As I wrap up this year and prepare to head into the next, my heart swirls with a mixed mess of emotions. There are griefs over what has been lost in the last 12 months—the sleepless nights wasted in worry as our loved one spun out of control, the monies squandered to cover his manic spending, the emptiness that hollowed out my soul when his wife left with our grandchildren.
But there are also tidal waves of gratitude as we have watched the devastating cycle recede and ripples of stillness and sanity return. There are memories of kind empathy from friends and powerful prayers from the people of God.
I watched the turmoil in his eyes as our son Douglas wrestled with envy at the news his younger brother, Jonathan, had just bought his first house. And when his little sister, Joanna, completed her master’s studies, Douglas struggled again. After all, he was the eldest. Shouldn’t he be first in all things? Continue reading
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.
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
I’m the first one awake in my household most mornings. I grope my way in the darkness to resurrect myself with a cup of coffee as I curl up in my favorite chair. In the stillness and silence I turn on one soft lamp and then begin to read, pray and mentally prepare for the day. Gradually dawn streams into the room. Once again the light overcomes the darkness and I can see beyond my book to the rest of the room and down the hallway.
For so many years we were lost in our journey amid the darkness of mental illness. There were so many days when we couldn’t see where to turn or how to find our way. At times we felt the darkness would overcome us and we would be swallowed by the uncertainty of it all. Continue reading
I invited Douglas’ wife, who is a peer support specialist, to share with you some things she has mentioned to me that can help loved ones who deal with mental illness navigate the holiday season. Continue reading