SENTINEL 2-24-2011
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Emotions Surrounding Michael

The King of Pop, pressure, & a bi-polar relative

February 24, 2011

After asking about Michael Joseph Jackson just over seven years ago CNN anchor Andrea Koppel asked how his family was. Here is how I answered: "Well, Michael is cautiously optimistic. He knows he's innocent of the charges filed against him. The family is understandably concerned. Katherine Jackson, Michael's mother, her children, grandchildren, other relatives are under the emotional crush of all of this.

"It's kind of sad, most people don't know that, when his young nieces and nephews go to school ... they get teased, ‘Your uncle's a molester.' ... These are things off camera or out of the news, but it's a great emotional toll on the family."

Today one of those nieces, Yashi Brown, 33, battles with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Fox News reports that Michael's eldest sibling Rebbie Jackson, 60, says of daughter Yashi's situation: 

"You have to get to the core of the problem, expose it and accept it does exist, and then you can go about learning how to deal with it." As one news source says, Rebbie is opening up ‘in an attempt to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness.'

When CNN asked me what I was doing to help the family I responded: "I'd like to direct them to the Scriptures. Michael's mother is one of the Jehovah's Witnesses, and so is his older sister and her husband and family. They all have a Witness background so they're familiar with the Bible."

To be sure, Christians are encouraged to "speak consolingly to the depressed souls" and to "support the weak." (1 Thess 5:14, 15, New World Translation) But the young Yashi I knew had a resiliency about her. So, it's not surprising that, as part of her catharsis, she's come out with a book of poems. 

Yashi's Own Words: "The poems date back to when I was in my teens to now," says singer, songwriter, philanthropist, and poetess Yashi, author of Black Daisy in a White Limousine: 77 Poems.  

"You can see some of the emotional changes and you get a sense of the true honest expression of all the things I've experienced with life, with family, love and all of that. You get a sense of what it is that we're talking about," she is reported to have said in a recent interview.

"It was harder for sure, you feel like you constantly have to hold it together so technically you're living a double life. You're living in this world that you totally don't understand then you leave and go into the public where you really have to have it together," she said.

"Of course growing up in a high profile family especially will make you feel like you need to be some sort of an example or be super strong to the people around you and not be yourself. Instead of saying,  ‘I have these challenges and other people have these same challenges and let's communicate and talk about it' as opposed to trying to act like they don't exist or that you have it all together, which is really exacerbating it in the long run."

The Witness Connection: Jehovah's Witnesses recognize the important role of mental health professionals. In the aftermath of the January 12, 2010, earthquake in Haiti, Witness officials promptly addressed the trauma experienced by coreligionists in the affected areas by, among other activities, sponsoring a seminar.

"In March a Witness doctor who specializes in treating post-traumatic stress disorder met with the elders of 115 congregations affected by the quake," says the 2011 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses. "The doctor provided the elders with practical suggestions on giving spiritual support to the emotionally traumatized members of their congregations," continues Yearbook.

No, these elders weren't "sworn in" as mental health specialists. But by all accounts the seminar greatly helped the situation.  In accord with its etymological significance, it was indeed a "seminar," given the fact that this word comes from the Latin semen, which means "seed" in English.

The goal was to plant intellectual ‘seeds' in the minds of the elders so that such could germinate and reach fruition, thereby providing a haven of foliage for emotionally distraught members. (Compare Isa 32:1, 2) Yashi, like hundreds of Witnesses in Haiti, is successfully dealing with the tremors in her own emotional space.    

And with the upcoming trial of Dr. Conrad Murray, Fox reports that Rebbie insists "the Jackson family is doing very well." Rock on Jacksons. Peace and blessings to all. Amen.