Sometimes life sucker-punches you, and you lose a tooth or two.
I’ve wavered back and forth on whether or not I should write this post for a number of reasons. But I think, in the end, that to not admit we’re broken is akin to blaspheming the Holy Spirit. We’re humans, each and every last one of us. And someday (sooner rather than later), our bodies will betray us.
Now that I have that out of the way. . .
My brother has been suffering for quite some time under some fairly severe psychological pressures. None of us knew how severe until a few weeks ago, when we found him in his apartment. He’d suffered a full-blown psychotic break that landed in the ER, then a locked hospital ward for the past 17 days.
He was probably a day away from not being alive. He hadn’t slept in over a week. Hadn’t eaten either. He was driving down the wrong side of the road, hallucinating, and suffering from bizarre delusions.
It’s strange. You think of mental illness as some sort of plague or demonic thing until someone you love and know experiences it.
Then you see it’s not at all how you thought it was.
My brother’s still here. Every bit of him. He’s not crazy. He just believes things that aren’t true right now.
It’s not “all in his mind.” It’s a real, physical illness, with real, physical causes. Like a broken femur, he’s got a broken brain, and it’s just in need of some TLC, medication, and rest.
Thank God, we expect him to make a full recovery. But it’s going to be a long road to recovery.
Since being admitted to the hospital, he’s been diagnosed for the first time with bipolar mood disorder. It makes sense of the last few decades. It also grieves me that he’s been suffering alone for so long.
I didn’t know this, but apparently it’s quite common for bipolar mood disorder to throw someone into a state of psychosis during a manic high.
No, he’s not violent. He’s a kind, tender-hearted man who loves deeply and has kept his struggles largely to himself because he felt incapable of opening his wounds to others.
Statistics say that 18.2% of the total adult population in the United States suffers from some mental illness every year. Likely the actual number is higher (when including undiagnosed cases).
That’s either 1 in every 5 people, or as high as 1 in every 4 people in the US.
Based on those statistics, we can be pretty confident that some of the people reading this post are suffering silently right now.
That breaks my heart.
What if 1 in 4 people was walking around with a broken wrist, untreated for fear of others looking down on them?
On a trip to see my brother while he’s been in the hospital, I saw a group of people downtown walking for “Mental Illness Awareness,” bearing signs that said, “Abandon the Stigma.”
So often, when we encounter people we don’t understand, we de-humanize, or worse, demonize them. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done that, or seen fellow Christians do that.
Now I realize that Jesus would be ashamed of us.
Mental illness is nothing to be embarrassed about. Not anymore than wearing a cast on your leg.
I’m proud to be my brother’s brother. I love him. And love demands that I walk through this painful period with him. Between a full-time job, having an infant daughter and wife to spend time with, and being with my brother and supporting my parents, I’ve had neither the time nor the interest to keep up a public façade, to keep pumping out blogs and working on writing projects.
When real life hits hard, you shift to focusing on what’s most central to your existence. Namely, God and your family. So that’s what I’ve been doing. That’s why I haven’t been blogging.
I still plan on releasing my next full-length novel either the end of September or early October. I’ve got quite a lot of content already created, and I’m excited to share it.
But to close out the post. . .
It’s not my brother’s fault that he’s suffered.
It’s not your fault you’re suffering.
As uncomfortable as it can be, we all need to rely on the grace that God and other people freely offer. The Golden Rule really is golden.
If you want grace, give it. Because I guarantee you, you can’t live life without it.
Be blessed today. Walk in the peace of God, which transcends understanding, by resting in his good gifts and resigning yourself to thanksgiving and praise. And thanks for reading!