I was encouraged to see people sharing about their own mental health challenges yesterday. It took vulnerability. The conversation, I believe, is good. And one that I hope continues.
Which is why I want to talk about the mental health issues that are difficult to hide- the ones that impact many of our community members at The Dale. The reality is that some diagnoses diminish ones capacity to keep it hidden and struggle in silence. If you talk to people who no one else can see or believe that everyone is out to get you AND spend close to all of your time outside because that’s where you live, it becomes difficult to keep your challenges a secret. And that is just one example of what I mean.
I have a friend who has schizophrenia. He is acutely self-aware and not scared to talk about it. He travels all over the city and is easily spotted shovelling out gutters (he likes to help) and handing out slips of paper that describe his issues. I am often astounded by his generosity and ability to pray. I watch people retract from him, who cross the street to avoid making eye contact. I understand the impulse to react this way. It also pains me. I am witness to the ways in which his health improves the more he interacts with people who listen to and love him, no matter what.
My hope and prayer is that as society becomes more accepting of the reality of mental health issues, it will also enfold those who have been pushed to the margins. We all have a story. We share a common humanity. Let’s keep the conversation going.