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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Invisible Battles

     The people I love most in the world are struggling, and it makes me heartsick.  When you are physically sick and people find out, they usually feel compassion, concern, and sympathy.  When you are mentally ill, people often feel fear, judgement, and avoid you.  It makes it hard for people to talk about because they know how people will react.  It's a lonely, isolating, dark place to be.  It's also that way for the people who take care of them because they know the people they love will be judged.  They also know they will probably be judged along with the person who is ill.
     I don't usually talk about it because I love them so much and want to protect them.  But, I am learning this doesn't help the problems they face.  My daughter reminds me that speaking my truth in an honest and loving way allows others to not feel so alone.  My hope is we will learn that mental illness is not contagious.  We can love one another just like we do through physical illnesses.
     My grandma had a stroke last week and is struggling with moderate dementia.  Most people tell me that is to be expected with her age.  It is probably true, but that doesn't help the people living through it.  It makes me sad to see her forget me, but the worst part is seeing how much it hurts her.  Watching her fear and confusion when she is lost between worlds and not being able to fix it, is so hard.  Watching her anger when she is aware of what is happening is even worse.
     My husband has been diagnosed and misdiagnosed so many times, I don't even know how to explain what it is.  It's a lot like what life is like for my grandma.  He gets lost and his reality isn't what my reality is. It's sad to see his confusion and fear when he know it isn't right, but not knowing what is right.  Sometimes the depression suffocates him in darkness and he can't seem to find a way out except for dying.  Those are the worst times for me.  Sometimes he rages at me, at people, at God, at life, because it isn't fair.  He tries so hard and it doesn't matter.  Like physical illnesses, it doesn't matter if you are a good person or not.  Sometimes life just isn't fair.
     My kids struggle with pieces of this.  Mandy struggles with bipolar disorder.  She fights every day to get the life she wants to live.  I'm just happy the scars she left from years of cutting are healing, both physically and mentally.  Nick struggles with anxiety.  Sometimes it paralyzes him with fear that we will all die, and other times it is in the background with unending dis-ease tainting everything he does.
     This week was a struggle for all of them.  My hope is something good will come of their stories and their lives, not only for them, but for the other people who struggle in life.  I also hope it helps the caretakers.  It is an unexplainable load to carry by yourself.  If you know of someone struggling, I hope you will see them as a person and not their disability.  I also hope you will offer love, compassion, and civility to them.  All of us fight invisible battles.  We don't need to fight each other.
     Sending you much love for sharing the journey.
       
     

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