For awhile (the last 6 months-ish) I couldn’t put my finger on why I was hitting walls as a writer. Creatively stunted would be a good way to describe it.
I thought it was general overwhelm, and maybe it was.
But after writing this post a week ago and feeling like the floodgates opened with writing, I think I have a pretty good idea what it was.
Not the lack of time, even though that’s a big factor with three young children.
Not a lack of energy, even though each night when my head hits the pillow it takes me .5 seconds to fall asleep.
But a writer’s block because I haven’t been able to write a big thing that’s going on in my life.
Someone I love very much is sick.
And I haven’t written about it. The silence ends today because the I’m so over the stigma.
First, I want you to first understand who this person, “M” (we’ll call him), was to me. He was my little buddy. The one I beamed as I showed off to my second grade class when he arrived. (I want to include pictures but for his privacy I’m not going to today.)
M was the one who showed me that I was meant to be a mom. I carried that boy around on my hip until he was much too big, and then he graduated to the position of side kick. He went everywhere with me, and me with him.
He was my admirer and one of my best friends. He helped me learn my lines to every play. He ran with me, adventured with me, cheered for me in my tennis and track meets, and stood up in my wedding when he was only 12 (except for the time he laid down in the side aisle so he wouldn’t pass out.) His voice hadn’t even changed yet, just 10 years ago.
He would go on to be #1 on his high school tennis team, wear his senior homecoming crown, and hold a backyard revival because he loved Jesus with his whole heart. He was studying to go into ministry, and attended Moody Bible College.
Because of M, I learned what it felt like to have your heart swell with pride, you know that feeling you get when you’re so proud, words fail you. I learned what it felt like to love another human more than you love yourself.
I could list 1000 more priceless memories, but you get the picture
I. Love. That. Boy. I love him so deeply and unconditionally.
This sweet, wonderful 23 year old human developed a mental illness in recent years. One that developed gradually at first, but then intensely. Did you know mental illness touches 1 in 5 people? It’s everywhere.
And it’s actually okay to say it out loud.
And of course with any illness, there’s a spectrum. I’m not M’s doctors or guardian so I don’t know exactly where he is, and I have about a million unanswered questions.
But I do know this:
- He has been confined to a mental health facility for two years. (MILLIONS of you saw the Facebook post when he went missing and shared the post to help us find him. THANK YOU. And many of you have asked for an update. Thank you for caring.)
- He often doesn’t have the energy or mental capacity to talk to me on the phone when I call. Or come out when we try to visit. Or get his hair cut. Or smile, or talk much at all.
- The deep, unconditional love I have for him hasn’t gone anywhere. I am here for him and I pray for him daily.
- It is so very hard, I’m sure for him more than anyone else and that breaks my heart.
I also know these things to be true:
- “But this I call to mind and therefore I have hope … the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness” Lamentations 3:21-22 (Probably my fav scripture EVER.)
- We aren’t supposed to be surprised when trials come. Jesus himself said to expect trouble. (John 16:33) (I think we get the point on this one.)
- The stigma needs to be broken. It’s okay if you are struggling with a mental illness, whatever it might look like or however scary it might be. There is help available. You are not broken or unloved. Its not your fault. And you are not alone. If you’re the caretaker for someone with a mental illness, oh sister. Oh brother. I pray for you to have strength, and patience, and unconditional love. (I’m LOVING the family member of a mental health support group in the QC — haven’t been in awhile but dude. I cry. Because they get it. #Supportgroupsforever. )
- I have always loved and will continue to love M deeply and forever. And I want desperately for him to have a life that brings him joy, peace, and purpose, whatever that might look like. So for this I pray, every single day.
- His story has been and continues to be used for a purpose, somehow, in some way I may never see, to glorify God.
There have been good days. And hugs. And wonderful 10 minute phone conversations. But I can count them my hands, and I want more.
I want to learn who he is now, what makes him tick. What’s going on inside of his head and heart. I want him to be okay being “not okay” and knowing that he is still accepted and known and loved.
So I’m writing this today to break the silence. It’s NOT healthy to grieve or walk through valleys alone. We were created for community, and we need to be reminded that it’s going to be okay, no matter how hard it feels.
If you’re walking through a valley, oh how you know this. Please, don’t let the silence make you feel lonely. Speak out.
I’m also writing this because I kinda hate it when things are kept in the dark. Or when people pretend life isn’t hard when it is.
Whether the healing comes in a moment, in 10 years, or on the blessed day Jesus returns …
HEALING IS COMING.
New bodies are coming.
Tears will be wiped away from every eye.
And all things will be made new.
These truths makes my heart sing.
“He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. For you are with me. Your rod and your staff they comfort me.” -Psalm 23
More to come, but for now, would you pray for M? And also pray for our family to be united through this painful trial?
Pray for joy, peace, and hope to surround this boy who I love.
In peace and expectation,
*** UPDATED *** There is SO MUCH MORE to be said about mental health awareness so this is going to be part 1 of a series in the weeks to come. Schizophrenia … Anxiety … Depression … Bipolar … Schizoaffective … Multiple personalities … Y’all. We’ve prob ALL been touched in some way shape or form. Don’t be silent. Please join me in sharing your story. The outpouring of love and support will blow you away like it has me.