Finding the Courage to Break the Silence

To commemorate the launch of Sarah Griffith Lund’s new book — Blessed Are the Crazy: Breaking the Silence About Mental Illness, Family, and Church — and to participate in National Mental Illness Awareness Week (Oct. 5-11), the October Synchroblog theme is “Mental Illness Awareness” which invites bloggers to break the silence about mental illness in their life or community.

Cowardly

As a mother of a son who is gay, I am in community with a lot of LGBT people and their friends and families. Getting to know LGBT people and their friends and family members has made me highly aware of the struggles and challenges LGBT people must face. Although there have been great gains made in the acceptance of LGBT people there is still a lot of discrimination, stigma, marginalization and rejection that LGBT people have to face and LGBT youth are especially vulnerable.  Many young LGBT people face harassment, violence, stigma, rejection, and discrimination in their families, schools, workplaces, and social settings. Many times those struggles and challenges result in serious mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, substance abuse, phobias, ocd and self-injury disorders.

Research has demonstrated that LGBT youth are significantly more likely than heterosexuals to attempt to commit suicide—up to 40 percent more likely, according to some reports.  Most of the mental health issues related to these youth are directly related to the harassment, bullying, rejection and isolation they face in their daily lives from their families, peers and community (including churches).

LGBT people whose parents and/or legal guardians support them have better overall health, mental health, and self-esteem and are much less likely to be depressed, experience anxiety disorders, use illegal drugs, think about or attempt suicide.

In an effort to help other parents of LGBT kids learn how to develop and maintain healthy, loving, authentic relationships with their kids I created a private Facebook group for open minded Christian moms who have LGBT kids.

The group is a safe place for moms of LGBT kids to ask questions, share resources and support one another as they work to develop and maintain healthy relationships with their kids and try to make the world a safer place for their kids to live. The private group currently has more than 225 members and continues to grow.

Studies show LGBT kids who have a loving, supportive family and home, where they can find safety, acceptance and love, are more likely to be healthy in every way.

And I have found, when parents of LGBT kids realize they are not alone they become braver and bolder about working to change their schools, churches, workplaces and communities into safer, kinder, more loving places for LGBT people to live.

In a short time, I have seen many moms in my private Facebook group go from not wanting anyone to know their child is LGBT to starting support groups at their local church, attending Pride events as an ally, serving at their local PFLAG organization, celebrating their child’s engagement/wedding/family, starting a supportive blog or online site, sharing their story publicly, speaking out against conversion therapy and making an effort to connect with and educate other moms of LGBT kids.

I believe we see healing and growth take place at a quicker rate because in community we have the benefit of finding:

  • Collective wisdom from all different stages of the journey.
  • Borrowed motivation to help us keep trying even when things get tough.
  • People who believe in us and cheer for us.
  • Inspiration to change the status quo.
  • New ideas and perspectives we wouldn’t think of on our own.
  • Understanding and compassion from people who know our story.
  • A safe place to be a mess because we all are sometimes.
  • Courage to take some risks because we know we have people in our corner.

Being in a safe, hopeful, supportive community can give us the courage and inspiration we need to break the silence.

If anyone is interested in joining the private Facebook group, Serendipitydodah for Moms, please email Liz Dyer at lizdyer55@gmail.com for more information.

Here is a list of the other synchroblog posts:

 

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