“Cherish the moment,” said our seven-year-old son. Chris stared across the water gazing at Tom Sawyer Island. His first visit to Disney World captivated him. Even a child could appreciate the serene paradise.
Have you experienced moments like that? Times that you wanted to freeze time?
I’ve collected several “cherish-the-moment” memories. Periodically I “page through” those mental images. I’m sure you’ve got similar snapshots in your mental photo album. Most of my favorite memories are those of family members. Like these:
Some of my treasured moments capture my greatest passions. Like God’s creation and music. Here are two of those “cherish-the-moment” snapshots:
I once had the opportunity to attend a musical performance of “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band. Prior to that experience, I had never heard such perfection in music. [Treat yourself to a sample by listening to them perform John Philip Sousa’s march “The Stars and Stripes Forever.”]
Those of us raising children with mental illness (MI) have an additional category of special memories. We relish ordinary activities more than most moms. Like going on a family outing that’s stress-free. Or watching our child interact happily with a friend.
Recently I added one of those moments to my collection. Chris participated in a 5K run. He asked me to take pictures of the event. Howie joined me as we stood in the rain watching the participants. Joy flooded my heart as I watched Chris run along the route. He looked so focused and fit.
After the race ended, the three of us enjoyed a celebratory meal at Red Lobster. All throughout dinner, Chris chatted happily about the event.
I’ve savored that memory and reflected on it often. God spoke to my heart saying, “I delight in watching you run your race.”
I imagined God running alongside me, guiding me, protecting me, and cheering me on. Can you envision that same scene? THAT’S a memory we can all share!
Our Companion has promised that, “When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble” (Proverbs 4:12).
Our other son, Rob once ran a twenty-six mile marathon. He told me that most marathon runners “hit the wall.” It’s a sudden wave of fatigue that sets in at about 20 miles into a marathon. God has entered us in the MI marathon. Sooner or later we all have moments of fatigue. When we feel as if our mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual resources have been depleted.
At those moments, how do we go on? By focusing on the end of our race.
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever” (1 Corinthians 9:24-25).
When we’re worn out and weary, God encourages us by promising that, “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:31).
Man’s GPS (Global Positioning System) will only help us navigate as we travel roads. We have access to a far better system: GPS, God’s Positioning System that helps us navigate through life.
When we’re unsure where to turn, Scripture provides guidance. We can say with assurance, “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path” (Psalm 119:105).
“In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:6).
Our race in life will also be followed by a wonderful meal. I look forward to the feast that will be in heaven. An angel foretold of it saying, “Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” (Revelation 19:9).
Hi Vicki, Just recently my nephew was Baker Acted into a facility. He is experiencing paranoia and depression. He doesn’t participate in group therapy and refuses to take meds. The facility will not let him go home until he chooses to take meds. When he did take it be didn’t like the way it made him feel so he wouldn’t take again. Now that he knows he won’t be released he takes it but angry in doing so. I have read most of your blog and most of your experience sounds similar to my sister. She sleeps on recliner when he’s home. Takes him to meetings and drs. But nephew refusing to go in. I just don’t know what to say or do for my sister. My nephew doesn’t want the family to know, yet we all do. I wrote him a short note just to tell him I’m praying for him and I love him. Again I don’t know what to say. I know my sister needs support for herself but she’s so wrapped up in helping her son ( age 30) that she is overwhelmed. I have her reading your posts when she can. Any suggestions helpful. Thanks and God bless.
How my heart aches for your sister, her son, and for you. You know from reading my blog that I do understand. Been there…done that.
I recall seeking assistance and advice from our son’s psychiatrist when Chris was out of touch from reality. He urged me to get him to the hospital. But I didn’t know how to do that without risking my own life.
Your situation also reminds me of countless times I found myself in the same helpless place of trying to get my son to do what needs to be done.
It all comes down to prayer. That may sound like a casual and simplistic answer. But it’s far from that. It’s only God who can do a work in our sons’ hearts and minds. I’ve seen the power of prayer. Our heavenly Father answers the specific prayers of a mom (and aunt!).
Chris used to only read books in the Bible that feed his distorted views of scripture and play into paranoia. So I asked God to lead Chris to passages that wouldn’t contribute to twisted thinking about His love. It blew me away when just two days after that prayer Chris said, “I’ve been reading the book of James…” The amazing thing is that Chris doesn’t always talk to me. I can go several days without a conversation with him. Not only did God lead Chris to the book of James, but He had Chris tell me about it soon after my prayer.
The point is, we can cling to hope when we believe that God is truly alive and faithful.
I’m grateful you found this blog. It helps all of us to know we’re not alone and that others understand.
With heartfelt prayers that God will grant wisdom and strength (physical, mental, and emotional) for your sister,
I just read your wonderful post here! What a delight to see your photos of your family & to hear about the celebration of Chris’ 5k run!! WOO HOO!
I sure “get” celebrating the little things that others simply take for granted. Our youngest son has had milestones that are victories that are treasures for us….. yet would seem soooooo small to others!
Even now we’re celebrating (mostly….. when not tearing out hair out!!) that he’s finally reached teenage rebellious behaviour at age 24!! He’s nearly driving us nuts, but the celebratory side is that he’s developed further than any anticipated, so that he is now in this new level. AND he’s engaged!! Lots of anxious moments about that & new challenges, but heaps of blessings too.
May God continue to grow our young men to be all that God has for them.
ELLEN, my heart goes out to you, your sister & nephew!! I’d agree with Vicki….. prayer is key!! Also simply taking over a meal would say volumes. I know that those who have done that & other little things for me have brought me to tears of thankfulness. Offers to pick up groceries or taking them out for an hour can mean volumes too. Hope there’s some way for you to show your love & concern. God bless. Lotsoluv Kerryn
Nice to see your name here…You’re everywhere! Thanks for checking out my blog.
I totally get what you mean when you say, “Even now we’re celebrating (mostly….. when not tearing out hair out!!) that he’s finally reached teenage rebellious behaviour at age 24!!”
Congrats on your son’s engagement!
“May God continue to grow our young men to be all that God has for them.”: Amen!
Praying you’ll have a ‘normal’ day,
You made me chuckle Vicki!! Yeah….. I’m everywhere….. while my rear end is firmly attached to my recliner!! 😉
Hmmmm….. a “normal” day?! Yep! I’ve been in my PJs & dressing gown all day, no shower, 5:20am & no sleep yet…..!! I’m saying all of that with a cheeky smile & twinkle in my eye through eyes that are finally getting sleepy! Night night! Keep smiling. LOTSoluv Kerryn
Hi again Ellen,
Kerryn’s suggestion to take a meal to your sister is a fantastic one. When Chris experienced his first psychotic episode, life for us seemed to stop. Everything was put on hold so we could minister to Chris. One day someone at church said, “We’d like to bring a meal over to your house. Do you have any food allergies?”
I looked at her bewildered and replied, “Why would you do that?” It was odd for me to be on the receiving end of such a blessing. I hadn’t even been thinking of meals. Eating wasn’t a priority when I had no appetite. Like Kerryn, I was moved to tears. The gesture meant more to me than you could imagine. Not sure why…maybe it was because it represented a way the woman comforted me, while meeting the needs of my family.
Still praying for you, your sister, and your nephew,
Thank you for prayers. Definitely appreciated. Unfortunately I am disabled and can no longer cook or shop. My husband has had to do all of that for the last few years since my disability progressed due to many falls. But I can still drive. Just can’t walk w/o assistance, I use a rollator walker. I did give my sister some money for gas in taking her son to out patient therapy several times a week. I also took her to a NAMI support group yesterday. Here’s the latest update on my nephew, Scott. He was baker acted again 3 weeks ago. After agreeing to take the meds and attend group therapy he was released. Still anxious and still hearing voices. Dr put him on rispedone 2 mg at night and abilify 5 mg in mornings. Because meds causing him to be less focused and anxious dr wants him to take 10 mg of abilify starting tomorrow morning. My nephew wants to quit the meetings. Feels like its not helping. He has about another 2 weeks of group therapy. He said he’ll finish out this week. Don’t know if he will take the meds tomorrow morning. He still procrastinates in taking meds at night. He takes it late at night after sister mentions several times. Tonight he spoke with a friend on phone. Feels like everyone gets to have a life but he. Wants to go back to Tampa and get a job. Tampa is 2 hrs from my sister. Nephew saying he should never have come home. My sister has been trying to get my nephew, to see a different Dr but many don’t take insurance and those that do she can’t get appointments until August. At support group the facilitator said Florida worse state for people with MI. Also said some people get better others struggle their whole life with MI. My sister didnt want to hear that. She was hoping she could hear some success stories and find out what worked. Understand her desire to fix. I’m trying to stay positive and give my sister hope. Today I told her, if our children had cancer and the chemo was making them sick, it would be hard to know if you should continue treatment. Although we trust in God we also have to trust in the Dr’s. It’s a hard call. But at group last night the facilitator told us he’s in a good place in getting intense therapy. I’m hoping my nephew will attend some of the support groups NAMI has for those suffering from MI. I pray for answers. I reminded my sister how we prayed for right Dr, right treatment and right meds. The fact that nothing is opening up for a new Dr, we have to trust that God has Scott in the right place. My sister made an appointment with a neurologists to make sure there isn’t anything physically causing all this. The appointment is the first week of May. I am hoping my sister will reach out to others at NAMI. She has lost so much weight since this all happened 2 months ago. Lots of prayers needed for all. God Bless
Hi again Ellen,
Thanks for taking the time to pass along that detailed update. Your words give others a peek into what life is like in the midst of a crisis. Your description will give people insight into the challenges family members face when trying to get help for a child who has MI.
You may not be able to make a meal for your sister. But, there are countless ways you’re supporting her. Just think of all the ways you’ve blessed her: You gave her gas money so she could take her son to therapy, you took her to a NAMI support group mtg., you try to stay positive, you’ve encouraged her to visit my blog, you offer hope, you pray and ask others to pray…What an awesome sister you are!
Reading your description felt like I was transported back in time to when Chris had to be hospitalized. I could have written some of the exact words: I experienced weight loss (too sad and preoccupied to eat), had to trust God and doctors, dealt with insurance issues, watched Chris react to meds, therapy, his shattered life…
I’m impressed that your sister still has the fortitude to check with a neurologist to see if other physical conditions may be contributing to your nephew’s MI.
May God continue to strengthen you and your sister’s family,
Hi Vicki and Kerryn, I was wondering has anyone received any treatment for MI w/o the use of heavily sedatiting the patient? My nephew has been in out patient group therapy for approx 21 days. They have increased his dosage of meds. I’ve read that in some cases the meds make the symptoms worse. I think my nephew is going to stop therapy. My sister hoping to get a refferal for a one on one Dr for my nephew to talk to. Wish there was an alternative way of treating. Thanks
Wish I could help you. But, I don’t know of anyone who received treatment for MI w/o the use of heavily sedating the patient.
All I can suggest is to pray you could find a good psychiatrist who might know. Hopefully, the doctor your sister talks to will be able to suggest an alternative way of treating your nephew.
As a way of encouraging you, I can share an example of when I was in a similar place. Chris’s MI had been treated successfully with several meds. Suddenly, he started to unravel again. His psychiatrist said it was due to the fact that Chris’s body chemistry had changed (no uncommon for adolescents). I instantly began to panic, assuming Chris would forever remain in his fragile condition. But then the dr. said there are many other meds to try. He assured me we’d find another treatment. And we did (different meds).
My final word: I’ve learned that my hope can’t lie in meds (since Chris has opted to go off all his meds); it has to be in the Lord. I’m grateful you’re hanging onto that same hope.
With continued heartfelt prayers,