Dear Black People,
I’m writing this letter to address how we deal with the so called “crazy” people in our lives. One area that I am extremely passionate about is mental illness. I personally struggle with anxiety depending on the situation and have battled with depression in the past. I had to hurt in silence for years because it is not something that those the closest to us (blacks) understand fully. So we try to figure it out, by praying daily alone. Don’t get me wrong prayer works but when someone is hurting to the point where they believe that leaving earth is better than suffering those daily mental restraints, it is a problem and I believe that we should address it. In a future blog I will give more details of my own personal experience with battling depression, however recently I dealt with a situation it upset me not to be near and provide some type of support. So I wanted to give tips on how to help one another heal and progress through our past hurts that may currently be causing our loved ones anxiety, depression or any other mental illness.
1st step understanding the mental illness that person is currently facing. If anxiety, knowing what that looks like as far as a day to day routine and confronting any stereotypes that you may have formed from being misguided
2nd maintaining a healthy relationship with that person, don’t brush them off because they are different from you. Once you gain that understanding, figure out some way to stay connected with them. I understand having boundaries and they are important for someone who may have mental illness, however we don’t want to completely shut them out.
3rd. Seek out resources especially in case of a crisis knowing who to call and how to get immediate help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline will help prevent suicide. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals. 1-800-273-8255. I know now for me if I don’t know anything else this is my first number of contact.
4th If you are able to be a part of their treatment team. You can make sure your loved one is receiving appropriate treatment sometimes things can become overwhelming and it is helpful to have that extra support from people you trust the most.
5th finally encourage them to enjoy their life. It is vital to be a part of a community. Now churches have so many healthy components to allow adults, teens and children to get involved. Encourage them to seek God and follow the process of finding their purpose if they haven’t or encourage them to start living in their purpose if it has been revealed to them. I know I personally experience the greatest amount of joy when I can help others. I know God put me here to encourage people through counseling, teaching, or my writing, so when I’m not feeling in the best mental space, helping others in some type of capacity changes that mood. We have to help our loved ones with mental illness find that same compassion about something other than themselves and I think we will experience a turn around.
In closing I don’t want anyone to believe that I have it all figured out because I DON’T, however, I know I have a heart and I know God put it on my heart for my people to go back to being a community of not only believers, but doers in Christ. If we say we know him, then we must follow his ways and that starts by loving one another as if it were us. So we can’t ignore our love one’s illness and isolate them physically or mentally, but figure out how we can help, what role we do we play in contributing to their ongoing well-being.
Remember the bible teaches us that
Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
I hope this letter was helpful to the families dealing with loved ones with mental illness. I want to leave you with this prayer
Dear heavenly father, I pray that this letter touches the lives of those people who may know someone who is dealing with mental illness in silence. I pray that we start to break the old habits of how we deal with one another and replace it in love, happiness and experiencing that joy again through community. I pray that we will learn to love them through their grief, stress, trauma or anything else that may have hurt them and causing this type of response. I pray for healing as well, as we know what has always been doesn’t mean it will last. I pray for wisdom and discernment for knowledge to know when to help and what that may look like on an individual basis. Lord, give us strength as we continue to walk intentionally daily for you and what you have called us all to do. Amen.
A Sista on the sofa Kendal