I know many of you are thinking how on earth can a “Mom” put the word “blessing” and “mental illness” in the same sentence. I thought that too, until it had become apparent that I had changed for the better through this experience with my child’s mental health challenges.
Let me make it clear; I am by no means saying, “mental illness is a blessing.” It would be so unfair and incorrect to make such a bold statement. However, in the midst of the pain, frustration and sickness I have found tremendous blessings.
Qualities were born in me, qualities I had no idea I could possess.
So as I sat down to count my blessings this Thanksgiving I thought, why not do it differently. Why not name the good that has come from loving someone in the midst of their mental illness.
I want you to know right from the get go……
I AM BLESSED
I am blessed beyond measure to be the parent of children with mental illness. They are blessings. No, that does not mean that I am glad my kids have mental illness (who would?) or that we do not have difficult days because we do. What it does mean though is that out of the difficult times some amazing qualities and blessings have arisen. I have discovered that I can see the blessings in the midst of hard circumstances. I know I am blessed that GOD chose me to be the mom of some incredible and courageous kids.
I AM BRAVE – When one gets to sit so close to someone that exhibits great struggle yet pushes through, it begins to rub off. It spurs me on to be courageous just like them. I figure if my loved one that is fighting mental illness can do hard things, so can I. Pushing myself to step out of my comfort zone has brought the realization that I am so much more capable than I ever thought.
I AM BOLD WHEN NEEDED – I can fight like a mighty warrior for what is needed or deserved. I can stand up and speak with confidence and boldness that is warranted regardless of the audience.
I KNOW THE VALUE OF LIVING IN THE PRESENT MOMENT – As I live in the present moment, it comes alive with all it has to offer. Letting go of the past, the way life used to be, and stopping the worrying about the future of what might be, creates less suffering. I see the beauty that I had never experienced before.
I HAVE PATIENCE – I can actually wait well most of the time.
I CAN LET GO – My “striving to achieve” attitude isn’t always helpful. I have found that the world will survive if I do not cross my t’s and dot my i’s. I have learned that striving for excellence is good but not paramount. That sometimes good enough is just right.
I AM STRONG – I used to go through life worried that “big” life challenges would cause me to fold. I didn’t think I was strong enough. I was wrong; I am strong.
I AM LESS JUDGEMENTAL – If your kid is screaming in public or you show up to the grocery story in pajamas, I won’t judge. I will silently cheer you on because I am not the judge and jury that I once was and it is freeing.
I CAN BE ACCEPTING – I can wholly accept things, people, and circumstances that I never could before. When I do this it helps me to quit fighting reality. I can say, “it is what it is” and move forward. I don’t have to agree to accept, and it allows me to live life as it is – not what I want it to be.
I CAN BE SIMPLE – I have learned that “simple” is okay. Finding those perfect napkins for Thanksgiving may not need to be high on the priority list. Simple living allows more time for what is most important, like relationships.
THE VALUE OF COMMUNITY – Two are truly better than one. We all need a tribe to keep us going, to encourage us, to call us out on our mistakes, to hold us up when we fall, and to pray for us. I could not have walked where I have been without the people that surround me.
I do have to say that none of the above occurred on their own nor do they exist all of the time.
MY #1 BLESSING IS
MY RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD
I thought I was close with God until I walked through deep waters of watching my child suffer and not being able to fix it. I discovered a relationship through my dependence on him that I never knew was possible.
I wish that my blessings had come in a different way and that my child had never had to endure mental illness. Nevertheless, it is what it is and this year I am taking stock of the blessings in the midst of my child’s mental illness.
I hope you will take a moment this season and look closely at the blessings that have been born out of hardships. I would love to hear what your blessings are in the comments below.