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What’s it like?

peek

Here goes. I’m going to share some of the most horrible details of mental illness (MI).

Why would I share such intimate details of my life? What would motivate me to re-live painful memories? To let other moms raising kids with MI know they’re not alone. Other families experience similar struggles.

Our trials are both alike and unique. The details of your journey with MI may be different. But many of us share the experience of an unpredictable life. We all have access to the unchanging, reliable Father. God’s faithfulness is the thread that holds us together and connects our stories.

“What’s it like to have a psychotic episode? What’s life like for a mother whose son is out of touch with reality?” people wonder.

For me, it seemed endless … all-consuming …overwhelming … daunting … surreal. I needed endurance, wisdom to manage odd behaviors, and comfort to remain calm.

The last two weeks I’ve shared details about our journey. In the first part of our story [‘When Mental Illness (MI) Hit Home’] I shared how Chris had begun to unravel in 1996. His reality had given way to unstable thoughts and fractured emotions. My heavenly Father provided guidance and started helping me through my grieving.

Last week’s entry (‘Unprepared & Sad, but Unflinching’) showed how God provided peace and protection for me and medical care for Chris. This week I’ll continue the story and explain how God provided endurance and wisdom.

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For ten days, I didn’t sleep at night. I only rested. I took very brief showers in the evening when my husband was home. I hid all our knives, scissors, matches, medicine, and anything else I thought could be a weapon or harmful to Chris or us.

It was important for me to keep track of where our dog was at all times without Chris realizing it. I had to maintain a calm demeanor no matter what Chris’s emotions were. One minute, he’d hug. Minutes later, he sob and say, “Why me? I didn’t do anything wrong.”  Suddenly, he’d explode. He’d shout, break walls and mirrors, and slam doors.

I recall one incident when Chris karate-kicked a mirror. As I sat on the floor cleaning up the broken glass, I sobbed. It felt like I was picking up the broken pieces of his life.

Watching my son so broken was heart wrenching. It didn’t seem real to witness his bazaar and violent behavior.  His explosion of emotions seemed like years of pain were being unleashed.

Those days were difficult for Rob as well. Life was anything but normal. He had to go to school and act as if everything was fine. Robert thought the brother he knew was gone. I couldn’t guarantee Chris would return to reality, or ever be like he used to be.

There was no way for me to shield Robert from what he had to see at night. As Robert got ready for bed that night, he had to step around the broken glass and his weeping mother.

We witnessed Chris destroy other things. He’d pick up something, break it, and say, “This is evil.” He took Robert’s Casio keyboard and totally destroyed the controls.

God helped me endure the constant playing of “Jesus Christ Superstar” (the opera). Chris played it over and over and over until I thought I’d lose my mind. I couldn’t take the CD away until I felt sure Chris wouldn’t become violent looking for it.

After I hid the CD, I heard Chris playing the opera on the piano. Robert begged, “Do something to make him stop playing that music.” Hiding the piano wasn’t possible.

Chris also played “Joy to the World” in a dissonant tone. That song was always coupled with his warning, “The world is going to end.” One day, he got his trumpet and yelled, “Turn on the TV. Here it comes!!! Get ready! The world will end now!”

What does that mean? What does he intend to do?! Oh Father, please protect me.

Thankfully, nothing happened. Oddly enough, his musical abilities never left him. He played the piano and the trumpet all day. Always in a distorted, dissonant tone. Reflecting his tormented emotions. It was as if he found a creative outlet for his misery. I heard it. All. Day. Long.

Chris made the strangest comments and barraged me with questions. He constantly asked me what the Bible said about certain things. His racing thoughts caused him to demand the answers immediately. I couldn’t find the verses fast enough. Even though I was extremely frustrated, I couldn’t yell at him or give up. Either of those responses would have gotten him angry or violent. God filled me with supernatural calmness.

His distorted view of God’s Word resulted in peculiar actions. One day, he ripped the back of a white shirt and tied it around his neck to represent wings. He declared, “I’m the archangel.”

He carried his Bible everywhere and preached nonstop. We had to stop speaking about the Lord because that would just feed his twisted thinking. I never realized how much a part of my everyday conversations were about the Lord. I hid all our Bibles. We had more than I imagined!

One day, the mother of a girl from Chris’s school called to let me know he had called their home at 2:00 in the morning. To prevent future mid-night wake-up calls, we hid all our phones.

During the day, I couldn’t turn on the radio or TV. I didn’t want to risk Chris hearing something that would feed his distorted thoughts. I struggled to find something to do. Household chores lent themselves to calm and productive activities.

Chris’s blood pressure remained high as long as his mind raced. Often, his nose started bleeding. As a child, I had endured numerous nosebleeds. So, I knew what did and didn’t work to make the bleeding stop.

When Chris got his first bloody nose, I began to tell him what to do.

“Breathe out of your mouth, Chris.”

Chris perceived that as controlling and he resisted. He did the opposite of what I told him to do. In my frustration and sorrow, I cried.

Chris responded by shaking his head from side to side. The blood flew all around the bathroom, splattering it on the walls. It looked like a murder scene. I knew if I didn’t leave the bathroom, his nose would never stop bleeding. I had to walk away.

Please, Lord, stop his nose from bleeding.

Each day I kept anecdotal records and documented what was going on. This helped the professionals identify what was wrong with Chris. I administered his medication (Risperdal). It was important to follow the doctor’s specific instructions. The dosage had to be adjusted each day. We quickly spiked the dosage during the first few days, and then gradually lowered the dosage as he became more stabilized.

Twice every day, I gave Chris his medicine. It slowly restored some awareness of reality. But, Chris’s mental illness remained. His distorted thinking led him to believe the pills I gave him caused his strange thoughts. He thought I was intentionally trying to cloud his mind. So, he threatened my life.

He found a screw driver. Holding it two inches from my face he’d say, “I’ll kill you if you give me that pill.”

Each dose became a life and death experience. I’d look lovingly into his tortured eyes and calmly whisper, “Take your pill. It will help you.” Miraculously, Chris took it each time. Sometimes after first growling at me.

Thank You, Father, for protecting me every time I give Chris his meds.

One day, without my knowledge, Howie gave Chris some over-the-counter medication. The doctor said it would help calm Chris down. The problem was I had just administered an increased dosage of the Risperdal. I took Chris in the car to see some Christmas lights. Suddenly, he began to get extremely agitated. He started pounding the dashboard. Then he put his head back and said, “My tongue is swollen.” He began shouting and crying. It was extremely difficult to drive while calming Chris.

Thank You, God, for helping us return safely home. 

My heavenly Father provided endurance and gave the wisdom needed to manage Chris’s bazaar and violent behaviors. He helped me face the unthinkable. He’ll do that for you.

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us (Ephesians 3:20).”

God’s love never fails. He lifts us up when we’re weak. Join the Afters as they praise God in their song, ‘Lift Me Up.’

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6UAGhJHmOw

 

Problems: Big or Little

problems

There’s a cure for minor irritations: big problems.

Raising a child who has mental illness (MI) puts things into perspective. Former annoyances pale in comparison to daunting trials.

I used to pride myself in being able to handle any problem. Until MI hit. When our son, Chris had his first psychotic episode, there was nothing I could do. I couldn’t restore clarity of thought.  Motherly comfort couldn’t cure him. Divine intervention was my only hope.

We sometimes have to get sucked into the quicksand of helplessness before we realize our need for God. Getting knocked flat on our back forces us to look up. Bringing into focus the Source of our help.

One day, while teaching second graders, I realized my reliance had completely shifted from my control to God’s. MI had taught me, “Don’t sweat the small stuff. It’s all small stuff.” It helped me understand that all our problems are small stuff to God.

Report cards were to be sent home. A major computer problem had been discovered. Forcing the school secretary to inform the teachers. She came to my classroom to report the bad news. The look in her eye told me she was bracing herself for a bad reaction.

“There’s a problem with the report card software program. A computer glitch is changing some of the grades. We don’t have time to double check all the grades for every student. Other teachers are really concerned. What do you think? Do you have any suggestions?”

I didn’t bat an eye. It didn’t faze me.

“This isn’t the end of the world. I think if people faced a real crisis, things would be put into perspective. This is no big deal. We can just send a note home informing the parents we’re aware of the problem. All we need to do is assure parents we’ll adjust any incorrect grades once we’ve had time to investigate.”

Don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t want anyone to go through what we experienced with Chris. It’s just that a significant tragedy has a way of shifting our perspective.

In 1992 a monster storm threatened the southern tip of Florida. Hurricane Andrew quickly grew to a category five hurricane. My high school friend, Lynn, lived in Homestead with her family. Andrew was taking aim on her home. Homestead was in its direct path.

I called Lynn right before she evacuated. “I’ll pray for you and your family. What are you going to do?”

“We’re collecting photos and important papers. We’ll drive as far north as we can. We’ll be okay as long as we have each other.”

In the panic of the storm, it became clear to Lynn what was important. They could survive the loss of their home and business as long as they had each other.

When trials threaten to ravage our lives, we realize what’s important: family. When we’re at the mercy of circumstances, we understand our utter dependence on God. We realize our need to rely solely on Him.

Many parents dream their children will get a good job, marry, and have kids. Howie and I were no different … until MI hit. Now we’re grateful Chris is alive. Our greatest desire is for him to be happy and at peace.

Our dependence on God enables us to face another day. We don’t fear big problems because we know God is bigger. The more we see His faithfulness, protection, and provision, the more we can trust Him. We’ve learned to live with adversity, with an assurance of His care.

My former multi-handicapped student knew about living with adversity. I wondered what life was like for him. So I asked Tom, “What’s it like being blind?”

“It’s no picnic,” he casually remarked.

What an understatement! How could Tom answer so matter-of-factly? Because he’d faced his lifestyle for so long. He got used to it.

We’ve faced life with MI for over 17 years. I can agree with Tom. “It’s no picnic.” I’m not a fan of problems and life stressors. But problems don’t scare me anymore. I’ve grown accustomed to God’s intervention. And have learned to depend on His love and power in our lives.

The good news: God can give you that same blessed assurance.

This journey of MI can feel so lonely. But we’re never alone. God is with us. Joni Eareckson Tada, who has faced adversity for decades, sings of that great assurance. We’re ‘Alone Yet Not Alone.’

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWVyVMbSzM4

Don’t Underestimate Your Influence

PositiveInfluence

Do you ever wonder if you’re helping your child who has mental illness (MI)? His illness may prevent him from thanking you. Your spouse may not acknowledge your efforts. When we near our breaking point, we’re tempted to give up.

This message is dedicated to the countless moms who privately provide support. No one sees all you do. No one could know how you minister to your child, in spite of your broken heart. You’d much rather crawl into bed and cry … for a week or two. But there’s no time for you to grieve.

Recently, I witnessed beautiful motherly care and attention. My good friend sat beside her adult son in a mental health care facility.

She had recently totaled her car, which left her with some back pain. She and her husband had settlement the day after her son was admitted into the hospital. Her husband had paper work to do. So she went to visit her son alone (not knowing I’d come alongside her).

In spite of fighting a cold, she asked all the right questions. Presenting each one lovingly.

“Did you eat last night?”
“How did you sleep?”

“Do you like your psychiatrist?”

“Do you take a walk in the hallway sometimes?”

“Did you have group?”

“What are you thinking?”

Periodically, she gently stroked his arm. Sometimes, she allowed silence.

She reassured him without promising something that may not happen.

“Do you think I’ll be able to go to my Bible study’s Christmas party on Friday?” her son asked.

“Maybe. Hopefully,” was her honest reply.

My friend held it together while in the hospital. Until we stepped outside after visiting hours. The exit door became a faucet for her tears.

I tried to comfort her. “Are you okay?”

“I’m numb,” she said as she softly cried.

I gently stroked her back.

Will her son be released before Christmas? That remains to be seen. Will his new medication restore him to his sweet self? Time will tell.

When is it a good time to be hospitalized for MI? Certainly not at Christmas.

Seventeen years ago Christmas wasn’t a time for celebration. Our son, Chris, had to be hospitalized. Those memories mercifully have begun to fade. Visiting my friend’s son threatened to arouse painful emotions.

“Are you sure you want to go?” asked my husband lovingly. Wondering if it would be too difficult for me to relive reminders of our son’s hospitalization.

“This will be healing for me,” I answered. “I know how much it would have meant if someone sat by me when Chris was hospitalized (if you couldn’t come). Especially if that person knew exactly what I was feeling.”

So I went. And was blessed by what I saw in my friend’s compassionate care of her son.

Her son also impressed me. There he sat in a psychiatric hospital speaking about God’s Word. He quoted verses from the Bible and discussed some of his favorite stories. His shattered cognition didn’t dampen his determination to focus on the Lord. His inner turmoil didn’t rob him of his love for God. My friend can take credit for investing Truth in him. God’s Word promises that His Truth will not come back void.

Isaiah 55:11 tells us, “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”  (KJV)

Can anyone relate to the thankless care you provide for your child with MI? Certainly the Lord can. He healed ten lepers, but only one thanked Him. He died on the cross for the sins of all mankind, but men mocked Him as He hung dying. Spewing anger in return for His unconditional love. Countless still ignore His free gift of salvation.

Christ surely knows what it’s like for you. He sees your faithful labors of love. So seek His approval. He’s well-pleased with you. And know this: you’re having a positive impact on your child even though it can’t be measured.

Hang in there, with your focus firmly fixed on Him.

The song “In Christ Alone” (from the Secrets Of The Vine CD) reminds us that, “Here in the power of Christ we stand.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ExnTlIM5QgE

 

A Trip to the ER

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“Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.”  Psalm 34:3  (NKJV)

When life includes mental illness (MI) how can having one more complication be good? Those are times God uses other people to magnify His love for us.

We headed off to the ER. Thankfully, it was for me and not our son, Chris. I’d rather endure my physical pain than relive any emotional pain of Chris suffering.

It all started a week ago with me vomiting on Wednesday night. So I only ate several tiny crackers on Thursday. Which I vomited Thursday night. The pain in my abdomen didn’t feel like a typical intestinal bug. So Friday I drove myself to the doctor, ignoring the searing pain of each bump and turn.

The doctor prescribed antibiotics and anti-cramping medicine. “If you don’t feel any better by tomorrow, go to the ER,” he instructed me. “They’ll run tests to determine the cause. It could be anything…food poising, diverticulitis, a gall bladder attack…”

Friday I followed the doctor’s instructions to drink colorless fluids, take my meds, and eat a bland diet.

Saturday morning I tried eating some applesauce. My loss of appetite prevented me from finishing off the snack-size container. Could only manage about a tablespoon.

By 10:00 AM Saturday morning, my condition hadn’t improved. Howie and I decided to head to the ER.

We provided necessary information. They did some tests. We waited for results and provided more information. Eight hours later they admitted me and had a diagnosis. My enlarged gall bladder, complete with a gall stone, caused all the pain and discomfort.

The decision was made to remove it. IV antibiotics had to be administered to reduce the size.

My first night in the hospital proved to be exactly what others joke about. The constant interruptions. Time to wake up and take meds. An hour later, time to check vitals. Next hour, time to see if the IV is okay. I was well-taken care of and weary.

Sunday morning Howie came to visit. Soon after, Chris arrived. What a blessing to have him come! The sweet time we spent together in the hospital almost made my pain worth it. Chris was so caring and compassionate.

“Are you okay, Mom? How are you feeling? I’ve been in hospitals and I know it’s hard to get a good night sleep.”

“Yeah, Chris. You can say that again. Nurses coming and going…the IV machine beeping and then sounding an alarm when the tubing had too many bubbles… …announcements on the intercom…and even a lullaby song played over the intercom announcing the birth of a baby born in the hospital.”

Howie and Chis left after a short visit. Later Sunday afternoon Howie called.

“When Chris and I were leaving the hospital, Chris asked the doctor if he could do anything to stop the announcements from being made on the intercom outside my room.”

What a considerate gesture! Chris made an effort to guarantee me better sleep. Even though the doctor had no power over the  intercom, Chris’s thoughtfulness made my day.

Sunday night Howie came for another visit carrying a beautiful yellow vase full of flowers. He showered me with small gifts. Things I didn’t even know I’d need: warm footies for my feet, Chapstick, the recharger for my cell phone…

That second night in the hospital I still endured pain and interrupted sleep. But my heart was full of the love shown by Chris and Howie. God used my enflamed gall bladder to magnify His love in my life.

During trials, I’ve learned to be on the lookout for God’s love messages sent through others. He surely sends them because He’s surely there. And surely cares.

Yesterday when I arrived home from the hospital another of God’s love messages greeted me. This time sent through the loving hands of former colleagues. On their first day back to school, those dear friends and Christian educators took the time to sign a get-well card for me. Their card was like a bouquet of blessings filled with promises of prayers.

Thank You, Father, for magnifying Your love for me through family and friends. Help me make it a priority to magnify Your love. To open Your Word and closely examine how You show Your love. How beautiful You are the closer I am to You!

Magnify the Lord as you listen to Great Is Thy Faithfulness By Cece Winans

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=60o3UP4Kjwg

Not Now

Vicki.not.good.time

When is a good time for a crisis? Most likely you quickly shouted, “NEVER!”

Mental illness (MI) interrupted my life when my son lost touch with reality. Chris was a junior in high school. I was the Director of Instruction at a Christian school. A school I helped start with just one other administrator, Sam.

The school began as a ministry of our mega church. With a congregation of 10,000 members, the school’s enrolment exploded in a few short years. The first year we had 380 students. In the second year, there were 570 students. By the fifth year, the enrolment swelled to 1,000! The headmaster and I were a little busy.

So when I needed to stay home with Chris, Sam was left to oversee it all. During the time of my absence, I visited our pastor.

“How’s it going, Vicki,” he compassionately asked.

“Chris is in the hospital. I’m concerned about Sam.”

“Why?”

“Because he needs my help with the school.”

Then my pastor made a statement that shocked me.

“God doesn’t need you, Vicki.”

His words made me wince.

That wasn’t very nice. He knows I’m going through this crisis. How could he say such a thing? Isn’t he supposed to say comforting words?

I quickly learned my pastor spoke God’s Truth in love. Those words helped me realize I’d been relying on myself instead of God. Eventually, that statement freed me from worry. Whenever I struggled to handle an insurmountable problem, that truth readjusted my focus. His words echoed in my mind, reminding me God’s in control.

God doesn’t need you, Vicki. He’s quite capable of solving this problem. He’s accomplishing His perfect plan in your life.

Paul understood his inclination to rely on himself. He acknowledged that his heavenly Father used life’s pressures to help him trust in God alone. He reassured the church in Corinth, “We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead (2 Corinthians 1:8-9).”

As we raise our children with serious MI, we can feel as though it’s a task “far beyond our ability to endure.”

Do you feel like Paul? Are you under such great pressure that you despair of life itself? Listen to Paul’s encouragement. His voice of experience reminds you, “Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ (2 Corinthians 1:21).”

Whatever we face today, we can stand firm in Christ.

Chris Tomlin reminds us God is more than enough in his song, “Enough

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EW-toYBiF8o

Traumatic Stress

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Moms have a way of holding it together until a crisis is over. Then what happens? Read about what happened to me.

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After Chris recovered from his first psychotic episode, he returned to school. First, he went for only a few hours. Then, he attended for most of the day. Finally, he managed staying the entire day.

Although things were back to normal, I felt unusually tired, cried easily, and overreacted to situations. My fragile emotions caught me by surprise when I least expected it. Like the time Rob called to ask for ride home from school.

“Mom, could you come and pick me up? Band rehearsal is over.”

“Sure, I’ll be there in a ten minutes.”

When I arrived at the high school, there was no sign of Rob. As I waited in the car, I observed a mob of teenagers at the end of the large parking lot. Just then, I noticed the principal and vice principal walking towards them. Soon after, the huge crowd dispersed. The administrator returned to the school building.

Something must be going down. Maybe a fight.

The arrival of two police cars interrupted my predictions.

Looks like I’m right. Those kids were up to no good. Where’s Rob? He needed a ride home. He said band practice had finished.

A horrible thought crossed my mind.

Was Rob a target of some sort of violence? Did those kids see him waiting for me and beat him up? With the way our lives have been going, I wouldn’t be surprised. Oh, Lord, please let that not be what happened.

I tried to comfort myself.

Calm down, Vicki, Maybe he’s just watching the whole thing.

Such a thought was no comfort.

If he’s doing that, I’ll kill him!

I drove to a pay phone to call home (since this was before smart phones and texting). To my shock, Rob answered the phone.

“Rob, didn’t you call and ask me to pick you up from school?”

“Oh, yeah. Dave’s parents offered to drive me home. Sorry.”

What a typical teen! He acted in the moment. Rob was home safe and sound while I was mentally living my own worst-case scenario.

My emotions swirled inside. Now that I knew Rob was safe, I felt relieved.

Now I can fall apart. Have a good cry

My thoughts were interrupted by the car in my rearview mirror. I hadn’t yet driven off the school grounds and one of the police cars was behind me. So I focused on my speed. Driving fifteen miles an hour isn’t easy!

Making a right onto the road, I noticed the speed limit sign. Deep concentration was in order. No time to fall apart or let my mind wander.

Keep it at 25 miles an hour, Vicki. Did the cop turn right? Yes. Better make sure I signal to turn left at the next light. Don’t forget to turn on your turn signal. Check your speed. Don’t start to cry. Hold it together.

After I turned left onto the next road, I noticed the police offer did the same. There were two lanes going in my direction, so I slowed down. Making it easy for the cop to pass me. He didn’t. He stuck behind me past three more traffic lights. Even when I turned right, he followed my route.

He must be following me. Why’s he following me? I really don’t need this. I don’t know if I can hold it together much longer—

My thoughts were interrupted again. His lights signaled me to pull over.

Perfect, just perfect!! I’ve never been pulled over before. I don’t even know how this works. I guess I need to get out my license, registration. Do I need my insurance? Better get that too, just in case.

By the time I collected all the documents, he still hadn’t approached my car.

What’s he doing? What’s going on? He followed me all the way from the high school. Did he think I was somehow involved in the fight? Is he waiting for more back-up? Oh, how embarrassing! What did I do wrong? I’ll tell him the truth: my son was missing and I thought he was being beat up. The officer would believe me because he saw me drive away from the school.

After what seemed like an eternity, he still didn’t walk towards me.

Maybe I’m supposed to get out and go to him.

Finally, the officer appeared at my window.

“Hi ma’am. How are you doing?” he asked in a very pointed manner.

“Fine officer,” I lied.

“The date on your registration sticker has expired. You should have gotten a new one four months ago. This is just a reminder. You need to get that taken care of as soon as possible.”

With all that had been going on in our lives, it’s no wonder why we hadn’t attended to that detail. Even though the officer didn’t ask me any questions, I felt the need to spill my emotional story.

“I thought my son was missing.”

“Do you know where he is?”

“Yes. He’s home.”

“I’ve met your son.”

His comment thrust my mind back into worst-case-scenario mode.

Why would our local officer know Rob? What did he do?

I continued with my calm façade and casually asked, “Oh? How do you know my son?”

“I was there that night.”

THAT night.’ He met Chris the night Chris assaulted Howie and me? That’s the night the police took him to the hospital in handcuffs. The night Chris was admitted into the psychiatric unit of our hospital.

The emotions of ‘that night’ hit me like a tidal wave. Transporting me back to Chris’s behavior. Scenes I had suppressed in my mind flashed like lightning bolts in my head. Chris’s distorted thinking. His accusations that we assaulted him. I feared the police believed Chris’s words. Before I could speak, the officer expressed compassion.

“How’s your son doing?”

“He’s doing fine. Much better. It’s a shame you saw him like that because that’s not at all like he is.”

“We knew that he was dealing with mental issues. Actually he was pretty funny that night.”

‘Pretty funny’ wouldn’t be how I’d describe Chris that night.

“Thank you, officer,” I said politely as a way of saying I’m done with this conversation.

As I drove home, scenes of that afternoon replayed in my head: the mob of kids, being pulled over, the officer knowing ‘my son’, the officer being there ‘that night.’ I realized when the officer asked me how I was doing he knew what our family had experienced. He cared.

God used a man who upholds the law to show me compassion. It took me a while to realize that. The traumatic stress of my life blocked the verbal hug God sent my way.

Kind of like Joshua. The looming stress of the upcoming battle of Jericho prevented him from recognizing his Lord.

“Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, ‘Are you for us or for our enemies?’”  Joshua 5:13

 “‘Neither,’ he replied, ‘but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.’ Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, ‘What message does my Lord have for his servant?’”  Joshua 5:14

Ask God to help you recognize His love for you and to hear the message He has for you today.

May this song, “Open the Eyes of My Heart Lord”, be our prayer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wutmEjdbedE

Intuition

intuition

Did your motherly instinct ever contradict actions recommended by professionals? There are times to trust your gut. Our children with serious mental illness (MI) need protection. We’re their first line of defense.

Moses’ parents did what was necessary to protect their baby. “By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.”  Hebrews 11:23

Years ago, I did what was necessary to protect Chris. There came I time when I had to stand up against professionals. Maybe the details of my story will sound familiar.

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The day came for Chris to begin treatment in a partial-care facility. As I drove him there, I worried if the professionals would be caring. I tried to reassure myself everything would be okay.

How can I leave Chris with complete strangers? He just experienced being locked in a psychiatric unit in the hospital. The psychiatrist said he’s ready for the next step. But, I know Chris is still emotionally fragile. God will be with him there.

As we approached the facility, there was a sign directing us to a temporary trailer. The sign on the door read: “Partial-Care Temporary Treatment Facility: Due to fire, our main facility is being repaired.”

I dropped Chris off and went home. Household chores couldn’t keep my mind of Chris.

What’s he doing now? Is his day structured? Is he responding to the other patients? Is he interacting with them?

The day dragged on. Finally, it was time to pick him up. I studied Chris’s face as he approached the car. He walked slowly. Head down. No smile.

“How did it go, Chris?”

“I couldn’t stand it. I felt closed in. It reminded me of the hospital. I felt like a caged animal.”

“How was the social worker?”

“She spoke mean to me. She hates her job.”

Chris’s remarks about the social worker concerned me. Chris’s MI caused him to have a negative attitude. But, God provided discernment. My heavenly Father used my intuition to tell me Chris’s assessment was accurate.

The next day, I accompanied Chris into the facility to meet the social worker. We had a brief conversation. The most enlightening portion went like this:

“Have you worked here long?”

“Only a few years. Chris will soon have a new social worker here. I’ll be leaving soon. I’m pregnant. I’m looking for a different profession. I hate this job.”

Her comments confirmed my suspicions. Chris was right. Suddenly it was even harder to leave him. Knowing he’d be spending the day with someone who hates her job (and Chris?).

When I picked Chris up, he offered some news.

“I met with a psychiatrist.”

“How long was your meeting?”

“Only a few minutes.”

Chris seemed very agitated.

“I don’t want to go back to that place.”

Once again, God provided discernment. My intuition told me his reaction was based on a bad situation, rather than on his condition. His medication had started to help him return to the old Chris. I decided to let Chris stay home the next day (to take a break from the program).

The next day, I called the guidance counselor of Chris’s school. I wanted to inquire about homebound instruction. Little did I know, I was about to get lectured by that professional.

“I’m calling to discuss the details of Chris’s homebound instruction.”

“Mrs. Chandler, where’s Chris?”

“He’s home with me. I kept him home because the partial-care facility seemed like a detrimental place for him. The social worker admitted to me she hates her job.”

“It’s against the school district policy for Chris to be absent. You need to call our social worker.”

When I called the social worker, she yelled at me. She chastised me for making the decision to keep Chris home. In an angry tone she said, “Mrs. Chandler, you’re too over-involved.”

Too over-involved! With my own son?! Does she actually believe I’m simply allowing Chris to play hooky? Surely, she knows about Chris’s diagnosis. Lord, help me respond correctly.

“First of all, I’m the one in crisis and you’re the professional. I’d appreciate it if you’d speak to me with more compassion. Secondly, there’s NO WAY I could ever be over-involved with my son. He’s MY son. I’ll do what I feel is best for him. The social worker at the partial-care facility hates her job and was agitating Chris.”

Her reply: “Well, the psychiatrist at that facility determined that Chris is ready to go back to school.”

In shock I said, “That was based on a brief conversation with Chris, without reading Chris’s hospital records, or without speaking to me!”

“There are procedures to be followed, Mrs. Chandler. You can’t simply keep Chris home.”

“Well in lieu of anyone taking the lead, I’d be happy to take responsibility to arrange a meeting.”

The school social worker backed off and said, “The social worker at the partial-care facility is supposed to arrange a meeting. I’ll make sure it happens as soon as possible.”

I hung up the phone. Emotionally spent. But, grateful God helped me stand up to the professional who—shall we say—lacked bedside manners.

*******************

Sometimes God uses caring professionals to guide us through the mental health system. Other times, He alone provides the discernment and wisdom for us to know what’s best for our child. Either way, God equips us to do what He calls us to do.

Listen to “Lord, Reign in Me” as a reminder He’s alive and directing you.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iSdthxieYp4

Was there a time when your woman’s intuition directed you to stand strong against professionals on behalf of your child?