Pin the Tail on the Diagnosis

Adhd

Depression

Bipolar

Unspecified Psychotic Disorder

Unspecified Mood Disorder

Disruptive Mood Disregulation Disorder

Schizophrenia

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Autism Spectrum Disorder

In the last six months, my daughter has received every one of these diagnoses.  Nearly every one of them has symptoms and behaviors that overlaps with nearly every other one on the list.  The “unspecifieds” made it so that no therapist in our entire area would see our child – too challenging.  (Let that sink in a minute – a person who has gotten a degree specifically to help people with mental problems says that the possibility that my child has a mental problem means that she is beyond their abilities to help.  And not just one person, but every person – including those with PhD’s – refused to help a 14 year old child because it was POSSIBLE that she had psychosis.  The depths of my frustration, anger and overall disappointment with our local therapeutic resources can not even be expressed.)

It was when her psychiatrist – who had the annoying habit of spending most of the hour talking to us instead of to our daughter, and when she did speak to our daughter did so in a condescending way that showed she hadn’t the first clue how to connect with her – declared that our daughter “most certainly” would end up back in our Children’s hospital psych ward and the “best case” scenario was Bipolar, “more likely” was Schizophrenia, that I teetered on the edge of despair.  When the only school in our area that we thought could help our child made a point of saying that they were not “therapeutic” and could not prevent her from harming herself, I felt the panic creeping in.  When the psychiatrist said the best plan was to accept that we were helpless and immediately enroll our daughter in the public high school – that’s what we pay taxes for isn’t it? – smack in the middle of testing season, with no preparation and no educational protections in place – I knew there had to be a better way.  Thank God, I was right.*

~ * ~

Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.”

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus[a] was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.

John 11: 1-3, 5-6

These women, who knew Jesus in a way I can not know him until eternity, sent word to Jesus that their beloved brother was very ill.  It was like a simple prayer, sent in absolute faith.  “Dear Lord, our brother, whom we know you love, is ill.”

I prayed prayers like that.  At first.  In the beginning it was “God, something is wrong with my little girl.  Please help her.”  Then, over time, I used more words and started adding in instructions, in case I wasn’t being clear enough about what was needed.

“Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.  So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.”

Uhhh, wut?  If someone you love calls to you for help, do you reply, “I love you, so I will not come for two more days”?  Not me.  I’m coming on the run, heart pumping, ready to swoop in and fix it.  Because that is what I do.  I swoop and I fix.  And every day since before my daughter was even in my arms, it is what I have been doing, swooping and fixing.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.  (Isaiah 55:8-9)

Jesus didn’t run as fast as he could to Lazarus, swoop in and fix (heal) him.

He let him die.

This is the brother of Mary and Martha.  Mary, who poured perfume on Jesus’ feet and wiped it with her hair.  This woman loved Jesus and trusted Him, wholeheartedly.  Can you imagine how she felt when He didn’t come and her brother died?

Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”  When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled.

No need to imagine, we can read it for ourselves.  She collapsed at His feet and sobbed.  She was so despondent that Jesus was “greatly troubled.”

I have never lost a close loved one to death.  But over the last several months, I watched my child slip away.  I know grief.  I know despair.  I know what it is to fall at Jesus feet and say “If you had answered my prayers, my child would be well right now.”

Why didn’t Jesus just heal Lazarus?

He planned to do more than they could think  or imagine.  He was not content to leave Mary and Martha with what they knew of Him so far.  He was not interested in meeting their expectations, because He planned to exceed them.

– Jennifer Kennedy Dean, Praying the Promises of God

How did He exceed those expectations?  He brought Lazarus back from the dead.  Literally.

 The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

(You probably all have heard the story, but if you haven’t, check it out, it’s in the book of John, chapter 11.)

We are no where near the end of our story.  But today, when I read this devotion, I thought, this is what God is doing in our family.  He could have just healed our daughter.  Just taken away the behaviors or the disorder or the anxiety – at this point He’s still the only one who truly knows what precisely is wrong.  But I believe He wants to do more.  More than a simple healing, I believe He wants to bring my daughter back to life.  And maybe not just her, but our whole family.

I don’t understand it all right now.  I believe, but I still cry, often.  I admit, it’s a shaky faith, at times.  But just at the moment when my hope was fading, He opened a door and made a way.*  And so I continue to trust.

 

*Consider this another chapter in the telling.  There is far too much to put in one or two blog posts.

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Protected

I tend to blog as though I’m writing in a journal.  I am open and vulnerable.  These things are fine, for me.  But since I am also talking about my children, there’s a line that I need to be aware of, and I think I overstep it from time to time.  All names are changed, and I try not to write anything too identifying about any of my kids or where we live.  But often when I come back after a few months (as I have this week) I look back and think, “that might be too much” and I put a password on those posts.  Above all, I want to do right by my children.  I want to protect them more than I want to share my thoughts or inform the public.  That said, if you are walking through hard times with your own child(ren) and you think reading what we have been through might help you, ask me for the password.

Out of the Handbasket

A number of years ago I saw this bumper sticker that said something like “Where are we going?  And what are we doing in this handbasket?”  And I chuckled.  Let me tell you, it’s a little less funny now, because it rings so painfully true.

The good news is, we’ve stepped out of the handbasket, to some extent.  And frankly, how we got here is too long to encapsulate into one somewhat brief blog post.  It will come dribbling out, as I find my writing voice again.

That’s what I’m really doing here.  Finding my voice.  It’s been smothered under so many layers of fear and sadness and worry and anxiety and general busyness that I started to wonder if it would ever come back.  I know blogs are so passe as to be practically obsolete, but that’s okay, even if I’m only writing for me, that’s a start.

I’m reading To Kill A Mockingbird for the very first time.  For one who supposedly loves books and reading as much as I do, it feels like an embarrassing thing to admit.  But there it is.  I of course knew of the book and many of the characters and the general plot and suchlike, and I even have an image in my head of a very 50’s looking man with glasses which is probably from the movie version, but it turns out that what I thought I knew I didn’t know all that well.  As to why I’m suddenly feeling the need to fill this gap in my literary education, well, that’s because of Leah.  She’s reading it for 9th grade English and so I am reading it “with” her.  Did you see those quote marks there?  That wasn’t a typo.  It’s only in my head that I am reading this book alongside my daughter, because in the real world she is three states away and her schooling is no longer my responsibility.  But I can’t seem to let go, and I love literature, and what if she wants to discuss it with me?  What if she had an opinion about Scout or that Radley fellow and I could only say “mmm-hmmm” and pretend I knew what she was talking about?  Let’s imagine that could happen, and not say that I’m doing this because it is the only way I can connect with my daughter right now, even inside my own head.

The thing about this book is, were I still in charge of choosing my daughter’s reading material, I probably wouldn’t have chosen it.  Aside from the fact that I’m pretty sure things are going to take an ugly, violent turn in the new few chapters, there’s the matter of the Radley character and how he’s introduced.  He clearly has mental problems.  And is also apparently violent.  And he hides in his house and everyone in town is afraid of him.  I’m not saying these things describe my child, but they are a little close to home, and were I teaching her, I’d avoid books like that.  But then I guess that’s one (of the many) reasons we are where we are now.

She’s also reading Where Have You Gone Charming Billy? By Tim O’Brien, and the short poem, I Like a Look of Agony by Emily Dickinson.  Given my child’s almost pathological obsession with the Winter Soldier and all things WWII (especially Nazi stuff – said with an accompanying shudder), I most certainly would not have assigned her either of those.  But were I to guess, I would venture that such assignments have a purpose that is at least partly therapeutic in nature.  If nothing else, when (if?) she had a disturbing reaction to the readings, the people there would know how to handle it.  And so I swallow back that all too familiar bile of anxiety and remind myself that I am out of the handbasket, for now at least.

I can breathe again.  We can talk in normal voices again.  We laugh, sometimes.  Sometimes I laugh loudly, and marvel at it.  I pray, all the time still.  That has not changed.  The tone and tenor might be slightly different, I’m not sure.  There is still quite a bit of beseeching going on.  But then, I’m a mom, so maybe that’s not all that unusual?