It was with these words that I was pulled us short during a conversation with someone who has been diagnosed with, and locked up, a mental health issue.
We were talking about a mutual acquaintance who also has troubles, trials and issues as a result if their mental health situation and they, like many suffer from the ebb and flow of the well-being and stable tides. I made the comment that they were often visibly 'not in a good place' and received a broadside as I was told that whilst mental state was something that wavered it was not the aforementioned passport to madness and neither was it something that granted the right to behave badly or be treaded badly either!
Intrigued I asked them to continue, and goodness me - they did!
'There are days when it just goes wrong and you need people to understand that you need a bit if slack - a smile and bit of encouragement. This says, 'You're human and you're valued, lived, respected and most of all - valid. After all, who wants to be an 'in valid'? There are days when it takes all your energy to leave the house but if you don't then the next day gets harder and the day after harder still until they break down the door and take you to the morgue!'
They went on to tell me how, in their opinion, Mental illness is not permission to behave badly and those who do yet don't have to (for some apparently choose to make it what they choose along with the forced) do others who are mentally ill a great disservice.
If you break a leg then you have to get it mended. If when the break is healed you continue to limp then you limp - that's a fact of life. The same goes for broken minds,
Some days the leg will hurt and you'll limp more - could be you've done too much the day before I ruts cold or damp or so etching - it's the same with a broken mind!
But some people like to make the limp more pronounced and other try hard to look normal. So e will be victims and others will be sufferers, but not even they know which they are sometimes and so we treat the limpets with respect, give them love, support and care.
But not indulgence and that's the problem because the system is over stretched and useless at times and people just see the limp and not the person the broken limb (leg, brain, heart, etc.) is attached to. They become a client or a bloody nuisance - a scrounged or a naughty child who lives to their own desires and dances to their own tunes and uses the limp as the excuse if challenged. But we have control, not always complete but we we do have it most of the time, and so we should live in that reality - not the fiction some choose to pretend is real, not the fiction that the attitudes of those without limps would have you believe consists of 'Pulling yourself together or cheering up,' would bring.
Mental health is like having legs. Some walk without a limp, some with a slight limp, others have days when it is worse and they can hardly walk - some need sticks or wheelchairs every day. The question is:
Do you know that person you see limping?
Do you know their story?
Do you know their needs?
Do you call yourself a Christian?
If you do and you've said 'No' to the first three questions then you need to ask yourself what being a Christian is - because you don't only have a choice as to how you behave and act but you also have commandments and instructions to guide you:
'If anyone has the means to bring relief and sees someone in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in the? How can they call themselves Christian?
Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.'
1 John 3:17-18
I was going to post this on World Mental Health day but reasons: pastoral and personal meant it was better left for another time. Please think about the words and he call within it it to challenge who, how and what is true about you.
Please pray for those with limps and for those who care for them.
Please pray for churches with open doors, arms and hearts.
Please act for justice and support for those who continue with their limps today.