Kirsten Panachyda

Writer and Speaker

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My New Friend

My son Alex was a little guy, sitting in his booster seat at the restaurant table. He spotted another family entering the room, with a little guy of their own. “Mama, look! It’s my new friend!” He had never laid eyes on him before.

I don’t know what brought you here. Maybe you know me in person. Maybe you are a struggling parent with a child in mental illness crisis. Maybe it was a happy accident. To all of you, welcome to the room. “Look, God! It’s my new friend!”

Since 2013, I’ve been seeking and being found. When my son Nicholas descended into a long battle with Major Depressive Disorder, I was desperate to find stories of help and hope. I wanted to know if other parents had learned to cope, survive, enjoy life again. The seeking was hard; the stories were rare. But when my story became known, people started to find me. Some gave me hope stories, and I held them to my heart with grateful hands. But some people found me because they were seeking too.

We need to know that God has carried others through. And when God carries us, we get to tell about it.

So let’s share a meal of friendship. Let’s be honest about our struggles. Let’s listen with compassion. Let’s seek hope and be found as hope-givers.

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