As I’ve documented, I’m truly no expert in any subject. However, I’m constantly fascinated by the concept of gaining knowledge, both academic and non. In those rare moments when life presents a lesson, I write to make it stick.
In the last month, I’ve encountered new demons. While I’ve faced my fair share, those on the front lines have taken quite the beating. But the problem with this beating is I’ve only realized it took place too far down the road. See, the battle with mental illness is, I’ve never noticed it until its right in my face. And even with the increasing proximity, it’s still almost impossible to understand. I’ve seen hundreds of movies with main characters who have a crippling mental illness, and yet I still struggle with my ability to see it in those closest to me. It’s easy to pawn off odd behavior as weird or abnormal. It’s hard to truly observe and comprehend the complex wheelhouse that holds the puppet strings to that odd behavior. My ears have drowned out the sayings of “everyone’s fighting their own battles” and I had only focused on the magnitude of the selfish problems I grappled with (like where to eat for lunch).
But like a wise teacher, life throws you curveballs when you lose sight of what’s important. Robin Williams dies and suddenly, the dominoes cascade with increasing power until your friend calls you with news that she’s in a mental hospital. Like wildfire, the pieces connect, and one by one I started realizing how many of those closest to me fight this same battle every single day. Unlike physical scars, mental problems don’t show very easily. If every time I saw those closest to me, actual scars showed where they were having trouble – I would have reacted. I would have done everything in my power to be there for that person. But with the strength of the taboo of mental illness and the invisible pain pawned off to an “social abnormality”, it takes a keen eye to see reality.
I’m not writing this as a step-by-step guide to help those who are facing these battles. I’m writing to remind myself that there’s more. Just like my hikes into the unknown, where I absorb all nature has to offer me – I must do the same with the humans closest to me.