Monday, August 16, 2010

Mental Illness Part 2

"I decorated my room!" the childlike delight in the voice of my grown daughter did nothing to dispel the shock that hit me as I looked first at the room and then at her. 

The walls were covered with graffiti, some of it very good, some very strange.  The floor was strewn with a jumbled mixture of clothes, feminine unmentionable items, and hair -  lots and lots of hair. Curling locks that, half an hour earlier had hung down her back, were now scattered everywhere throughout the room.  Her hair, or what was left on her head was wet and she was holding a towel.

She smiled at me sweetly, the smile of an innocent three year old. (I learned later that she really did think she was three years old while this was happening.)

A few days earlier we had brought Samantha home from the hospital in Sarnia. See Mental Illness Part 1  We weren't sure how we would cope, but we didn't trust the hospital.  What were they giving her that was making her act so strange?  We thought they were just doping her up, and she would be well once we brought her home and surrounded her with prayer.

We had a lot to learn! 

The room decorating incident sent me running to the phone to talk to a Christian friend who was also a psychologist.  "You need to get her to the hospital at once," he urged when he had heard.  "I understand what you are thinking, but it really is a medical problem.  There is a chemical imbalance in her brain and her wires are crossing." 

We took his advice and prayed and sang all the way into town while Samantha believed she was on a giant roller-coaster having the time of her life.  When I sang, she sang along with more power and musical creativity than I had ever heard, and under normal circumstances I would have been delighted, but now it only scared me more. 

That was the strange thing about this illness.  Her creative ability would soar along with her sense of invincibility, and then sometimes she would crash and cry her heart out.

But God was working.  Samantha had been drifting away from the Lord.  It was the second time for her.  This time she had become wrapped up in movies staring Charley Sheen and had become an avid fan of his.  She had actually been looking for Charley the day the police found her at the radio station.

Now, during one of her saner moments, she asked me to clean out all the evil stuff she had collected. She didn't want the movie star to control her weakened mind, she wanted God to have it back, and she knew what had to be done.  It was a long drawn out process, first doing a thorough house cleaning, and also spending a lot of time in prayer, but the evil part of her sickness left.

But she was still sick.  Breaks came several times a year, keeping us on our knees before God for her.  Several times her confused mind led her to believe she was invincible, causing her to do things like racing her car through a stop sign, over a ditch, and into an open field.  But God always seemed to have arranged it that I was fasting and praying during those times, and Satan's attacks were thwarted.  Even though she totaled a car she was never seriously injured.

The Lord was changing me, too.  This was the girl I had always been so proud to call my daughter.  The child who wrote beautifully, and sung like an angel, was now an embarrassment when we were in public.  She would follow close at my heals in the store and then suddenly start to giggle and say something like, "I think I'll give you a hug." And she would proceed to do it.

Thirty years ago it would have delighted me, but not now, not with this full grown woman.  I was mortified.  And then I realized just what a horribly proud woman I was, and it sent me down on my knees before the Lord again for forgiveness for my own prideful nature.

Samantha has been free of breaks for at least four years now.  Her doctor started her on a new medication that worked, and she has lived a normal life ever since.  She was able to get more education while she was on pension, and she is now a personal support worker with an ability to work with the handicapped that she never would have had were it not for her own illness.  And, above all else, she is now serving the Lord.

I have a greater understanding now for families of the mentally ill.  Instead of avoiding them, I can now relate, and I thank God for that.  I also have a greater spiritual awareness of my own prideful shortcomings.  I pray for daily grace.  Nothing could stop my prayers from bouncing off the ceiling faster than pride.  Lord, let this be enough of an awakening that You never have to do it again!

These were some of the hardest trials in my life, but I thank God for every one of them.  May He continue helping us all grow to the place where we were meant to be, in whatever way He deems necessary .

To read the next post see: Funeral Party
For the previous post see: Mental Illness Part 1
For more about Samantha see: Broken Mom Part 2
And to watch her sing a song she wrote: I'm at a Loss for Words

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