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May 11, 2019

Bonnie Sue

Mental Health Awareness month -- each year in May -- began in 1949. I guess it's helped. It just seem to me that we've still got a long way to go.

As some of you know, my sister Bonnie Sue is seriously mentally ill. After an almost idyllic childhood, she's struggled with schizophrenia for virtually all of her adult life. Now, due to decades of chain smoking (a common means of self-medication for schizophrenics) she has COPD. Her quality of life is poor.
Yet, her illness isn't the result of poor life choices, an inability or unwillingness to cope with life's difficulties, or anything else under her control. While there is a genetic element to her disease, schizophrenia otherwise fell into her life with crushing, random force, like an anvil dropping from the sky.
This is a self portrait by Bonnie Sue, painted when she was still in the early stages of her disease. She gave it to our Dad as a gift. I found it among his belongings when he died just over ten years ago. If you study it, maybe you can glimpse something.

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