The last few months my son has really been struggling. He’s dealing with multiple issues that he has had since he was young…and short of divine intervention, this will not be the last time that he deals with these issues, I am sure. Like many of your children, he has co-morbid conditions and multiple diagnosis’…some of them are more accepted than others. He has autism and that is something that is widely accepted and talked about….He also has depression and the harmful thoughts that can go with it, but it is still a topic that most people are not comfortable with.
The first time my son really went to these dark places was after his dad left. He was eleven years old. We were already feeling the loss of friends and loved ones due to a forced move. As soon as people heard what kind of things my son was dealing with, the rest of our friends pretty much disappeared. We were told things like, “Doesn’t he know he’ll go to hell if he does that?” and ” Well, he just needs to knock that stuff off and get over those thoughts” …those were comments from our Christian friends. From another friend, we heard “I don’t want your son talking to my son about being sad or how he’s feeling, because I don’t want my son to think that’s an acceptable way to handle things”.
Flash forward nine years and I am finding once again, with just a few exceptions, those who I am close to and with whom I have shared what is going on, still are uncomfortable talking about these issues. There have been no follow-up calls or emails to see how things are going, no notes of encouragement or a note to say we’re thinking of you and praying for you. I had hoped by being a vocal advocate for those who deal with mental health issues, that I might have helped to educate my friends and family, but sadly that doesn’t seem to be the case.
As I was praying about what to write today, I felt God wanted me to talk about this subject. It’s out of my comfort zone to do so, mainly because of my son’s privacy… but I know from the thousands of people who write to me, that what we have experienced, is all too common. I am sure that there are many reading this, who have also felt the stigma of mental illness…and it’s for you that I am writing today. I want you to know that you are not alone. I want you to know that I understand how lonely it can be to deal with these things by yourself. I understand what it feels like to spend sleepless nights listening and watching to make sure everything is okay during the night…I understand what it is like to see your loved ones in such emotional and mental turmoil, that your heart feels like it will break for them. I want to remind you that even in the darkest of nights, even though it may feel like it… we are not alone and we are not abandoned…God is with us. He sees your tears. He feels your pain….and He knows the turmoil your child is going through. God is crying and grieving right along with us. It is with Christ’s power that we will endure. He is our strength. He is our loving Father, that holds us up, while we hold up our children.
What I’ve come to learn through my training and personal experience is most people don’t mean to be hurtful, they just don’t know what to say in certain situations. There are things in our society that we just aren’t taught to deal with…people aren’t sure what to say or do for someone who has a problem that does not have a “quick fix” to it, whether it be prolonged grief… a chronic illness or a disability… someone recovering from abuse or things like mental illness… because many people are uncomfortable and don’t know what to say, they just stay away.
This time around, I am not finding myself feeling angry or resentful…I understand what is happening. The first time it happened…well, that was a different story…for me, it was another thing I had to work through and learn to accept and forgive and come to understand. That “mama bear” comes out in me and I want to protect my child…I want people to accept what he deals with and to accept him…this is not something anyone would choose to have. It’s heartbreaking… and it does make us understand why someone longs to be in heaven, where there will be no more pain…and that is the bottom line of those dark thoughts and places…they just don’t want to hurt any more, or feel any more pain…
So, for any of you that deal with this, I’d like to offer a prayer now…
Our Father God,
We come together and we lift up all who are dealing with mental illness…whether it be their children, other loved ones, or themselves. Father, we pray for healing according to your will. We pray for peace and comfort. We ask Lord, that they will feel your presence in the dark valleys and know that you have not forgotten them or abandoned them. I pray that they will find relief, Lord. We pray that they will see a glimmer of light in the darkness that will give them enough hope to hold on for another day. Sometimes we can’t even take one day at a time…it’s one hour or a minute at a time, but we know Lord, that you are faithful and that you promise to never leave us or forsake us and though we may feel forsaken in those dark places, you are with us and you will see us through to the light.
Father, I ask that you will bring people to stand beside those in need. I pray for people to be moved with compassion and understanding. We pray that people will take the time to learn and educate themselves so they can find tangible ways to offer help and hope. Father, we pray that you will lift the heavy veil of shame that so many with mental illness wear. Mental illness is a physiological problem in the body… no different from having Diabetes or a heart condition, yet there is such a stigma attached to it…Father, what is hidden in the dark, shine your light of truth on it. Make people aware, so there can be acceptance and healing in this area. Father, I pray for every need, spoken and unspoken, that you will meet it…and Father, if there is anyone reading this who is dealing with the pain of losing someone to suicide, I pray for your comfort for them. I pray for those who have attempted it, that they will be relieved of guilt and shame and move forward to healing. For anyone that is feeling that there is no hope, or no need to carry on, I pray for divine intervention, Father… and I pray that you will bring someone to them now and put your angels about them to protect them…show them a sign that you are with them and that they have a purpose…show them that you have a good plan for them…a plan to give them a hope and a future. For each one, I pray that you will rain down your grace, peace and mercy and bring healing as only you can. In the name of Jesus we pray, Amen
Blessings, hugs and love to you all!
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