Mental Illness – Part of Your Story You Can’t Ignore

You can ignore many things in your life. It doesn’t really ruin your day when someone takes the last cupcake. It’s not the end of the world when your husband doesn’t unload the dishwasher. You can turn a blind eye to the muddy shoes your kids left out. But what you can’t ignore is mental illness. Be it your own, your loved one’s, or that of the other parent in your story.

I take mental health very seriously, can you guess why? BECAUSE IT’S SERIOUS. So while I believe plenty of people do know what they are talking about when they “label” someone in their life with a particular mental illness, the truth is, many people don’t. They don’t have a clue. I am not going to get into the slew of diagnoses of mental illness, as I’m no doctor. I can tell you however, that mental illness has colored all over my blended family story and I will say this; it’s time to learn about it. I mean really learn about it. It’s time to stop being so ignorant, as a human race, on the topic.

Learning about this topic could bring about so much great, I can’t believe we aren’t doing more of it. If you suffer, don’t you want to know that there are treatment options, or have people in your life at least begin to get it? What about those who don’t suffer personally with mental illness? Shouldn’t they be allowed resources for how to deal with those they live with who do? The resources are available..I mean like everywhere. You should certainly be careful of where you’re getting your information, of course, but it’s time to raise awareness in general. Mental illnesses are real, and they are debilitating.

Diagnosed, misdiagnosed and undiagnosed individuals are everywhere. And they constantly hear things like this:

“Well if they would just get it together.”

“She’s bipolar, so there’s no helping her.”

“He’s crazy. I just back away slowly.”

“There’s nothing to be that sad about. Get over it.”

The countless people who suffer in silence. The lives shattered or lost. They are not funny, they are very real. So as I am quite sure many of you do deal with someone with a mental illness on a regular basis, let’s take some time this week (MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS WEEK FOLKS!!) to stop, make some educated statements, and perhaps do a little research. If you suffer from mental illness personally, you know very well you can’t just shut it off. If you are suffering because someone in your life has a mental illness, I mean it, go get yourself some information. None of this is new, it’s just highly stigmatized and we make fun of things we don’t understand. How sad. We are missing a glorious opportunity to learn and grow here!

I’ve personally stumbled upon a great deal of mental illness information and clarity during my research and dedication to growth and finding my own healthy path. I even found illnesses I didn’t know existed. People live with this stuff! They are not their disorder, they have a disorder. I am not saying you should always feel bad for people who have a mental illness, that they should get to slide on their behavior, or you should have to eat the shitstorm they may bring. NO WAY am I saying that. What I am saying is we need to raise some awareness. We need to stop acting like these are things that can simply be switched on and off. And for the sake of so many, it’s time to get HELP!

If you are on the receiving end of someone else’s outbursts, I encourage you with every piece of me to do some research, and learn about coping mechanisms. I know many of you believe the other parent in your story is mentally ill, you’ve told me as much. If that’s the case, I ask you, what are you doing to educate yourself on the topic? What are you doing to arm yourself against it, for your own peace of mind? Instead of just complaining about what they are doing, try understanding it, and therefore, protecting yourself, and helping the children cope as well. Until more recently I had never thought of how the behavior of others affected me, or what I could be doing to learn about it. It’s opened up a whole new world and source for peace. Knowledge truly is power.

Bipolar Disorder- Depression – Borderline Personality Disorder – Schizophrenia -On and On and On and we think we know all about this stuff? We think we have all the answers? We think it’s not affecting us or there’s nothing we can do about it? So false. What we do have however is an opportunity. An opportunity to shed light on an area concealed by darkness for so long. Lives lost to suicide. Children in the care of parents who are not healthy. Friendships ruined. Marriages ending. PLENTY of times, mental illness is at the core.

I simply believe if we took time to learn about these things, to educate ourselves, stigmas would lift, lives could be saved, and things would look so different. So many people refuse help because they don’t want to be labeled, and they believe they aren’t worth it, or they will be made fun of – THAT IS TERRIBLY SAD!

I realize I am only one voice, but I encourage you to get help. If you have an illness, go seek help! If you love someone with an illness, stop ignoring the signs, and get them help! And if you are dealing with someone who is making your life miserable do not chock it up to their problem. If they’re making you miserable it’s just as much YOUR problem. GO GET HELP.

Just wanted to take some time to bring it up. Mental illnesses have been part of my blended family story for a very long time. Learning what they are, learning who has them, learning how to cope with them, and learning not to be ignorant about them.

You may want to start here: The National Alliance on Mental Ilness

By all means, if you have specific resources that have been helpful to you, add them, get the word out.

badge-3d

Why Should We Let Hope In?

I’m not your “typical” Christian. In fact, I’ve avoided writing Christian based blogs many times because there’s always at least one person who is so completely turned off to Christianity because of their own beliefs, or of course, the belief that Christians are a joke.

Yep, I said it, some people think Christians are a joke. I myself, would have to agree, in certain circumstances. There is nothing worse than a catty rude selfish destructive person who bats their eyes and says, “ohhh I’m a Christian”. I do however believe strongly in a God above myself, and I happen to believe in Jesus. If you do not believe, that is entirely your right, and I have no interest in a battle of faith. However, hear me out. I’ve spent a great deal of time, ESPECIALLY since I got married really figuring out what it means to be a genuine Christian and I have to say, it’s not being a hypocrite but it’s also not being perfect.

I am highly sarcastic by nature. My language is not always spectacular (in FACT I got called out recently on my blog about ‘how I could call myself a Christian when I cursed in my writing’ – another topic – for another time). I’m nowhere near perfect. I do not always make the best choices. I do not always maintain a humble stance. I do not always use my words for building people up. I am far from a naturally patient person…..yep…really far from it. But I always believed in my soul that there was something bigger than me for as long as I can remember.

And I hated church. UGH what a horribly boring place. Sing this, give that, look a certain way yadda yadda yadda. I always believed there must be something missing with that whole setup and then one day I found it. I realized what was missing was that God doesn’t care about any of that stuff. He cares about your heart. He cares about your intentions. He cares about your TRUE character. So along the journey of the past few years we became committed members of a non-denominational church. I know I’ll get heat in some capacity for the whole “mega-church” phenomenon, but I wish to say only this: what brings you closer to God and makes your heart more like His, is really all that matters.

So a few times at church I was able to hear Pastor Pete Wilson (http://www.withoutwax.tv/) speak. He is a southern fellow and I’m a northerner so I hung on every accented word that came out of his mouth. I was finding quickly that you can be “Christian” and “not full of it” at the same time, from many others at my church, but this guy in particular caught my attention for sure. He wrote an excellent book called Plan B – regarding what on earth you should do when God doesn’t show up when you think He will….which is very difficult, and common, if you’re a believer. The book was incredible and I followed him for some time. I had the pleasure of being picked for a launch team for the release of his newest book, Let Hope In (http://www.lethopein.com/).  I was given a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. But since I don’t often do book reviews, and me simply saying “oh what a great book” does little to nothing to convict you to purchase the book, I instead decided to make it a bit more personal.

The last several months of my life have been nothing if not tumultuous. Our marriage suddenly underwent a monstrous revamping, and we found we had a great many things to fix, personally. There have been more than a few days and nights where I had nothing left to give. If you’re not a praying person, having nothing left in your soul can make you one. I believe there are no accidents, and that everything does indeed happen for a reason. I also believe that as long as I keep my feet moving, the God that I love will light my path. In fact, I prayed that prayer about 7,000 times over the past year. “God, just light my path. I will keep moving if you just show me where to go. Shine a light on what is right and I will do it. Give me wisdom and I promise to follow”.

He doesn’t always show up when you want Him to but He always shows up where He should. At some point when I have the right words I will gladly elaborate on that and certainly my faith in greater detail. But for now, I want to talk about how God showed up in one particular way, the form of this book.

God has led me to the exact place I needed to be at the exact time I needed to be there, whether it be with words, conversations with others, experiences, etc. Let Hope In is a book about living what you were created to be, and letting go of that which is holding you back.

Pete Wilson candidly talks about our pasts, our guilt, our shame, our lack of loving one another, our lack of trust, and our lack of true wisdom. All of these things keep us stuck, and not moving forward. Personally, I have struggled or continue to struggle with every one of these things.

If you’re in a blended family, the P-A-S-T is in your life daily. It’s literally everywhere. You cannot get away from it. And if you let it, it will control you. You may find you have a dysfunctional background, you have old wounds that won’t heal, you are ashamed of your poor choices, you do not focus on loving others. You don’t trust anyone. And you think you actually know all there is to know. All of these things keep you from living as your best self.

Since I began this community, I have always focused on personal best. But if you’re letting these things weigh you down, you will never get there. I know this from experience, as I spent a very long time miserable, and unable to move past any ruts in my life.

You may be reading this and not believe in God at all. But you can’t deny the truth that all the things I mentioned above have a hold on you and are dictating your future. As I read this book, I saw how it wove in and out of every area of my life. Pete Wilson’s real life examples are not only relate-able, but believable. This is not just another Christian book telling you what to do and how to do it. It’s about learning the truth about what God wants for you, and having the courage to get it.

If you’re like me, you’re literally obsessed with the choices you make. I have been obsessed with doing the ‘right’ thing for years. All I ever wanted was a roadmap. Someone somewhere, please tell me where to go, and what to do. There are a million positive examples and encouraging words throughout this book, but I promised a personal review, so I will tell you what rocked me right out of my own messed up reality:

god

Yes. God’s main purpose for you is not what you do. It’s who you become. And I share that with you today among so many other phenomenal bits of wisdom throughout this book because I tend to believe that while we are all on different journeys, we share similar traits. You may have every ounce of your attention focused on being something. If you do the right things with the kids in your life, do a certain amount of dishes, get the right custody arrangement, then and ONLY THEN will you be happy and feel accomplished.

It turns out, these goals are fleeting, and honestly, worthless. Which was amazing news to me! I cannot tell you how long I wasted thinking I could be okay if I hit certain goals, and made my life look a certain way. I thought this was pleasing to God, and that would surely be my ticket into heaven. I thought God would be happy with me, if I just meet certain milestones, choose certain paths, etc. I came to realize after reading this book that it’s so incredible true – God cares about my heart. He doesn’t care about my career, or how the court cases went, or who wins which battles in our lives. He cares about me, and wants me to be the best me I can be. He wants me to trust Him fully, make choices with Him as my center, and know simply that I am loved, despite anything I’ve done in the past.

I’m not the weird girl who spends every waking moment on Pinterest looking for a ‘sign’ and I’ll admit I am not in my Bible NEARLY as often as I should be. I can say that I don’t let others dictate where I’m at in my growth process and I don’t hang on every word my friends and mentors speak, hoping my life will look just like theirs and maybe THEN I will be happy. But I do believe God talks to me. He may come to me at the oddest times, in the oddest places, but He is there. It’s not just a pretty idea I have created to make myself less miserable in this insane life we live. He really is there and He really has a whole lot to say to me when I shut up, and listen.

I believe that things happen for a reason and we stumble upon truths exactly when we are meant to. More than anything in my life, I needed to know that exact truth. God is not concerned with what I choose. He is concerned with who I become. I read those words exactly when I needed to and not a moment sooner. And Pete Wilson may never know how much those words and that truth have changed the entire trajectory of my life and brought peace to my soul. But his words helped me more than I can convey in a simple blog. There is hope for your situation, no matter what it is. And I mean, NO MATTER WHAT IT IS. Needless to say, I recommend this book to everyone. In all walks of life. In every circumstance. Because hope is not about religion. It’s a universal necessity.

http://www.lethopein.com

#LetHopeIn

http://www.withoutwax.tv/