The confessional and personal nature of my last post meant that the comments were more important than usual to me. Each and every word of encouragement, prayer, song snippet or kindness held great meaning for me. I thank you for your comments.
But it is those words that you have not seen that are hitting my heart with power. And conviction. And pain. Look, here; read a sampling of what has come to me via private messages or emails:
“Mental illness is a subject I’m very sensitive to, and I have spent a lot of time cringing and biting my tongue…You come to expect that your position isn’t going to be understood or welcomed, so you keep your mouth shut.”
“…I know all too well the devastating effects that mental illness forces upon families…I grew up ashamed of my mother and did whatever I could, at any cost, to keep people outside the confines of our four walls from discovering what really went on behind closed doors…I continue to wrestle with the demon of guilt…because I was a terrible daughter to her. I was hateful, impatient, and angry with her most of the time. I mourn now over a lost relationship…If only I had the support as a child that walked me through the mood swings, the paranoia, the mania followed by the can’t-get-out-of-bed-for-days depression…if only.”
“I just want to say that it did my heart good to read your words…I wish my mother had reacted that way years ago. The fact that she didn’t and to this day still says “it’s in my head” is irreversible damage that she’ll never be able to undo.”
“My youngest daughter is also suffering with a mental illness…She is filled with anger and hatred and much of it is directed towards me.”
“…our son also is bipolar. I have told almost no one…I understand the pain, the fear, the heartache, the confusion, even the shame and the guilt…And I understand the feelings of helplessness. Utter, gut wrenching helplessness.”
“I read your blog on mental illness with great pain. My eldest daughter…The disease has affected her marriage, her relationship with her daughters, her friendships and our relationship…I worry. I feel bad. I feel responsible.”
And here is my further confession: most of these folks are known to me in real life. I have touched their hands, had face-to-face conversations with them. They are my friends.
And in most cases, I didn’t know.
Before we moved into this new place, I never thought much about bipolar disease. I was ignorant. It didn’t factor into my assessment of others, my relationships, my expectations, my empathy.
But now I know.
And it makes a difference.
There’s a lot of pain out there. Let’s be kind to one another.
Thank you for all of your responses. Your encouragement means the world to me.