The other day, my four year old son asked me “are you a robber mum?” In my defense, I should quickly add here that no – I am most definitely not a thief.
However, I do have a fondness for rescuing unloved, unwanted items left out for the dump truck. Case in point my lovely, new white side-board in the picture below.
Three weeks ago, it was on death-row, left out in a pile of hard rubbish – hours away from being splintered into a million pieces and on its way to the tip.
Driving past with my four year old son, I glanced it out of the corner of my eye and quickly slammed on the brakes. Getting out of the car to take a closer look, I noted that – under a layer of grime – it was actually a beautifully shaped, elegant piece of furniture.
Somehow, I managed to get it into the back of my small hatchback car and drive it around the corner to its new home.
A bucket of soapy water, some elbow grease and a coat of fresh paint later – my new sideboard table was happily nestled in my family room.
Glancing at it while watching a DVD tonight, it made me think of myself and others with mental illness.
I’ve shared before about the time I spent acutely unwell in a psychiatric hospital after the birth of my first baby.
In a locked ward for six weeks, I can still remember the look of fear and disgust on the faces of the nurses and “carers”. The way they seemed to look right through me – without seeing the person inside.
They didn’t see the person that I actually was – the loving wife, daughter, sister, friend and faithful employee. They only saw me in my current state – psychotic, delusional and resistant to being medicated.
My sense of self-worth fell and I started to believe that I was the person they saw. That I was someone not to be listened to. Not to be left alone. Not to be trusted.
Being in a psychiatric ward felt like the equivalent of being put out for hard-rubbish. My true-self and my potential overlooked because of my brokenness.
Today, like my side-table, I am one of the “lucky ones”. I am well and I am home with my family.
Yet, I can’t help but wonder about those with a mental illness who aren’t so blessed. Those who don’t have caring family and friends to get them the help they so desperately need. Those who are out there tonight – roaming the streets, living rough, going hungry.
I pray that someone will notice them, see past the symptoms of their illness and – like I did with that sideboard – see their true potential.
Have you ever felt like people were treating your symptoms, but not really seeing the real you?