During Thanksgiving at our house, around the table filled with too much food, the conversation usually includes the obligatory listing of things we are thankful for. We recite what we have seen God give or do for us in the last year. New babies, new jobs, new friends. We mention happy vacations or meaningful opportunities, all good gifts from our good Heavenly Father.
However, rarely are there offers of gratitude for the tough stuff: broken relationships, financial struggles, consequences of poor decisions. We are thankful for the gains, but not so appreciative of the losses. As a family dealing with mental illness, some years our honest recounting includes more of the latter.
This blog was written at the invitation of Amy Simpson (author of Troubled Minds: Mental Illness and the Church’s Mission) and posted on her site October 2, 2017. I was grateful to her for the opportunity to share these thoughts with her readers.
I can’t honestly say I am thankful for the mental illness that besets our son. But in full truthfulness I can say I am glad to have been forced to do battle with my theology of suffering and to test both its mettle and mine.
Like so many others, it was in late adolescence when Douglas slammed into the invisible wall of mental illness. He was running forward, full throttle, toward his goals for college and career when his world—and ours—crashed.
An article I read years ago about children with ADD was entitled “Unhappy Wanderers.” It’s also a succinct and sobering description of many who struggle with mental illnesses. In fact, for many years it was the title I attached to our son, like a knight’s moniker … Douglas: the Unhappy Wanderer. Continue reading
I hung up the phone and turned back to my friend sitting across the table. “Every time I talk to or see Douglas I need to take a moment to catch my breath and then worship my God of the impossible,” I whispered, awestruck, once again. Continue reading
As I have said many times, families dealing with mental illness are not alone. In fact, one in five families each year are impacted by mental health difficulties. There are a few who also write about their journeys. For example, I have found Maree Dee’s blogs a great encouragement to me and I appreciate her willingness to share one of her insights with us (below). Read more of her thoughts at Embracing the Unexpected.
Do you categorize people based on differences? I honestly didn’t think I did until it hit me smack dab in the face at a recent convention. It got me thinking: What might happen if we stopped putting people in boxes? Continue reading
My curious eyes followed him around the store. He was easy to track in his seersucker shorts, almost-tucked-in long-sleeve plaid flannel shirt and unmatched socks sliding into well-worn sandals. As he walked/skipped/danced unfettered up and down the aisles, he talked quietly to himself. Continue reading
I first became aware of mental illness when I was about nine years old. I overheard my grandparents talking in hushed tones with my dad about my mother. At the time they didn’t label the behavior they were discussing with the words, “mental illness.” But even without a name, we all knew what we were seeing, and we knew someone needed to do something. I guess someone did because things calmed down in our family for a while. Continue reading
They say that the Christmas holidays can be especially sad for those who deal with mental illnesses. For many years in our household, our unhappy holiday was Easter. You see, it was Easter Day, 1997, 20 years ago, when our son’s world crashed. And though we didn’t recognize it at the time, ours did too. Continue reading
I’m not a runner. But I have many friends who are, and they tell me that there are specialized kinds of training and clothing needed depending on the type of running that you’re going to do. A sprinter trains very specifically, as does a marathon runner. Running in a relay is not at all like racing over hurdles. The shoes are different; the course is different; the preparation is different. It is important, therefore, for a runner to know which race they’re in, so they can train, equip and pace themselves for that particular kind of run. Continue reading