The original item was published from May 18, 2016 5:11 PM to May 18, 2016 5:14 PM
by Janie Gunn
I was blessed to grow up in a large Catholic family. With 8 sisters and 2 brothers life was busy. My sister Connie was 1 year younger than me. She began displaying erratic behaviors in her sophomore year in high school. Connie was normally an introverted and artistically gifted girl. Her descent into mental illness happened quickly. She ended up in Methodist Hospital after a psychotic break when she was 16.
Although the diagnosis was not shared with us looking back I think she was schizophrenic. She was seeing a psychiatrist who put her on medication. My parents were overwhelmed with dealing with a child with mental illness and coped in the best ways they knew how at the time. Which meant that no one really talked about it too much.
One summer Connie started giving away anything of meaning to her. Artwork, favorite clothing, etc. Living with a tortured mind was becoming too much. So she took the prescription from her psychiatrist- the whole bottle- one night and died.
The next morning my mom found her unresponsive and went into shock. Concerns about what the neighbors thought and the fact that in Catholicism suicide was considered a mortal sin overwhelmed her. Her emotional response was to shut down. My dad was able to express his grief in a more healthy manner.
I have learned how important it is to be able to talk about it. To seek professional counseling when needed. That shutting down your feelings just means that they will come up later and be even harder to deal with. Removing any stigma attached to mental illness truly matters.
My nephew Craig also committed suicide. He struggled with alcoholism and depression for a long time. I found him after he hung himself. I went into shock at the time and shut down as a coping mechanism. Thankfully, I was able to recognize what I was doing and able to talk through it.
Life is a journey of ups and downs and building resiliency during the down times is what helps me through. It also helps me appreciate the more joyful times. My yoga and spiritual practices help me cultivate physical, mental & emotional wellness.
Tag(s): Mental Illness Feels Like, Mental Health Month