The journey, much like the river's current that polishes and etches grooves in a stone, carves into our souls deep hurts and wounds. However, over time, the polishing can transform a simple stone into a jewel. But that's the catch, with time......seconds added to minutes turn into hours, stretched into days; become years. This expanse of time, like bookends, collects its trials and troubles in the middle; which are carried along like a train on a track, no, maybe more like dragging them as a beast of burden on our backs.....day after day, trudging through the desert of life, tattered garments, cracked feet, parched and sun scorched lips. Not just tired, rather exhausted, exhaling and inhaling as if it was the last function of our lungs or diaphragm.
Brain Chemistry Diseases (mental illness) never let you up off the mat of life. Persons with these diagnoses, can and do experience good days, quite often in a different way than those who have never been diagnosed. However, there are days when it feels like an invisible hand is depressing your head as the water surface is broken, only to gasp for air and be plunged down again. This is not the sole experience of the diagnosed survivor, but the spouse or partner as well as family members. The relapses which occur, regardless of the severity affects everyone. Even if there is a season of calm, this Brain Chemistry Illness or disease is unpredictable. This is not a contrived or imagined symptom, no.... a full blown disease; just like cancer, leukemia, ALS, or any other you can add to the list. Brain Chemistry Illnesses are far too heinous and horrible to wish it on yourself for attention. It is completely irresponsible, archaic and ignorant to not see the cavernous abyss, defined as depression, is a hopelessness which consumes the soul.
The debilitating season which the diagnosed survivor experiences, becomes the world of the caregiver....one who has made a conscious choice to walk with, sit by, or hold in their arms the suffering soul....until the sun shines once more. It is during these sometimes long seasons filled with trepidation, the journey once again, etches another groove into the soul....heart.....emotions......mind.......and physical being. This expanse of time, like bookends, collects its trials and troubles in the middle.
The one bookend of time, for our family was the early years. Joyce, my wife, suffered the losses along with me. During those seasons, we were affiliated with churches. It is nearly impossible to write or recall events in our lives without including the church. There were many occasions where individuals or leadership could have provided a buffer for Joyce, but they never came. Less I be misunderstood, support doesn't always come in the form of the dollar bill. Joyce, as a caregiver, could have been offered a reprieve by woman in the church. Truth be known, family members lived within nine miles of her and seldom if ever offered to lighten the load of a caregiver and mother with very young children. Furthermore, there was definitely no support offered when the churches decided to terminate my employment. These particular times were particularly difficult on all of us. I sought outpatient care during one church employment situation, which resulted in little understanding. Joyce and the girls, who were under six at the time, were punished right along with me, as the pastor of a church terminated me. I had moved 1200 miles for this job, yet not the pastor nor its board members sought to offer grace or compassion to our family.......another etching in the stone!
In the 90's, Joyce and I performed gospel concerts on a regional level. I definitely believe my illness detracted from the career we both could have had. We learned very quickly that church attenders want to be entertained, with a pinch of ministry sprinkled in to make it appear religious or spiritual. We would receive subtle reminders to sing more and speak less. This was difficult as God hadn't chosen to heal my Brain Chemistry Illness, consequently it was a part of everyday life. More cogently, I was zealous to share with the church community the sustainability of Gods grace in the midst of being diagnosed with Bipolar and OCD. There was no way, and quite honestly I wouldn't expect for people to comprehend the etching of the stone which consumed our lives.
I haven't fully come to terms with the church communities aloofness to the everyday triumphs I experienced as a survivor of a Brain chemistry Illness, versus a miraculous healing. I have come to conclude, a healing is much less work and requires little of people becoming more compassionate, (Godly) committing their time, and rearranging their comfortable lifestyles. In spite of the efforts and recommendations of others, the doors began to close on our concert career. It seems some things cannot be explained to why they happen. We would talk about performing again, yet not with much passion as the task seemed daunting.
These closed doors, and a door opened to travel in an RV, once again, there wasn't anyone there to encourage or console. When the day came to sell not just all our goods but Joyce's Yamaha Upright Piano, her soul was being vexed with the etching of the stone as she watched her beloved instrument become another's possession. I remember consoling her, but how long can two hurting people uphold each other? Regardless of the sadness and aloneness, there remained a complete singular determination that together we were committed to the dream, and if it meant going alone!
We formed a non profit called Concerts of Hope Inc. This was a part of the plan to share our story.......my story as a Mental Health Survivor. We believed in our story of surviving this hideous disease, and overcoming the obstacles of peoples ignorance and prejudice. We were committed to our story and knew it must be heard. Our ideas for a particular plan may not always go as we expect.
Instead of telling our story to the masses, Strung Up recycled guitar string jewelry became the mouth piece. Joyce worked diligently to secure shows for us, mostly on the eastern sea board. She also opened an online selling platform which broadened our sales to the entire world. We would track the sales of Strung Up Jewelry as another person ordered from an unrecorded state. To see something that we created be appreciated and purchased was quite overwhelming for us. It has been five and a half years creating, designing and selling Strung Up Jewelry. We have sold over 10,000 pieces, and every piece tells my story, "Wear it and Share It". I could not have orchestrated this......it reads like a book!
But in all of this, and its not all bad of course, life's journey has taken its toll. My three precious, beautiful daughters have no doubt sacrificed, along with their mother, so we can be a cohesive and healthy family. I do wonder if more provision along with stability was available from me, would they be in a better place? Kyrsten and Kourtney, The Rosies, are a world class talent. If my life was different, would they be more advanced and recognized? If they are relegated to the slow track, due to my lack in finances, will they survive or will a sister duo be lost to a worlds ears? I wish a phenomenal break for them in spite of being raised in a family where their father was diagnosed with a Brain Chemistry Illness.
This is what happens when the pressures and stressors which wear away at the stone along the river's edge creep in. They aren't always insurmountable in their singular state, however, the year after year accumulation contributes to the burdensome journey. Consequently, we have a tired family. It's evident as you look into our eyes. If you listen closely enough, the voice will reveal the long treks through the desert. I have heard of amazing gestures bestowed on courageous survivors in life. I wonder if there is a respite lingering out there, for the Roseman Family. It is not the common occurrence for families with a member who is diagnosed with mental illness, to receive ovations of relief. T.V. Networks give away homes and more to individuals. What powerful message might be spoken to dignify a mental health survivor in this way. Do we deserve one, no.......have we earned one? You're darn right!