Last week, our 21yr old son Brent, began experiencing a major mental health crisis. I sent out a call for prayer among friends and partners – https://mailchi.mp/50449ca85a53/urgent-family-prayer-request
Blogging about our journey over the years has had it’s filled of up and downs. Mostly ups, but a few deep difficulties. I recall Noah, at the age of 5-6yrs old fell out of our van while Deb was driving down the highway outside of Kyiv, cracked his skull and ended up being hospitalized in very difficult conditions. The Lord was gracious. I had my health scare back when covid broke out, loss of breath, sleepless nights, and anxiety that crushed my own mental health. God was merciful.
We have journeys in this life, into the valleys, the places of formation. When we’re on the mountains of joy, we want them to last forever. The valleys of formation, they seem like they do. This past week has been one of those life formation valleys, an eternity of holding on, waiting for news, thinking the worst, losing hope that hope exists.
Brent has been in a manic, psychosis state for the past week. We flew over from Romania last night, after a wild few days of required visa travels to Hungary, and re-packing the suitcases Deb had just unpacked after almost two months of travel, temp stays. We’re here, but unable to visit Brent yet. Today we heard the first positive news of the week, that Brent is finally sleeping, his mind having been in a constant place of speed, and energy. The doctors have been God’s answer to our son’s cry for balance and stability. He was starting to lose grip on what was real, what was within his control. He was hearing things, and filled with the symptoms that point to the diagnosis of clinical Bi-Polar I.
Up until this event, I knew little about Bi-Polar, and dismissed it earlier because I thought it was only for those that struggled with depression. Brent is the opposite, struggling with the over excited mind that is crushed under the stress of change and incapacity to regulate sleep, then it spirals to the point of a ‘break’. Some breaks can last a few hours, but a typical first time break, one that reveals the true nature of the health issue, lasts days, and even weeks.
We are here in PA, we’ll settle this weekend and get adjusted to the jetlag. We’re unable to be with him, until either he is stable, treated and released or after May 15th when the final covid regulations are lifted. We have daily updates with the doctors, and the team of nurses. They have been professional, compassionate, and really take a liking to our Brent who has thankfully be willing to be treated, for the most part, and decreasing in stress and fear.
I wanted to post this, for our family, and for Brent as this becomes part of his, and our story. There’s still so much stigma and fear around mental illness. We’ve been so encouraged by the outpouring of empathy among friends that have emailed, messaged their gratitude for us sharing and being open – I didn’t realize so many out there are, and have battled similar scenarios personally or in their families.
How do we integrate our faith with the emerging knowledge of the brain, neuroscience and other advances? What is spiritual, what is material and physical? Could it be that this dichotomy is a false one, that these ‘either-or’ categories are misguided in the first place? What if it’s both? What if our spiritual reality is embedded in material one, and some of our material bodies are broken, but through the mercy of God we’re learning, as a humanity, to address those things that once seemed impossible.
We have prayed so much this week, we still very raw. God has, however, been encouraging us to trust Him, Brent is God’s son first, and God has something special in this life, in relationship in Him and to the world.
Thank you for praying, still. We are humbled, hurting, but all being guided through a valley by the love that is Christ and his church. We’re also learning a lot, knowledge that will make us more merciful, we pray.
Bruce & Deb