I still remember the day in eighth grade I asked my dad, “When will I stop being sad?”. He told me that it gets better, reminding me that those who truly know suffering are the ones who feel happiness at its greatest. I agree.
Well, today I am sad, but it’s the good kind of sad. I am interrupting my paper-writing to pause and reflect. I sometimes get this need to grieve for the loss of my mother, the woman who visits now and again but seems lost to her insatiable mental illness. At this point, I just want her to be happy, but I am powerless to help. The other day I realized that fighting mental illness is like fighting cancer. It can get better, you can feel hopeful; it can seemingly go away, it might come back, it might not come back; it might follow you to the grave. But mental illness is not like cancer in the respect that your neighbor won’t often help you with words of support or acts of kindness. Psychiatric disorders are somehow shameful, and nobody wants to ask for help. It is a very rare type of person who willingly aids the mentally ill, and for all of you beautiful individuals who have helped my mother in her struggles, I wish I could thank you a thousand times over. You give me hope for humanity.
I finally see now that you cannot save someone you love from drowning if he/she won’t stop swimming. You got to let go and trust that life will work itself out. In this very moment, my mom is in Michigan and plans to leave to California before she stabilizes on an appropriate medication regiment. In this very moment, my dad, brother, and sister-in-law are sorting through my mom’s things, setting aside sentimental items for storage, but mostly giving everything away through Craigslist and Goodwill. My mom seems happy now, at least that’s what her texts suggest. She’s finally looking to the future instead of the past, and I completely respect her for that. I understand now why parents struggle with letting their children go off and become adults on their own. It’s a scary thought. I worry about my mom taking care of herself. I keep trying to remind myself that she is the strongest person I know (if there’s an apocalypse, my mom would likely be the last one on Earth standing). But still. It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to grieve. Allowing your mind to feel and accept your emotions is the best way to let them go. It’s the best way to find my own kind of happiness.
[[For anyone who sympathizes with mental health concerns, please just TALK about mental illness. Talk about how it’s okay to struggle with your mind, your emotions, your comprehension, your perceptions. There are too many individuals suffering from different types of mental illnesses, and we need to take action to change the landscape of mental health in today’s society. Otherwise, I would keep my personal life to myself.]]