Earlier this week, my day was interrupted with the news of Kate Spade. Then this morning, I woke up to the death of Anthony Bourdain. Both deaths attributed to suicide. Yet the truth is they died because of the mental illness they struggled with. Their stories are not the only stories like this. The suicide rates in this country are extremely high yet that’s only part of the story.
I am the daughter of a woman who lives daily with a mental illness. Our mom had a nervous breakdown after my sister was born. She lives each day with a mental illness. In fact, growing up, I don’t remember a time when mom didn’t end up in the hospital.
Also while in college, one of my dear friends took his life because of the demons in his head. I remember how upset our campus pastor was as she felt we would have seen the signs as he had just transferred to another school.
I know that we all want these beautiful beloved children of God to live happy lives. But the reality is that mental illness has its own path. It can be regulated some with medicine but that’s not the whole picture either. Often the medicine isn’t enough. Or the demons have more power. Or the patient simply stops taking the medication. I remember several times when mom would be at her highest highs and stop taking her medications because she thought she didn’t need them anymore. It’s like the heart knows one thing, but the head says another.
In the midst of mental illness, it can be hard to even see that they need help. Those struggling with mental illness need to seek help from the outside which truly cannot come from the inside. The best thing we can do is love the mentally ill for who God created them to be. If my mom has taught me anything in life, it’s that….love unconditionally and without limits.
Those struggling with mental health issues need to know they are not alone not just through words but most especially through our actions. There is incredible power in knowing we are accepted and loved for who God created us to be.
I always get frustrated and angry when the media jumps to conclusions about the mentally ill especially in regards to school shootings. I think this often exacerbates the stigma. The facts actually show the mentally ill are more often the victims than the culprits.
Friends, know you are not alone! But most especially, know that I love you; love you so incredibly fiercely especially on days when it seems the demons have won with so many around us. And today, after the deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, I’m loving you even more fiercely as beautiful beloved children of God, fearfully and wonderfully made. My prayer is that this fierce love is enough!