When I think back to my life and my personality before Ben’s seizures, I possessed such a strong ability to calm myself. Even in the midst of learning about his condition and diagnosis, I was able to tap into a deep well of almost zen-like calm. I innately possessed the ability to be fully present no matter how distressing the circumstances; to put worries about the future out of my mind. Now I have no such self-calming mechanism. I carry my worries with me all the time. I walk hand-in-hand with depression, carrying my grief on my sleeve. When things go wrong, it seems all my emotions are right on the surface, ready to overtake me with their neediness and pain. I can no longer mask my emotions or hide my pain.
I still have scripture. I still have prayer. But I also have 12 years of grief and uncertainty and those years have changed me. With each new pain, I experience all the pain of years past. I can no longer isolate my emotions or keep unpleasant ones at bay. I believe that part of mental illness – in my case, deep depression – is experiencing ALL emotions all the time. I would like to go back to the time BEFORE, the time I was able to isolate my emotions and only experience the ones appropriate for the moment.
Living with family members with hidden disabilities can cause us to bend and to break depending on the circumstances. We need to be patient with ourselves, to allow ourselves the time to grieve and understand our responses are not always perfect. But they are always able to be used by God for His glory, even if we do not understand why. And we need to remember that when we break, He is right there with us to heal us and put us back together. He, too, had scars on his hands. He understands our scars.