Earlier this week, I learned a bit of information that changed my past, at least the past as I knew it. This bit of information brought me even closer to my beloved mother and caused me to have an even greater sensitivity and understanding of those in the world with mental illness.
I was chatting with my sister, whose arrival on this earth predates mine by almost 4 1/2 years, and she told me that almost immediately after I was born, my mother fell into a deep depression. It was so severe that she even became suicidal.
As soon as I heard these words, I immediately thought of “Postpartum Depression”, but the year that I was born very few doctors had even heard of this diagnosis. As a result, my mother ended up in a mental institution and I ended up without my mother for a time.
The stigma and shame attached to mental illness at the time was much greater than it is today and the institutions and treatment methods available were immature and crude. The thought of my sweet mother being stuck in one of those places and not getting the help that she so desperately needed broke my heart.
It was particularly frustrating for me since my mother has been gone now for several years and there is nothing I can do to change what happened to her or comfort her after the fact.
As I continued to think about the time my mother spent in this institution, my thoughts drifted to her fellow patients. It occurred to me that all of these patients were someone’s mother, father, sister, brother or child.
My thoughts fast-forwarded to present day. While the stigma associated with mental illness has lessened, it still exists. Many of these patients are ostracized and even blamed for their own illnesses.
Everyone we meet is usually struggling with some type of inner turmoil and many are battling some form of mental illness. These individuals are someone’s mother, father, sister, brother or child. They are our Heavenly Father’s children and our brothers and sisters. They need our love, patience and understanding.
So earlier this week a bit of information changed the past as I know it. Now, it is my hope and prayer that it will also change the future as I strive to be a little kinder, a little more sensitive and a little more compassionate to everyone I meet.