Maybe you remember the moment of your epiphany. That instant when you realized the severe mental illness your loved one suffers with can’t be “fixed”—not by you, not by medication, not by therapy. It’s that time you understood mental illness isn’t like other illnesses that can be cured, but more like diabetes that can be managed and mitigated, but not usually healed. And, if not carefully addressed, it can also be fatal.
Watching over, caring for, supporting a loved one with mental health challenges has forced me to learn many new things I never thought I’d need to know—things like how to apply for SSI, how to get a mental health warrant, how to research psychotropic medications and how to recognize and mitigate “triggers.” It has also helped me to learn to pray differently, trust God in deeper ways, be more empathetic with others and, most surprising of all, how to wait.
Good morning, Lord.
I am grateful that, once again, You have offered me a new day as an incredible gift to unwrap and enjoy. Thank You that it is not a blank slate waiting to be filled, but a treasure chest beckoning to be explored.
When Douglas took off after high school to attempt life as an adult, he carried with him his “fortune”: savings bonds from grandpa, a car given by a friend, graduation monies and a promise of rent payment from us. Within months it was all gone. Squandered. Like the Prodigal Son, he had taken all the things that could have given him a successful launch and used them on “riotous living.” It’s no wonder that in those early days I often turned to the parable in Luke 15:11-32.
But that was before. Before a diagnosis. Before understanding of mental illness. Before the discernment to distinguish misdirected brain chemistry from willful foolish behavior. Continue reading
Some of you may have noticed that I have not posted a new blog in many months. This is because I have had some health issues that needed my full attention for a time. I’m happy to say that I am fully on the mend, and so am able to pick back up with sharing with you. As a reminder, these blogs form a collection of my reflections from the Scriptures related to caring for loved ones who live with mental illness.
Wouldn’t you know it! As if caring for our loved ones doesn’t stir up enough fear on its own, here comes COVID-19, isolation, job losses, economic uncertainty, political chaos and civil unrest. So, in addition to worrying about our loved ones’ medication compliance, suicidal ideations or agitated outbursts we also fear what kind of a future is ahead of us.
How do we get on top of such anxiety? Continue reading
I have five grandchildren. Three live about 30 minutes away while the other two live with their parents in the apartment on the far side of my kitchen.
Other friends have grands who live hundreds or even thousands of miles away. To develop close relationships with their little ones, they have established very specific and deliberate ways of staying in touch, like regular Skype calls or recording readings of favorite children’s books. Those strategies are somewhat effective, but all ache for hugs and lap time. Continue reading
Sometimes it seems there is just little to be thankful for. When our loved ones living with mental health difficulties are going through a rough episode, when a change in treatment has caused an upheaval, when we run out of ideas on where to find help next, it’s often impossible to be grateful.
That’s when we turn our attention from our circumstances and look at our God who is great and our God who is good. Continue reading
We’ve all been there. We’ve all been lost in situations where we were totally helpless, completely hopeless and utterly terrified. It might have been in the midst of a loved one’s mental health crisis. Or we may have been navigating a devastating financial loss. Perhaps it was in the midst of a heart-wrenching relationship struggle. No matter the circumstances, we have found ourselves desperate and desolate and thinking, “I guess all we can do is pray.” Continue reading
Because of my own situation, I write from the perspective of a mother supporting a son. But my friend Jessica writes as a daughter seeking to help her father as they both cope with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). She reminds us that all of us need caregiving, and that in reality, God is the one who cares most, best and always. Continue reading