And block him, I did.
I blocked him all the while grieving from the reality that his life has been full of alienation, rejection and isolation. I blocked him because that boundary was necessary to protect myself and to protect those on my media feed from speech that I consider to be vile. He is free to engage in such behaviors in his own circles, but not in mine. My love for him does not demand I allow him unfettered access to create relational carnage in my sphere.
I knew this man when we were both children. When his behaviors (that in today’s world might be said to resemble ADHD, ODD, depression and anxiety) emerged, it was interpreted as simply that, “behaviors”. Behaviors that needed to be eradicated, corrected, even repented from.
I don’t claim inside knowledge of what went on in that household during those childhood years. But I do know that in general society back in the 60’s little was understood about neurology and mental health. So it is without condemnation that I conclude my cousin’s excommunication from faith and that branch of the family may have drawn an important boundary, but it also further alienated him from the equipping he so desperately needed to live a functional life.
For contemporary parents avoiding medical and psychological intervention due to a disdain for “labels”, I urge you to consider the alternative harm of not using the formative years of childhood to instill skills for overcoming the challenges of mental illness.
Whether through ignorance or denial, lack of de-stigmatized diagnosis of mental illness in our children can lead to lives of addictions, isolation, alienation, dis-functionality and rejection for them as they try to cope with their neurology ill-equipped. With diagnosis can come ownership, and with ownership can come strategies for personal accountability, self advocacy, self accommodations and a life of success.
I want nothing less for my family, and for yours.