Rising Above Challenges
When I think of challenge, I usually think of some kind of physical incapacity. But what of mental challenges that cause defeat around every corner?
I had an opportunity this weekend to spend some time with a young lady who has spent the last four years facing the most difficult mental challenges of her life. I hadn’t seen her in four years. When I picked her up at the airport—to tell you the truth—I didn’t even recognize her. She looked twenty years older, and her spiritual presence was gray from depression.
She had moved away from Nashville to be with her son, who had promised to take care of her while she was reaching her later fifties. Turns out the son was a drug addict and basically bilked her out of all of her money, stole her charge cards until she had nothing left but a one room efficiency and a low paying job, while he is now in jail. Yet, as I spoke with her this weekend, she said all she could think about was her son and wished he could be with her now on this vacation. She suffers greatly from disillusionment and depression. If she keeps going untreated, she could end up not taking care of her physical needs even more and perhaps, worse case scenario, end up losing her life.
What of serious mental challenges that keep us locked in prison, just as our children counterparts? My heart went out to her. I really can’t understand the need to protect a child, even when he dishonors you in so many ways. But as I speak to other parents who are clients, I see that the parental bond, especially the maternal one, is great and very hard to break. The need to keep giving and giving goes deep.
Sometimes I think it is connected to a deep-seated sense of guilt. Maybe somewhere in the parent’s past he or she didn’t do what was expected as a parent, and now guilt rises to the surface forcing her to do what is not only the worst thing to do, but will hurt the child more—dependency.
Maybe his or her own childhood had a play in the process. Maybe he or she did not get the care expected when growing up, and now he wants to make sure he rises to the parental occasion. Who knows? But what is needed is distance and boundaries for the child to grow with strength and to regain honor for him/herself and then to the parent.
Mental illness in children is the hardest thing to face for a parent. I have had clients who would rather chew off an arm than admit to a child being impaired mentally. It could be even something as simple to correct as ADD or ADHD. Still, I could get this stone-faced parents: My kid doesn’t need any medication! Then the child slips into depression because he or she can’t keep up in school, and everyone in the family is hurt.
If you have a child who is showing signs of depression or mental illness, or a loved one (a spouse or someone you live with), this is not something to be afraid to address. It needs to be faced head-on with boldness. Mental illness will ruin a family, a relationship, and a person’s entire life if not taken care of. I’ve seen it happen to too many people. Many end up institutionalized, in jail, or worse, dead.
Sometimes the fix would only have been a $4 antidepressant or medication for ADD that will help a child focus.
Every person in this world is too important to lose to mental illness. If you see it happening in your world, take action. You can help save a life, a relationship and probably an entire family. Act now and save a life!