Thursday, May 31, 2018

What's wrong with bumper bowling?

You know what bumper bowling is.  They put long, inflated tubes in the gutters on either side of the lane so it’s nearly impossible to miss the pins—at least with your first ball!

Die-hard bowlers say that using bumpers is cheating, that only babies should use them.

“Bumpers only encourage people to be reckless and irresponsible because there aren’t any consequences!  How will they learn to get better so that they stay OUT of the gutters?!”

I see it differently.

In my mind, bumper bowling can actually help everyone enjoy the game more.  How?
·        It can eliminate fear of embarrassment.  Some of us don’t know how to bowl well, and it can be scary doing something you’re not good at.  Bumpers can help calm the fear of trying something new.
·        It can build self-esteem.  Both the bowler and their friends can feel good that at least one pin was knocked down, especially when bowlers in neighboring lanes are easily getting lots of strikes and spares.
·        It can make the rest of the day pleasant.  With a better score thanks to bumpers, the bowler won’t be upset or feel guilty about wasting their bowling partner’s time or money getting all ‘zeroes’.

A lot of opinionated people with little mental health knowledge think like die-hard bowlers.

“Accommodating a loved one with mental illness encourages them to be dependent and to shirk their responsibility because life’s too easy!  How will they learn to become self-sufficient when you enable them?!”

I see it differently.

In my experience, accommodating a mentally ill person can sometimes help everyone.  How?
·        It can eliminate fear of embarrassment.  Some of us don’t know how to handle common aspects of life, and it can be scary doing something you’re not good at.  Accommodations can help calm the fear of trying something new.  Eliminating fear in one area can free up a person to stretch in another.  Since anxiety (fear) is heightened in mentally ill people, it makes sense to reduce it from time to time.
·        It can build self-esteem.  Both the mentally ill person and their family members can feel good that at least some progress was made, especially when other relatives, neighbors, and churchgoers are easily getting through life.  Those who have to work extra hard just to navigate through life should rightly feel good about any progress, be it slow, infrequent, or minimal compared to others.
·        It can make the rest of the day pleasant.  With at least some success thanks to the accommodation, the mentally ill person won’t be upset or feel guilty about wasting their family member’s time or money making little or no progress.  Daily frustration and guilt driven by lack of progress can be eliminated through careful use of accommodations.

Referring to her mentally ill daughter, someone once told a friend of mine: “You’re enabling her!”

My friend replied: “You bet I am!”

What a great response!  My friend chose to accommodate in that situation for all the above reasons, and it helped her and her daughter.  True, constant accommodation often causes problems.  But when it’s used wisely, accommodation can help a lot of people in a lot of ways.

You might not get to choose your lane, but ignore the opinions of people who have no clue what your lane’s like.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

When Mother's Day is Hard

What does every mother want for mother’s day?
I don’t know about you, but I want to hear from my kids and if at all possible, see them.  Second, I want to recognize my mom and tell her how much she is loved.  
For some though, Mother’s Day is sometimes hard. They still love their kids to pieces, but the brokenness of mental illness in even one of their kids lives can make for a difficult day.
He’s off his meds and homeless and the text never comes.
She’s living who knows where with who knows who and that call doesn’t happen.
He’s never going to visit because he can’t bear to see one of his siblings that he’s wronged.
Whatever the reason you feel forgotten by someone you have so much love for. What will these moms be doing this Mother’s Day? They may put on their happy face and even be happy for the most part. They’ll still appreciate their mom and tell her so in their own special way.
But they’ll also have a sad spot in their heart for that son or daughter. They’ll know that he or she loves them even though that call won’t come or that visit won’t happen. There’ll be moments where tears will flow. They’ll feel helpless to help them. They may have a hard time not dwelling on all that the mental illness has taken from their child. They’ll long to hug their child and tell them how much they love them and how much God loves them.
Things may be getting worse and they’ll wonder if this is the last Mother’s Day that their child will be living. The longing to make it all better will be a big part of their day even when the visit doesn’t happen or the text never comes. Even though they are happy for other moms they’ll stay off social media because it’s just too painful to see and read about those moms.If you are one of these moms, along with a big hug, this note from your son or daughter is for you.
Dear Mom, 
I just want to say Thank You.
Thank you for never giving up on me even when you don’t hear from me.
Thank you for wanting to take all of my burdens away.
Thank you for still loving me when my illness is manifesting some pretty ugly stuff.
Thank you for advocating for me when I don’t even know I need advocating for.
Thank you for praying for me.
Thank you for being there for me when I’m ready to get help.
Thank you for encouraging me even when I feel I don't deserve encouraging.
Thank you for seeking wisdom from God as to how best to help me.
Thank for educating yourself about mental illness and learning all you can about my disorder.
Most of all, thank you for being my Mom and showing me a glimpse of God’s great love for me by showing me yours.
Love, Your Son or Daughter