Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Making Mental Illness Old News

Two and a half years ago I wrote a post in honor of my brother, who lives every day with schizophrenia. I am so proud, so thankful, to tell you that he is still doing well and living a full and productive life. His symptoms are not gone, but he manages them with incredible maturity and gentleness, even in moments when they nearly knock him flat.

This Saturday, I will join my friends from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), to walk along the shores of Lake Washington in celebration of stories like my brother's. In celebration of recovery, of small victories that come in a finally-perfectly-dosed medication, a therapist who answered the phone at just the right moment, of a community that believes that people can not just survive mental illness, but miraculously, thrive in its midst, and in celebration of progress toward the day when mental illness will be old news. And we will walk in face of the suffering, too. The relentless paranoia, the bone-crushing depression, the whirling, swirling thoughts that threaten to steal all the good days away.

About a year ago, we had a big ultrasound visit during my sixth month of pregnancy, and I burst into tears when our baby's tiny brain flickered across the grainy screen, all the little blotches adding up to a new life. I remember praying fierce prayers, "God, keep this baby's brain healthy!" It was the first moment I felt like a mom--longing so much to be able to protect my kid from sucker punches like mental illness. That ultrasound reminded me that mental illness is a part of my family's story, which means it will be part of my son's story too. It made me want to stand up and fight.

I know I'm bit of a fundraising machine these days--and I know there are a lot of great causes to pick from, which is a good problem to have. Mental illness is not a sexy cause. It can ravage relationships and threaten to destroy a young person's best years...or an old person's final years. It can be very, very ugly. But if you can reach into your pockets, I will reach into mine, and together we can support the work of an organization dedicated to caring for people in their most vulnerable moments. NAMI offered practical tools and emotional support for my family in an overwhelming season of life, and I know NAMI will be at the ready for families like mine for years to come.

Please visit my fundraising page if you'd like to contribute, and thanks for believing in the hope that one day mental illness will be old news!


The Ingrams said...

SO proud of you Holly!

Anonymous said...

What a powerful message of your brother's success story and your experience as a mom! Such eloquence and beautiful truth. WOW.

loverstreet said...

Holly, thanks for sharing this and for being a source of love and support for your brother.