A Mother's Prayer For Mental Illness
Dear average American Citizen,
As the mother of a son with Paranoid Schizophrenia I have been struggling with the issue of prayer for quite some time. It is not that I have lost faith. I have been running on it for five years now. Granted there were times when it was reduced to the size of a mustard seed. But as I look back in hindsight, there was a moment that stands out from all the rest that left me totally and completely drained and frozen in fear like a deer in the headlights of an oncoming car when it came to the issue of prayer.
In my desperation to heal my son, to find an answer that would bring the child I had given birth to back to us I prayed fervishly for two solid years. I fully and whole heartedly believe in the almighty abilities of a power greater than myself. But one day, in one all encompassing moment I remembered that sometimes the answer is no. I stopped praying on that day. I turned my life and my son's life and his disease completely over to the care of God, rolled up my sleeves and began to dig in to the enormous footwork involved in getting my son stabilized, working again and independent. There was no time for prayer. I had work to do.
My son is doing really well, in spite of all the naysaying. He is working. He lives on his own with supportive services, which in today's terms means mom and dad. He is stable. Brittle, but stable.
I have found myself confronted with the issue of prayer again. I have come to realize, when I began this journey of a thousand miles, having never been confronted with this disease before in my life, a great deal of my struggle came from not knowing what to pray for. My relationship with a power greater than myself had become stagnant. Much like the Freudian/patient relationship does in assuming the patient has all the answers, when in reality the patient doesn't even know what the questions are In spite of searching, there was no one that suddenly appeared to lead the way. I had to become the pioneer into the unknown land of schizophrenia for my son, for my family, for me.
Today, in honor of the National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness, I want to share a prayer I have written for all the parents who find themselves in this same dilemma. I want to be able to give them the prayer I never had. The one that got answered any way on the faith of a mustard seed. The one I would have prayed had it been available to me. It would have saved me an enormous amount of pain and suffering on top of everything else I was already dealing with. For too often, my greatest fear was I had not only lost my son, but also I had lost my relationship with God.
A Mother's Prayer for Mental Illness
As I stumble from my bed this morning, help me to remember to be gentle and kind.
My child's mind is shredding into a million pieces. He lives in a constant state of atrocious fear. I can see it in his eyes. Give him peace.
Guide me as I hold him in my arms. Help me to know what to say. What to do. Fill my heart with healing love, understanding, and empathy.
Give me the strength of a thousand angels to hold back my tears. My heart is broken and a tidal wave of grief is overwhelming me with the need to cry. Give me the strength to bear it long enough to keep it from disturbing my child. Help me find someone I can safely bring it to.
Help me answer my family's questions with the same amount of compassion I would want for my self. Help me remember they are hurting too. This is an unwelcomed assault on an entire family. My heart is not the only heart that is broken. We all need time and each other to heal.
As my journey becomes more and more isolative and lonely, remind me that the lack of involvement on the part of family and friends is not always because of the stigma and the ignorance. For many, it is because they are hurting too. They have the privelege of turning to their own lives. This is my family's life now. I must deal with it whether I am hurting or not.
Send me your best physicians and healers. Give me presence of mind, as I walk through the exhaustion of my grief to not settle for just any one no matter how tiresome the journey becomes.
Help me adjust to the idea, that although it appears my son is gone, there will be no goodbye. And that he is still inside somewhere waiting for us to find him.
Infuse the creative part of my mind with solution oriented thinking. Give me hope. Even if it is just a glimmer of hope. A mother can go for miles on just one tiny glimmer. Let me see just a flicker of the sparkle of joy in his eyes.
Guide my hands, calm my mind, as I fill out the multitude of forms for services. Then help me do it again over and over.
Provide me with the knowledge. Lead me to the books I need to read, the organizations I need to connect with. As you work though the people in my life, help me to recognize those that are here to help. Help me trust the right ones. Shine a light upon the right path.
Give me the courage to speak my truth; to know my son's truth. And to speak for him when he is unable to do it for himself. Show me when to do for him what he is not capable of doing for himself. Help me to recognize the difference.
Help me to stand tall in the face of the stigma; to battle the discrimination with the mighty sword of a spiritual warrior. And to deflect the sting of blame and faultfinding from the ignorant and the cruel.
Preserve my love for my family. Shield my marriage with the wisdom of the love that brought us together.
Protect him from homelessness, loneliness, victimization, poverty, hunger, hopelessness, relapse, drugs, alcohol, suicide, cruelty and obscurity.
Lead us to the miracles of better medications, better funding, better services, safe and plentiful housing, meaningful employment, communities who care, enlightenment. Help us to find some way to replace all the greed with humanitarian work and intrinsic reward again.
Most of all, give me the strength to deliver whatever I can to the work of unmasking the man made ugliness of this disease and revealing the human and all of it's suffering beneath.
Finally, when it is my time to leave my son behind, send a thousand angels to take my place.