Are you trying to help a loved one who suffers from mental illness? Millions of Americans are in this position, loving, caring and hurting alongside someone with such an illness.
As a lawyer, I work with mentally ill individuals regularly. I see the endless referrals to psychologists, psychiatrists and therapists. No easy solutions exist, and family members’ struggle can seem never ending. It can be a roller coaster ride. Sort of like life itself.
Many of the professionals who treat mental illness are wonderful, caring individuals. They understand the problems; they put together comprehensive plans to address them. These plans often involve prescription medications. However, there are limits to what you might call “scientific” or “medical” approaches to these problems.
No plan can be effective unless it is carried out consistently over time. The taking of medication is a thorny problem. This can be ground zero for disputes over patient rights. Unless observed or compelled, many people forget to take their medications or refuse to do so, citing bad side effects. Others persist in believing they do not need medication. These are painful situations for loved ones trying to help.
When I can, I urge people to look for other means of help. I want to help people find a tool that can ease suffering and sometimes lead to solutions. There is always a Hope Line somewhere. A grassroots organization called NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) has helped many people.
Sometimes a “spiritual” approach can produce positive changes, where nothing else seems to work. This does not mean abandoning professional, therapeutic approaches. It means hitting a problem from multiple angles.
God has worked miracles with countless alcoholics and addicts, healing lives and providing a means to recovery. Likewise, God can bring new hope, power and light to mentally ill persons and their care providers. I have seen it happen. Life takes on new meaning as people find new ways of living and a sense of purpose.
Do you have a story or suggestion that can help people dealing with challenges like these? I would love to hear from you. Send me a comment!
Many people just spent the holidays feeling a sense of loss, missing someone they love dearly, or wishing they were part of a warm circle instead of feeling cold and alone. A human truth is we can be surrounded by people and still feel we’re alone -–on the outside looking in.
Have you ever wanted to be part of something only to feel the doors are closed to you? So you walked away without trying to make a connection? I know the feeling.
I spent a lot of my life on the outside looking in, because of insecurity. Mingling, joining in is near impossible when you are feeling “not okay” on the inside. And once depressive isolation takes root, the kinds of “relief” I used to try to feel better became self-destructive.
There is good news out there, but it won’t fall into my lap or yours. Scrolling through Facebook won’t help. We have to be willing to put forth some efforts to connect with people and to help others.
Of course, getting help for mental health or substance problems is a necessary prerequisite to developing relationships and to feeling okay. Substance abuse is a closed, essentially selfish cycle for a person. It shuts out the willingness to be truly present with people. It also locks the door tight on making a connection with God or a “Higher Power,” if you prefer.
There is help out there and sometimes there are miracles. I wonder how many miracles go unnoticed by humans on this earth. If our lifeline is not grabbed when it floats by, rescue is lost. I didn’t want to be lost, to simply float away down my self-destructive river. When I saw the lifeline, I grabbed it.
I washed, rinsed and repeated over and over. I noticed I was feeling better. I realized that being kind to others helped me. Gradually, I developed relationships with people whom I love dearly. I continue to look for ways to connect with people. I also guard my sometimes-fragile psyche by avoiding negative news, political situations, and violence on TV. Statistics prove our age of electronic gadgetry is producing a lot of loneliness and isolation. If you are feeling like an outsider watching a wonderful life pass right by you, perhaps it’s time to unplug from some of these destructive habits and reach out to humanity.
I have learned that the people I spend time with goes a long way to determine what my attitude will be and what I will become. Look around you for healthy people. If you search for them, you will find them. I said “healthy” without explaining or qualifying the word. We know what healthy means in this world when we are hurting emotionally and spiritually! Healthy people will help you on your journey. Part of our journey here is to realize that all of us are connected. Each of us is here to fulfill a purpose. All I have to do is accept God’s purpose for me and then do my best to act on it one day at a time. Then you’ll find yourself on the inside, instead of feeling like you’re always outside the circle of life.
Do you have a story or a comment ? I would love to hear from you.