Our journey has exceeded ten years now and it’s taken us to many dark places we’d never have imagined: self-harm, mental illness, substance abuse with alcohol and drugs, suicide attempts, panic attacks, rape, psychiatric evaluations, hospitalizations, rehabs and relapses.
When we were going through our most difficult times with our challenging daughter we felt very isolated, lost and paralyzed. We knew we couldn’t get through this on our own. We needed tons of wisdom, comfort and strength from other parents who had walked this path.
We looked for help in our community but found very little. This made us feel even more discouraged and alone. Because of this experience we decided that when we felt strong enough and had experienced a good bit of inner healing, we’d reach out to help others who were hurting like we were.
But we were awestruck at what God was about to do. Renee’s story became very public! Indirectly, our story became public. It was never our thought or desire to have a spotlight shine on our family problems, who wants that! (NBC Nightly News coverage here.) However, since it was known and out of our control we accepted it and gave it to God. It has allowed us to be open and honest with you and give a larger platform for the pain and hurt of parents in similar journeys. Renee has also given her permission to share relevant parts with others if it will help them.
Our desire is to offer comfort, encouragement, support and hope to parents who suffer the pain, grief and heartache of having a child whose decisions and choices are breaking their hearts. This includes mental illness which is outside their control.
Meet Dena by watching the video below as she shares her story and why we began Hope for Hurting Parents.
Thankfully, Renee is no longer where she once was. Another surprising twist to her story, the genesis of the movement To Write Love On Her Arms (twloha.com), is in the spring of 2011 a movie was made about them both. The movie’s title is: To Write Love On Her Arms and was released by Sony in March 2015. It’s available to rent or purchase from Amazon or other digital sources.
Renee published a book, Purpose for the Pain. It’s a collection of personal journal entries chronicling several years of addiction and cutting, into the early months of recovery. In her book she boldly stated, “It wasn’t my own strength that helped me stop drinking or slashing at my flesh. It was God….it’s all about Him!”
She has done some singing and song writing performing under the stage name of Bearcat. They are available on iTunes. Singing her emotive songs are now the way she shares her message with eager audiences of all ages.