Kirsten Panachyda

Writer, Speaker, Singer-Songwriter

Menu Close

Tag: mental illness

A Simple Birthday Card

                        Unsent

Unsent

Do you procrastinate ordinary things? And the more time that goes by, the more the thing looms and gains importance? A simple birthday card, waiting for a stamp. Now it’s late- you can’t just send it like that, so you open it to add a handwritten letter. Now it needs a stamp and a new envelope. More time goes by- you can’t just send it like that. It needs a small gift, so you set aside the card, letter, and torn envelope until you can shop, wrap, package, and go to the post office.

Your friend never gets her birthday card. Or so I’ve heard.

My dear blog friends, this is your birthday card. The longer life pushed off writing, the more I felt that the next post had to be profound. Life-changing! The Best Thing I’ve ever written!

Would it be okay if I just let you know that God is still holding on to me- and I know He will do the same for you?

There have been lots of ups and downs in the last month. Crisis returned to visit as Nicholas’s stability crumbled. He did an incredible job of seeking help, and ended up staying in a psychiatric facility near his college for a week. He’s doing much better now, but his semester took a nosedive. Dan and I went on a couple’s vacation and had a wonderful time. We spent Thanksgiving break working through options for Nicholas and supporting him as he tried to make up missed school work. Things were looking up. A couple days after he returned to school after break, he called for another intense conversation. He’s decided to salvage as many of the credits for the fall semester as possible, and then… not return to college.

There are many paths, and college is only one of them. I fully acknowledge that reality.

Also real: discouragement, disappointment, concern for the future, a teeny bit of selfish regret that empty-nesting only lasted three months, a deep longing that Nicholas will find his path, sadness that mental illness will probably always be a factor.

More real than any of that:

“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life,

nor angels, nor principalities,

nor things present, nor things to come,

nor powers,

nor height, nor depth,

nor any other created thing,

will be able to separate us from the love of God,

which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans‬ ‭8:38-39‬ ‭NASB‬‬

How are all of you doing?

Wonders of Old

When I tell our story, I often say that for now, we are on the other side of the “crisis years.” During those three plus years of teetering on the edge, it seemed like we would never be okay again. There were days when I was sure Nicholas would not outlive his teen years. But even in those dark times of endless stress, God shed His light on our way. He brought unexpected comfort and fun, even a (carefully managed) family vacation. He sent people to guide, educate, and be part of the care team. Most of all, Holy Spirit spoke to our hearts about our security in God’s love.

During your crisis time, has there been light on your way? What are the moments and provisions that point you back to the love of God?

For me, living in the for now, fear is something to battle. It likes to creep around on the edges of my mind and pounce when I’m feeling tired or something has triggered painful memories. Fear itself is not real, in that its object is not part of my current situation. However, it’s not based on unreality either. Nicholas has a chronic illness. Bipolar Disorder needs to be managed, and relapses are possible. The fact is we might actually be in between crisis times, and there’s no way to know.

Circumstances can change at any time, but God never does. When we are again in the day of trouble, there is a way to peace:

“I shall remember the deeds of the Lord;
Surely I will remember Your wonders of old.
I will meditate on all Your work, and muse on all Your deeds.
Your way, O God, is holy;
What god is great like our God?
You are the God who works wonders;
You have made known Your strength among the peoples.”
Psalm 77:11-14

Did God perform wonders for me in the crisis years? Yes- my whole heart, my intact marriage, my close relationships with my sons, and especially my magnified trust in God all testify to what He did in and for me. Remembrance battles fear now, and will help me survive future crisis. The writer of the psalm emphasizes the principle with a call to muse, to meditate.

How about you? Go back to what came to mind about the light, moments, and provisions God brought you during crisis. How has He shown His love and faithfulness to you? Challenge yourself to make a list of people, resources, glimpses of beauty, spiritual insights, personal growth and whatever else you are grateful for.

When the light seems dim, go back and meditate on God’s wonders of old.

My Boy from Before

Missing my Kid
Artist:Giotto

I miss my kid.

A few months ago I did a ten-part series on the worst pains of parenting a kid with mental illness (you can find that here). There was one I left out, not because it didn’t belong, but because it seemed like it needed its own space.

The mourning over the kids who used to inhabit our lives aches in us. So much can be stolen away: laughter, silliness, moments of growth, flashes of new insight. The “awww” moments of peeking in on them while they sleep. The messy, chaotic, normal interactions with siblings full of play and squabbles. The way they enjoyed their hobbies or sports.

When Nicholas was really sick, he seemed gone from me. It wasn’t that I didn’t love the boy who was there. I did, fiercely. He was still mine. But the Nicholas from before mental illness seemed to be present only in briefly glimpsed shadows. Sometimes I spent long hours looking at photographs of him and other times could hardly bear to think about him, my boy from before. It wasn’t that he had grown up and moved away. He had not died and left this world. He was just gone.

Sometimes when I left visiting hours at the hospital, I would get back in the car and turn on songs about loss. Volume up, almost to pain, I would sing along with force and rage. I would get to the end of a song, press repeat, and sing it again. I wrote one too:

“In a paper gown in the sonogram room
The door clicks shut and I wait.
If I stay in bed, can I keep you safe
Or am I losing you today?
Four months later I hold you close
As I meet you face to face
Glad I brought you this far
But every mama knows
She’ll lose her baby someday…”

I’ve heard that being being a parent helps us understand God’s heart toward us. I find this true- the protective, do-anything-for-you, unquenchable love that I have for my kids echoes the love of God. My grief over my boy from before also echoes this love. When Israel had turned away from their God, He yearned over them:

“When Israel was a child, I loved him,
and out of Egypt I called my son.
But the more they were called,
the more they went away from me.
They sacrificed to the Baals
and they burned incense to images.
It was I who taught Ephraim (Israel) to walk,
taking them by the arms;
but they did not realize it was I who healed them.
I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love.
To them I was like one who lifts a little child to the cheek,
and I bent down to feed them.”
‭‭Hosea‬ ‭11:1-4‬ ‭NIV‬‬

God understood my heart. More, I had a window into His.

Dear friends, maybe you are grieving your gone-but still-here kid. I pray God will comfort your sore heart. If I can pray for you, please let me know in the comments or through my contact page.

© 2018 Kirsten Panachyda. All rights reserved.

Theme by Anders Norén.