Writing Difficult Books

My WIP right now is a tough one, as it takes me back to a painful time in my life, and to relationships I’m still sorting out. Today in my story journal, I made two lists. One was “What I Believed Then;” the other was “What I Know Now.” I only want to share the second list, and I share it because I know I am not the only person to have grown up with mental illness in my household. If any of this resonates for you, let me know:

What I know now is
  1. Mental illness changes people’s personalities
  2. Mental illness is…an illness.
  3. Mental illness seems a lot like an evil spell
  4. You still have to set boundaries with a mentally ill person, even if it is because of their suffering that they are behaving irrationally.
  5. It is hard to treat a mentally ill person like an adult and like a child at the same time. And sometimes it feels as if you are doing just that.
  6. Honoring a parent does not mean entering into their illness
  7. You have to find your own ground, rather than grounding yourself in your parents.
  8. Setting boundaries can create distance in relationships.
  9. Things don’t always turn out the way they “should” turn out, and people don’t always behave the way they “should” behave. This is not because there are “good” people and “bad” people. It’s because we are ALL affected by sin and death.
  10. Our job is to find and cling to God, and from that place make decisions about what we will do in relationship with others—including a mentally ill parent. Our decisions should be grounded in God, not in whether a family member will be angry or pleased with us. It is possible to say no and still be loving.
  11. Our job goes beyond self-preservation. Self-preservation is not the end goal. It may be a means to the end goal, or it may not. The end goal is to be in Christ.
  12. The mentally ill family member is not the only one behaving badly. Sometimes the crucible of mental illness in the family brings out the best or worst in other family members.
  13. A mentally ill person may still have deep wisdom to share. Mental illness does not disqualify a person from membership in the human race.


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