Guest Post from Julie Brooks - Wife, Mother, Advocate Supporter for families and others living with mental illness.
I love this quote by Emerson, “Be an opener of doors.”
Will you and I become an opener of doors for those who are struggling in silence with mental illness? Throughout our day, will we be intentional in prayers to our Lord, to give us opportunities to make a difference in the lives of others? We can open doors to Hope with just a smile, an introduction, perhaps extend our hand, our time, and our hearts.
Here are five ways you can open the door to hope today:
1. Open the door…literally.
Invite them to lunch, open the door to your home or meet them somewhere for coffee or ice cream (or both if you dare). Help them feel pampered, valued, included. Whether anxiety, depression, the noise of ruminating thoughts; perhaps the best method of encouragement is to stop by and just get them out of the house for a while. Your willingness to spend time with and for them will become an uplifting gift of encouragement and experience for them, and you.
2. Get things moving.
Sometimes mental illness can be so debilitating that the individual seems to become frozen in time; just plain fearful of doing life itself. This is where you and I become door openers of assistance. We can offer to run an errand, pick up some groceries, take or pick up children from school, help them with cleaning. Sometimes, sharing these responsibilities with them, rather than doing it all for them, is just the right key to opening doors.
3. Say, Me too!
I suffer with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), anxiety and depression; all treated with medication. I am transparent about my illnesses, freely allowing others to see and know a real face of mental illness. It helps me to be an empathetic door opener, and to let others know they are not alone. It can help those that know me to hopefully think differently about mental illness. I choose to open this door for others to see. If you suffer as I do, you can open doors with me.
We lost our 18 year old son, Carson, to suicide in July 2010. He may have lost his battle to an uncompromising chronic and unstable bipolar disorder, but to God’s glory, he finished the race set before him. In the meadow where he laid down to his last breath, he met the Lord of lords and the King of kings. While I know this to be true, I grieve still. I have decided to grieve when I want to grieve; to dismiss those who say, “It takes a year or two to move past.” I choose to open my door to grieve and allow the Lord to use my tears to release the pain of losing Carson.
5. Be ready.
If you know someone that has lost a loved one to suicide, what will you do? Here’s some things that helped me:
- If it just happened, they may just want your presence; no words, just the comfort of knowing you are there for them.
- If you are outside the immediate caregiver relationship, make yourself available to them in 3-4 weeks after the death. I find this is when the reality of the loss, for many, begins to set in.
- Please don’t be afraid to talk and ask about their loved one. Mention their name; even if they cry in response. When I hear Carson’s name, it is like beautiful music to my ears and to my heart of hearts. The shedding of tears is not only an emotional event, it is a biological event with the brain releasing necessary healing chemicals into the vast matrix of the brain. God invented tears, so I think He’s okay with me crying whenever and wherever I may be.
I am blessed to be a door opener to those who are struggling in silence with mental illness. Once they know your door is always open, they won’t feel as alone; neither will you. They are an unrepeatable miracle of the Lord, just as all of us are.