Kirsten Panachyda

Writer, Speaker, Singer-Songwriter

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#1 I Don’t Know What to Do- Counting Down the Painful Top Ten

The warrior stands on the crest of a hill. Although already wounded and tired, she is committed to the cause and ready to rush to the defense of her people. On her left, the valley is filled with the sounds of mayhem as her people are slowly pushed toward the raging river. Looking to her right, she sees her people losing the high ground as they are overrun by the strength of the enemy.

Which way should she run? Which battle needs her most? Which strategy will win the war? Which decision will prove a disastrous mistake? Choosing is impossible, but not choosing is unthinkable.

I don’t know what to do.

Of all the painful feelings experienced by parents whose kids have mental illness, this is the cry that sounds most often.

Do we go to the emergency department? Which one?
Do we try this medication, with these side effects? Or that one, with those?
Do I call the police?
Should we keep her in school? Which school?
So many choices, and often all of them seem bad.

For us, the hardest choice came when we had to consider sending Nicholas to a residential treatment facility for a year or more. By the time we reached that decision-making process, I was unsure of my own judgement. I knew that I felt it was not the best thing to do, but I didn’t know why I felt that way. Was I thinking rationally? Could my instinct be trusted?

In the end, he did not go, because we had finally hit on a combination of med cocktail, therapy, and maturity that enabled him to be stable and move toward wellness. But it was possible that it would not have gone that way- that we would have kept him home and lost him to suicide. Of course, we could have sent him and lost him anyway.

My heart aches for all the moms and dads out there who have to make the hard choices with no guarantees.

Feeling so helpless to succeed at the thing that matters most.

Bearing the crushing weight of responsibility.

Depending on a roll of the dice when the stakes are so high.

What can help?

• Recognize that all the choices may have flaws and there might not be one that is the magic bullet.
• Do the best you can and let the rest go. Forgive yourself for not being able to keep all options open.
• If your choice yields difficult consequences, remind yourself that the others probably had equal dangers. You don’t actually know what God has protected you and your kid from.
• Practice, and practice again, bringing your agonized worry to God.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians‬ ‭4:6-7‬ ‭NASB‬‬

“Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews‬ ‭4:16‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Go to that throne every day, every hour, every minute if you have to. The way is always open and you will always be welcomed. God is wise and He is able. He loves you and yours. Entrust yourself to His tender care.

Can I pray for choices you are facing right now? Please leave a comment or email me through the contact page at kirstenp.com.

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