Although it has been around since the beginning of time, mental illness is a relatively new discovery. This term refers to a myriad of diseases: depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and multiple personalities are among the most common.
The field of psychiatry has made significant progress in helping to understand the complexities of the human brain, and pharmaceutical companies have produced medications to help people struggling with mental illness be able to live a fuller and more productive life.
And although we as a society have made great strides in the acknowledgement and understanding of this problem, there is still unfortunately a detrimental stigma that goes along with it. Many people hastily and insensitively suggest that one struggling need only to “snap out of it.” From a religious perspective, some wrongfully assume that mental illness is brought on by sin, which only adds to the pain and guilt of people experiencing it.
Jeffrey R. Holland, one of the 12 apostles of the LDS Church, recently gave a remarkable address on the subject of mental illness, where he revealed that he himself had (once) experienced it. This address will undoubtedly go down in the history books as one of the most informative, sensitive, vulnerable, and perhaps most importantly, hopeful ever given on this topic. I know that I often include links on this blog to outside resources; some surely go unclicked, but I highly encourage (and perhaps even beg) my friends/readers to thoroughly study this talk.
Whatever your struggle, my brothers and sisters—mental or emotional or physical or otherwise—do not vote against the preciousness of life by ending it! Trust in God. Hold on in His love. Know that one day the dawn will break brightly and all shadows of mortality will flee. Though we may feel we are “like a broken vessel,” as the Psalmist says,we must remember, that vessel is in the hands of the divine potter. Broken minds can be healed just the way broken bones and broken hearts are healed. While God is at work making those repairs, the rest of us can help by being merciful, nonjudgmental, and kind.
…I bear witness of that day when loved ones whom we knew to have disabilities in mortality will stand before us glorified and grand, breathtakingly perfect in body and mind. What a thrilling moment that will be! I do not know whether we will be happier for ourselves that we have witnessed such a miracle or happier for them that they are fully perfect and finally “free at last.”Until that hour when Christ’s consummate gift is evident to us all, may we live by faith, hold fast to hope, and show “compassion one of another.
I wish now to add my own two cents to the conversation.
(While I could write a lot more about this, here is what I’ll say for now):
1) Mental illness is real. And it’s hell.
2) There is hope, both professional and spiritual.
3) Although much easier said than done, shame need not be part of the already messy equation.
4) Be sensitive. With others, and with yourself.
5) God lives.
1. What are YOUR experiences/opinions/beliefs concerning the topic of mental illness?
2. What can you do to make yourself (and others) more educated about this crucially important subject?
We must not have silence
about the emotional violence
brought on by the stillness
of mental illness.
I looked in the mirror,
and decided to stay.