Mental illness isn't something I ever thought I would face in my lifetime. Not me . . . I've got it all together! Or so I thought.
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All my life I had been searching. (By the way, I am 64 now.) I felt either really good or really down, and as I got older my down periods went on longer and longer.However, I went on with life, and I put on a good front. No one ever knew anything was ever wrong.
During the week of June 5, 2006, a door was closed somewhere inside my mind. My eyes acted like a video camera. From time to time I talked to the screen like I was part of the scenery, yet I knew I was not an actor of any consequence. I was way back behind the last row seats, just watching.
This morning I received a “Care Page” update from a friend whose young daughter is ill with cancer. I appreciate getting the Care Page updates so that I know how people are doing and how best to pray for them. This morning my 16-year-old son had a serious rage.
About a month and a half after our first daughter was born, I started down a long journey of postpartum depression. For a year I went undiagnosed, going to the doctor complaining of extreme tiredness, severe mood swings, and disinterest in daily activities.
This writer has been depressed three times, each lasting three to six months. Two sisters coped with post-partum depression. Dad sought counsel in the past year for depression. Now their son who is 22 years old is trying to cope with it. The son’s depression hurts the most.
Through no aspiration of my own, I’ve become a speaker, writer and advocate for mental illness victims, myself included. My all-American upbringing did little to prepare me for the silent enemy that would eventually claim my life, destroy my soul, shred my heart, and leaving me frail and vulnerable.
Our son was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in the seventh grade. I wrote this Pantoum to capture a snapshot of what he was like before he became ill as well as the initial period of his mental illness. Writing the poem was also therapeutic for me. Thank God, Tim’s mental health has improved.
I grew up with mental illness in the family. I watched my parents struggle to cope with this often-misunderstood disability. Fifty years later, we are still trying to deal with it as everyday the specter of misunderstood behavior invades our otherwise normal lives.
This resource helps congregations develop spiritual care with children and families facing mental health issues, and includes a framework for care and many sample resources.
Here are some ideas for ministry with people who have mental illnesses. These ideas can be used in various ways — such as a bulletin insert, newsletter article, or read from the pulpit.