March is not madness; May is Madness. May is busier than Christmas. May is a hodge podge of many celebrations and events for our church. It gets its running start in April with the Men’s Retreat and Musical. Then we have Mother’s Day, Confirmation, Senior Recognition, Pentecost, and Memorial Day. It is a busy and joyous time. May is also Mental Health Month.
Like other emphases of our time, Mental Health Month can be seen as just another special interest. In our day and time, everyone is trying to find some time to be heard by the general public. For instance, Spain was celebrated at my local Kroger recently. In this swirl of day to day activity, I would like to pause just to share a quick word about something close to my heart.
Mental Health issues are woven into our lives everywhere we turn. For some reason, disorders are either better diagnosed, we are more accepting of them, or we give them more attention. It is, as some of you know that I have a daughter with a mental disorder. First, she is my daughter. Secondly, she has a disorder.
When I first learned about it, I was in denial. I did not want to accept it. Not my daughter. But the counselor gently said yes your daughter. After grappling with my own emotions, I came back to center. This was my daughter and she has a mental disorder.
My daughter needed help. I began to act and get her the proper support. That was my transition. I then discovered that not everyone was in sync with me. That was another awakening. I spent a good deal of time speaking to school officials and teachers. They listened. Some understood. Some cared. Some had a job to do. So, we tumbled along.
Then I started to notice other parents around me who were also uncomfortable.Their discomfort and fatigue came from having a child with a mental disorder or illness just like me. I was hit right between the eyes. They were trying to traverse the same world as I was. They spent time explaining their situation to instructors and caregivers everywhere and receiving the same myriad of responses I received.
I was tired. That’s when I got the final blow. My daughter explained to me how her brain worked. Then the doctor explained it in even greater detail. How in the hell does a person function with a brain doing those things is unbelievable. I was thinking that I was tired. Those experiencing mental illnesses are tired 24/7. They are trying to figure it out themselves. They are hiding as much as they can so that no one will notice. They want to be normal. They want the drug induced feelings to stop. They want to carry on a life like everyone else. But it doesn’t work that way. It just is what it is.
After a bystander witnessed my daughter having a bad reaction in public, they suggested to me that I needed to take her out back and give her a “good whooping”. So what they were intimating was I am a bad parent, she is an undisciplined child, and the correction was a spanking. Who is mentally ill now?
When I was a child I saw a young man on occasions. It was someone that I would normally have seen at least once a week if things were normal. Things weren’t normal. The young man was mentally unstable. 45 years later, his father died. Now, this man has a Facebook account and does goes to town when he needs to. What is different? His father was embarrassed by him and kept him locked up at home. The brother knew that it was wrong and led him by the hand into the world after the father died.
There is no reason to hide. If that were the case, all of us should be caged up for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, cancer, heart disease, obesity, etc. We all live with disorders. Our bodies just don’t act in an orderly fashion. Mental disorders are like any other medical challenge.
Twice a year, I get to see our church full of young people striving to be their best. Some are more functional than others, but all of them are sons and daughters of loving parents. The Special Needs School of Gwinnett has dedicated its life to help these young people see themselves as worthy and they do an excellent job. In the next two weeks SNS will also be celebrating the end of school with a program at Christ the Lord.
My God says that none of us are worthy and at same time it says all of us are worthy. Because of God we are all worthy. Mental illnesses and disorders are. God is.
I am not as tired as I use to be. I stopped trying to explain. I don’t even care to explain. I don’t care if anyone understands. That is on the other person not me. Why? Because, secondly she has a disorder and first and foremost she is my daughter and God……Is.
Here’s to all the beautiful people who strive just to get through another day. That would be all of us.God loves US.
“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life.” ~Prince
Getting Through – In His Service