Yesterday, a local teenager went to school and shot himself in his home room class. As I write this, he is in critical condition. I have to wonder as heart broken as I am, what is wrong in his life that this seemed like the only option. I don't have to wonder very hard because I have been there at that crossroads before. I think many have. My heart aches for him and his family and friends. I pray that he gets better and the help that he so desperately needs. I sat there watching the news crying, not because I know him, but because I am a mother. Because at one time I was so very close to being just like him. Because there are so many who are like him and feel trapped and alone.
I was asked once why do I write about about mental illness. This is why. I believe that honesty is the only way to help others. I don't just put myself out there because I like to hear myself type, I truly believe that if we stand up and say, "I have mental illness", we are saving others. We are showing them it is ok to suffer from mental illness.That we can have good decent lives. We are not doomed to live in caves or asylums drooling on ourselves and banging our heads on the walls. That we are not dirty, shameful, dangerous creatures. We are like everyone else and we don't have to suffer in silence. There is help. I truly believe that we are doing the best thing that can be done. We are shining our lights on the stigma. We are shining lights on the pain and suffering. We are guiding those that need us, to an enlightened truth. We are worthy and strong individuals. That there is a possibility of a different tomorrow.
There are so many ways to get help today. There are websites, communities, phone lines, doctors, hospitals, blogs, online references, organizations, and charities. There are movies and t.v. shows. Mental illness is no longer the dirty little secret, because we as those that suffer from it, are not going to allow it to be anymore. There is nothing to be ashamed of. There is nothing to hide from. We are so many and we deserve to be heard.
I was reading on TMZ that a famous actress was going to treatment for bipolar. I scrolled down to the comments and I was flabbergasted. Out of the twelve comments, only two were negative. The rest were supportive and understanding. I was so proud. Not because I had anything to do with their opinions. None of them have read my blog or even know I exist. I was proud because through all the hard work of those that suffer from mental illness and their organizations, people have listened and learned. It is a beautiful thing.
So, when I say we can change the world, I mean it. If we all stand up and are honest, people will learn. People suffering will get better.We can offer them hope when they are at the crossroads because we have stood where they stand. We have had to make a choice and we can help them to see the right one. We can offer something that others can not, promise. Promise because we are proof that there is a better path. That the fight is worth fighting. That we can and do live productive and meaningful lives. That we can still be what we want and we can fulfill our dreams. That we matter.
Promise of a future is what we offer to others. Will life be easy? No, but it will be worth the struggle. Will it be everything a person could want? It will be whatever we choose for it to be. Will it be different than normal people's future? Probably, but isn't different an amazingly beautiful thing?
We stand united. We stand for what is right. We stand at the crossroads and we are choosing. We choose for ourselves but also for others. We are going to be the examples of mental illness the world needs. Examples of strength. Examples of wisdom. Examples of kindness and compassion. Most of all, we are examples of honesty and hope.