Fans don’t flinch when a soaring hockey puck rockets towards them. Why? Because of the protective glass separating them from harm.
That gives us a picture of God’s protection. When mental illness (MI) takes aim at our lives, we can envision the invisible hand of God enfolding our family members … our hearts … our minds.
How can we face our worst fears? By trusting in the One who can protect and provide. That’s the key to inner peace when an incoming strike from MI looms on the horizon.
MI can discombobulate our life and throw us off-balance. Leave us feeling torn apart and sad. Worn out and worried.
Torment doesn’t have to saturate our soul in the midst of tremendous sorrow. Peace will replace anxiety as we trust Him more. We hold onto the promise that, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” Isaiah 26:3
Last week I shared the first part of our story [‘When Mental Illness (MI) Hit Home’]. In 1996 Chris had begun to unravel. His reality had given way to unstable thoughts and fractured emotions. My heavenly Father provided guidance and started helping me through my grieving.
This second part of that journey demonstrates my need for God’s peace and protection. Chris needed medical care. God faithfully provided.
“Howie, Chris is having a breakdown. He needs help. I can take him to school tomorrow. The school psychologist, Jack, will know what to do.”
During the night, I didn’t sleep well. I heard Chris go in the bathroom a lot. He turned on the shower about five times. When everything became quiet, I got up to check on him. The bathroom door was closed. I assumed Chris fell asleep in the bathroom.
The next morning, somehow I got Chris dressed and in the car. As I drove, I explained what was happening. Even though he seemed incoherent, I felt the need to prepare him. Maybe it was my way of pretending the whole thing was normal.
“Chris, you’re probably mentally ill. You need some medicine to feel better. You’re going to talk to someone who is trained to help.”
Memories of my own childhood flashed in my mind. My father experienced a breakdown. He took medicine for depression and led a successful and happy life. That provided some comfort.
At school, I explained my situation to the headmaster.
“Chris’s mind has snapped. He’s lost it. I brought him to see our school psychologist,” I bluntly reported.
“Take Chris home. I’ll call when Jack arrives,” Bill replied.
I returned home with Chris. When we walked into our home, I noticed something alarming. Our dog’s eyes looked totally bloodshot, swollen, and almost bleeding. My mouth dropped open when I noticed her wet fur. Frozen in my tracks, I stood staring at her in disbelief. As if Chris read my mind, he explained what happened.
“I put her in the shower to get the blood off. I slapped her. She wouldn’t sit when I asked her to. She kept going for the dog treats.”
I realized Chris kept Zelda in the bathroom with him during the night. He harmed the dog he loved. The dog that comforted him many days after school. I gently stroked Zelda while waiting for Jack to call. Tears streamed down my face. Chris continued pacing. Mumbling to himself.
Soon after, the psychologist called. I explained the situation.
“Bring Chris to school. I’ll talk with him and find out what’s going on,” Jack instructed.
After a short visit with him, the psychologist concluded Chris was having a psychotic episode (commonly referred to as a nervous breakdown).
“I know a good physician who can evaluate Chris.”
We drove to Dr. Kent’s office. Once we arrived, the nurse ushered Chris and me to a treatment room. Jack briefed Dr. Kent in another room.
The nurse asked the routine question, “So, why are we here today?”
“Because I’m mentally ill.”
Chris’s answer shocked both of us.
“Is that right?” she asked me.
I nodded yes.
She took Chris’s blood pressure (which was soaring) and rushed out of the room.
Dr. Kent and Jack came into the room. Each of them locked onto my eyes with their stares. Dr. Kent pressed his lips tightly together. As if trying to keep the bad news from escaping his mouth. Jack shifted his gaze to the floor. As if searching for some other way to deliver the message. Their silence spoke volumes. I knew Dr. Kent agreed with Jack’s initial diagnosis.
After a brief observation, Dr. Kent explained the plan.
“First, we need to stabilize Chris. Bring him back to reality. After that, we can deal with what caused the episode.”
His soft, quiet word conveyed compassion. As he spoke, I could tell by his expression this was serious. Although I understood his words, it all seemed surreal.
Dr. Kent continued. “Chris should be hospitalized. But, we’d like to avoid that if at all possible. Would you be willing to try to stabilize him at home, Mrs. Chandler?”
I knew it would be risky to have Chris around people—even his own family. But during the day, Howie would be in work and Rob would be in school. I’d do anything to keep Chris from being hospitalized.
The assurance of God’s presence always comforted me. So I gave myself a pep talk.
Shift your gaze, Vicki. Trust Him. God’s promised His protection and guidance. He’ll be with you. He’ll show you what needs to be done.
It would be important to create a safe environment. Deep down inside, I knew I couldn’t protect myself from a young man who was bigger, stronger, and smarter than me. Chis had a black belt in karate. I hid all our knives and scissors. The rest would be up to God.
Oh Father, keep us safe. Protect me during the day. My mind is tempted to panic. My heart is aching to scream out. I’m struggling to keep my composure. Chris needs me to remain calm. Fill me with Your perfect peace. Help him sense Your peace.
I had no idea what would happen each day. No idea how bad things would get.
In the most trying times, many of us tend to fear the worst. “How will I ever get through this?” we worry. “This situation seems so horrible—so impossible to solve … I don’t want to think about what will happen next.”
In the midst of uncertainty, we can be sure of God’s care. When MI hits, God provides people who can help. Our loving Father can help us remain calm in the midst of the crisis.
We may not know what the future holds, but we know Who holds the future. The song ‘He Already Sees’ by The Collingsworth Family has such an assuring message, with encouraging words: “He sees the rainbow when we see only clouds.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=25ryU9Jbt0Q