Monday, December 21, 2009

Be a Moment of Light

This blog is dedicated to Sarah. Her light now washes over all of us and helps keep the dark at bay.
I am enclosing the link to my book in this blog because besides being self serving I want today to be about a subject very near and dear to my heart.

Two short years ago my beloved youngest child attempted suicide. The chapter in my book that speaks of it is called, "Fifteen Seconds Changes Your Life". The fifteen second rule , as I call it at home, is about the time it took for her to give in, the time it took for me to get her down, the time it took for her to find out she had a mental illness and the time it took for her to actively decide to not be a victim to the disease that was holding her emotions hostage. In the chapter I tell the story of what happened to my family and how we were lucky enough to all live through it. Truth be told, many battle their illness valiantly only to find themselves lost in the darkness unable to see any light. The results of this are often times catastrophic, for both them and their families who remain wracked with the feelings of guilt, wondering what more they could have done. The answer to that of course, is nothing. Families love hard those who need them the most.

Christmas time for the mentally ill can be a dangerous time. This is the time of year when problems get magnified, faults seem to loom large and accomplishments or failures are tallied up at year's end. The sum total can send anyone not in a good place to a darkened abyss, but for the mentally ill, it becomes even more treacherous.

My child has bipolar disorder. She can go from euphoria to falling deep into a depression. She is active in her diagnosis. She is not afraid to talk about it. She has been blessed with the ability to not feel shame towards her own mind, but many do not have that gift, and have been taught to feel badly for feeling so badly. Mental illness has a giant stigma attached to it and , God help you if you decide to tell anyone about it who may use it one day as a weapon. My child has experienced the cruelty of others mocking something she has absolutely no control over. I will say, that she does not take it laying down. She is as strong as a bull and just as stubborn, when it comes to defending herself against prejudice and defending others, as well. Bless her heart, she is tough as nails and uses her incredible strength to help others up after falling or being knocked down.

I ask that we all take a moment and remember those who have a mental illness. A single act of kindness can change and even save a life. Not all will be saved. For now, it is the way of it. The course of researching the end of any disease takes time and this is no different. Researchers and doctors strive every day to find the answers we are all looking for. But for now, if every person did one thing, we would surely change the world and the perception of our mentally ill. Every brain is different. Every body unique to it's owner. This world has so much magic in it because we are so different and special. The world is full of brilliant art by those who had mental illness and were able, because of it, to think outside the box.

Reach out and spread joy this season to every person you meet. You never know the depth of your effect on any given day. Fifteen seconds does change lives. A smile, a touch, an acknowledgement, a gesture of respect, all of these leave our marks on people we have met. I ask that during this season that we all take the time to look into the eyes of the people we encounter and really see them. Be a moment of light in some one's life. We aren't always aware of those who feel enclosed in the darkness. When you leave your mark, let it be in the shape of a heart.

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