This guest post was submitted by a parent whose son has struggled for decades with severe depression. This post reminds us that while cutting-edge treatment approaches, medications, and therapy all have a role in the recovery process from depression, unconditional love and high regard for the person and family struggling also play critical roles in the recovery process. People with severe mental illness need to know they are still loved, looked for, wanted, and a part of the human circle: their family, their community. Reconnecting with purpose and community (ones tribe) needs to be a major part of every person's recovery from mental disintegration. Community is the foundation of what makes us human.
During our son's more than 20-year struggle with severe depression and self-hatred, we met a special man who became not only our sons' but also our mentor and friend for more than 15 years.
Early on, this "special man" noticed our son's intelligence, kindness, talents and compassion and truly believed from the beginning that he'd get better and would go on to do great things.
During one period when my heart was breaking watching my son struggling for so long, this special man and mentor said to me, "Your son is like a caterpillar in its cocoon, just waiting for the day when it will break free and turn into a beautiful butterfly!"
Those words and that visualization brought me much comfort throughout many years. I had shared those words with my son knowing that this man's belief in him would mean quite a bit. My son and I often talked about those words and held them in front of us as hope. It's a marvelous blessing now when I see my son sign off with a small butterfly image after his name!
Remember, true friendships and simple words of belief and encouragement can make a big difference for those struggling with mental dysfunctions as well as to their loved ones.
And a huge thank you to this "special man" that remains in our life...our angel!