Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness (c)2015 Nancy Virden
(This story is true as experienced by a parent whose adult child has mental illness. Anonymity requested.)
Your son, in a rare correspondence, has just told you he is sleeping in the streets and in shelters. Your greatest desire in the moment is to rush to get him, to provide for him a bed, a meal, a bath.
Why is this happening? Why has that beautiful, intelligent, creative little boy grown up to live such a life? Fear and worry rush in to take over your mood again. Will it rain tonight? Is he cold? Does he have anything to eat? Is he safe?
You pause. He is alive, he contacted you, maybe he is seeing a psychiatrist. Maybe he is taking his meds.
It would be so much simpler if you knew where he was. He won’t tell you. He won’t tell you because he knows you will want to rescue him and bring him under your protection. He’d rather roll the dice and try to make it on his own.
This is at least partially understandable! What adult wants to be under the care of a parent, with his or her “suggestions” and anxious comments? So you try to not ask questions or offer unrequested advice.
It feels like you sat on a bed of nails; each dangerous move hurts in a different spot of your body, mind, and spirit. So, what’s next?
Does he know how important his medications are to his wellbeing? Check. Does he understand he can always come home? Check. Does he have insurance or at least know how to get help? Check.
There are three actions left for you to take. You can pray, ask others to do the same, and keep your door open. He knows he is not rejected. Check. He is in God’s hands. Check.
Now it’s time to let go for today, and take care of yourself. Rest. You matter too.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference. – Serenity Prayer (circa 1934)
NOTE: I am not a trained or licensed mental health professional. I am not a doctor. I speak only from my experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.
If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or if you are concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help can be yours.
*photo from qualitystockphotos.com