Sunday, January 25, 2015


I often write, and post, on lessons learned the hard way, through struggle, mistakes, ignorance and hurt. Unfortunately, we all seem to learn that way. The wisdom and experience Keith and I have gained in recent years has been the hardest learning curve of all.  This motivates me to make things better--bringing issues, concerns, or problems to light, so that if you know someone going through hard stuff, you have a better idea of what helps and what hurts.  I hope, and believe, most people want to be helpful.  If they are not, it may be just from a lack of experience and/or education. I want you know how to help your friends and family members.  I want you to not have had some of the hard experiences and lessons we have faced.  I am not continually bringing issues to light to be negative, bash and blame or make people feel bad.  I operate on the premise of turning "my mess in to my message" and "my test into my testimony."  And I want better.  For me, my family, and for all of you.

I do want you to know, too, that there has been joy and relief along the way in our messes and tests.  People have shown up, and we have experienced encouraging moments and interactions that help keep us going.  It's not only the hard, bad stuff you need to know or that we can learn from.  And I want you to know that we are ok.  Really. We are people who function, laugh, enjoy each other, connect deeply, recognize how far we have come, know what is truly important and worth our time/energy, what it means to live one day at a time, and long ago quit trying to hide behind masks.  We know to surround ourselves with those who provide support and affirmations, and to not surround ourselves with people who bring stress and who do not speak or act in support or love.  We are adept, as a family, at talking out feelings, concerns, and anxieties.  We feel confident about the changes, decisions, and boundaries we have established for our family. We thrive and we have some strong emotional muscles.  We are extremely unified.

So, I'm going to toot some horns today and make you aware of resources available for you and your families in times of need, particularly when you're dealing with a mental health diagnosis and the related challenges.  All of these things & people are, in my opinion, part of God's provision for us.

National Alliance for the Mentally Ill.
NAMI is the largest grass roots organization in the country.  NAMI provides classes, support groups, mentors, and advocates for the needs of the mentally ill.  We attended NAMI's Basics Class for parents of children who exhibit symptoms before age 13.  We also attend the support group for parents when we can.  NAMI provides all courses, groups, materials, etc. FREE of charge.  NAMI also trains law enforcement to handle situations with ill individuals they come across.  NAMI also has classes for family members of adults with MI, and for the individuals dealing with a mental illness. I am also certified to present for NAMI in their Ending the Silence program, which targets high school kids--sharing warning signs, erasing stigma, and plugging teenagers in to all of the available resources.  NAMI keeps us up to date with the latest research and best practices. is my local chapter. is the national website and can help you find resources and a chapter near you.

I Am Here Coalition by The Grant Halliburton Foundation
This organization targets young adults, 13-22, providing support, education and resources.  The host a large conference each year called, "When Life Hands You Teenagers."  This organization also provides quite a bit of support and education for addressing mental illness in faith communities.

Mobile Crisis Number
ADAPT Mobile Crisis Line  (866)260-8000
(I keep this number in my cell phone.)

Also.  Our friends.  
All 2 of them.  (Just kidding.)
And some others.  
Casserole friends.

We did have friends who showed up at the hospital, most of whom we hadn't seen in a long time. They were welcome faces and safe arms. They brought milk shakes, hung out in the waiting area to be available to our family, spent the night at the hospital, brought hot meals, helped set up a Caring Bridge site, and rubbed aching backs.  While we do not hear from most of them regularly, we treasure and appreciate their presence, help, and prayers.  These people got us through those first few days.  

Bradleys, Garners, Austins, Filbecks, Gabbert, Gillies, Hickox, Furliches, Lewis, Ogren

A good friend from high school, drove nearly an hour one way and brought meals when we were still driving back and forth between home and Children's hospital while our child was in inpatient.  We actually made that drive for weeks every day--during inpatient and outpatient.  


After all of the inpatient, outpatient, and transitioning to school, my 2 dearest friends gathered up a group of friends who made us a freezer full of meals.  This was SO helpful.  When hospital stays were over and school transitions made, we were still driving to therapy appointments 2-3 times a week, only beginning the hard work of processing what has occurred, and trying to figure out how to eat, sleep, and breathe again.  For a month, we just had to grab something out of the freezer.  No decisions.  Just whatever was next.  My 2 dearest friends who did this?  They walked with us.  All the way.  Because they did that, they knew what we needed--even when we couldn't voice it.

Lesli, Sarah, Brina, Robin, Debbie

My mom.  The Saint.  It's a running joke in our family about my mom's sainthood.  And as in most joking, there is definitely a kernel of truth here.  Big one.  My mom is selfless and giving.  She is compassionate and available.  And although she and dad were going through everything with us, and she is Dad's main care-giver, she was a source of unwavering support and help.  She was able to pick up the slack and keep things going in our home when Keith and I didn't even know how to get out of bed and function. Mom made sure there was food and clean clothes.  She is loyal, attentive, a cheerleader, sacrifices for others, and faithful in prayer.

Saint Monnie

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