I am home because my son has a mental illness.
I am home because he needs me to watch over him and keep him safe. I have temporarily stepped away from my career of nearly 30 years because I love him.
Thankfully he is safe as he can be … now. With the help of the right medicine, prayers and medical professionals, he is slowly regaining his balance in life.
He’s not normal, but then again, neither are the rest of us. For as someone once said, normal is only a setting on a washing machine.
But if “normal” means telling jokes that make me laugh out loud, we’ll take it. If normal means someone with the kindest of hearts who will listen and empathize with you, we’ll take it. We’ll take our son with an exceptional creative ability and love for animals.
As hopeful as we are for the return of the “real Spencer,” we are realistic.
It’s likely that he will have this for the rest of his life. That he will have to take medicine, continue to seek professional help and rely on family and friends who understand both his challenges and his great potential. He needs people who believe like we do, that Spencer is not defined by his mental illness.
It’s true that he may continue to struggle from the effects of medication. While great strides have been made in understanding mental illness, we recognize how little we still know. We’re grateful to live in a time where great minds give us hope for more answers.
As we do with all our children, we believe in Spencer’s divine potential for greatness. There’s no reason why he can’t be a force for good on this Earth and touch the lives of others.
He can do almost anything he sets his mind to, and we as his parents, will not tire in our efforts to help make that happen.
We couldn’t do this without a firm belief in God and his plan for us. Without that knowledge, it’s quite possible that my wife and I would have given up long ago. The excruciating toll exacted by mental illness is best understood by those who must experience it every day — along with those provide ongoing support.
You can make a difference for millions like Spencer, by showing more compassion and less judgment. By recognizing stereotypes for what they are and tossing them aside. By willing to stand up for those who can’t always stand up for themselves.
That’s why I wrote this. For so many years now, we’ve kept fairly quiet about Spencer’s mental illness. We’ve only shared with close family members and friends. We didn’t want people to misunderstand.
It’s time for more understanding. It’s time to educate more and hide less. There are millions of people who have to face their demons every day and often question the value of their existence. To them I say it’s very much worth it. And never give up hope.
It’s time we lobby for more resources and research. It’s time to reach out even more to those who suffer silently among us.
I will need to return to at least part-time work sooner than later. But nothing I do to earn a paycheck will be nearly as important than what I am doing now.
Staying home with Spencer.