The hurricanes of last summer tore up a broad swath of destruction from one island to another, and all the way along the Gulf Coast. In an era of more frequent natural disasters, there’s a whole industry of recovery “experts” just waiting to appear with their clipboards and walkie-talkies. When we are in the position of perceived weakness, we are often at the mercy of these outsiders and the resources we believe they will devote to our cause. But what if we flipped the script and entrusted the resources directly to those who seem to be most vulnerable? What if we believed that the resources they possess simply by knowing their own needs were the most powerful tool towards recovery? Those same communities that appear devastated have faced the devastation of different kinds before, and with a strong rootedness in their sense of “home,” have done what was needed to rebuild and carry on.
In much the same way, a person facing the internal hurricane of mental illness may know what he needs before anyone else can bring a diagnosis. He may have lived through generations of stormy weather, his personal history shaped by the waves and winds of family devotion in seasons of uncertainty. We cannot always rescue other people, and many times we need someone to throw us a lifeline. But often, those who seem to lack the most help can be the most attuned to what they really need.