Today is Sunday. Today is mental health Sunday. I paused to think about those I know who struggle with mental health issues. My son suffers from PTSD derived from torture and I know so many people who have PTSD in varying severity. With all the chemicals in our foods and the side effects of vaccinations and medications, we have so many people struggling with mental health issues.
I remember when I was a teen. The mental hospitals in the local area shut down and threw their patients out into the streets. Many ended up homeless or in prison.
Today, 2017, with lack of universal healthcare, with mental health facilities closing down and medications too expensive for most people to afford, more and more prisons are taking the place of medical facilities. Let me tell you, prisons aren’t good for people without mental health issues.
As a society, we fear people who have any sort of mental health issues. In Bowling Green Kentucky jail, my son saw a a man with a mental disability ridiculed and abused. For him, it was the cruelest form of inhumanity he had ever witnessed.
Today, I heard about a beautiful expression of love that I wish all people with mental health issues could experience.
The following is a story as told by Wendy Kidd from her sermon about mental illness. I hope you find it encouraging and you develop more compassion for those struggling with mental health issues.
We could also take some lessons from the small village of Geel (pronounced “Hale”), Belgium. Around the year 600, an Irish king went insane when his wife died. Mistaking his daughter, Dymphna, for his dead wife, he tried to force her to marry him. [If he thought his daughter was his wife, I’m not sure why he needed to marry her, but let’s go with it.] Dymphna ran away, taking a ship to what is now Antwerp, Belgium. She hid in the village of Geel (“Hale”) until her father’s soldiers found her. The king arrived and proposed again. This time, when Dymphna refused him, he ordered her beheading. The villagers buried Dymphna, and soon after her death, healings – especially of those who were insane – were reported near her grave. In the seventh century, as in biblical times, people with mental illness were believed to be demon-possessed. They were frequently harassed and stoned. As fame of the miraculous healings near Dymphna’s grave began to spread across Europe, desperate families brought their loved ones with mental illness to Geel (“Hale”) in search of healing. Local families boarded those who arrived in search of a cure.
And a curious thing began to happen. While many of those who simply visited St. Dymphna’s grave were never cured, for many of those who stayed in Geel (“Hale”), healing did occur. It seems that the Geelians (“Halians”) had become accustomed to behavior that was ostracized and feared elsewhere. In Geel (“Hale”), people with mental illness were welcomed and accepted for who they were, as they were. To this day, the people of Geel (“Hale”) still operate a foster-family system for those with mental illness that’s been in place for over a thousand years. When a person with mental illness is placed with a family in Geel (“Hale”), they get better! Motor functions improve, and doses of medications are lowered, but most importantly, healing from a lifetime of rejection begins to occur. People who’ve lived in isolation for most of their lives are recognized as children of God and welcomed into the community. No one thinks it strange to see a woman talking into a shoe as if it were a cell phone, or a man conducting an imaginary symphony on a street corner. In Geel (“Hale”), Belgium it is possible to glimpse the Kingdom of God on earth.
We have compassion for the diabetic, for someone with cancer, for a child with birth defect. Surely, we can encourage and care for those who have a problem with their brain.
Much love my friends. Take care of your body and your mind.