Hi all! Lovely fall we are all having so far! I’m looking out my window and watching the mist gather around the Wasatch Front. Lots of beauty to be had in the Valley this time of year. I’ve been trying to be more mindful of the picturesque scenery that surrounds us. Autumn is by far my favorite time of year, and fortunately, it looks like we’re even going to get to enjoy a little football even!
I’ve been in an introspective, even pensive place lately. Some of you may have noticed by the nature of a few of my posts. It’s kind of difficult to describe, as I’ve experienced a wide array of emotions for a variety of reasons. I suppose you could say that I’ve felt a lot of gratitude lately, but also some sadness, and some longing. I don’t think that has been unhealthy.
Recently I’ve reflected on some of the people I grew up with and what my perspective was like then as compared to now. I’ve looked back at my first years working with individuals in crisis at the University of Utah and just what I thought I learned from that, despite being fairly young and wet behind the ears. I’ve thought a lot about friends that I’ve had that have had struggle after struggle and just haven’t seemed to catch a break but still find a way to persevere. I’ve also thought a lot about those who didn’t make it. What could their lives have been like if they did?
So what’s my point? If I’ve learned anything in my life, it’s that mental illness touches just about every family, every person, in one way or another. Working in some of the environments I have has taught me a lot about that. It has just helped me see the humanity in all of it, that mental illness doesn’t really doesn’t discriminate, and that most importantly, people are terrified to talk about it. The stigma surrounding it is profound. It causes the people who so desperately need help to stay ill. To not seek treatment. Right now there are people you know who are “suffering in silence”. It is likely.
I’m not saying that I know exactly what to do. I don’t think anyone does. The only real solution that I’m most supportive is to at least have some discussion about it. The homeless man talking to himself is homeless for a reason. The neighbor who never leaves her house does so for a reason. The kid at church using drugs probably has a reason for that too. Those of you who have had held leadership positions in your churches, managerial roles at your jobs, and various other administrative positions probably all know what I’m talking about.
Many people over the years have felt uncomfortable when I’ve brought such subjects up. That would be more of a reflection of the overall issue, being the stigma, than a lack of tact on my part. I post this here because I recognize it is the most important issue in our society that gets by far the least amount of recognition and support, all because of this perception that mental illness is perceived as some sort of weakness or threat. Neither of these things is true, even statistically speaking.
I don’t expect anyone to share their personal story or experience. But I did think it would be worth sharing some thoughts on it. Below is an article worth reading about Wil Wheaton’s story. I firmly believe in the power of sharing and owning one’s story. He does a fantastic job and touches on some really important things. I’m interested in hearing everyone’s feedback. We can all have a tremendous impact by just being kind in the simplest of ways to people who could just use a friend.
You can also donate to NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) through the link below: