I read a CNN article this week on a family's struggle with mental illness. I was impressed by the candor of the family interviewed as well as the willingness of the writer to publish the article. He tells us of the battle these people have been through trying to help their son. It hit home with me. I have been there, I know what they are going through, and I was heartened to see someone else talking about mental illness in public, instead of hiding behind closed doors.
In an all-day National Conference on Mental Health, President Obama said that he "hopes that a summit on mental illness will help bring that sensitive topic 'out of the shadows.' Too many Americans who struggle with mental health illnesses are still suffering in silence, rather than seeking help." Too many people are afraid to come forward and get the help they need. They are in fear of the stigma their illness will place on them.
The article's author, Wayne Drash wrote:
"The only time mental illness dominates the national conversation is when something goes tragically wrong. But the dialogue doesn't last. It gets buried under arguments about gun control, video game violence and unheeded signs of trouble -- until there's yet another mass shooting."
Now is the time to talk about mental illness, not tomorrow, not after another tragedy, but now.
I can only imagine the pain and agony someone with a mental illness suffers. I read my son's journals, with his permission, to get a glimpse into the mind of someone with a mental illness. When he is suffering he writes "Quiet all seasons and silence the rants. Bleak, darkness, sorrow, pain, aching, peril, know my name."
But when he is doing well, has support, and uses the skills he has learned to help himself he can write this about himself:
"A single reason to continue on this path I have made for such a long time has left me completely. Now I find myself searching for what used to be, instead of what should be. Lost and confused, I stagger back and forth for a while, trying to find my balance. The initial shock has kicked in and a life with this, this lack of what I depended on, is flashing before my eyes. At first glance I yearn for my satisfaction once again. I want to cradle my obsession and love my obsession, but leaving impulse behind requires me to think forwardly and consequentially. The potential my life now holds is not fathomable. I am slowly beginning to realize what this has held me from becoming, that I am capable of achieving all my aspirations. That the monster that has festered for, it seems like an eternity, inside of me can be tamed, and being held back from the true self will only cause me to bask in the reality that is me. Relishing the every moment I succeed."
The long road to helping someone with a mental illness is full of bumps and pot-holes, but it can be navigated successfully. It is not easy, it is a lifelong illness. A good friend of mine referred to it as a marathon, not a sprint. We are in this for the long haul, and there are times when my son is exhausted and "falls" down, but with help or on his own, he gets back up and starts over, and each time he does, he comes through it a little stronger and a little wiser.
Follow the link below to read the full article by Wayne Drash.