This article, from Slate, Comfort Food, hit home. Larry Lake describes the difficulty many people have with knowing how to be supportive when someone they know has a mental illness, or has a child with a mental illness. People have learned to respond supportively when there’s a physical illness, but not nearly so well to the very real disturbances and struggles related to brain function: anxiety, depression, bi-polar disorder, and addiction to name a few. Since people with ADHD and, to a lesser extent, LD, are at much higher risks for them, it’s a big deal. And it’s something I can relate to in a very real way.
When my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer, we ate well
From my Jewish ethnic upbringing I know very well the help a timely chicken soup can provide, along with the conversation that may come with it.
Friends drove Mary Beth to her radiation sessions and sometimes to her favorite ice cream shop on the half-hour drive back from the hospital.
I’ve had a close family member struggling with these mental health issues for years, and recently they’ve started to come to a head. So, I’ve experienced it first-hand. On the one hand, I can admit to wanting to keep these struggles inside, and not open for public consumption. They are highly personal and they are hard and painful.
I’ve experienced exactly what the writer talks about; that some people who know what’s going on, have fears or insecurities about what to say or how to say and what to do.
I can see where even people who love and support, can avoid talking about it. They don’t ask questions. And I’ve realized that while I don’t judge that, I see that it’s connected to our overall societal discomfort with mental illness and addictions. Sometimes we need the caring questions.
Almost a decade later, our daughter, Maggie, was admitted to a psychiatric hospital and diagnosed with bipolar disorder, following years of secret alcohol and drug abuse.
No warm casseroles.
I think we’re on the right track, but it’s slow going. And, the author nails it.