Helping Loved Ones Understand
Mental Illness and Addiction
(Here are some words, but you can use your own)
Dear Loved One,
I have a mental illness or addiction. I didn’t ask for it any more than a person would ask for cancer. I don’t really want to have this affliction, but I do. Mental illnesses and addictions tend to run in families like heart disease, so there is likely some part of my sickness that was inherited. I might have done some things in the past to make it worse, so I am trying to change this now that I understand better what is going on with me. Please forgive me. I am truly sorry if it makes your life more difficult. I hope you are not embarrassed by me. Sometimes I feel ashamed myself, but I am working on coming out of the shame and guilt of it.
Just like many people when they get a sore throat, I hoped that my illness or addiction would go away after a while. I thought that I could take care of it by myself. In fact, I prayed quite a bit for this. But I have come to admit that I’m stuck with it and can’t find healing alone. It is very discouraging to realize this. These issues have created some big problems in my life, and possibly in yours too.
I am trying to learn all that I can about my illness and to find support from others who have difficulties like me. I hope that you will do the same. Maybe we can learn more about it together, and share information. I know that sometimes it is not easy to live with someone like me, so becoming educated about it might help us both.
Please don’t blame me for the difficulties that this illness causes in your life. I know that when people experience frustration, they like to try place blame…but I ask you to try and be patient with me. There is no cure for what I have, but there are very good treatments. I believe that God will also be a big part of my healing process, and this gives me great hope…and I really need hope. I am now actually trying to do something about it, and I’d be happy to explain to you what actions I am taking on it. Mental illness and addiction are serious challenges, and I might have to take action on them every day for a very long time.
Thank you for your words of encouragement and support. I know that with God’s help and by taking action, I can make progress. I am not using my illness as an excuse, so don’t misinterpret my intentions. I certainly don’t expect you to fix me. In fact, I would like you to kindly help hold me accountable for following through with the actions that I need to take to get well. Please keep me in your prayers. I am gradually learning to be thankful for my afflictions, because they help remind me how much I need God…and you. Don’t worry about having the right thing to say. I just need your love, acceptance, and presence.