I am writing the following thoughts from my perspective—i.e., a parent who watches as our whole family is affected by our child with a mental illness. This is not meant to suggest I don’t love my child or work as hard as I can to hold the episodes at bay.
These are simply my personal feelings as I struggle with how my child’s mental illness takes its toll on my family:
It is lonely and dark. It is scary and unknown.
It isn’t talked about. It can’t be shared with people because no one understands.
People will judge those of us who live with it. They will judge our loved ones. They won’t understand.
It totally controls your life and your world. It’s unpredictable—and always, always present, just waiting to flare up.
It makes you scream and shake your fists. It makes you cry and fight back violent tears. It pulls you into a pit. It keeps you trapped at home alone.
It makes you feel desperate and crushes your breath. It locks you in a very dark place.
It makes you want to stay in the safety of your own home. Except it’s always there, too, in your home with you. Staring you down. Threatening to attack. Mocking you, as it grips your loved one.
Sometimes things are calm, and you wonder if maybe it’s left you. You begin to feel the hope that it’s over for good. But then you’re cruelly reminded that it’s here to stay.
The time bomb. The dreadfully thin ice. The expectancy. The dread. The fear.
Mental illness is a beast. It rears its ugly, evil head and makes victims of the whole family.
Its labels are misunderstood. Its victims are feared and avoided. It makes people look the other way. It makes people run the other way.
It makes friendships too difficult. Too tiring. Impossible.
The hardest thing is the loneliness. And the silence. And pretending it’s all okay. And pretending it’s not there.
It’s unpredictable and unwelcomed. It’s unexpected and always dreaded. It can crash through the walls of peace and fun at any moment.
Hating the power of the illness but fervently, passionately loving its victim.
It’s dark. It’s scary. It’s lonely.
And it’s so powerful and cruel.
Praying for it to be broken and for my family to be set free.
For additional information on mental health issues and resources, go to Mental and Behavioral Health on this website.