Not a Day Promised

Battling mental illness through education and resources. "Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance." Proverbs 1:5

Saturday, February 21, 2015

"I couldn't see healing."

by Julie Brooks

It has been 30 plus years since I was in nursing school and earned my BSN. I look back at my Psyche rotation at the Waco VA Hospital. We were in a locked ward, given a key and told to guard it with our lives.

It was a hard rotation for me, one of my least favorites; I think partly because I couldn't see healing. These precious people where children of God, yet society didn't value them because of their extreme mental illness.

Fast forward 30 years, after loosing an 18-year old son to suicide at the prime of his life (unstable bipolar), navigating and praying another son through his bipolar, seeking daily to know which meds may need to be tweaked, homeschool challenges, calls from many hurting people that either care for mentally ill loved one or are mentally ill themselves; seeking solice. 

It all reminds me that God is not into perfection.  If He were, He would have made us all perfect to begin with. And if He made us all perfect at the start, why would we need Him or His present day miracles and answers to prayers? 

Oh, how I view things differently today! If I went back into nursing, would I choose what was once my least favorite area of nursing, Psychiatric nursing? I think so. (God has a way of changing our hearts through life circumstances.)

But, don't worry, you don't have to be a nurse, counselor, Psychologist or Psychiatrist to be used by the Lord in coming along side those hurting with mental illness. 

As an example, there's an organization Todd and I are associated with; Mental Health Grace Alliance, based out of Waco, Texas. We've come to trust deeply in them for their knowledge, their personal experience with mental health issues, their encouragement, and most important to us, the educational resources and curriculum they've written, designed to be led by the layperson, not the paid professional. 

We use their curriculum to lead a support group (Family Grace Group) at our church, for individuals that directly care for family or close friends with a mental illness. MHGA has also written layperson-led curriculum (Living Grace Group) for the individual struggling with the mental illness. Click on the RESOURCES tab in this blog, or click HERE for more information and a direct link to MHGA.

If you're not motivated to lead a support group, I invite you to be an encourager to those who may just need a smile. A simple, "Tell me how you are doing today?," can sometimes shift chemicals in the brain resulting in a much needed and refreshing mood change for the stricken. 

You can make a difference; you can change a life. God gave us all ears to listen, a mouth to speak, eyes to show understanding and lips to smile with. Ask the Lord to give you the "want to," the willingness to want to help.

Be mindful of your words. Words can create stigma. Even when you make a joke or speak in jest, your words can be received/perceived quite differently by the individual that suffers from bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, OCD, ADD, etc.

You may say something meant with no ill intent, something off-the-cuff, spur of the moment, directed in jest; i.e., "those people are crazy," "don't hang around the Cray Cray," "that guy is a psycho." Trust me when I tell you that such words serve only to drive the wounded deeper into despair and even further from asking for help. 

Turn this situation around. If you were speaking to someone enduring chemotherapy, would you make jokes or say things in jest about cancer patients? No. You would monitor your words more carefully, knowing that such words don't lift up but tear down. With His help and purposeful practice, we can all become encouragers instead.

God has given me a passion for the mentally ill. I live it 24/7. I once asked Him to break my heart for what breaks His, and I am so very thankful God has taught me much through pain.

Ask God for the "want to." If you don't know my God, just contact me...we are building an Army to help those struggling in silence. As I have said, I will not give up until I am Heaven bound. I am currently reading THE CIRCLE MAKER by Mark Batterson. I AM drawing circles and so encouraged!

Julie Brooks R.N.
Warriorette in God's Great Endeavor to build His Mental Health Army