Being of Service? Carrying the Message—for NAMI (Feature Friday!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, October 9, 2014

NAMI mental anguish, mental illness

Being of Service? Carrying the Message—for NAMI (Feature Friday!)

This week, October 5th through 11th, is Mental Health Awareness Week. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is working to inspire others through sharing stories. Experiences of those brave people who face struggles with mental illness every day. This week, especially, NAMI and others all across the nation are working hard to highlight struggles—and victories!—with various kinds of mental illness.

Some weeks ago in a Feature Friday post, I shared my struggle with an especially difficult time in my life. After my second pregnancy, I developed severe postpartum depression. I did not even realize it until it was over. I was swimming through that desperate, gray, mucky water for some six months. And I cannot remember whether I came out of it slowly, quickly, or something in between. I just remember the sun seeming brighter one day, and my general attitude towards life being positive. And, the desperate grayness was gone.

For the most part, that is. Mild depression still returns, on occasion, but never like it was in postpartum depression! Looking back, it was horrific. Heartbreaking. And—I did not even know until it was over.

I want to talk a bit about my friend T. He bravely told his personal story this week, in order that other people with mental illness might not feel so alone. I am going summarize, and quote excerpts.

T used to be a church leader at a large church in the suburbs. Married, active group leader, deeply involved in several ministries. He continues, “And I was also a fraud. I had developed a pretty serious mental illness (bi-polar) and was an asshole husband.” T also developed several addictions to manage his increasingly erratic emotions.

The descent was rapid. T lost almost everything. “Separation [from his wife], restraining order, hospital, jail, long term mental hospital, GPS ankle monitor, halfway house, living with sibling, and basically hell on earth. And I couldn’t stop acting out…it was my one and only ‘tool’ for coping with life and loss.” He hit bottom. Or, the bottom hit him.

In the last two years he has gotten clean and sober and in a recovery program.

Recently, T met with several leaders to confess his shortcomings and make amends. He worked with them to be restored. He said, “I felt received, loved, and that they were ‘for me.’” Maybe Jesus does—as T says—indeed have a heart for messed up people. Thank God for grace, love, and mercy. Thank God that some people care, and listen, and welcome with open arms. And, thanks for sharing, T. There is a solution. One day at a time.

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