What role do relationships play in mental illness?

What would a discussion about relationships be without spending a few minutes underlying their importance on controlling mental illness?

Well, it wouldn’t be consistent with me being me, would it?

I was visiting with my Dad a few days ago. As is the norm, he expressed concern and interest in how Ann and I are weathering the storm.clouds2

I thought about it and realized that it didn’t really feel like there was a storm at the moment.

Let me clarify:

(Source: LDS Media Library)

My nutso symptoms have actually been ramping up a bit over the last month. This discourages us a little; we would certainly rather that things were going the other direction.

In fact, I’ve had several days in the last couple of weeks where things have hit the screamer/madness stage again, and I’ve had to just hold on. The number of episodes has increased.

One day about a week ago was particularly hard. I was determined to make it to the end of the day and still be here kicking. It was about all I did, but I made it.personinpain

I was incredibly tired – physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Kneeling at my bedside I just kept shaking my head. I couldn’t form clear thoughts to try to communicate with Heaven.

Finally, I just cried out “Father, I can’t focus enough to enumerate our blessings, or express appropriate gratitude for how good I know that our life is.”

Well, I’m not sure it was that eloquent, but that was the gist of what my scrambled thoughts was trying to convey.

“Father, I just need to BE grateful for now. I just need to BE quiet and let the flood of gratitude wash over me.”

Again, that was more concise than what was communicated, but my heart was sending the message.

It was only a moment, but quietly and clearly these words came to my mind: “BE still and KNOW that I am God.”sunlight

And thankfully I was.

What role does our relationship with God play in controlling mental illness?

(Source: LDS Media Library)

I know that I wouldn’t still be here without it.

This memory took less than a second to play out in my mind as I tried to convey to my Dad that we are doing okay.

Even though it really isn’t okay, it IS okay.

But that isn’t the only relationship that is critical in managing this mental zoo we call my mind.

I started to tell my Dad about how things were going now that Ann and I are empty nesters.  2000_171I think everyone knows that we have loved more than we can ever express sharing our home with our children. They are more than that; they are our friends, our examples, our joy. Each phase of life with them has just continued to be even better than the last. We look back on our memories with happiness.

As it should be.

But this just being the two of us is every bit as great! We are kind of joined at the hip when Ann gets home in the evenings and on the weekends. There has been a special strengthening of a bond that I thought was granite tough already.

For example, the other night I was making dinner. Or I was trying to.

I missed a pretty critical part of the recipe, only to have Ann ask me about it when she walked through the door. She noticed some blood around and asked if I had cut myself. In my rush to grate the squash several of my fingers made contact. Being on blood thinners, this always concerns her a bit. After taking the pan out of the oven to check it, I forgot that it was hot and grabbed it to return it to the oven. The instinct to let go took a little too long.washing dishes

On top of that, I hadn’t done the prep dishes yet. I always try to get all of that done before she walks in so things are calm and peaceful after her long day at work.

Kind of a disaster actually.

But Ann just changed her clothes and came out and started to fill the sink with water. She began to wash and I took up my regular position with a towel, taking each dish as she handed it to me.

You know, I think that many couples would have been silent, feeling tension with the other one, and in a way trying to punish the other for perceived criticisms and mistakes.

But we just chatted comfortably while doing what needed to be done.

I searched for a word to let my Dad know that things were good at home. I think I found it.


Our life is tranquil.

What role does our relationship with our family play in managing mental illness?

All the difference in the world.

The symptoms of being bipolar, or OCD, or psychotic, or whatever special brand of this magic that you may be experiencing, create anxiety, inner explosions, and yes, madness.

Our critical relationships take a lot of the wind out of the crazy boat’s sails and, instead, bring calming breezes that gently keep pushing us along.

It doesn’t matter which side of the road you are on; the mentally ill, or the caregiver of the mentally ill.

Selfishness will destroy both of you; selflessness with save you.

What’s it going to take for you to feel that tranquility that keeps our sanity in check?hand shake

Check your relationships. It’s a pretty good place to start.


One thought on “What role do relationships play in mental illness?”

  1. “Be still my soul”…is a tender mercy for me too and always has a way of bringing me back to a place of peace. Thank you for sharing your tranquil moments. They help us all!

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