Why talk about mental health? For so long, our culture has misunderstood illnesses of the brain, like bipolar and depression. Unfortunately when someone who suffers, and who has failed to effectively manage their illness...when they do something terrible, (which isn’t the norm), then the negative beliefs about mental illness are further reinforced.
I want to yell loudly at culture and say those people do not adequately represent such illnesses! They propagate negative stigma and stereotype messages. Meanwhile, you have folks who go about their daily lives, swallowing a pill to keep them sane, using talk therapy, managing their symptoms, exercising and being serious about effectively regulating their diseases. These folks go unnoticed. It’s sad because they are just like you and me...only their brain doesn’t work quite the same. And it’s harder for them to put a governor in their emotions, anxiety and depression but it can be done. And it should be done! How else can we show our society that people with illnesses of the brain can offer us so much? It’s not the ones who are not managing their disease but the ones who grind it out daily doing the hard work. It’s hard too! It’s not easy to step away from family or friends who are toxic, who continually drag you down. It’s not easy to say no to the visit of a friend. It’s not easy to say something may not be good for you so you have to back away so as to maintain your equilibrium! No, these are the tough decisions and people who care to show the world they are worthy and responsible, will do these things when no one is looking!
This is the picture of managing mental illness! When you think about it, it’s not really much different than what you or I need to do. Sometimes we must say no, back away from unhealthy relationships and say yes to quiet time, fishing and walking in the woods. Those things renew our minds and restore our souls.
I’ve walked this road with Glen for almost 30 years. I’ve watched and witnessed how he has managed his life. I’ve felt the sting of stepping away and saying no to someone. I know how hard it is to be quiet and maybe be alone more then I’ve wanted. But it has been worth every ounce of sacrifice!
When you think of mental health, I hope you can picture the people like Glen...people doing the good things day in and day out...every day heroes trying to make their world better. People staying alive for their own sakes and for their families. This is the picture of mental health!
Recovery is a tough, long and constant battle. It’s not for a short season, it’s for as long as it takes! And that, my friends, is a picture of more grit and determination than many of us could ever hope to possess.
So, maybe it’s time to rethink mental illness. Let’s put a positive spin on it by honoring those who honor themselves with life and health!