The Strong Become Weak and the Proud Become Humble
We have entered another mind-bending painful time with our son James. A time where I feel I’ve lost him again to the darkness. I do see glimmers of him and I treasure those moments. This morning, enough of him is present so Phillip is quickly getting him ready to rush off to a movie. We bask in times like these when he is smiling, laughing and his eyes are bright. For the most part these days though, his face is filled with darkness, his fists easily clinch by his side and violence erupts to the surface so quickly we all go racing for cover. Like most mom’s of sons who struggle with mental illness, I’ve spent a lot of time quietly crying in my room this week. I try to steal away moments when my precious James isn’t aware and when my sweet Faith is at school so they don’t understand the fragility of my heart. As I lay on my bed and pray for the strength to love him well, the tears flow easily. God meets me in my pain. It helps, but the deep, helpless, nagging pain is never fully gone. Mental illness is a profuund struggle. It makes the strong become weak and the proud become humble
With this round of mania, James drained our bank account. Getting beyond some passwords he purchased video games one after another. He didn’t even begin to realize the consequences. His IQ of 73 limits his full understanding of money. He just clicked, clicked, clicked. Oh, he knew he was doing something wrong. That is for sure. Still, for a boy who is only at a 4th grade level in math he didn’t even begin to comprehend his choices were adding up to over $1000 of purchases. While I thought he was diligently doing his online math course, he was instead literally stealing from me. What made it sting a little worse, was as he was doing it, I hollered up stairs to tell him how proud I was of him…and he cheerfully hollered back downstairs…, “Thanks Mama, I love you too.”
When my bank alert came across my phone that our account balance had dropped below $100 my heart dropped. As I pulled our account up on my computer and I saw the multiple purchases I knew instantly what happened my heart shattered into a million pieces. So many times in James’ life my heart has shattered. I’m sure this won’t be the last time either. Being his mom has been the greatest journey love and being utterly heart-broken at the same time.
When I confronted James, it didn’t go well at all. It sent him into hiding from horrific shame and then into suicidal fits that have gone on for days. Bipolar hits James on all levels. The euphoria and grandiose thinking compels James to do things he ought not do, the depressive side temps him to hurt himself in ways that crushes my heart. The constant roller coaster keeps me off-balance and though I wish by this point in my life I was good at anticipating what was coming next. I’m not.
So this week I’ve spent countless hours on the phone with the credit card company and vendors trying to get our money back while at the same time I’ve tried to keep James from hurting himself and my daughter Faith sheltered from all the fall out. Though I’d like to think I do it all well, the truth is, I just don’t juggle that many things well. All week I was dropping balls and missing important things I needed to take care of. When I crawled into bed last night, I was a puddle of tears again. The pressure of everything overwhelmed and for over an hour I cried until I couldn’t cry anymore. Finally sleep came. It felt good to have the pressure of the world quiet for just a little while.
I’m sharing this raw blog today because…well…sometimes raw blogs need to be shared. Mental illness is hard, exhausting and flat-out almost too much to bear. Right now we are scrambling to recoup what we can financially, we’ve of course disciplined James for his behavior, we’re treading water until he stabilizing again and clinging tightly to our faith and trust in the Lord that no matter what the storm He will get us through. That doesn’t mean that we aren’t weary though or that we don’t have new wounds that need tending.
Like millions of families throughout the world, we wake up everyday praying for a good day. Sometimes they come. Other times, the darkness blows in and stays for weeks, months and even years. Mental illness is real and it afflicts the young, old, male, female, those who are kind and those who are not. It impacts all races. Contrary to what most believe it isn’t as simple as just taking a pill. It is not easily fixed. When one member of a family is afflicted by it – all members of a family are impacted by it.
As I said before, mental illness is a profound struggle. It makes the strong become weak and the proud become humble.
If not for my trust in the Lord, I certainly would have crumbled long ago. It is only by His strength that I am able to carrying on and find hope for tomorrow. In the end though, that is what really matters. Psalm 37:39 reminds me that though we are utterly wrecked right now by James’ mental illness, and we are indeed broken, tired and weak. We are held by Him and in His loving arms is exactly where we need to be.
“But the salvation of the righteous is from the LORD; He is their strength in time of trouble. Psalm 37:39″
He is our strength. He will hold us tight. He will carry us through. For now, knowing that, is all I need.
I close today with one of my favorite songs…it is on days like these that I find rest in the words…
My love always,