When Someone You Love Has a Mental Illness

Having a mental illness is no fun. It is a struggle, one you did not ask for. It is hard. It is difficult. Sometimes excruciating. Yet, there is only one thing worse: watching someone you love suffer from a mental illness.

When the illness applies to yourself, there is a measure of control that you have over it. You know your limits, you generally know what helps, you know what you are thinking, you have the ability to reach out for help, and you know how you are going to navigate it. When it is someone you love that is suffering, you have absolutely no control. You can’t read their mind, you don’t know what they are thinking. You don’t know what makes it better or worse. And much of the time, they don’t know themselves (particularly children), so they can’t tell you.

Yes, watching someone you love suffer, particularly a child, is torture. There is nothing worse. As I watch a child suffer, all I can think is “Lord, have mercy. Christ have mercy”. Those words repeat in my mind over and over again, like a mantra. And I wait with eager anticipation for the suffering to relieve. Because when someone you love is suffering, all you have is a prayer. And the notion that if you could trade places to relieve the suffering, you would.But you can’t. So you pray. And you wait, hoping that your worst fears will not transpire.

As an individual with Bipolar Disorder, it has taken a lifetime to come to grips with my illness. But if I may say so myself, I am tough. I have been through financial strain, the possibility of losing my home, strained relationships, betrayal, the suicide of a family member, the death of an infant, and so on. I have come out swinging and felt that nothing would win so long as I had God on my side. I have known the possibility of generational inheritance of the disorder, but never quite believed it. There is a 90 percent chance that mental illness  would not be passed down. Pretty reassuring odds.

And as I sit in my living room, I am about to buckle from the emotional strain. I could swoon. Literally. For my worst fears seem to be coming to fruition.

But this is not the end. God is waiting, waiting for my prayers. God and his family of angels and warriors and saints are prepared and ready for battle. It will be a hard one, but we are not without help. There are organizations like NAMI (National Alliance for the Mentally Ill) that support families whose loved ones are affected by mental illness. There are doctors and therapists and structured activity to help alleviate the pain. And there are the prayers of friends and family. There is even a saint, Saint Dymphna, who is the patron saint of psychiatric illnesses. So there is help.

As this is an article about beauty, fashion, and mental health, the tip for the day is when you are at your wits end emotionally, baby yourself. Just get that shower. What you wear or don’t wear (make-up), style or don’t style doesn’t matter. Just do the basics. Just take that shower. The beauty of you heart will shine through and carry you. Sometimes just breathing is hard enough.

As my heart breaks, I look to the Son to heal me. In His arms I find refuge. In his heart I find strength. In His love I find renewal. As I turn to him, I repeat….

“Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy”.


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I am a wife, mother, RN, make-up artist, and musician, who also happens to have a mood disorder. Fortunately, I will not let the latter define me. I am also a survivor of suicide loss. This website is dedicated to my brother, Jefferson Joseph Blanton-Harris ("Joey"). This site is to share thoughts about beauty, fashion, and most of all, mental health. Because fabulousness starts with good mental health! ~"I only want to see you laughing in the Purple Rain" - Prince

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