Mental Health Awareness Month: Living With the Unknowing

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

I’m all too aware of issues of mental health. The particular issues that we face seem to fall into the no man’s land category.

Early on I sought advice from law enforcement, psychologist, and mental health authorities. Police and psychologist have advised me to get my daughter/granddaughter out of the state, get a dog, or buy a gun.

Even the experts from NAMI (National Association Mental Illness) can’t offer advice on how to deal with a person who has the potential to act out violently.

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The reality is that there is little to nothing that I can do about this situation. The only real control I have is over my thoughts and feelings.

This story is about finding my way through the uncharted waters created by a certain person in my life. I’m sure you know who I’m talking about.

https://laurel-45368.medium.com/mental-health-awareness-month-living-with-the-unknowing-8987110fa48c

Driving by my daughter’s one evening, I noticed that there were no lights on in her house. Her place is usually lit up like a Christmas tree. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to sleep until I knew that she was safe. So we turned the car around and drove to her house. With trepidation, I walked to her bedroom and peeked in the door. Relief washed over me when I saw her blanket moving up and down along with her breath.

This is nothing new. I have been living with this fear for over five years now.

Smashing phones because they are tracking devices used by government agencies to follow them, taking computers apart because they are compromised, reporting spy cameras in the workplace ceilings to management, and contacting various official agencies to report conspiracies are not uncommon among some people with a mental illness.

On an even darker side, they can believe that a random stranger sitting across the way in a crowded restaurant, or an unknown resident in the neighborhood is plotting to kill them.

When a person believes that these things are true, no amount of reasoning can convince them otherwise. It would be like me telling you that your leg is broken when you know that it isn’t true. You would, rightly so, look at me like I was delusional.

The irony that this person and I are both paranoid isn’t lost on me. I have read that caretakers and relatives can be at risk when the individual’s paranoia leads them to believe that they are under the threat of physical harm and decide to strike first to eliminate the threat. This person is often angry with me, and my loved ones, for no apparent reason.

Most people living with a mental illness don’t hurt others. All too often they hurt themselves when their suffering becomes overwhelming. But most of them don’t hear voices that tell them to buy a gun. And even though the gun was eventually returned, for me, the purchase of it was a game-changer. This event has left me with a nagging feeling that resides in the back of my mind and never totally goes away.

Years ago, when I was first faced with this situation, I was an emotional wreck. My childhood PTSD returned and I found myself jumping out of my skin at loud noises. I knew that the feelings of fear and anger were having a damaging effect on my body, but I was unable to let go of the thoughts.

Finally, one night going to sleep with my bedroom door locked and a can of pepper spray by my bed, I remembered what qigong master and teacher Chunyi Lin said about equanimity. I took a deep breath and said, “Well, if I’m killed in my sleep tonight that’s okay. If I’m not killed in my sleep tonight, well that’s okay too.” Doing this has served me well these past five years.

However, recently this person has reached a new low and I find myself needing more help. After hearing the details of this latest event, feelings of fear flood my body. I have come to accept that this person may never get healthy, and I may be dealing with this for years to come. The only thing that I can control in this situation is my emotions. I can choose to be an angry, frustrated, fearful person. Or I can show up as a happy, joyful me. The choice is mine.

I know I need to let it go, but the question is how do I do this? I remember a technique that Master Lin used to heal after growing up in China during the Cultural Revolution. His qigong master told him that to regain his health he needed to forgive the people who hurt him during the revolution. Chunyi replied that he couldn’t possibly forgive them for the things they had done. His master told him if he was unable to say the words, “I forgive you,” when visualizing the people who hurt him, he could say, “I pretend to forgive you,” and it would still work. It did.

I would love to be able to say that I always feel love and compassion for this person, but it’s just not true. Feelings of anger, fear, and frustration are often my close companions. So, I do what Master Lin did, I pretend. I pretend to love this person and the game-changing event.

I visualize this person hearing the voices that tell him to buy a gun. I see this person, who is angry with me and my loved ones, go into the store and leave with a gun. Then I pretend this event never happened, that it never existed in my life. I pretend to send love and light to this event. I see the light transforming this event into beautiful butterflies. I see the butterflies flying and floating away from the store.

Doing this helps my mind to slowly open up a window of serenity and peacefulness. I let go of the fearful me. I let go of the resentful me. I have transformed the negative energy into something beautiful and healing. It gives me the wisdom and the power to say goodbye to the information, to the feelings that hurt my body and my mind.

I hope that this person will find their way out of the rabbit hole. Just because it hasn’t happened yet, doesn’t mean that it won’t. Like all of us, this person is deserving of love, joy, and happiness. I truly want to see the inner turmoil and torment disappear from this person’s eyes.

I don’t know what the future holds for any of us. Like the song says, “Que sera, sera. Whatever will be, will be. The future’s not ours to see. Que sera, sera.”

So what can I do as I sit with the unknowable? On a tough day when I’m feeling triggered, I can pretend to send this person love.

On a good day, I can truthfully say, “I love you; may you be well, ” and mean it from the bottom of my heart.

May everyone living with mental illness, and their loved ones, be well.

With Love & Energy by the Pond,

Laurel

laurel@energybythepond.com

Worrying uses your imagination to create something that you don’t want.

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Laurel Blaine

Loves living in a cabin by the pond — Practices & Teaches Spring Forest Qigong — Grandmother to 12 — Always learning — Sharing stories when they find me.