Is it wrong to keep your child’s mental illness (MI) a secret?
Friends or relatives may offer the common social inquiry: “How’s …?” or “What’s new with …?”
Does she really want to know about my child? If I told her how he’s really doing, would she judge my parenting abilities? Would she blab it to others?
Perhaps you refrain from telling others out of shame, or because of your desire to protect your child.
But, how can we answer? What if we can’t provide a fairy tale answer? Maybe you’d love to boast, “Oh, his soccer team won all of their games this season.” But, your child’s been barely motivated to take care of his basic hygiene. Perhaps you’d love to brag, “He made the honor roll again.” But, he’s been receiving home-bound instruction.
Surely, it would be wrong to unload all the sordid details. It would be wrong to provide an answer like, “His medication isn’t working. He’s been deep in depression and anxiety for weeks. We can’t find a good psychiatrist. I don’t want to even think of hospitalization. But, it seems inevitable if we can’t get him stabilized. I can’t take any more days off from work without losing my job. I don’t think I’ve slept fully in weeks…”
Yes, that response would be the wrong way to answer a casual question. So, what’s the right way to respond to, “How’s …?” If you’re like me, your go-to response is, “Oh, he’s fine.”
We silence the truth and protect our child. We know others don’t always respond with compassion to MI. Does that fact cause you to sometimes feel like an outcast? Is there a right way to handle feelings of isolation? The Bible gives us some examples of those who were isolated due to a health condition.
Outcasts in the Bible:
Levitical laws of purification identified conditions which priests declared unclean. People having certain conditions like leprosy or extensive bleeding, suffered consequences. A person branded as unclean might be isolated from the presence of God and His people. Surely, such separation led to humiliation and shame.
An Old Testament Example:
“King Uzziah had leprosy until the day he died. He lived in a separate house—leprous, and banned from the temple of the Lord” (2 Chronicles 26:21).
A New Testament Example:
Luke tells us about a woman who, “had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her” (Luke 8:43).
When Christ came in her area, she pushed through the mob to get to Jesus. We’re told that, “She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped” (Luke 8:44).
Jesus made a statement that caused her to tremble. He said, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me” (Luke 8:46).
“Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed” (Luke 8:47).
What caused the woman to fear? Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible explains why the woman trembled.
“She came trembling; for fear of the anger and resentment of Christ, and lest the favour would be revoked, and the penalty of the law inflicted.”
The word ‘law’ in that commentary’s explanation referred to the Levitical law of purification (Leviticus 15:25). A woman’s excessive bleeding was viewed as a deplorable condition. She was required to remain separated from her husband during her time of bleeding.
Christ’s Response to an Outcast:
So, did Christ react in anger? Here’s what He said to the woman who was courageous enough to touch His garment in public:
“Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace (Luke 8:48)”
That woman knew the right thing to do with her private suffering. She went to Jesus. We’re not like those under the Levitical laws of purity who were banned from His presence. So, the right way to handle our isolation is to go to Jesus. No illness, not even MI, can separate us from His love. During our secret silence and sorrow, Christ sees our faith. He offers us the same peace He extended to the woman.
“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).
To find more verses that will encourage your heart: click on ‘verses about peace’ (below).
What a beautiful exhortation, Vicki – to those struggling as they want to share the truth of their children with MI or those struggling with any condition that “the world” would use to marginalize them. We can always speak the truth. It may not be in the details we can trustfully bring to the Lord or to a heart friend, but we can always speak the truth as fits the true interest of the one asking.
Yes, Lynn, and we can always speak our deepest truths to the Lord! Hope those peace verses blessed you.
I pray you and your mom are both doing better. Your mom is so blessed with you and I’m sure you feel the same about her. i hope you are resting and gaining back some of the strength you had to give up for awhile. You and I both know that God gave you that awesome strength until it was time to take care of yourself.
I am awaiting the results of a head cat scan and blood work. Have experienced some fear with head injury but keep on plugging away at my healing scriptures and claiming God’s promises.
I love all your peace scriptures. I need them right now too. Keith is heavy(isn’t he always) on my heart as I have just sent him what I consider a harsh note about his state of affairs. I have put conditions on my money that he and his wife use unwisely and I know he will be hurt, upset, and wounded. He hates what he calls tough love when I do this, as I have so many times in the past. Of course, he never listens to me. But I am tired , in pain and just spent. Bud is really discouraged and says he wishes I could physically go to see Keith on my own as he doesn’t want to see him. Of course, on top of everything else, that hurts my heart so much. I know it is just his frustration at how long we have dealt with this pain and heartbreak and it never seems to get better. I understand his frustration; I am there too. We just deal with it in our different ways. I guess I am pouring out and venting to you because I know you will understand even though your situation with Chris is different. You are still dealing with a MI person, your beloved child.
Bud has gotten hard, cold, and mean spirited. This is really difficult after 50 years of marriage. I see his personality changing: he has aged something awful lately. I feel guilty as he worries about me and all my problems. But he is short with me and yells at me . This is not the man I knew. But i still love him so so much, so I just sort of say nothing and walk away like a wounded animal. If I say anything, it comes back to bite me. I just can’t seem to do anything right!! I can only go to God and pray my heart out. It seems like heaven would be so good right now to be with Jesus. But my place is here and now, and He will see me through this as He always does. But life is not much fun anymore.
Good news, is am working on starting a Prayer Shawl Ministry at my church and am so excited about that. Then, also, am enlarging my and God’s territory with HK Ministry to include others with inside illnesses who are struggling with trails and temptations. (last BS on Jabez, big incentive) Only they don’t show like ours does on the outside. So, God continues to make me work for His Kingdom and I am so very humbled.
Sorry to pour out like a broken vessel but I know you have compassion and caring for all of us who deal with MI in our child. Things are tough. Times are tough. But our God is TOUGHER!!
Prayers for your MS to calm down and for your precious mom to heal in God’s time.
Your updates help me know how to pray for you and your family. I’ll certainly keep these concerns in prayer: your health and fears related to your head injury, Keith’s reaction to your note, Bud’s recent demeanor, wisdom for you (to know how to respond to Keith and Bud), removal of your (needless) guilty feelings, and for easier and happier days for you.
I’m glad to read about your new Prayer Shawl Ministry and the expansion of your HK Ministry. Yes, God continues to make you work for His Kingdom. It truly is humbling to realize He wants to use us (even in the context of illnesses: our own and our sons’).
“Things are tough. Times are tough. But our God is TOUGHER!!”: Such perfect words to recite during trials!
“I can only go to God and pray my heart out.”: What an inspiration!!!
Gotta go…still recovering from two busy weeks with my mom.
You are such a blessing to me and many others. I must apologize for all the ranting and raving in my email to you. I guess I just figured you are a safe place and it had been building up in me, even though I have shared it with my best friend. She has so many issues that I tend to get overwhelmed in them. I love her dearly but the conversations can be heavy. And I feel like I put you in that place. And that is the last thing I would want to do. When I reread it, I cringed.
So, I thank you for referencing all my concerns; so kind of you, when you have so much on your own plate. I prayed for you and your mom and aunt this afternoon while resting. Your mom and aunt are so blessed to have each other. I pray your mom heals without too much trouble, although I do know the reality of getting old and falling. I prayed for you and my HK gal who also has MS. She was diagnosed with it at a young age and she has had so many issues lately. But when I see her singing with our praise band with all her heart and soul, I am so blessed. She does have a chair to sit down, so she can rest. But she is making such an effort for the Lord.
I will continue praying for you to be in a place of healing from all the activity. Wishing you renewed strength in body and peace for you with recovery as each day passes. I yearn for the peace that passes all understanding. In fact, I am using that as one of my scripture prayers as I crochet my first prayer shawl. Thank you, my friend, for your kind words and all your prayers.:)
No need to ever apologize. We’re close enough to be able to share our honest feelings. That helps us know how to pray specifically for one another.
Speaking of which, thanks for praying for my mom, aunt, and me. It truly is a blessing that my aunt and mom have each other.