Learning to Love Someone With Mental Illness

In spite of what we might hope for, Mental Illness continues to be stigmatized both in and out of the Church. Statistically, it is likely that you either suffer from mental illness yourself or love someone who does. Laurisa's courage in sharing her own story of learning to love someone with Mental Illness is inspiring. It's an honor to have Laurisa share her story.

Everything I learned about loving someone with mental illness, I learned from my parents. It might sound a bit obvious, but it is the truth. I learned by watching them love friends and family members with mental illness. More than that though, I learned by watching them raise a son with mental illness. Their unconditional love shone through the struggles and social stigmas, and changed the way I see mental illness and people who live with it.

I recently read a brilliant quote from actress Lysette Anthony. “Mental illness leaves a huge legacy, not just for the person suffering from it, but for those around them.”  Mental illness has left a legacy of love in our family. Yes, there have been hurts and heartaches along the way. No, it hasn’t been easy. Anything but. Ultimately, though, it has been a legacy of learning to love through the struggles and coming out stronger on the other side. Looking back over the years, there are four lessons that stand out the most to me. Four lessons that had an enormous impact on how I have learned to love someone with mental illness.

You have to be in it for the long haul. Here’s the thing. It’s not going to be easy. There are going to be times that you want to give up on that person. There are times when all you can see is the illness. There are times when you’ve given everything you have to give and gotten nothing in return. Through the years I have watched my parents choose to love my brother, without expecting or, quite frankly, getting anything in return. What sets them apart? I believe it is because they made a choice. They decided to love and, by the grace of God, they stuck by that decision. Don’t get me wrong, they are still human. I’m sure they would tell you they fail at it all the time. That they often question their ability to love. But that’s another thing that sets them apart - they trust in a loving God who loved them first, so that they might have the capacity to love. “We love because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19

Be prepared to spend time on your knees. My parents are prayer warriors. If they have taught me anything, it has been the importance of prayer. If you are going to love someone with mental illness, be ready to spend countless hours crying out to the Lord in prayer. Not just for them, but for yourself. For strength to love someone that many might consider unlovable. For the faith to continue the journey. For the ability to praise Him, even when you don’t know how. “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Patience is not only a virtue, it’s a necessity. It is so, so hard to wait. Always waiting, hoping against hope to see that you have made a difference in the life of that person you have chosen to love. In fact, you may be waiting years to see the fruits of your efforts. Perhaps you will never see it, although I pray that you do. What I have witnessed in my parents is the indirect effects of their patient love and perseverance. They have raised amazing kids who have learned to love by watching them. They have made an impact on the lives of so many around them. Their struggles have been a witness to their faith and the transforming work of the Holy Spirit. “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Romans 5:3-4

It’s ok to not be ok. It’s ok to be angry. It’s ok to be discouraged. As long as you give it to God. My dad used this as an illustration in one of his sermons not too long ago (I can’t even begin to tell you how many illustrations my siblings and I have provided for him over the years). He said that he had reached his breaking point, that he couldn’t do this anymore. That he didn’t want to do it anymore. But He took it to the Lord. He didn’t trust in his own strength.  “ ‘But he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

I hope that these lessons have been as encouraging to you as they have been to me through the years. I am beyond grateful for my parents, for their wisdom, support and love they have shown me through the years. Their love has been a shining example of Christ’s love, and it has taught me how to love those who are dear to my heart that are living with mental illness. I pray that it will bless you as well as you love someone with mental illness.


Laurisa is part of a team of women (aka the Total Addiction Tribe) whose mission it is to encourage, uplift and minister to other women. They collectively blog about their addictions to fashion, beauty, life, positivity, inspiration, and most of all, Jesus. When Laurisa isn't at Total Addiction, you can find her at home with her hunky husband and their four delightful offspring.


8 comments

  1. Loved this post so much. As someone who deals with depression and anxiety, but more as someone who has to care for those who do, like my mother...it's extremely hard! It's exhausting. Always turning to God in and through all of it is so key.

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    1. Summer, You bring such an important perspective, as you can see it from both sides!

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  2. This post definitely spoke to me! I struggle with depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Sometimes, I feel as though my husband doesn't understand me, and he can't because he doesn't live with it, but he is so wonderful at supporting me as he walks this life with me!

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    1. When we are in the battle with mental illness, it can feel so isolating. I'm SO glad your husband is able to support and encourage you!

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  3. I love this! I struggle with depression and anxiety, and 2017 itself has been such an uphill battle, including a suicide attempt. My boyfriend lives with me and he's so amazing at dealing with me.

    www.angelicabbie.com

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    1. Abbie, I'm so sorry you are dealing with so much and that this year has been such a challenge. I'm so thankful that you're still fighting and that you have a boyfriend who can support you no matter what!

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  4. This is a beautiful word, I really enjoyed reading it. Thank you for putting this out there. I really wish more people spoke about mental illness.

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  5. This is all so true. I feel like patience is really important here. If people just understood..

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