I remember when mental illness invaded our happy home. It was like an unwanted, obnoxious guest moved in, uninvited and unannounced. That was in 2004, when our last child was entering his senior year in high school. Over the years, it’s been a tumultuous journey with some very low lows, but also significant times of hope and joy as well. A few key practices stand out to me, though, as I look back to see us not only as survivors, but as a family that can thrive even with the presence of this “unwanted guest.” Hopefully others who also have entered into this unplanned-for life can benefit from some practices I’ve found helpful over the years. I’m writing as a parent of someone with mental illness, but I think most of these practices relate whether your loved one is a child, parent, sibling or spouse.
I wouldn’t have chosen this life, but I know I’m a different and better person because of it. I know God more deeply, am more compassionate toward others who have difficulties in life, and hopefully have grown to be a more patient person. Our home is once again a peaceful home, as we’ve all learned to “tame” the uninvited guest.