I know I will be strong again, and I will fight another day, but for just today, I want to take a break from being strong.
Today I don’t want to be strong. Today I am struggling. My son is refusing to get help because he doesn’t believe he is sick. I don’t want anyone to touch me because I think if they hug me long enough and tight enough I may break into a million pieces. I feel like I can barely breathe and everything is a blur. My cousin is sick with cancer and was not only one of my best friends he was one of my strongest support systems and I am going to lose him. He gave me strength when I felt like I couldn’t stand on my own even when he needed the strength himself.
Today I don’t want to hear about your child’s milestones or your successes in life. Please keep your happy news and celebrations to yourself. I don’t want to hear about your relationship problems or your drama with your friends.
Today I am praying that my son makes it through another day and this illness doesn’t consume him. Today I am wishing my cousin escapes this pain and is able to rest in peace. Today I sit by the phone and wait. I wait for news about either of them with racing thoughts and an ache in my heart.
I just lay here as tears stream down my face like a waterfall and I have no control over it. I would give anything to trade places with either of them to take their pain away. Being helpless isn’t part of my DNA.
I definitely have the most amazing supportive people in my life, but I still feel alone.
I am usually the one people call when they need help. I am usually the one who takes control and renders aid. I am usually the strong one—but today I can’t do a damn thing. Today I am helpless.
It hurts my heart to know that I can’t help the one person I love the most. Today I want to lay here and pray that God will answer my prayers to help my son. And if it is not God then any higher power will do. I pray that he will find the strength to recognize how sick he is and want to seek treatment. I pray that he realizes how much I love him and stops blaming me for his downward spiral. I pray that somehow, some way, he finds his way. I pray that when my cousin passes over to the other side that he watches over my son and guides him. I pray that someone will hear me and take away this pain.
I am not angry or bitter but numb. I lay beneath my blanket like a fortress to protect me from evil. I lay here with my head on my pillow as tears stream down my face. I lay here staring at the ceiling wondering if I will be able to find peace.
I know I will be strong again and I will get up to fight another day, but for just today, I don’t want to be strong.
Julie Joyce is a Chicago Police Officer and the mother of an adult son who suffers from bipolar disorder and ADHD. Over the years Julie has been a strong advocate and volunteer with National Alliance for Mental Illness, The Balanced Mind Foundation, and has assisted with the creation and implementation of the Advanced Juvenile Crisis Intervention training (CIT) for Chicago Police officers. She is certified by the Federal Bureau of Investigation Hostage Negotiation Team as a Crisis Negotiator, has conducted presentations on mental illness for Attorney General Lisa Madigan's Office and has had the opportunity to speak to legislatures on the need for special education funding. Julie has also conducted educational presentations for DCFS on interventions for kids with mental illness. Along with her son, she was interviewed on NPR, WBEZ, for the “Out of the Shadows” series which focused on juveniles and mental illness. Currently, Julie spends her time raising awareness and advocating for people living with mental illness.
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