Mental Illness Awareness Week is in full swing. In 1990, Congress established the first full week of October to allow the National Alliance for Mental Health to provide advocacy and resources about mental illness. From October 7 though 13, a variety of awareness events take place nationally to maximize the awareness and acceptance of patients. The stigma related to mental illness still exists in society as well as insurance companies. This is another cause close to my heart.
I was 17 when I had my nervous breakdown. I was suffering from a variety of issues: boy trouble, parental misunderstanding, not fitting in, and learning who I was in this world. I had crazy mood swings and was depressed. Finally, I could take no more.
My parents told me that would be out of town for my junior prom. I had also had a fight with a close friend because she didn’t understand the movie 28 Days we had just went to see or how I identified to it. I fled to my best friend’s house. She had no time for me; her boyfriend had flown in from England. One moment I was leaving her trailer, the next my mom was rushing out to the drive way because a cop pulled in behind me. He had his lights on and everything; it did not register with me. It seems both my mom and the cop saw something was wrong in my vacant eyes. Finally, my parents listened and got me help.
I was diagnosed with manic depression caused by an issue with my thyroid. I have hypothyroidism which leads to depression, weight issues, lack of attitude, fatigue and many other issues. But thank to a medication that manages my thyroid levels and therapy to help me rewrite maladaptive behaviors I learned while in my lesser state, I have come far.
It is hard to put into words what depression feels like. Read The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath and you may get an idea. Listen to Stone Sour’s “Through Glass”: “no one ever tells you that forever, feels like home, sitting all alone inside your head.” Or check out Ellie Goulding’s “Lights” for what it is like to struggle with recovery. You are stuck in your own head and battle inner demons and delusions to become whole again. The despair is hard to describe.
But suffering from mental illness does not have to mean it’s has to take over your life. God has provided us with doctors and treatments to help us overcome our earthily pains. With his strength you can overcome the side affects mental illness to live a normal life. Never stop praying, never stop working, and dedicate yourself to your recovery. It will be a long hard road, and, yes many illness are life long, but you can still be you, the person God wants you to be.
We need to help those on need and lift them up in God’s grace. We can’t shunned them or tease them; it makes their issues worse. We have to hold one another up no matter what issues they face.
Today is National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Recovery and Understanding. I want to end this post with special prayers for those who suffer from mental illness, their families as well for their peers, so they can understand the issues at hand.
I pray that you reach out a hand to those suffering from mental illness and heal them. Give them the strength to win this horrific battle and help them find sources of information and support. Bless them with trained doctors and caregivers who can help them fight this battle. Give them hope and encouragement that this earthly pain is only temporary and that soon they will be wrapped in your arms.
I pray for families and friends. It is not easy for them to live with these people. Give them the peace and strength to help their loved ones through the hardest part and don’t judge them too harshly for their behavior. I pray they become an advocated for victims of mental illness.
Lord, I also ask that you touch the heart of the public and the insurance companies. Soften their hearts to this internal war and help them to be empathetic to the pain of others. Allow them to drop their prejudices and encourage them to support their fellow man.
Lord, thank you for being there for me as I traveled down the same path. Thank you for brining me out of those dark waters and into your light. Thank you for allowing me to understand the suffering so I could be an advocate for others.
I pray that you continue to shrink the stigma that is mental illness and let your love lead us to a happy existence.