I stood over my daughter’s bed and screamed at her, “Get Up, Get up, Get up” as she repeated back, “I can’t, I can’t, I can’t.“ It seemed like the most absurd response I had ever heard. This reaction and behavior were totally unexpected. After all, I was her mom, and she was to do what I had asked of her. Obedience was something that had come relatively easy up to this point and besides that, it was time for school.
Oh my gosh, was this the dreaded teenage rebellion settling into our home or was it something different? Up until this point, I had some control – not that I had perfect kids, but they were pretty good. Now for some odd reason, I couldn’t get her out of bed.
I tried the patient and kind way, “Honey it is time to go to school,” The angry mom way, “I said get up, do it now.” Then the teaching Mom way, “it is quite simple you just put one foot in front of the other, see this is how you do it.”
Yes, I demonstrated the way one foot goes in front of the other. Okay, laugh – it is funny now. I finally gave up and out of exasperation left the room. Here I was the Mom, and I couldn’t get my child out of bed.
I was so frustrated, angry, and I felt like a failure!
This was new territory, and I didn’t like it. Little did I know, this was the beginning of my introduction into the world of mental illness. On that day I had no idea what the “real” issues were. My life changed that day from orderly control to chaos and frustration in a quick minute. That control I prided myself on soon became a world of the past.
I needed to move from control to acceptance, or I was going to drown.
I needed to – “Accept Mental Illness is Real.”
Recognizing mental illness is real has been challenging and quite a journey. It did not happen overnight. It is easy to sit from my vantage point and say, “If I can do it, you can too.” Up until this point, it never occurred to me that people just might have different limitations than me. Then to complicate matters even more, those limitations in the world of mental illness can change at any given moment. After all, she got up yesterday, why not today.
I have read, studied, taught, and learned an immense amount about mental illness and what it feels like to be depressed. I know it is silly, but I have even laid in bed and tried to be depressed in the hopes that I could understand my loved ones and offer better help.
Don’t get me wrong, all of this learning has helped tremendously and gotten me a lot closer to what it is like to live in the mind of someone with a mental illness. It has taught me skills to cope and ways to help and support my loved ones. But the truth is, when you boil it all down, I still don’t know what it is like to feel clinically depressed. I can’t walk in someone else’s shoes; I have to walk in my own. I will never know if it is too hard to get out of bed.
I found fighting against the reality of mental illness to be a waste of time and energy. This precious time and energy could be put to better use. Judging someone else’s abilities also just left me frustrated and worn out.
Knowledge and acceptance have spurred compassion, empathy, and understanding which brings about a better Mom for the unique needs of my family.
I encourage you with whatever you are struggling with in someone else to
After acceptance, you can begin the journey of understanding. After all, isn’t that what God does? He accepts us right where we are.
What are you challenged to ACCEPT?