How would you describe your life raising a child with mental illness (MI)? Have you ever witnessed your loved one’s sweet personality engulfed by psychosis? Could you even begin to explain what it’s like to see that loved one in a psychiatric unit? How would you describe the impact that had on your life and your family?
A close friend’s four-word description spoke volumes: “We’re in survival mode.”
How would you convey that message? What details would you share to help someone understand ‘survival mode’? Here’s my attempt to further clarify those two words:
It’s a minute-by-minute existence.
An emptiness filled with despair.
Trivial cares swallowed by mental illness.
Secretly crying, “This isn’t fair!”
There ARE no adequate words to describe what it’s like to see your own child in a psychiatric unit. Broken and in torment. No wonder our hearts break when we learn of friends enduring the same anguish.
That’s precisely why my heart is breaking. Just thinking about their ordeal brought it all back to me (the times our son endured a psychotic episode). Their news filled me with empathy. Empathy led to pain. Pain thrust me to a local park. There, I found a temporary escape from the distractions of the world. There, I found the oasis of God’s creation.
Just two side notes:
The park is located in a very congested Philadelphia suburb. So, if you feel drawn to escape distractions (for a short time), I’ll bet you could find a quiet corner of your world. If it’s not possible for you to escape your home (while watching your child), perhaps a video I made will offer you a virtual escape.
There are many families dealing with similar unspeakable trials. The details may vary, but the sense of loneliness is the same. If that’s you, I wanted to share my heart in a more personal way. So, I grabbed my video camera and tripod. And headed to the park. The brief message I recorded (below) isn’t a professional-quality movie. It’s just sincere words of encouragement, from my heart to yours.