You see, we had mental illness in our family and people didn't really know what to do with that. We didn't really know what to do with that. Looking back from today's point of view, I can't imagine how they would have known what the right way to be was, what the path through could possibly be, or what the path beside may have been. Who could tell them? Not us. We didn't know.
Even now, with many years having gone by, some strides made in the forward direction around awareness while a few taken away by media hype, I'm not sure society, including the church, knows how best to walk alongside the mentally ill. I know I don't, not the best way, just the best I know so far. And it is the same for all of us, we know the best we know so far.
Our family has certainly had opportunity to learn, share, inform, maybe even educate and we've been very fortunate to have many in our church and community today, want to understand. I am very thankful for this, for these caring people who have loved us well and I am also thankful for any chance to expand understanding. There has been improvement. And there is room for more. For all of us, me included, maybe especially.
My mom suffered many, many years with mental illness. So did we. It is not only the mentally ill who suffer but also those who love them and maybe even those who do not. Its reach is far.
This illness, cruel as it can be with whatever face it shows, does not make those who live with it 'less than'. It took me a long while to learn that. It took my son getting diagnosed with mental illness for me to really know that. He is not 'less than'...nor is my mom. Nor am I as a daughter and mother of those with mental illness. They, we, are made in God's image, after all.
My mom and my son have both taught me much with their struggle through crises and their living with the illness. Their courage and hope rock my world. Their journeys are not without struggle and also not without triumph. Like all of ours.