Mental Illness – In Clouds of Darkness, Light Will Appear

Life is the Greatest Teacher

Mortality is an interesting place.  Human life is so precious.  The mind is a powerful force.

When we are sick with a physical ilment, it is easy to know that a doctor or other trained medical professional can help us become well again.  Even some of the most horrible diseases, a specialist can help diagnose.  How many gofundme campaign’s are available online to help someone with the financial burden placed upon a family in these circumstances?  Fundraisers begin, community prayers are said and support is given in these times of terrible trials in this phsyical world.  I am so grateful to see the goodness of humanity reaching out to others in need.

Yet, there is as sickness that isn’t so easily understood, but just as real.  The mind is a powerful force.  It has led men and women to create, invent, overcome, explore in ways that are hard to comprehend.  The mind can also be sick, broken with cracks within.  Broken pieces or problems in the brain are harder to spot then a broken arm or a ravaging disease.  It too needs attention, doctors, therapist, support, finance, yet most who suffer, sit in quiet spaces of despair.

I have struggled for many years with a child who suffers from a mental illness.  Even that word alone carries such a negative connotation.  Some think it isn’t real.  That if we muscle through it, we can overcome it on our own.  Yet, if our child or ourselves were suffering from diabetes or cancer would we just not seek help?  Of course not, the lifesaving treatment of insulin or chemotherapy can mean life or death for someone facing such a physical illness.

I have tried to seek answers on my own for years to find answers to help my family.  The impressions seem to come so very quietly, leading and guiding me in a way that is hard to fully understand at times, but the nudges come nonetheless.  The voice of hope tends to fall off the path and hopelessness and fear of the future settles itself inside the corners of my mind.

As I experienced, most recently, that emotion of despair, hopelessness with a heavy dose of just giving up, I looked out the window.  I saw clouds completely covering the sky, yet there was a small pocket in the middle of the clouds where the sky was clear.  As I pondered on what I was seeing and feeling, I almost imagined that the Savior would come through that little opening.  I know the Lord’s spirit was trying to get me to see me through this dark moment.

 

Wise Words from Harry Potter

I recently felt impressed to do a 24 hour makeover of my son’s bedroom while he was away.  I felt inspired that a quote needed to be above his head at all times and that I should illuminate it with lights.  No one quite saw my vision but it was clear to me.  It now is the first thing my son sees every morning when he wakes up and the last thing he sees when he goes to sleep.  It is from Harry Potter and it says, “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

That was what the Lord was trying to impress upon my troubled mind while staring out the window, “happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times.”  Sure enough a few minutes later there were less and less clouds and more and more clarity.  Isn’t that how life works?

This is the test of mortality to see if we will continue to just put one foot in front of the other.  “If one only remembers to turn on the light” and turn to the Savior.  There were two songs that kept coming to my mind as I struggled out of my dark whole of hopelessness.  One said “there is peace in Christ” so simple but so true.  The darkness can come on suddenly and powerfully, yet if we look to God in humble prayer or sometimes even in doubt that he is even listening, the peace will eventually come even if more tears than you can count were streaming down your face in the process.

Windows can be Doorways into Heaven

One day while I was returning from picking up my kids from school, I pulled into the driveway and was struck by what I saw in my living room window.  Do you see it?

Maybe this picture will bring it into clarity.

 

 

I was blown away but what I saw and what I was feeling.  An overwhelming love that the Savior has for me and my son came to my heart.  He is the peace that will bring light into our life.  Even his painting shows the true light even in a darkened room!  What a visual reminder to me that there is peace and hope in Christ as the song “Peace in Christ” says…

“He gives us hope
When hope is gone
He gives us strength
When we can’t go on
He gives us shelter
In the storms of life
When there’s no peace in earth
There is peace in Christ.”

Hold On, the Light Will Come

The other song is called “Hold On.”  My sister and I sang it many times growing up.  The words are powerful and I feel shine a light on what I was feeling regarding the struggles of my son.

“The message of this moment is so clear
And as certain as the rising of the sun
If your world is filled with darkness, doubt, and fear
Just hold on, hold on, the light will come
Everyone who’s ever tried and failed
Stands much taller when the victory’s won
And those who’ve been in darkness for a while
Kneel much longer when the light has come

It’s a message every one of us must learn
That the answers never come without a fight
And when it seems you’ve struggled far too long
Just hold on, hold on, there will be light

Hold on, hold on, the light will come
If you feel trapped inside a never-ending night
If you’ve forgotten how it feels to feel the light
If your half-crazy, thinking you’re the only one
Who’s afraid the light will never really come
Just hold on, hold on, the light will come

The message of this moment is so clear
And as certain as the rising of the sun
If your world is filled with darkness, doubt, and fear
Just hold on, hold on, the light will come.”

That is my hope to just “hold on” and believe that the “light will come.”  That light spells hope.  Hope in the future that our family can heal, that my son can receive the help that comes as we fight for his freedom from his illness.  Just as a cancer patient, must fight for their life to win the battle, he must fight.  It might look different, but the support, love and concern that you would give to someone fighting cancer, is also needed for many hurting souls that sit weeping in the darkness both the one with the illness and those living within the same walls.

Like a Broken Vessel

This is something that society at large has not fully been able to understand.  I found this excellent video that gives me great hope.  This website also is full of information to help as well.  Go to www.mentalhealth.lds.org.  There are great resources for those suffering with mental illness as well as help for family and friends of those struggling.

In the end, if there was no Christ, then yes the darkness would set in and over power us.  Hope would cease to exist.  What a glorious truth to know that isn’t the case.  I have had many experiences in life that have taught me this lesson over and over again.  There is a clear message to me that the Lord has been preparing me for and it is this truth.

Here is an excerpt from my journal about an experience I had in October of last year, maybe one day I will share the full details.  For my purpose here, I share a few thoughts that I recorded while pondering upon why I had a feeling of utter darkness and despair, then entering in the temple and feeling a rush of light and peace.

“A thought came to my mind as if the Lord had spoken and said, ‘so you could know the difference between light and darkness.’ I knew he wasn’t only talking about physical light and darkness like a light switch or the sun, but that of good and evil. I thought, I already knew that lesson from many other experiences in my life, but the Lord wanted to impress it upon my mind yet again.”  I have come to realize just today that the other side of this lesson is the difference between mental health and mental illness.  That feeling of light and darkness is very real in the minds of those whose experience a mental illness.

Then the next day was General Conference and Elder Rasband spoke the answers I was seeking when he said, “‘My disciples shall stand in holy places, and shall not be moved…’ These sacred places in the kingdom of God on earth call for our reverence, our respect for others, our best selves in living the gospel, and our hopes to lay aside our fears and seek the healing power of Jesus Christ through His Atonement.”

He continued, “There is no room for fear in these holy places of God or in the hearts of His children. Why? Because of love. God loves us—always—and we love Him. Our love of God counters all fears, and His love abounds in holy places. In contrast, when we stand in holy places, we can feel God’s love, and ‘perfect love casteth out all fear.”

He isn’t saying that it will be all rosy and happy all the time, but fear can be cast off and be replaced with hope.  That is what I have to cling too, there is no other way.

Regarding that window, here is the last moment that I starred out the window.  It wasn’t totally clear, but there was a lot more clarity than before, I think this is where we are right now, trying to find the answer and get the help necessary to find that peace of mind.

There is hope after the storm and although we are still in the storming portion, I can have faith that better days are yet to come and as I “turn on the light” I can weather the storms today with my heart full of love for my son and hope in my Father’s perfect son, Jesus Christ.

 

Mortality is an interesting place, but with an eternal perspective we can learn and grow.  Human life is so precious and must be fought for.  The mind is a powerful force and can be used for much good as we seek help both professionally and spiritually.  May your heart be filled with his peace as mine has been today as we press forward with faith, believing in good things to come.