Here’s an interesting exercise that I have done in a slightly different context and that you might want to do if you are interested and have the time and if you or someone you know and love suffers from mental health related issues and conditions.
You are asleep one night and waking from your sleep you are visited by an angel.
The angel explains who she is and convinces you of the truth of her mission and of what she is about to tell you.
Sitting up you listen careful to what she says as she tells you that God would like to bestow on you a great blessing but that with this blessing comes a huge responsibility.
The angel explains that in one day’s time you will find a very precious child waiting for you on your doorstep.
The angel goes on to explain that you have been especially chosen for this task because this precious child actually has all of the mental health related issues and/or conditions/illnesses that you have and/or have had and that is your job to parent, love, care for and raise that child.
Additionally, the angel explains that in return for your doing this, all of your mental health issues and conditions/illnesses have now been healed. But that the memory of them and how they affected you and your life will still remain with you so that you are able to fully relate to and help the precious child.
Before leaving you the angel instructs you to prepare yourself for the child’s arrival.
Wanting to know as much as you can before the precious child arrives, you ask the angel the age and gender of the child?
Giving nothing away the angel simply smiles softly and tells you that this precious child has been chosen specifically for you just as you have been chosen specifically for it. “Thus,” she smiles, “in your heart you already know the age and gender of the child.” And with that the angel disappears.
What this exercise requires of you now is to..
1. Search your heart and decide and write down the age and gender you believe that child would be.
2. Then try to list what mental health related illnesses or conditions you think the child may have – Remember: The angel told you that the child would have the same mental health related issues and conditions/illnesses as you NOT just the ones that you have been diagnosed with. There could well be a difference there so list the ones you believe that you have or have had and not the just ones you have been diagnosed with.
3. Knowing what has taken place in your life try to write a short list anticipating some of the key issues, circumstances and situations that this precious child could face.
4. Based on your own experiences and knowledge write down a short account of how would you prepare the child for these?
5. Again based on your own experiences, write down what decisions have you made about how you are going to raise this precious child? What things do you definitely want to teach the child? What do you definitely not want to do to or for this child? How tactile are you going to be with the child? How will you discipline the child if and when they do wrong? What activities would you want to encourage the child to participate in? Or not to participate in? Things like that.
If you would like to try this exercise you can either do so privately, or if you are feeling brave do so and share what you have written either on your own blog or in an email to me or in a comment below.
If you are reading this post not because you yourself suffer from poor mental health but because you love and/or care for or even just know someone who does, then feel free to do the exercise imagining that that person is actually the precious child and using the knowledge that you have of what he or she goes through or has been through.
In the past, albeit in a slightly different context, this really has been a useful exercise and I really do hope folk will try it and will share how they got on.
All the best with it.