“So … I lost my second son last week. The first was lost to an avalanche, the second to suicide. Nathaniel had struggled with depression the majority of members of his life. He was 33 years old. I’m not posting this because I’m looking for compassion. I’m actually looking for something else.
I know this might seem strange to someone who has never had to deal with a mentally ill person before, but I have been mourning Nate’s loss for two decades now and I have finished the process. There had been so many suicide tries, so many bloody traumas, and so many failed endeavours to get him help, that I had already resigned myself to this possibility.
At first, his depression was accompanied by rebellion but after all the damage had been done, Nate came to me one day and said,’ I’m sorry, Dad. I’ve dug such a deep pit for myself and I don’t know how I can ever recover.’ He was contrite and endearing and we were able to talk about deeper things although there is the brood remained. Then, he met a young woman and got married. A newborn was carry in early December and they were both very happy. Baby Max appeared just like Nate and my son abruptly seemed full of hope.
But the rejoice lasted merely a month. In early January, Max went to sleep and never woke up. When they found the newborn, his lips were blue and there was nothing anyone could do. The newborn was only 36 days old and Nate fell into his final bout of depression.
So here’s what I truly want to say about mental illness…
If a child is carry with a hole in her nerve, everyone in our society was a response the same way. We would all say,’ Oh, that’s so sad! Is there something we can do? ’ No one would ever wag his head at “their childrens” or the parents and say,’ You must have done something wrong! ’ We would all offer sympathy rather than ignorant censure. But when a child is endure with a chemical imbalance or a genetic predisposition towards mental illness, that child and his/ her mothers can look forward to a lifetime of reproach and blame from a society that is truly clueless about the specific characteristics of the problem.
What we need to understand is that the brain is just an organ. It may be the most complicated organ in the body, but it is still just a mass of biological material that is susceptible to disease just like a liver or a lung or a pancreas. The reality that our culture offers sympathy to a patient with a damaged nerve but wags its collective chief at a patient with a injury brain suggests that “weve been” never left the dark ages when it comes to our understanding of mental illness.
I have to confess that at first, I was just as guilty of this ignorance. I was raised in a happy household with happy parents. There was no mental illness. There were no addictive personalities. I was altogether clueless and unprepared for the trauma that awaited me after I married into a family with an alcoholic history. My mother-in-law was also bi-polar and later psychotic and it never even resulted to me that any of their own children might inherit a genetic predilection. When the illness first demonstrated itself in Nate, he was about 13 years old. It just looked like immaturity to me. I would get angry at him but that didn’t project. I would try to reason with him but that didn’t study. We eventually brought him to[ counselors] but that didn’t job either. Nothing seemed to work. It is the most awful thing in countries around the world to watch small children spiraling down into emotional oblivion and be unable to do anything about it. I dislike powerlessness. I detest it more than anything else.
But all this was followed by pals and acquaintances wagging their brains and saying,’ You must have done something wrong.’ I was astonished by the eagerness with which people arrived at this conclusion. And yet, I was there every day for my kids. I greeted them when they got home from school, helped them with their homework, took them to my art presents, cheered them on at their sporting events. We constructed Lego spaceships and told grizzly bear narratives and went on scavenger huntings. I sang them to sleep at night with my guitar. I did everything my mothers did when they raised me but the results were very different and … demoralizing.
So, if there is a lesson in all of this, perhaps it could be summed up with one word: Grace. When you assure person suffering[ from] mental illness or you assure mothers trying their best to deal with a child who is suffering, please don’t wag your chiefs. Please don’t automatically assume that some evil has been committed. Just offer them grace. It won’t fix the fundamental problem, but it goes to show the kind of tendernes and solidarity that is so often missing in national societies that only doesn’t understand.”
** This story was written by Will Kautz and originally appeared on his Facebook page. Buy his volume Winter’s Grace( How Anguish and Intimacy Transform the Soul ) on Amazon. All earnings go to the Snug Harbor Foundation which cares for vulnerable people in crisis .</ strong>
If you or someone you know is thinking about harming yourself/ themselves or attempting suicide, reach out to someone who can help right away. Call the toll-free, 24 -hour hotline of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK to be connected to a qualified adviser at a suicide crisis centre nearest you .</ em ></ strong>