Monday, April 11, 2016

A Letter to my Mental Illness

Dear Mental Illness,

You don't own me.  I don't belong to you, and I don't really like you all that much.  I know I'm supposed to start a letter with something positive, but with all the turmoil you've caused in my brain and my life, I don't really feel like being nice to you.

You color everything I love, and even the things I don't.  You make my brain so ACTIVE; it's like a radar just circling around and around searching for something to obsess over.  That's the tricky thing about you.  Your paintbrush can swipe over any part of my life at any time.  Sometimes you keep me from focusing on my responsibilities, or you make it extremely difficult for me to feel calm.  You strike fear in me over anything - my relationship with God, my kids, my husband, myself.  Where did you even come from?  I have a great life!  No severe trauma.  A great family.  A strong education.  Healthy kids.  A house.  A dog.  A wonderful husband.  A relationship with Jesus.  So, seriously.  Why did you feel the need to make yourself at home in my brain?!  Couldn't you have just stayed out?

Other people don't understand you.  They make jokes about being "OCD" when they have absolutely no idea what that means.  I don't tell them about you because I'm embarrassed.  I don't want to be known as "mentally ill."  It took me a long time to come to grips with admitting that I even have you in my life.  When my therapist referred to you as a mental illness, I got defensive.  "I do NOT have a mental illness!  I am NOT mentally ill!"  But, you know what?  A mental illness is exactly what you are.  A disease, an affliction.  No matter how hard I try, I cannot control you.

But I can control my attitude about you.  I refuse to let you steal my joy.  I refuse to let you steal my hope.  I will do my BEST to keep you at bay, even though you'll probably always be in my brain somewhere.  You cannot have me.  I don't belong to you.

While your presence in my life has been negative, I can see the good that has come from having you around.  My relationship with God is much deeper than it would be if you were absent.  You've made me beg God for help, and I've experienced Him as my Rescuer.  You've shown me how much I need Jesus to be righteous, because I cannot be righteous on my own.  And I've been able to share what I've learned from you with others to hopefully help them on their own journeys.  You've kept me humble.

I'll be honest - I do pray for you to leave.  What would it be like to live without you always hovering nearby?  To live freely without fear of the irrational?  Without feeling depressed over the fact that I cannot beat you?  Maybe you could just be quiet.  Go to sleep or something.  Hibernate.  Never wake up.

But you're still around.  So far, God's answer to my prayer for you to leave has been no.  But I know that God's grace is sufficient for me in this, even though you seem so huge.  GOD IS BIGGER than you!  You do NOT have power over Him.  He is sovereign and His grace is sufficient for me.  His power is made perfect in my weakness, and I will praise Him for that!  You will NOT have the final word in my life because I belong to Him - not to you!

Choosing to live in hope,


P.S. A word of warning: you would do well to STAY AWAY FROM MY KIDS.  I promise you, I will do everything - EVERYTHING - that I can to keep you out of their lives.