Early last month, I saw this lovely post linked from a friend’s Facebook page. It got me thinking about my situation, and I decided it would be useful to start a blog that talked openly about mental illness. So here we are, about six weeks later.
Being Sunday, I will focus today on some faith-related observations. I don’t necessarily intend this blog to be focused entirely around faith and my religion in particular, but from time to time I’d very much like to address belief because it is very important to me and how I experience life.
I am of the opinion that my church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has done a nice job bringing some of these more sensitive topics to the attention of the church membership worldwide. The official magazine of our church is called the Ensign, and it comes to homes monthly with lots of wonderful inspiring articles and first-person experiences of how the gospel of Jesus Christ has changed people’s lives. The magazine has featured over the past decade more and more articles that address special situations like how to parent and teach people with disabilities, for instance, and how to tackle the problem of pornography. It has featured articles about mental illness, as well, from the viewpoints of licensed therapists and from those who have struggled with it personally.
So in no way do I think our church has tried to sweep the issue under the rug or act as if it isn’t a challenge to many people. I have definitely enjoyed the articles about mental illness in the official magazine, and I have appreciated books that have been published about the topic that are aimed at the LDS audience.
But I do think that more can be said, more can be done to bring what was once rather a taboo topic out into the open. I’ve already written about how more people seem to understand physical illness, and I liked how this blogger mentioned the same feeling. Our church women are known for providing meals to those who are sick or who have just had babies. We’re great at delivering casseroles. But while I have been given some meals over the years postpartum, I haven’t been provided much sustenance when it’s come to my mental recoveries. I think that there are basically two reasons for that: 1) few people even know when someone’s suffering from mental illness (in general or a bad episode of it) and 2) our society as a whole still just doesn’t talk about it enough so that it’s something people all feel comfortable with. Sure, not everyone is even good about talking about physical illness, shying away from the “C” word, for example, but even so, I think that the more a topic is addressed, the more people can become comfortable with it and the less it will feel like a taboo.
So here I am, again writing these words out in public so they can feel less strange, less taboo, less “other,” less misunderstood. The topic of mental illness is extremely personal to me, and I could continue being very private about how it’s affected me, or I could do what I’m doing now: just speaking out loud. I think this whole blog has that same purpose: to contribute to a conversation, to raise awareness, to increase sensitivity and understanding. I think that in our day we have been blessed with the gift of technology, and if we use it to improve and uplift people’s lives, we will be giving a gift to others.