Hurting Parents Feel Crazy

If you’re a parent who is hurting due to the self-destructive choices your child is making, or if they suffer from a mental illness and the repercussions of get well goalthese things are turning your life upside down, then this blog is for you. Does your child have an eating disorder but refuses to see a counselor about it?  Are they abusing alcohol or drugs while living in your home? Are they refusing to take medication for depression or a mood disorder (i.e. bipolar)?  You may feel like you need to start taking medication yourself (and maybe you do).

Do they keep getting in trouble with the law for DUIs, shoplifting, possession/selling drugs, or other offenses expecting you to bail them out and pay for a lawyer? You may feel like you can’t take it any more or you’ll lose it. You may feel like you can’t bear it one more day. You may feel like you’re going crazy.  Everything you’re feeling is normal. You’re not going crazy.  You’re not a bad parent.  It isn’t your fault. But there’s something you need to hear.

Take a minute to step back and look at what you’ve been doing. Are you helping or enabling? Are you doing things for them they can and should be doing for themselves? I know fear drives you to feel like you have to, especially if they’re under 18. You do have more responsibility then, but you still don’t have to do as much for them as you probably are. I know. I did that, too. Sometimes I still do. Fear drove me to get overly involved, but I’ve come to realize that when I do, it only makes me feel even more crazy and it doesn’t really help. It’s insanity!

Al-Anon defines insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result!” We all do it. Let’s get smart and rethink how we respond. Let’s strengthen ourselves so we can pull back and let our child experience consequences and take some ownership of the situation they’re in.

A book that helped me a lot is Setting Boundaries with Your Adult Children by Allison Bottke (it’s good even if your child is a teenager). It can be purchased at half.com for less! Bottke affirms that getting in a support group can help us be more courageous to stop enabling, because it’s very difficult to stop without a lot of encouragement. It’s painful to see your son or daughter suffer. It truly does hurt us much more than it hurts them. It really boils down to how much we trust God with our child.  Let’s be honest, sometimes it’s really hard to do. We have no guarantees of the outcome.

If your situation is a real crazy-maker, what can you stop doing today (or do differently) that might help you begin to regain your sanity tomorrow?  Just because your child isn’t in their right mind, doesn’t mean you have to lose yours. I couldn’t make these changes in my own strength.  I wasn’t strong enough. I had  to rely on God for what I lacked.

This Bible verse is so encouraging: “It is God who arms me with strength.”  (Psalms 18:32)

I don’t know about you, but I sure need God’s strength to do the hard things.  How reassuring to know He will provide what I lack. No more insanity for me. What about you?

Recent Shooting in DC – Help for Families of the Mentally Ill Who Refuse Treatment

The terrible shooting in DC last week was shocking on many levels. One that really struck me as a parent of a child who suffers with a mental illness is Panic attackthat the shooter was known to have a mental illness, but was untreated at the time. This is tragic. I feel for his family and friends. I don’t believe he was an evil man. I do believe he was a tormented man.

Mental Illness impacts families every day. This is an extreme example. It’s a well-known fact that the mentally ill often refuse to cooperate with treatment. Some can even become violent, but most never do. Parents and families agonize over their powerlessness to help their loved one. They know their family member isn’t well, but can’t get them to accept help. It’s a losing battle unless you have them hospitalized, but they can’t keep them forever.

Maybe your loved one accepted help in the past but it didn’t go well. Side effects, poor follow-up and inconsistency with taking medications are a few reasons. It’s pretty common for the individual to begin feeling better, then convince themselves they no longer need the medication. Against their psychiatrist’s advice, they stop taking it. In time their family members, friends and colleagues begin to see the warning signs return and feelings of great frustration and anger abound. It’s a crazy cycle.

What can you do? There is a great book written just for you by someone who’s been there. The author’s brother suffered with schizophrenia for decades and this method developed out of his personal experiences. It really works and can make a huge difference.

I’ve mentioned this great book before in previous blogs:   I Am Not Sick, I Don’t Need Help by Dr. Xavier Amador. He explains the LEAP method that helps change lives. Go to their website at leapinstitute.org to learn more and watch videos.

Here are a few comments from their website:

“Are you at odds with someone or simply trying to improve trust and your ability to work together? Originally LEAP was developed to teach families, health professionals and responders how to better help people with mental illness. Today LEAP is also used by couples, families and businesses to heal strained relationships and build strong partnerships. LEAP Institute has training programs, videos, books and online resources proven to strengthen relationships and help turn ‘adversaries’ into allies.”

The Leap website goes on to say:

Think of the goals you have for the person you’re trying to help and ask yourself: Are you winning on the strength of your argument? Has reason prevailed? How many months, years or decades have you tried?

“I never won on the strength of my argument, I won on the strength of my relationship.”
~Dr. Xavier Amador

Using LEAP®, a respectful, trusting relationship, is much closer than you might think possible. From there, your opinions and help matter; change and recovery become possible.

There motto is:  Build Trust – Heal Relationships – Become Partners

If your family is affected by someone’s mental illness, check it out! This resource could even save the life of your loved one while improving your own.

**Dr. Amador is being interviewed tonight on CNN by Piers Morgan at 9pm. It will be worth watching. Touted as one of the national experts in the mental health field, he is often interviewed after mass shootings.

If you watch or are familiar with the Leap method, please post a comment here for the rest of us!

There is help. There is hope. You are not alone. God is there and will be with you in all the pain. I pray He will guide you, give you courage and perseverance today for the next steps of your journey.

Promises for Parents in Pain

What promises can you count on when your child is abusing drugs or alcohol, has an eating disorder, cuts themselves, suffers with aSunset mental illness, is promiscuous, has same-sex identity issues, is incarcerated, is pregnant and not married, or has HIV/AIDS? Are there any? I have never had any sense of being promised things will turn out like I want, much less when I want. No “There, there now, don’t you worry. Everything is going to be just fine.” No, not me. If someone does say that, I politely thank them, then walk way as soon as I can, knowing they don’t understand. What I have done is –
turn to One who is bigger and stronger than I am, who really “gets it” – to God.
When we pray for our sons and daughters we come together around the promises of God. We celebrate, we believe, we trust, we rest, we wait and we say thank you for whatever He gives – or withholds.
How often I have wondered where God is and what is really happening. Have you?
As we wait we need an attitude of alertness to God’s still small voice and to his Word that has already been given in the Bible. Let’s come together around these promises. I urge you to make time to read the Bible everyday (God’s love letter to you) and look for promises. Dig in and find them. There are treasures waiting to be discovered.
As you find them write them down and make a list. Read your list often to remind yourself what you can depend on no matter what you see happening. If you’re anything like me you need constant reminders because this journey can be wearisome and long.
Author Henry Nowen wrote, we are “waiting in the knowledge that Someone wants to address us. . .” That’s something to think about.
When His Word comes to you, I pray it will become flesh in you and give you a whole new life. O God, this is what we long and pray for in our children’s lives, too. We will continue to wait with expectancy. We will remain tuned to your Word as we stand in your Presence – together. This is the only way we can live in such a chaotic world and survive spiritually.
“My soul is waiting for the Lord. I count on his word. My soul is longing for the Lord more than a watchman for daybreak. Because with the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption” (Psalm 129:5-7)
Sing it loud – “My soul is waiting for the Lord – for his help and strength for the here and now — and for his ultimate return and the fulfillment of all his promises!
 

When A Parent Loses Hope

powerless2Let’s be honest – sometimes parents of troubled teens to adults are depleted. The years of rebellion, substance abuse, mental illness and out of control behaviors take a toll. All the trauma and drama starts to wear us down. Crisis after crisis drains us. We run out of faith that things will ever change or improve. We see no solutions on the horizon. Everything looks bleak. Impossible. We begin to lose heart and before we know it, we’ve lost what we needed most – hope.

It’s a slippery emotional slope. It happened to me. I liken it to the feeling of falling. Cascading into a pit of despair, into darkness, into a valley I couldn’t climb out of. Depression accompanied hopelessness. Everything felt heavy. My legs and feet were like lead, weighted down. My spirit was broken. Grief and loss overwhelmed my soul.

Hopelessness. It’s terrible to admit you feel this way about your own child. You don’t intend for this to happen. It gradually sneaks up on you. Like the proverbial frog that sits in a pot while it slowly comes to a boil. In the beginning, you’re full of confidence things will improve – full of faith things will turn around soon, the craziness won’t last too long. Your son just needs to grow out of this phase. Your daughter just needs to mature a little more. They need time to wake up and realize what they’re doing. You’re sure they will. You’re absolutely certain things will change. Faith is strong. Confidence is in abundance. Prayers are strong – for a while.

If you’ve lost hope, then you need to hear this acrostic.

Hold      On      Pain      Ends

This won’t last forever. One day it will end. Keep your eyes on Jesus and He’ll give you peace. The very peace that stayed with Him all the way through unimaginable suffering.

Keep reaching out to those who understand, who can help you keep putting one foot in front of the other, and not give up.

Keep taking care of yourself, doing what refreshes you.

Read things that are uplifting. Make a list of your favorite promises from the Bible. Read them often.hopeinhand

Rest, exercise, simplify, laugh and take it easy.

And pray, pray, pray.

May this Bible verse encourage you:

“______________ (put your child’s name in here) is oppressed . . . all their captors hold them fast, refusing to let them go. Yet their Redeemer is strong; the Lord Almighty is his name (Jeremiah 51:34).”

Amen.