Since I was three years old, my life has been witness to the roller coaster ride of the highs and lows of mental illness. Shortly after my sister Andrea was born, our mom had a nervous breakdown. We haven’t known anything different. At least once a year, it seemed that mom would end up in the hospital. My sophomore year of high school and my sister’s 7th grade year, our parents divorced. It was not a journey we ever imagined but it is what was brought our way.
In October of 2014, I decided to participate in my first ever Write 31 Days challenge. My topic was “Living as a Daughter: 31 Days of Mental Illness.” Earlier this summer, I self-published this series into a book. (I don’t like to toot my own horn but I know some of you will ask so here is the link to purchase a copy: Living as a Daughter). By sharing our story, it is my hope and prayer that I will be able to help educate more about mental illness since we don’t talk about it enough in our world.
Mental illness is not the end of our story though. Last summer, mom was diagnosed with dementia. So now mental illness and dementia are part of our story. There are more days than I care to admit that I want to make everything better, but that is beyond my control. So I leave it in God’s more than capable hands. But I’ll admit that most days that is much easier said than done.
Last night, I found myself once again grasping for answers. I reached out to several colleagues and friends and asked them to pray. Within minutes, my Twitter feed was filling up with replies to my original tweet. God was reminding me that God does hear every cry of my heart and places people in my life who walk with me. God also knows how deeply I ache for this to better. But God also asks me to trust fully in God–“Tara, do you not trust me?”
Yesterday morning, at our monthly youth workers meeting, we found our way walking through a prayer labrynth. My friend C shared how she kept hearing God ask her that very same question. But then at one point, we were walking parallel to each other which immediately reminded her of how God puts people in our paths to walk with us…that we do not walk this journey alone.
And as I am reminded that I do not walk this journey alone, I still yearn for a sense of peace; a peace that passes all human understanding; a peace that comes when God hears the sighs that are too deep for words to express; a peace that comes when you are surrounded by a diverse community of faith that continually wraps you in God’s loving arms.
In all honesty, I know that God’s peace is there, but on days, when it seems like the mental illness and dementia are winning, I have a hard time finding even a glimmer of that peace. Yet I find myself still mustering up the strength to proclaim “God’s peace to us we pray.” And when I can barely find the words, there are others who will say those words for me.
This week I am linking up with Holly and Testimony Tuesday, Kelly and the RaRa linkup, Jennifer and Tell His Story and Holley and Coffee for your Heart.