I often hear people use mental disorders as adjectives and for name-calling. I hear comments like this and my blood begins to boil. They are meant to be hurtful due to the stigma that already surrounds them. However, using the terms in this way undermines the diagnoses of such conditions that many people struggle with. As John Slick says, this terminology has “seeped into our vernacular…it really gets under my skin and makes me feel like I’m less than a person and that my mental illness is not legitimate…” Even the weather has been described as bipolar. Weather isn’t bipolar. This description of the weather makes the mental condition diminutive when the opposite it true.Continue reading “Stop Strengthening the Stigma Surrounding Mental Illness”→
My husband and I recently vacationed in Asheville, NC. We never had a honeymoon, so this was it…nineteen years later…and our first vacation together in fifteen years without our child. As the cliché goes, better late than never!
While walking down Biltmore Avenue, a wall caught our eye, entitled “Before I Die.” On the wall were places for passersby to record their hopes and dreams for their lives. What a beautiful idea!
Personal declarations for the masses to see.
Reading these declarations is inspiring. We all have hopes and dreams. Sometimes, these dreams seem unattainable, but we must not give up. However, I believe that giving up is a roadblock that we all encounter at some point during our lives. For people battling for mental health, we feel the weight of this stalwart roadblock all too deeply. We require that nudge or encouragement from others probably more so than most. For those with the invisible mental illnesses, like myself, this kindness can be life-saving.Continue reading “Wall of Hope”→
My younger brother became gravely ill less than a year after the birth of his son (who had entered the world three months early). It was an emotional time for all…first pulling for the little one and then pulling for his daddy.
Without going into details of my brother’s illness, he fought for his health and for his life over the next five years. He had numerous transfusions, sat on a transplant list, and had complications with multiple organs. His body seemed to be crumbling a bit at a time. Each time I saw him, he was thinner, becoming skeletal. Eventually, his appearance reminded me of the haunting images of Auschwitz’s prisoners. Eyes sunken in, arms gangly. Remaining properly nourished was a challenge when he couldn’t keep much down. In August 2016, I traveled to Colorado to visit him in the hospital. I didn’t realize these few days would be the last days of conversations between us. During that week, I spent every night in his hospital room. We talked and talked and talked: about life, about memories, about hopes for the future, about marriage, children, and family.
Surgery was scheduled for that week. Not only would this procedure improve current complications, it would also bump him up on the transplant list. Before rolling away for surgery, I leaned over and kissed his forehead. He gave me his quirky smile that said, “You’re my weird sister,” and I chuckled. However, I became startled when my lips met his forehead. He had no fat on his bones, I knew, but I wasn’t expecting the feeling that I was kissing his skull. His skin was so dry and so thin and stretched tightly across his forehead.
Marriage and mental health struggles don’t exactly go hand-in-hand.
I haven’t always been sure my husband and I could overcome our challenges. He didn’t set out to look for a wife who fights daily battles within her own mind. Unfortunately, life has brought us here. For better or for worse, right? We went into this marriage believing that divorce is not an option; however, occasions emerged that cracked open that door. We each have our own mental hardships; yet, with care and effort, we have held on. Our first date was summer of 1994 at the Kimbell Art Museum, and today we celebrate our nineteenth year of marriage. Yes, not the round 20, but each year deserves celebration!