Sometimes, our hearts just hurt. Its just how we were made. When we hear something or read something, we stop and know that we have been touched by someone else's pain, or maybe its our own pain.
This past weekend my heart ached for Rick and Kay Warren as I read of their son Matt's suicide. They know more than anyone how he suffered for years and years of depression and how as parents they did everything they possibly could to support him, get him treatment and be with him. Sometimes, even when we try to do everything right, it just doesn't work out.
Matt suffered from depression. The problem is that we think depression is not really an illness-that its a mental problem. Depression is both: an illness that produces some physical symptoms, but its also a disease that affects how our brain works at times.
As I ached for the Warren's and how they were hurting and grieving the loss of their precious son, I got mad at how some people spoke up on twitter about his death. Mind you, I don't "tweet" and hopefully I never will. But these tweets were reported on the Yahoo news site.
People, who don't know the Warren's, who don't know their son and what he was going thru, supposed that he was gay and that this was his dad's fault for being so outspoken against gay marriage. Excuse my language, but how the hell do they know? Why would you say something like that? Because you don't like Rick Warren's beliefs? Because you are intimately acquainted with the Warren family? What gives us the right to criticize, comment and pre-suppose what has happened in the midst of this family's worst nightmare?
My heart aches for those suffering from any mental illness. And that's what it is: a mental "illness". There are literally millions in this country alone (not even beginning to know world numbers) that suffer from depression, anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Bi-polar disorder, Multiple personalities, addiction, paranoia and many other diseases that affect our mental faculties. They need as much help as our friends and family that get Stage 4 cancer, who struggle with lupus or RA, who have diabetes or high cholesterol, or a hyper or hypo active thyroid and all the other illnesses that can affect our physical bodies.
I believe we need to take up the cause of mental illness and allow the people who suffer from these often debilitating diseases to not feel ostracized, to not fight the stigma that they are "crazy" everyday. I hope that we as a country and the mental health advocates really fight for us, fight for those suffering. As we read the news of school shootings, every single individual who has brought weapons to a school and used them to kill, have been identified with some sort of mental illness. Were their families fighting for them? Were they able to get them the help they needed? Did they have a support system that could encourage them, pray for them, stand by them in the ugliness of what they endure??
And what about our Veterans? Those young men and women who have returned from fighting in war who have nightmares and post traumatic stress disorder? Did they bring this on themselves? NO, it came as a result of the brutalizing trauma they were part of. They need our help desperately and we are not doing enough to get them the help they need.
I am not afraid to admit, that I have suffered from depression. That my family has had its share of mental illness; that we have needed professional help to make it through, that i know what its like to have someone I love so dearly not want to live. I have watched helplessly when thoughts that make no sense whatsoever to me, pervade almost non-stop in someone I care deeply about To know that the best thing you can do for someone is to help them get the help they need; that we don't need to be ashamed anymore.
If I had diabetes, and needed insulin, I would take it so that my body could process sugars. If I suffered from a mental illness and there was medicine to help me, why would I deny myself the chance to feel better?
As a committed, but still very much learning, follower of Jesus, I am convinced that when sin entered the world, that sickness and death came into play; mental illness, along with physical illness, would play havoc on God's precious children. Maybe I am naive, but I truly believe that all mental illness comes from God's enemy-that he uses that to draw us away from the ONE who loves us so dearly. Often a physical illness will drive a person closer and closer to God-reaching out when they never believed before, wanting to know that there was more to this life than what meets the eye, trying to figure out if there really is an after life and eternity. A physical illness, especially one that can limit our mortality, makes us contemplate if their really is a GOD.
Too often tho, mental illness takes us away from God. It should be no different. Unfortunately, how society has reacted, has made us believe that mental illness affects the crazies; that they brought it on themselves. Just as physical illness and death were never part of God's original plan, neither was mental illness. Sin has brought all this upon us.
God does not want us to suffer alone. He may not choose to heal us, either from our physical or mental maladies, but He promises that He will never leave us or forsake us; He promises that He will be with us always; in the good , the bad and the most traumatic times in our lives. He knows and hasn't forgotten us. That He is our anchor, firm and secure. Even when we feel our life is totally out of control and we don't know how we can even breathe or carry on, He is there-whether we feel Him or not. His Words are completely trustworthy. Even and especially in life's worst moments and tragedies.
I pray that Rick and Kay Warren know this. I am almost 100% positive that they do. My prayer today is that anyone who reads this would begin to re-think how they view mental illness, and to realize that it just affects our bodies in a different way than a physical illness-but that it is an illness.