experience that has challenged us and at the same time taught us more about tolerance, acceptance and forgiveness than one could imagine. The most difficult thing through all of it is trying to determine what behaviors she cannot help due to her disabilities and what behaviors are just bad choices on her part.

Throughout the years we learned it is important to give yourself a break. No parent has the right answer all the time and seriously, as human beings we are going to make mistakes. Just do the very best that you can do and be content that you are making a difference. One of our daughter’s therapists taught us years ago that you cannot help others if you are not mentally healthy yourself. Take a weekend trip, a long walk on the beach or even a bubble bath but do what you need to do to take care of your own emotional well-being.


Pat Purcell (left)
Advisory Committee Member

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