“I believe your daughter has bipolar disorder.”
My husband and I were shocked to hear the psychiatrist’s words. We were ignorant about the world of mental health. We wanted to be caring and supportive but had no idea how.
Today’s blog was written by someone who knows firsthand what he’s talking about. Founder of Fresh Hope (freshhope.us), Brad Hoefs, lives with bipolar himself. He has plenty of excellent help to offer. Be sure to check out the website.
Thank you Brad for your wise and helpful insights. We need them!
“I am offering 20 simple things someone can do in order to be caring, loving and supportive to those of us who have bipolar disorder. I do not believe this list is exhaustive. I’d love it if you would add to the list or clarify what I have on this list by commenting on this post.
20 Things you can do support a loved one who has a mental illness:
Over six years ago my granddaughter was born 10 weeks early. Since she was a preemie, she spent the first couple of months of her life in an incubator. It helped sustain her until she could survive on her own. The incubator provided the environment needed to control her body temperature, oxygen levels, and the amount of humidity. While it was hard to see her in there, I knew that’s where she needed to be.
During those weeks I thought a lot about incubators and prodigal children. It occurred to me that our troubled sons and daughters are in God’s incubator.
The dictionary definition of incubator: An apparatus for maintaining an infant, especially a premature infant, in a controlled environment; a place or situation that permits or encourages formation and development . . .
Unlike preemies, our children have already been living in the outside world. But today they’re not well. Extra help is required for their formation and development to continue, so they can survive. They need to be lovingly cared for by the Great Physician in his intensive care unit.
In God’s incubator he wants to do these 10 things:
Welcome to my blog struggling mom, dad, step-parent or grandparent. Today’s blog is a true story. It’s an interview with a mom whose adult son was a heroin addict. He also struggled with mental health issues. (I posted another interview on August 7th with the mom of a teen).
Her name is Katie James, CRU staff member for many years. This is a strong Christian family involved in full-time ministry. This can happen to anyone.
We hope her authenticity and words of wisdom will help you on your journey. At least you will be reminded that you are not alone!
What signs of trouble did you first notice?
We were slow on the uptake for sure. While there were certain things that predisposed our son to drugs (substance abuse and depression/anxiety disorders run in our family on both sides), we still assumed our children were immune to drugs in light of growing up in a strong Christian family. (etc. so silly…). Of course I know now that addiction can affect any family or individual.
Because our children were destined to never go off the rails (yes, that would be sarcasm) we explained away falling grades and other early signs. But looking back, the early signs of trouble were the typical ones: poor grades, cynicism, hanging out with a different crowd. He also stopped going to youth group and attending the Bible study my husband led in our home even though his old friends still went. And then there was the homemade bong I found hiding in his closet. A dead giveaway!
Please tell us your story.
Our son began doing drugs when he was around 14:
Do you wish you could sit down with a parent who’s further down the road of difficult parenting than you?
You’d pepper them with questions and hope to glean something helpful for your own situation when you parted.
Today’s blog is an attempt to do that. To offer hard-earned insights from a mom and dad who’ve been there. They are John and Fair Brocard, devoted Christian parents of a former troubled teen. Like my husband and I, as a result of what they went through over 15 years ago, they started a new ministry—Prodigal Child Ministries—to help other parents who were suffering like they had.