I’ve been linking three families who belong to a special community—parents of children with serious mental illnesses. First parents have a son diagnosed at five as severely bi-polar, physically dangerous to self or others (dangerous as in he was institutionalized at 10, 12, and 15). Second family is a single mom and her son, a brilliant boy diagnosed in early childhood with schizo-affective disorder, now probably full-blown schizophrenia. The third family is a dad, six-year-old birth daughter, second wife, and their one-year-old daughter. The older daughter’s birth mom died when she was four. It’s recently been discovered that the girl was being sexually used by her step-father from the age of two. She’s violently acting out against herself and her family. The search is on for a diagnoses and help for the whole family, thus the connection to the other two families.
It’s inspiring to witness these folks, called to a vocation that seems impossible, learning to be fierce advocates for their children, diligently educating themselves about childhood mental illness, steadfastly loving their kids. They grieve the loss of their dreams of a normal future for these wounded youth. They valiantly steer their way through blaming, judgmental, well-meaning family, friends, and strangers. All of these families have left churches because of the hostility their child’s behavior caused.
So far, the first two families have experienced unusually good outcomes. The five-year-old boy is 29, weaned off his meds with diet and exercise. He is working fill-time, investing in the stock market (!), and engaged to marry next year. The second boy is able to live alone with medication and disability income. He attends church regularly.
The first mom said, “Through all the horror, I had to hold the belief that this was not random evil visited on us. There had to be a reason for the pain, there had to be a way for it to be transformed.” The support and experience these two families offer to the third family is a transforming grace.
Contributed by Bernie Bosnjak, Hillsboro Friends