I swear I could hear the echo of my pounding heart in the empty restroom at my local YMCA as I read a child’s handwriting on the wall. “My name is Rachel _______. I hate my life, and I want to die.”
My work in the mental health field has shown me the brokenness of our world reflected in the invisible parts of humankind, and it never ceases to wreck me. I took a deep breath, captured the inscription with my Iphone camera, and made my way to the front desk to find help for some parent’s precious child. I can only pray that someone would do the same for me.
I don’t know Rachel. I don’t know her mother. I don’t know the circumstances of that child’s life. But, as I hold my babies tight this Mother’s Day weekend, my heart goes out to the mother of Rachel. This is a letter to you.
The hardest words to hear in this life often come through the voice of a stranger. Maybe you’ve heard them before, or maybe Rachel’s struggle is new. Either way, I’m sure it hurts the same. A wound is a wound. As mothers, we want to shield our children from pain. And, of course, their pain is our pain. But in the midst of your heartache, please remember these things: Mental illness is real. Cries for help must be met with action. You are not alone. There is help. Most importantly…there is hope.
Mother of Rachel, I promise to actively teach my young sons to stand against bullying. I will work to bring about awareness of mental illness and to release the stigmas our society associates with it. I pray that your daughter will find renewal. And may you bravely walk forward in your journey as a parent. There is one thing I know for sure…she needs your unconditional love more than anything else in this world.
Need help? www.nami.org