Ben Higgins' mom on journaling

In Amy’s Opinion: You Should Journal (Part 2)

By Amy Higgins

In part one, I encouraged you to express your thoughts through journaling or poetry. Today, I want to share with you how my poetry collided with real life.

For a greater portion of my life, I’d never seriously considered the mental health of myself and those around me. However, in the last few years, family and friends’ stories, and eventually my own experiences, showed me the scope and devastation of mental health issues.

I began to examine my world and those around me with a more sensitive and gracious attitude.

I’ve watched as disease and addictions robbed my friends and family of so much, pushing some to the brink of death. Bipolar disorder, narcissistic behavior, an eating disorder, and deep depression stole well-being from loved ones.

Amidst this, I began to revisit my love and appreciation for the written word. The intentional act of giving my mind permission to pour out what I’m really thinking is life-giving. Contemplating something and writing it down can help you “wrap your mind” around a situation.

Journaling or writing poetry may not prevent you and loved ones from experiencing the pain of mental illness. But we can call writing “good medicine.” I want to share a poem I wrote as I watched mental illness rob the life of a loved one. I hope it brings a small bit of comfort or understanding to you as well.

I’m on the Outside Looking In

I’m on the outside looking in.
I feel sick without the diagnosis,
Pain without the piercing.
So near to the situation,
So far from the solution.

I’m on the outside looking in.

Is it easier to be the patient,
where it’s real and tangible?
Or is my place the best place,
As support that holds no bar?

I’m on the outside looking in.

My words they sound so thin
Or just don’t come at all.
Empty, detached and foolish,
How could I know at all?

I’m on the outside looking in.

I want to say, “I love you”,
It will all turn out just right.
Yet in my heart of hearts,
I fear with all my might.

I’m on the outside looking in.

Just know I want to help you,
bear this burden if I could.
The best that I can do right now
Is pray to the one who would.
My Savior, Lord and Healer, is where
I put my trust.
He, is in the midst of your suffering…
I’m on the outside looking in.


How has mental illness affected your life?

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    Stephanie Rose
    December 4, 2018 at 11:15 pm

    Hi Amy, I am absolutely blown away by the bold yet courageous choice for your second entry! I wish that more people would embrace the harsh reality of the effects that mental illness has not only on those who experience it first hand, but also for those who endure it along with them. More people need to have a better understanding and a more acute awareness of this widespread epidemic. I myself have endured much not only in my own personal battles, but also through many years of caring for those who have mental struggles. I hope it’s ok that I share just a little but if my experience with you…

    Over the years I have grown to understand that mental illness is not the kind of thing that you tell someone just to take things “day by day”. I truly believe that the phrase “good days and bad days” is overused and overwhelming for many who struggle in this life. I’ve spent the last few years getting to know this community and connecting with the amazing people that God has placed in our little town of Warsaw. I am originally from Michigan and before I relocated to Warsaw 4 years ago I was a CNA/Caregiver. I had the honor of caring not only for our cherished elderly (both assisted living as well as Alzheimer’s and dimentia) , but also have worked in mental health care as well. I am currently a pharmacy tech at a local family owned pharmacy here in Warsaw. I have been in health care for 18 years and I can honestly say that there is one thing that I consistently emphasize to each person who is trusting enough to share their story with me. Life isn’t a day by day battle. For many a day in itself is too overwhelming to bear. It’s a moment by moment battle. When you really stop to think about it, our lives can change drastically in a moment…and sometimes a moment can make all of the difference in the world. Why not lessen the burden by taking this life one moment at a time instead of an entire day? I have learned both personally and professionally that mental illness sometimes begins as a coping mechanism and grows into the illness that it eventually becomes. Most of the time the one thing they all seem to have in common is the loss of control. For example: one might use alcohol or prescription drugs in order to numb the wound of their world falling apart. They lose control. A woman in an abusive relationship feels as though she’s lost control of her world…she developes an eating disorder because it is something that only she can control. She has a choice for awhile to end it, but eventually it takes over her mind and becomes an “imaginary friend” that takes control of her. The same goes for most addictions. They all begin with a single moment that pushes them from contentment into starving for more. There are also those who suffer from chemical imbalance issues as well as disorders that even once diagnosed aren’t familiar enough yet to those that are doing the diagnosing. So, they choose to try to “fix” the problem with medication. Lots of medication. I do indeed believe and understand that some desperately need medication to be able to navigate this life. Where the physicians seem to be failing their patients is more of a “heartfelt” matter if you will. They’ve forgotten how to speak to their hearts. Healing isn’t always a physical or mental process. Take my late grandfather for example. He had Alzheimer’s. He couldn’t remember my name towards the end of his illness, but he could sit down at a piano and play hymnals for hours by heart. God created us in his image. So often we forget to remember how big his heart actually is for us. Earlier this year a friend if mine committed suicide. His room mate committed suicide last year and the circumstances that invaded his life thereafter sent him into a local mental healthcare facility which prescribed way too many medications for any ones well being. To this day his mom still asks me through tears if I believe there was anything she could have done to “save” him. We need to do a better job of saving each other. We all go through situations in this life that are much too dreary to even imagine a brighter sun around the corner let alone a rainbow. The one phrase that you will never hear me say to anyone is that “God will never give you more than you can handle”. He will absolutely allow us to go through situations that we cannot possibly handle. The grace in all of it is that he has promised us that we are not supposed to bear those burdens alone. He has given us the gift of each other. For some it’s the gift of problem solving and resolution. For others, it’s the gift of being an encourager. Whether it’s the silent prayers we offer up, the letter or card we send, the kind words we offer as comfort, or even just being “present”. In times of loss in any form it just helps to know that we are not alone. So I offer this sentiment…We need to love each other as though every moment is not only our last, but our chance to make a difference…one moment at a time. Thank you for sharing your deepest sentiments Amy! This was a brave reach and I apologize for reaching back with a book in return lol. I hope you have a blessed day and keep encouraging!

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