Keeping a door or window open for possibility and transformation.
This post speaks openly and candidly about Mental Health Awareness and what it is like being a caretaker for someone who is mentally ill. My intention in being open, honest, and transparent is to release the stigma surrounding mental illness and to increase understanding and compassion for those who are either suffering from mental illness or for individuals like me who hold space and nurture those with mental illness. Please be kind.
To unravel this thread, it is difficult to know where to begin. I have been caring for and nurturing a loved one for over a decade who was recently diagnosed with mental illness. It has been a long process arriving at this formal acknowledgment and I am grateful for it. The signs were not always clear and because this family member is very high functioning despite my repeated efforts for counseling, therapy, and a formal diagnosis no support was offered or given to us. I was told repeatedly that this was just “normal” depression or anxiety and that it would pass.
I feel relieved in the knowledge as now the deep-rooted therapy work can begin for my loved one. I also feel incredibly sad for all these years that have flown by where I have in essence been flying solo not knowing or having the tools to better connect with their mental illness and help in a more guided capacity. The guilt sets in, I always want to do more, to be more, to assist with my whole heart. I have to reconcile my failures as well as my strengths.
Maintaining my hope, being centered, extending empathy, kindness, understanding, and compassion daily is not easy when you live with and care for someone with mental illness. There are times when I feel so drained and exhausted. As a highly empathetic intuitive person I’ve experienced extreme mood swings of happiness and energy to depression and despair through my loved one, and it is dizzying to keep up with. It is so hard to see someone you love struggle and to know that your efforts to reach them are not seen or felt. (I also fully realize that it is even more painful and difficult for the person who is experiencing these emotions.) We all deserve compassion and healing.
Being a person who seeks harmony, tranquility, and calm, these past 18 months have been anything but. Maintaining a rooted strength through maelstroms of tears, anger, and frustration is unsettling. My patience is worn thin. I am still processing it all in between multiple appointments, calls with psychiatrists and counselors. Long pauses in nature help to slowly wind my way forward again. I find comfort and solace via self-care, journaling, and practicing radical acceptance.
And yet through it all, I still nurture and cultivate peace and self-awareness. Tears come readily to the surface of my eyes these days, but my heart is full of hope. My loved one is currently in an intensive therapy program and I can’t wait to hug and see them again. I am learning, listening, and engaging with my inner core daily. Reflecting back my word of the year was “joy”, and joy has been scarce and hard-won these days. This makes it all the more precious, and I savor the memories of better days while living fully present.
Creating beauty and serving others in a wholesome way requires energy and focus. Thank you to all who have written me with such kindness in regards to the latest Petal happy mail. It warms my heart and inspires me to keep giving reading your lovely feedback. I value and appreciate your patience with me as the pandemic, wildfires, and a mental health crisis in my family have devoured much of 2021. I am still finishing up the last large boxes for our Petal members and will have everything sent out by the end of this month.
This weeks journaling prompt is drawn from inner wisdom and humility. Keeping a door or window open for change and possibility. I have seen the effects of what a fixed and unyielding heart or mind can do. Allowing light, understanding, and love to enter our souls and consciousness brings greater awareness and compassion.
My style of art is intuitive. I make one pass on what I choose to paint and embrace what is presented in a wet on wet technique. It is about expression and not perfection. What is organic and authentic. To begin I lightly sketched a door frame on a piece of watercolor paper and painted it with very light washes of Bleu Ciel and Ochre Leger.
Layers of paper ephemera from happy mail, as well as stamps, washi tape, and a dried flower from a recent bouquet finish my page. Many thanks if you have read this far. I wish you peace, hope, and healing.