Monday, March 2, 2015

We stuck together like glue.

I want you to know what I am about to write is my opinion.  I have come to this conclusion from words from many knowledgeable people and my own life.  I don't want to repeat myself, but for the cause of many who do not know, I want to share a little of my background, for your knowledge and I hope education, if you chose to believe it.

I was a first born.  Very independent and confident.  My parents adored me and my sister.  I had  wonderful teenage years and years as a child.  I had great friends and didn't have trouble talking to anyone.  I was not a really smart student, average.  But I had lots of friends and I valued them tremendously.  I had friends from all walks of life and they supported and cared for me beyond anything I deserved.

Danny and I began dating when I was in the 10th grade.  I don't think I dated but about 3 guys.  All great young men.  But over time, I thought,  Danny was who I was to be with.  We were alike, but oh so different.  We got married when I was 20, the day before my birthday.  We were suppose to get married that summer, but his good friend, another player, drown and he was to be married that weekend, had just finished college football his senior year.  Danny said we don't know when will be our last day.  I want to get married during semester break and we did, two weeks later.

I loved being married to him and being a mother.  That and loving my family and friends and the Lord was my life.  Our family did not meet a stranger.  We lived at the University of Al, Virginia Tech, Clemson, and Arkansas and back at Clemson.

While we were at Arkansas, we had lots of great friends.  Our pastor adopted us.  He did a bible study for the coaches.  Danny came to a place, in his faith, I had never seen.  Many coaches and players noticed.  We kinda, recommitted ourselves to each other, our children and the Lord.  Then the bottom fell out of our fairy tail life.

Mr and Mrs Ford, Danny's parents, died.  It seemed all of us, Danny and I, all our children were struggling in some way.  I had 3 surgeries in my ear with tumors that were like parasites and could have paralyzed my face, as it was, a sheet between the tumor and my brain.  I had a hysterectomy and could not take hormones, which through me into unstoppable migraines and the middle of the change of life.  My doc dropped me and I didn't have the sense to know what to do.  I began using hormone cream.  It was clear we were leaving Arkansas and Danny was deciding, what we were to do and where we were to go, as Colonel Blessing and his wife, were living at the farm and we didn't want them to have to move until they were ready.  My life was falling apart and I couldn't hold it together any longer.  I knew Jesus was my answer and I clung to Him the only way I knew to, at the time.  But I didn't know how to respond to the events that were taking place or my health.  I didn't know what to do but exist.  Looking back,  God was spending the next 18 years showing me, about trusting Him and walking by faith.  I isolated and prayed and studied the gospel like I had been doing, but I did it alone now and went off to myself, in mind and body.  I think it was self protection mode.  I didn't even realize what I was doing.  Danny didn't know what was wrong with me.  I didn't either.  I did weird and crazy things, worrisome things.  We sold our house and moved to an apartment until the kids got out of school.

I remember the day Danny said, Deborah, we have got to go to the doc.  I was delusional, but still didn't know what was happening.  My dad had mental illness, but I still didn't know much about it, as it happened,  after I had left home, later in life, like me.  I said ok, Danny.  I had resisted for so long, while so sick,  I think he was surprised I agreed so easily.  He took me to a doctor and I was admitted to a mental hospital.  Locked behind close doors.  I remember talking to the people about Jesus and playing the piano and singing hymns with the patients.  I remember a pastor visiting me and we discussed his sermon that Sunday to come.  Jesus was my focus.  It was all I knew to hold on to.  I began to remove myself from a life, I could not control, even more.  My parents came and helped Danny pack and I got out of the hospital and off to Clemson we went.  I seemed better at times, but not really.  Thinking back I was more like the person on the corner, preaching a sermon and handing out pamphlets.  I am not defending myself but merely trying to give insight to the illness.

Back and forth out of the hospital, taking a lot of meds and sleeping.  I had the support and help from family and friends.  I don't know how Danny did it.  I would come in and out of being sick.  I remember giving my testimony at church and a lady came up to me afterward and said she would pray for me.  I said oh, thank you.  She said for the demons to leave me alone. You could have blown me over with a feather.  The reason it was so hard for me to come out in the open about my illness was the view many people have that mentally ill people are crazy, they are afraid and don't know what to do or say and that the church had, that it is caused by sin.

Danny and I decided to take a stand and be an advocate for the mentally ill and come along side NAMI and do what we could for those, just like me.  We did interviews.  I taught educational classes to police and medical teams and led support groups.  Danny did golf tournaments.  I wanted to fight the stigma.  I wanted to help people feel like, they could come out of the closet and get help they needed, like I did.  I saw the tragedy it could be.  People who got beyond help and afraid to tell.  Many are on the streets and prison and beyond their family being able to help, or worse take their own life.

I could see how God had used this illness, for my good, as I prayed before doing most everything.  I couldn't even make a decision what to wear or what to eat.  God was my constant companion.  I was no more self reliant.  Worship was a part of my life.  I knew my failure and depended on God for everything.  I couldn't function on my own.  Poor Danny had so much to deal with and explain for me.  I did a lot of studying about meditation and solitude with God.  A lot of reading and isolation.  I had to educate me and my family got educated too on the disease.  My children were pretty much on their own.  This is where a lot of my regret came in.  Oh, I was there, but not there.  Danny was there and did all he could, but we were in a tough spot and he was worried about me and where do we go from here.

We have come to a place to see Gods faithfulness in our family, in unbelievable ways.  I don't live in regret any more.  My kids, God and Danny have forgiven me and understand more than I do.  It has been, a journey lonesome journey at times.  Although 1 in 4 deal with MI, we didn't really know anyone else at the time.  No ones tells their story, maybe because we pour on the guilt and shame to them.  Until you are educated and set free from secrets.  Sometimes it was God hanging on to us and us to each other, with a string, but we love each other and appreciate each other in a way, we never would have, apart from, all God has done and we have done for each other.  We are a loyal group and Gods grace kept us all together.

Are people with mental illness sinning?  Maybe.  Is that the reason people get sick?  No.  We are people who sin, just like everyone else, but if we are His, we are His beautiful creation.  If sinning would make you mentally ill, everyone would be sick.  I don't think apart from the mental illness, I would know and depend on God, as I have had to, to make it or have the love I have for  my family without it.  I see it as Gods grace in my life.  Is it still hard on us all?  Yes.  Is it good?  Life good?  The best.  By His grace, we have stuck to each other like glue and grown to care about others more than ourselves.  Oh I still struggle with sin and pride and self righteousness but I know the way back home.  Let me put it this way, mental illness was Gods rescue to me and I think I can say for my family.  It took me out of the center of their world and we all reached for God to carry us through.  I would have never been able to deal with the issues of my heart, my fears and doubts we all have, unless they had been magnified, by a brain disorder.

I am sorry this is long.  It was just something God planned for me to do.  I have no doubt.  You see we are to proclaim His greatness.  "We are trophies of His grace."  Tim Keller.