Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Suffering in Silence II

My husband had called Senator Thurmond to help us get dad in the best hospital in the country for mental illness.  My dad was paranoid schizophrenic.  The only thing we knew to help at the time was shock treatments and it didn't seem the way to continue in going for several reasons for us.

I remember sitting in the floor of the small bathroom with the light on and door shut as my mom and sister slept in the tiny hotel room, as we waited for dad to be seen in the morning at the hospital in Charleston.  They were suppose to be the best and the most up to date treatment. They introduced us to medications that would help my dad live as good a life as he did.   I sat through the night reading and pondering the book of Job.  My heart grieved with all the suffering at that time.  I could not see the blessing in suffering.

It has been almost 20 years since I have been struggling with schizo-effective disorder.  The health and circumstances were more than my mind could handle.  Especially me caring the weight of the world on my shoulders.  We decided to come out of the closet many years ago as I got educated that mental illness was an illness of the mind, just as diabetes is of the blood.  The shame was gone.  My mind was sick.  The stigma couldn't touch me now.  I would be an advocate.  I began to teach through NAMI, the hospital staff and the police enforcement, as I was a member of a team giving my story.  I led support groups and still am.  Danny gave interviews and sponsored golf tournaments for National Alliance of the Mentally Ill.  I felt the best thing I could do for my family was to point them to God and to become educated on the subject and we are still learning this illness that affects every area of my life.  But it does not define me.  I am identified with Christ.  I no longer live but Christ lives in me.  I am a child of the King.  He loves me as much as He loves Jesus, His Son.

When you suffer from mental illness it is important to have a team of experts, family and friends to help you diagnose the symptoms early.  This is the best scenario of not relapsing.  My doctor explained each time I had a psychotic break it would take longer to recover.  That everything in my brain was magnified.  I do everything with obsession.  To the extreme.  I work on balance in my life all the time.  I have a village of people that help me.  Where you might have a fleeting thought I have huge fears or obsessive, intrusive thoughts.

I have been dealing with a lot of fears for the last few weeks.  These can be sheer torment and repetitive.  I knew I was to be on my meds at regular times, talk to the specialist and family members.    Stay connected to others, my friends and not isolate, which I tend to want to do when I get to where I am struggling.  I knew my faith could help me but I was not sure how.  When a fearful thought would come I would tell myself the truth and say I trust you Lord.  But somehow it was not reaching my heart. My old faith was not working for me.  Faith has to be new everyday.  I needed a deeper faith and trust in Gods love and goodness for me.  In His greatness.   I needed more of the gospel truth to work with where I was struggling.  I read a post from my former mentor about, we are not given a spirit of fear but of sound mind.  That the Spirit is always reminding us of our sonship.  That we cry out "Abba, Father".  That was it.  It was the love of God, I so desperately needed.  So as each fear would come I would say, "I know you love me Father, I am your little child".  I thought of my love for my own chidden and how much greater is Gods love for me, for us.  It is not enough to put off our fears by truth and trust but we must put on godly behavior.  Have a change of thinking.

Phil 4:8  Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
As I think of Job now, I think of how God got Job all alone.  It was just God and Job.  God brought Job to the end of himself.  He was such a capable good man.  But he was not God and he needed to be brought to his knees to see just how great our God is.  He repented in ashes of his self righteousness and worshiped God.  God blessed him in more ways than Job had done in his own strength.  His self righteousness was gone and he not only knew God but he had experience Him.

I did everything right in my younger years.  I guess you could say I was blameless.  But it was in my own strength and I was not broken.  I did not see my need, my desperate need for Jesus.  I know Him in ways I never could have, apart from my suffering and seeing the suffering of my family, with my mental illness.  So God has used it in my life to bring me to a deeper dependence and reliance and faith in Him.  I see God with new eyes.  I experience Him now and not just have a head knowledge.  I see my life as full of blessing.  I use to think I had to just hold onto God.  Now I see it was Him holding on to me.  He is forever faithful to His children.

It seems nearly every member of my family is going through major change right now.  From new jobs, to new lives, new homes.  It is major to move out of your comfort zones, your illusion of security into the real security of the loving arms of your Father.  You have to confront fears and learn to live life bravely and boldly.  It is a challenge, a growing, a learning, a stretching of God not to leave you alone to grow cold, but to live a life of faith with vigor and excitement.  It is a way of not just being in life, but in living it to the fullest.  The Lord promises abundant life.  We just need to reach for it no matter what our struggles or fears.  Perfect love cast out all fear.