I always knew I was going to write this blog.
It was actually at the top of my list.
But I didn’t.
Because I was scared …
Because it’s tough …
Because it’s about something people don’t really talk about, yet a “dirty” little secret many of us have.
But then last week happened and we saw two people who seemingly had it all, take their own lives.
As people watching this unfold in the media, it was a weird moment for two reasons.
For those who haven’t experienced the ravages of mental illness, it showed them just how serious it is; how it doesn’t discriminate, knows no bounds.
Mental health issues, sometimes despite treatment efforts, are like a ___ monster and it doesn’t care who it eats.
For those of us who were aware of this fact, it was almost a somber moment of redemption. Like we’d been sitting in a classroom full of people with our arm straight up in the air and the teacher finally called on us … AND … we had the right answer.
Regardless of which side of the coin you may fall on, there was a reaction amongst the general public; one where it became the “sexy” thing to do to post or tweet or otherwise let the world see you wagging an accusatory finger at people for not checking in on those who are suffering from mental illness.
And while I didn’t particularly care for that piece, I have seen the suicide prevention hotline posted more in the last week than I have all year.
Despite our ridiculously short attention spans (because we’ll surely move on to the next hot topic soon), I think that’s dope … even if it is only for a little while.
But what I want to talk about is a little different.
I want to talk about being the one who LOVES someone struggling with a mental health issue.
These people, too, need to be acknowledged … because loving someone who is mentally ill is arguably one of the hardest things we can do.
Whether this is someone you’ve known your whole life (a parent, a sibling) or someone you met along your journey (a spouse, a boyfriend), there isn’t much that can be more heartbreaking than looking your loved one in the eyes and not seeing them anymore.
They’re there, physically, but when that monster wraps its scaly, dark tentacles around their minds, it rips them from this world and takes them to a place where they are no longer an adult, but a child with fear and horror lacing their irises like ghosts in a fall breeze.
And sometimes they come back … sometimes for brief periods of time. It can be fleeting like in the heartiness of their laughter or more extended like a cohesive conversation or months of stability.
Then they leave again and you have to watch as their mind destroys itself; telling it lies it believes:
No one loves you
They can see you
They’re trying to kill you
AND THERE’S NOTHING YOU CAN DO TO HELP THEM. There’s nothing you can do to love them for the way they used to be, because the mental illness monster is now a part of them too.
It’s the ultimate tease because you know they’re in there, but you can only see them when this thing, however we describe it, allows you.
So you end up living in this sickness with them, sticking in there, being supportive through the highs and lows and sometimes violent fits, because to leave them is unfathomable … because they’re sick.
It’s like watching someone die … over … and over … and over … again.
So all I am saying, is that while we are posting numbers and offering support, we have to remember the caretakers; the lovers; the mothers, the fathers, the wives, husbands, and girlfriends, who are in love with someone who is suffering, because the suffering is shared.
According to the World Health Organization, one in four people are suffering from some sort of mental illness. Now multiply that by the number of people who care for these people.
So while we’re posting important information to help those who are suffering, let’s post one for those who are suffering with them.
NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Helpline – 800-950-6264
Give them a call if you need some support while supporting.
Until next time folks,
Love and Light,
What did you say?
You miss me when I’m gone?
Well, you know you can keep up with my antics every other day of the week …
You can also find all of my books The Becoming of Us, Vol. I, The Becoming of Us, Vol. II, What’s Hiding in the Dark: 10 Tales of Urban Lore, and They Eat on Amazon: