Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Mental illness

At least once every day, I think about how my life has been affected by mental illness. Most days they are sad but fleeting thoughts; however, I have not been able to shake this one since last night. I happened to tune into 90210 halfway through, right as they were revealing that one of their main characters has Bipolar Disorder. Watching this young girl on TV reminded me so much of someone who has had a tremendous impact on my life; much of it not good at all. I think what struck me so deeply was that this girl on TV was exactly like the person in my life.

It grieves my heart that mental illness has taken away someone who should be an integral part of my life. I teach in my support groups that forgiveness does not require reconciliation (especially when the relationship continues to be abusive and dangerous), but deep down I can't help feeling like I've just walked away. I know I tried desperately to make the relationship work - Lord knows I did - but it just seems so cold and heartless to walk away from someone who is mentally ill. The person in my life has been on and off meds for decades and (when stabilized) repeatedly decided to go off the meds, leading right back into manic depression. Even while on the meds, this person made horrible choices, was grossly negligent and abusive, and allowed others to abuse me for years. I know this person is responsible for their horrible and inexcusable actions, but I continue to love, grieve, wish it could be different, and occasionally blame myself for not finding a way to make our relationship work.

I have no answers. I am just a little overwhelmed with sadness as I'm reminded of this significant loss in my life.

John 8:32 says, "You will know the truth and the truth will set you free."

But, what is the truth here? How much effort is enough on behalf of the victim of someone with mental illness? Obviously this is something I need to be praying about and not just thinking about while carpooling or showering.

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