Bloggy Moms

Friday, May 1, 2015

Talking About Mental Health on Capitol Hill Part 1

On Wednesday, April 22, 2015 my daughter and I flew from Los Angeles, CA to Washington, D.C. to attend one of the most important events in her ten-year old life. We were slated to participate in the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry's (AACAP)  annual legislative conference. We were joined by approximately 200 doctors, residents, fellows and other family members for the common cause of addressing mental health concerns on Capitol Hill. I am very qualified to speak on this topic because I have lived with someone who has a mental illness. First it was my parents and now my daughter.
After we found our hotel, we had almost a  day to adjust to being in a different time zone. AACAP prepared us very well for the task at hand. They sent us one-page briefs a few days in advance. They also hosted several training sessions at the host hotel. I, of course, read up on these briefs and even studied up a bit on the legislators my daughter and I were slated to visit that Friday. I wasn't exactly sure how to prepare my daughter other than to tell her that she was going to be speaking to Congress. She was so cute, in the days and weeks leading up to or visit and even while we were in D.C., she told anyone who would listen that she was going to speak to "Congress about mental health." She wants to be a lawyer some day so this was perfect for her.
 During our first training, one of the doctors at our table suggested that Princess and I go up to the front with him to the mock meeting to tell our story. Since we were in the hotel's spacious grand ballroom, we were given a clip on mic. Princess wanted one as well. I felt since she didn't know the topic very well, it wouldn't be prudent for her to be miked so I dismissed her. While we were on stage, Princess added her two cents about "Not wasting money like my mom always says." That sealed the deal. After that, Princess was a star. All of the doctors told her she was so brave and that they were so proud of her. I should have listened to her in the first place.
After that afternoon's training, we went back to the hotel room to rest before our big evening. We had been invited to dinner by the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance as a way of thanking us and other parents who volunteer at A Balanced Mind Parent Network. There were a few things that stood out at this dinner. Even though it was loud, Princess had her blingy noise canceling headphones and her iPad so she tolerated the noise really well. Secondly all three children, ranging in age from 10-19 chose Mac N Cheese for their entrée selection. Some things never change. Lastly, on the way back to our hotel one of the moms lent Princess her heavy coat since this mom, me, didn't realize that 60 degrees in D.C. is not the same as 60 degrees in CA. Oops!
We were pretty done after our dinner and headed up to our room to catch some shut-eye only a certain little person couldn't fall asleep until 11:30 p.m. Even on a school night this is a bad idea. Stay tuned to see what happened the next morning....

Coming on Monday 5/4:
Part 2- Tells more about our trip and explains about the first issue we presented on.

Photo credit goes to my friend Dawn at Hardly Bored

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