This morning on one of the groups I am a part of, the conversation about the suicide of Robin Williams led to a discussion of the popular conception of mental illness in the media and the reality of those living with mental illness. Also, those who have family with mental illness.
I have been exposed to mental illness both in my own self and in members of my family. I have suffered from depression and anxiety since as long as I can remember, but I was diagnosed in 1984, when I had a nervous breakdown.
I have found that a number of people in my biological family have suffered from various mental illnesses. My biological brother and sister both suffer from anxiety and depression as our father and mother did and my maternal grandmother and others.
The question of whether it is passed on in families or whether anyone is susceptible to mental illness came up. I think it’s a little of both. And of course, environment has to play some part either to the good or the bad. A number of my biological aunts have suffered from varying degrees of depression. My mother’s depression led her to alcohol addiction and drug addiction.
I say all this to remind everyone that I can reach in my own small way, through my writing, that we must be kind. We must show compassion. Those of us who have or have had a mental illness, must empathize with others that do.
Life is hard these days. We are bombarded with all sorts of negative images on the TV or our computers. There are wars, unrest in areas of the world. There are people dying for their faith. Even in my own area, there are riots going on over the death of a young man. People are angry and frustrated.
We must learn to approach people in love. I know it is not easy. Often I choose to close my eyes to what I don’t like to see. Often, I remain oblivious by choice. I am a writer, so I spend a good deal of time in my home, on my computer, writing and living in my head that’s full of characters and stories. I can become hardened to the chaos that the world has become and forget that there is still a great deal of beauty and wonder in the world.
Remember please that there are people who are suffering. Who find that life is just too difficult for them. Be kind. When you see someone with an obvious mental illness, don’t look away. At least smile at then if you can. It may be the only human contact they get.
I know we have all heard this before and I don’t say anything that hasn’t been said before. Except this, that there are people we come in contact with everyday who may be suffering inside. Don’t ignore the warnings you see, especially of those near to you.
Thank you for reading and indulging me today.