Let's Talk.....

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

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Today in Canada it is Bell's Let's Talk day.  It is a day that we are encouraged to be open and share about mental health issues and to raise money for organizations that support individuals and families that suffer because of mental health.

This day means a lot but I feel the same about it as I do International Day of Autism on April 2.  I live it 365 days a year.  We don't get 364 days off from it.  It affects us 24/7.  Mental health isn't some easily cured disease.  Many times people who suffer, suffer quietly and alone until it gets too much and they take their own lives.  Some individuals get help and work through it.  They are not cured.  They are just able to live day to day.  Some individuals do try to get help, only to have the system repeatedly let them down time and time again.  That is our story.

Mental illness is a disease.  It isn't because you are weak.  It isn't because you are a failure.  It isn't because of anything you did or didn't do.  Mental illness is a disease that is just as bad as cancer.  It is just as debilitating and can be just as deadly.  The problem is that historically in society it is a shame to admit that you have an mental illness.  Just look at what we call people derogatorily to see this - psycho, idiot, retard, mental....you get my drift.  These words were and are actual diagnosis of people with mental illness.  With cancer everyone jumps on the bandwagon to help and assist where they can.  When a mental illness is involved there is very little support and in fact many times people actually shy away from you.

We need to do better.  We, the people of the cross, have an amazing message of hope and faith that a drowning world needs to hear and we aren't doing it.  We add to the stigma of mental illness by asking people how they have sinned or telling them they don't have faith or the good ole "make it till you fake it" and "buck up."  The problem is that mental illness is just that, a mental illness.  We as the church need to support people.  We don't always need to talk.  We just need to show up and show up better.  We need to make sure that people know they are not alone.  We need to make them know they have people who are willing just to listen and to pray over them.  We need to let families know that they have support and a place of soft landing.

I write these things because I have been wrestling with how the church supported our family during my husband's hospitalization this year.  We were very open with where my husband was and why he was being hospitalized.  We did not hide this from anyone.  The first week, I had some support and people willing to help me with the kids.  This slowly faded.  Within at least 3 weeks I felt like I was on my own.  I had to hire people to help me with the kids so that I could visit with my husband.  Life went on.  There were a few people who visited my husband and supported him and a few stuck around.

This year it has felt that the mental health system has let us down as after my husband was released there was very little support within the system.  But it also felt like my church neglected us.  I can honestly say that I have said to friends who ask about the support I received "They are praying for us.".  I know that but praying isn't always what people need.  They need to feel like someone is there for them no matter what.

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. 1 Corinthians 12:21-26

"If one part suffers, every part suffers..." .people are suffering.  It could be the person who has announced their need.  It could be the person suffering in silence sitting beside you each Sunday.  Jesus didn't shy away from those who were sick and suffering.  He entered into to it with them.  That's what we believers are called to do.  We are ALL part of the body and some of the body is dying and dying in a bad way.  We need to show up and help our brothers and sisters no matter the costs because that is our family and that is our ministry field.  We all suffer when one of us suffers from mental illness.   

We need to be better.  We need to make sure that the people around us matter.  We need to put ourselves out there and go to the mission field that Jesus has provided us.  We need to be made uncomfortable and enter into another's uncomfortable.  We need to listen and pray.  We need to bring the coffee and do the laundry and bring the meal because then people don't feel like they have been abandoned.  We need to overly love people just as Jesus did.  

We need to be better.  It's what we are called to do.  

Please visit your social media outlets and retweet, share and like as many times the Bell Let's Talk posts.  Bell Media will donate 5 cents for everyone of them to mental health organizations and projects.

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