I’m taking a risk today and writing about mental illness. I usually allow these thoughts to remain safely tucked in the pages of my journal. After all, I’m not a doctor or a therapist. Nevertheless, I know there are many families suffering just as we have, and my desire is that our ongoing journey will offer hope.
Miracles aside—and I do believe in miracles—we have yet to discover a quick “fix” or “cure” for mental illness. Knowing that, we treat the symptoms and find a balance the best we can. I’ve never heard anyone ask someone with Diabetes or Multiple Sclerosis: “Shouldn’t you be better by now? Aren’t you taking medication?” So where do we get the idea that we should be able to “fix” mental illness?
Misconceptions and Mental Illness
You can’t “fix” mental illness like you fix a broken arm.You can’t “fix” mental illness like you fix a broken arm. -Angela Howard Click To Tweet
I’ll never forget the Christmas party where a well-meaning co-worker of Michael’s tentatively approached me with a sweet smile and a pat on my arm.
“How are you?” She leaned in closer.
“I’m fine.” I said with a fake smile on my face.
“Really? Well, we’re very concerned about Michael.”
“I’m concerned, too.” I stammered, wishing that I could disappear off the face of the earth.
What could I say? We were about 5 years into a 10 year fight to discover a diagnosis, and our state of affairs was anything but rosy. Michael’s mood swings were affecting his work as well as his home life. Looking back we wonder why he wasn’t fired. It was only the grace of God.
Prior to finding out that Michael had bipolar 2 disorder I was looking for a quick fix. A pill. A diagnosis. A compassionate psychiatrist. We found none of those things. But now, 11 plus years after an accurate diagnosis, we are well aware that there’s no such thing as a “fix” for mental illness.
But if there isn’t a “fix” what is there? There’s hope!
During each difficult period there’s hope that we will discover what works for that season. Throughout the years it’s become clear to Michael and me that managing mental illness must be done with a holistic approach. Success is found in treating the whole person—not just a symptom, not just the present crisis, but the individual. The patient is not their diagnosis and neither is their family.God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1 (NIV) Click To Tweet
How have you found hope in times of trial? Please comment below. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Join me next Monday as we share how we’ve discovered how to work for recovery during crisis.
Special Note: This is based on our family’s experiences and should not be taken as medical advice. Consult a doctor or medical professional for any questions or concerns you have.