Thank you, Kari Ann. You speak so eloquently for yourself and others with mental illness.
My son was diagnosed at age seventeen with bipolar/borderline personality disorder. It did not surprise him or me, or really anyone who knew him well.
When a child is diagnosed with diabetes, autism, or (God forbid) cancer, family, friends, society as a whole, responds with loving compassion and empathy. How can we help? Oh no, your poor child!
When your child is diagnosed with a mental illness, if you tell anyone, the response is different. Yet you have just discovered your child has an incurable, often dihibilitating, possibly fatal, condition. There will be no fundraisers, no t-shirts made, no walks for support. Close friends and some family members may express concern, offer sympathy. Others withdraw, wonder what you did wrong, think less of you and your child.
They can’t understand. My child is amazing. Yes, he has raged, and there are scars to show for it, holes in walls and injuries to himself. There were billions of tears shed, by him, and me, as he fought depression and thoughts of suicide. He has wounded me with his words, and broke my heart a million times, but he never meant to do it. He is also the most compassionate, most loving, most loyal soul. And he is talented, can mimic hilariously, and tell stories that leave you howling with laughter. And he is braver than almost anyone I know, living in a world that doesn’t welcome him and fighting battles daily that few acknowledge or understand.
When he was just a child he wrote a letter, to apologise for raging at me. He said, “ I’ll never be the child you want.” He was wrong. He has and will always be, exactly the child I want, and love with all my heart.