Sunday, December 26, 2010

Mental Illness, Part Two

So, I went for many years believing that all mental illness was a sin and was basically the fault of the individual who had it. I know that deep down in my heart I was wrong, but it would take a truly tough lesson from the LORD to change my beliefs.
In January of 1998, I began to notice that my daughter was starting to act very possessively of her items. She was writing her name on everything that she owned. She kept everything she could. She wouldn't get rid of anything. She hoarded paint chips, sales flyers, catalogs, pieces of paper, books, magazines, anything that she could read, toys from her childhood, all kinds of stuff that made no sense. This went on for months and I finally couldn't take the mess any longer. She watched as I went through the piles of stuff. I could tell that she was upset about the whole thing, but didn't realize how upset until later. That evening she was muttering and grumbling to herself and was very angry. She began to pinch her neck leaving red marks. I thought she was just being a normal teenage brat.
During this time, I also began to talk with her about the fact that she is autistic. For all her life we had avoided this subject like the plague. I did NOT want her to be autistic and to admit it felt like tremendous shame. She was my only child. I had been lead to believe when she was three years old that if she got the proper training that she would no longer have any disabilities. And the only exposure I had had to autism was through my older brother and my sister-in-law's sister who had both worked with the severely autistic. Autism felt like a prison sentence in isolation without the possibility of parole. This was not what I wanted for my precious daughter. However, as soon as we began to discuss the facts of autism with our child, we all started to change for the better. We learned so much about this developmental disability and about our daughter. But she also hated it! She hated that she would not be able to join the military. She hated that she would not be able to become an astronaut. She hated that she would not be able to become a pilot. She hated and rebelled against the limitations that this disorder placed upon her life.
April, on her 16th birthday, when I expected things to calm down and for her to act more mature, the exact opposite happened. By then she was angry almost all the time. She muttered, grumbled, and complained through-out the day. The only time that she was calm was when she was asleep and she didn't sleep that much. She also started to throw things so that she could break them.
By the time June rolled around, she was hitting herself, pinching her neck, yelling at people who she saw in her room (but they were actually miles, if not a thousand miles away), was full of anger, and was throwing and breaking lots of things. She accused people of taking her things, of lying about her, of mocking her, and of teasing her. She could clearly see and hear these people, but there was no-one there. She would write horrible notes about these people and about the awful things that she wanted to do. There were days when she would cry out to me that she wished she was dead and that her tormentors would also die.
It was a horrible time in our home. We didn't know what to do and what to think. Of course I thought she was demon possessed. I begged God to heal my daughter like he had done for the woman in Matthew 15:21-28. It was during one of those times that the Holy Spirit spoke to me and asked me if I would be like Abraham and trust God with my only child. Would I even be willing to totally sacrifice myself from my daughter and allow the LORD to fully have control over her. It was very hard for me to do that, but with much tears and pain I finally laid my child on the altar and surrendered her completely to God.
From then on, things began to change for the better. Out of desperation we finally got our daughter in to see a psychiatrist. He immediately put her on medication. I cried for 24 hours. I felt like I had given in to the Devil. But the Holy Spirit comforted me. It took many tests, many different doctors, many different medications, many years, and even video-taping our daughter to show her that there was no one who was truly tormenting her before we "conquered" this pychosis.
Next time I will write more about the truth that I learned.

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