Skip to main content

Losin' my mind

art by Amber Osterhout
Our local paper is launching a series on mental health issues.    I applaud this, and hope that the series will bear good discussion, enlightenment and encouragement.

Victorian newspapers would not use the word "cancer".  Fifty years ago, one would not admit he or she was homosexual in public.  Many of our ancestors changed the spelling of their names or changed their names completely to avoid ethnic stereotypes.  This has all changed.

But to live with mental illness is still a stigma.

I know, because I'm the mother of a mentally ill daughter.

If my child had a physical disease, my church would hold a spaghetti dinner to help us pay for medical bills.  People would want to be updated on her health and status.  Offers of help would be forthcoming from neighbors.  Instead, no one talks about it.  In fact, they studiously avoid the topic all together.

Living with mental illness is like having a tornado in  your living room.  You don't know which way it's going, how much destruction you're going to find when you open the door on your way in from work, or what, if anything, has been destroyed or damaged.  You live in a constant state of alertness, never knowing when you'll need to act.

The most frustrating thing for me is that our mental health system is set up so that one must follow pre-ordained steps in gaining access to help, and those steps must not be skipped, jumped or otherwise vaulted over.  Imagine, if you will, taking your child to an ER, and she is bleeding profusely from every orifice.  The doctor then tells you he must first use band-aids.  That is the necessary first step.  It is the only thing he is allowed to do.  If the band-aids don't work, then he will try applying pressure, but if and only if the band-aids aren't working.  By the way, he is the only judge of the band-aids not working.  If you, as the parent, yell,  "Hey, these aren't working", you will be ignored, since you are not the expert in treating this type of problem.  And so it goes, with your child bleeding to death in front of you, as the steps are rigorously followed.

It is a bad system.

Dear husband and I have been standing in the ER room for almost two years, desperately trying to get someone to stop the bleeding.  We "think" we may have help on the horizon, but it remains to be seen.  Like everything else with mental illness (and, by the way, illnesses like cancer and MS and Parkinson's and diabetes), the future is unpredictable.  For now, all we can do is pray that our daughter is safe, we are safe, and that we can move forward.


Popular posts from this blog

Trying to "end run" God

If you're a football fan, you know what an end run is. From Merriam-Webster:
a football play in which the ballcarrier attempts to run wide around the end of the line We try to "end run" God a lot. I do. I figure I know better. I've got this - no need to worry the Big Guy about such a trivial thing.

Of course, it never works.

Like the puppy above, when we try and evade the tough obstacle (even though we KNOW we will eventually have to do it), we end up - well, off in the bushes.

But oh! How I wished my way worked. I'd love to take a flying leap and land smoothly and gracefully. People would be in awe, as if watching Simone Biles nail a balance beam routine that no one else would even attempt. I would shyly look down and blush - just lightly - and acknowledge (But humbly! Oh so humbly!) my achievement.

But no: I am the one pulling myself out of the bushes, scratches all over my legs and twigs in my hair. I'd hear that gentle but loving voice of God saying, &quo…

Be Transfigured

From today's readings: 

Jesus took Peter, James, and his brother, John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the and his clothes became white as light.

...we possess the prophetic message that is altogether reliable. You will do well to be attentive to it as to a lamp shining in a dark place until day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.

Today we celebrate the Transfiguration. For whatever reason, Jesus brought three of His disciples to Mount Tabor to witness this miracle. They weren't sure what they were seeing, but they knew enough to throw themselves to the ground in the presence of Almighty God. St. Peter (who never did anything halfway) excitedly declares that he will erect tents on the mountain as a way of memorializing the event. But Jesus tells him and the others that they are not to tell people what they witnessed - at least not yet.

In the second reading, the requirement to be quiet has bee…

Be Brave

A few years ago, it came to my attention that a young family member was struggling with anxiety and depression. I was able to share with her a bit of my own struggles, and let her know she wasn't alone.

A few weeks after our talk, I saw the movie, "Brave." It struck me that the young protagonist, Merida, modeled a great quality. She was indeed brave.

Being brave is not about recklessness. It is not about confidence. It's not about being foolish, or looking for glory in the eyes of others.

Bravery is about doing what is right, even when you are a quivering mess. It's about knowing that things may not turn out the way you expected, but forging ahead anyway. Being brave is standing by the hospital bed while a loved one is dying, and all you really want to do is turn back time. Bravery is standing up to a bully, when your legs are screaming for you to run. Brave is doing what needs to be done even when you're scared and tired and feeling helpless and hopeless.

I …