I have an idea. It's an assignment for everyone who has an opinion: Define mental illness. That's it. But here's the catch; it's a closed book, closed screen test. You do have a life line.... a phone-a-friend who has a close family member with a mental illness. Don't know anyone? You probably do, but you don't know it yet. Start asking questions. Start with depression. Does anyone you know live with someone who is depressed? No, you can't open your Bible and see where your finger lands, and you can't raise your hand and ask your pastor who has all the answers. You have to ask someone who is hurting. The person who's been there, done that, and wears the T-shirt, because it's the only one clean.
If the subject comes up before you get around to this, you don't have an opinion. Period. You can tell us about the moccasins after you've worn them for awhile. Until then, please just keep your mouth closed. Once you do get a chance to ask someone what it's like, then you may open your book, The Book, and read about Jesus' compassion for people who are sick, lost, and rejected by those around them. Write your definition on tear stained paper only, please. Put it in a folder labeled "someday", and review it if mental illness ever comes to visit your family. One in five families in America deal with a mental disorder of some kind.
After you use your phone-a-friend, you might find that the person on the other end is someone who needs a life line too. You might even find that by talking about the struggles of life together, it doesn't matter anymore what kind of struggles they are. Only that there is grace for each of us in this moment. Not because mental illness doesn't exist, but because God does.