A Broken System

Art-Brut-3The Mental Health System is broken.  It is not functioning well, it is disconnected, lacks congruity and relies on short visits from doctors, not prepared to see their “patients” and a long list of drugs that they think will work within 4 days.  They don’t, medicine takes time and should be accompanied by a healthy diet, good sleep, exercise and trust.     This is now the 5th hospital stay for my son in two years.   Each visit lasted one week to 5 weeks.  He was always discharged right when our insurance was about to end.  We didn’t notice this until the pattern emerged after the third stay.  My son knew this too, he has learned to be institutionalized, he knows his rights and what he can refuse and not refuse.   Now I don’t want the reader to think I believe all mental health care workers are bad or incompetent, but the system in which they work seems to be like the mind of a schizophrenic; many voices shouting over one another, people doing things that overlap, a system that doesn’t believe the patient, or the caregivers input. they simply want to stabilize and get them home.   Trying to work with them leaves me so exhausted and stressed I just want to find a way to start my own facility.  Get about 10 million dollars in grants, buy land, build housing, base the model on a system that incorporates the spiritual element as well and use the money so people can actually afford to come live there.  A self sustaining facility, growing their food, nutritionists, fitness trainers, doctors who want to stay and mental health nurses and aids that love people and don’t get cynical.  A wild fantasy for sure.   There are a few I have found some that sound promising ( except the spiritual part) but they run about 26,000-30,000 per month.  That’s right, per MONTH.   Who can afford that?   Average stay is one to three years.

This last hospital visit was the worst.  The facility was the nicest, it was the cleanest, almost posh, but the workers were detached and didn’t even know my son’s name.  I came to visit and no one talked to me, acknowledged me or my son, it was so odd.  Not a hello, or “is this your mom”? or “this is how he is doing”….they called him by his first name ( a big clue that they didn’t even know he went by his middle name).   Visitation was a joke, one hour at the worst time of day ( three times per week).    My son, for the first 3 and 1/2 weeks was throwing up his meds.  I told them he was, but they didn’t believe me.  They said that couldn’t happen.   But he was pacing so much his socks wore out and he lost weight.  We had to buy new pants and socks,  but still they told me there was no way he wasnt getting the meds into his system.  I explained about his personality, but the doctor told me he couldnt listen to my ideas based on a hypothetical theory.   I said, it isn’t theory, he is waiting you out, he won’t comply because he know you will release him in 30 days.   The doctor did take that to heart and told him he would keep him longer.  Then an amazing thing happened, my son took his meds and began to participate.  He slept through the the next four days but stopped pacing and barely ate.  He needed the sleep I am sure but now he was a zombie. Now by this point the dosage was so high because they thought he wasn’t responding, he turned into a walking zombie.  they were happy because he stopped pacing and actually slept longer than one hour per night.   I requested they drop the meds back down to entrance levels and the doctor actually agreed with me and lowered the dosage, but it was still very high and because he refused to give blood they couldn’t test the depakote levels.    We knew that day 30 was arriving and they would release him because our insurance was up, I asked for a 4 day extension because my husband was still in Korea for an army conference and I didn’t feel safe bringing him home alone.    We haven’t been safe, it has been dangerous, emotional, violent, erratic and we feel like we are fighting an unseen fiend who is preying on our son.   Everyone in the household is on edge and the tension is unbearable.  This, unfortunately, feeds my son.  He , like an X-man mutant, receives all our tension and feeds on it.  We try to conceal this life from others, but it pours out like water you try to hold in the palm of your hand.

We then had to  follow up with the local law mandated appointments with the county run center.  My son would not speak, paced the halls, was verbally abusive and obviously mentally unstable at the time.  I could not make sure he ingested the meds. ( to the novice reading this, I assure you that following around a 21 year old man and watching him to ensure he keeps the pills down can be dangerous,  to avoid violent conflict I ask and trust and then watch behavior, if he is acting out I tell him I have to call 911, that usually makes him compliant, I just do not want the reader to think it is as easy as watching him swallow pills or stand outside the bathroom, what you deal with in this situation is not rational or reasonable, you must throw out those techniques)   But the county behavioral health  did NOTHING for us.  I begged for help, I needed in home help, a nurse or a mental illness specialist to help me or a home or living facility he could stay, anything.  But nothing exists.    She spent 15 minutes typing as I talked, because my son “saw fit” that I should speak and not him”,  of course everything I said “were lies and needed to be deleted”  She was typing continuously while I talked, it was a loud keyboard and extremely annoying, I don’t know how my son didn’t come flying across the table.  Want to be tense?,  just type everything a person is saying while they talk, don’t look at them or listen, just type type type….maybe a new system could be installed, voice recording and then have someone type it later?  I dont know.   Just don’t irritate mentally unstable people more please.   I asked what I should do, I was a little scared, she said ” he said he wasn’t suicidal or homicidal so she could do nothing”  I actually said that, remember he wasn’t speaking…. She said I could take him to the ER but they would only think he was an angry teenager, but he isnt, he is  21, almost 22.      So alone in a vast sea of undulating waters that pulls us down to the bottom while we fight the current trying to get a breath we go on.   I left and wanted to sit in my car and cry.  But I knew my son would feed off that emotional surge and I had to remain calm.

I had really hoped the doctor prior to discharge would use his leverage, and tell my son in order to be discharged he would have to 1.   allow them to draw blood and run a full blood panel screen to check his system, 2.   run a drug screen and  3.  they could order a brain scan so we could look at this neurologically and rule out anything there.  He denied all three.  He said the brain scan was only for traumatic brain damage and would not help my son’s case,  ( not true, I have several academic papers from Harvard, Mayo clinic etc) and they show schizophrenic brains on scans can show us a lot.  He hasn’t had a blood panel since this started three years ago, we have no idea of white cell counts, and all other levels,.   I was so upset because the leverage was needed to get compliance.   We will try on our own to find a neurologist and get this done this week if possible.  I will have to find my own care givers by searching alone yet again.  And just for the record, I am a member of NAMI, I support them, but the support group I attended was so depressing I just couldn’t go back.   I sat with women twice my age who had been taking care of their sons for 25 years and they were no better.   They were in and out of hospitals , broke, non compliant with meds and many had been in jail.   I am just not ready to concede.   I would rather be in denial for a while longer , I would rather choose hope and and work to make a new system.  I will await my miracle aslo.

Depression-and-Mental-Illness

My husband and I have decided to just tell people he has cancer when he acts strangely, we could just say he has brain cancer.   Then people wont be so scared and judge him or us.  It is crazy to say that, but if he was terminally ill anywhere else in his body people would be kind and helpful, but if it is a sickness of the brain, then it is our fault or his fault and they avoid us, judge us and leave us. ( most don’t say that out loud, but you  hear what they say, people don’t’ keep secrets.)  People just can’t handle unresolveable situations.   Because it is so exhausting and you never feel like it will end, others just don’t want to be around that.  I can’t explain it, but we have lost friends because they  think we should fix this and move on and if they don’t see results then we arent doing what needs to be done.   They don’t believe me when I tell them how broken the mental health system is, they just don’t believe me.   And they don’t think it could ever happen to them because they are good people and good parents., that cause idea again.   No one would ever blame a parent for cancer or diabetes or autism, but mental illness…..there is a stigma attached to that.  I just have to smile and try to educated them.  If they really want to know I have books to read and they can search.   I have one dear friend who is already searching, reading and doing all she can to help, she was with me at lunch with my son and it so shocked her she went into full blown “I must help her mode”  Thank heavens for friends like that.  No judgement and the power to want to make changes.

Be that friend, be that person who will step in and help.  Be that person that writes the congressional leader to fund grants to open facilities, who will stand in the gap with fervent prayer.   I am so blessed to have that friend, I am not alone.   Christ sustains us and sends us people who will love and care for us.  Even in the mess.  Because this is messy and weird and unworldly.

What if we are wrong?

I have to admit I am somewhat of an end times junkie.  This all started years ago when my children were little and I wanted to add to the holiday fun for the family. I listened to Focus on the Family and they had recommended a book that I can’t remember the name of, but it had great ideas to add to each holiday to make it Christ relevant and fun.  This was exactly what I was looking for.  In this book was a section on a “christian passover”  After reading about it and diving in full force ( those who know me understand I have two speeds, fast and full-blown) I hosted my family and in brother and sister-in-law and 6 small toddlers and babies to a 4 hour nightmare of  full on kosher “Christian Passover” meal and Seder.  Let’s just say it was a disaster, but it whet my appetite for bible study and I dove in head first and I haven’t had my nose out of those books ever since.  I teach a lot about  the 7 feasts of the Lord and the end time significance that they imply.  After seeing Christ fulfill the first three feasts to the day and the Holy Spirit fulfill the fourth to the day I was hooked.  I knew the Lord was teaching us something important if we only had eyes to see and ears to hear.

This short article is not about all the study on the feasts, that is reserved for another time, it is not about the wedding feast and wedding preparation either, again for another article; this is about missing what God is doing.  Kind of like missing the trees for the forest, or is it missing the forest for the trees?  I never remember, but either works fine for me.

You see we tend to have preconceived notions about how and when Christ will return.  There are those who  simply quote “no man knows the day or hour except the Father” so they ignore it all and put their head in the sand, not realizing the play on words Jesus was using.  Then there are those who have charts and 7 years and 3 and 1/2 years and peace treaties they try to tie it up with a bow and take all christians out of the picture up to a grand wedding supper with the Lamb of God all the while the bride is still on earth….but you see there is one body, ONE BODY.  Ephesians 4 sums in up nicely.  We ( non jews, Hebrews ,GENTILES) were once far away and separated and excluded, utterly estranged and outlawed from the rights of Israel as a nation–strangers with NO share in the sacred compacts of the Messianic promise.  We had no hope, being in the world but without God.   But now, Christ Jesus has brought us near by His blood, He is our peace our bond and unity.  He has made us both Jew and Gentile ONE BODY and abolished the dividing wall between us.  By abolishing HIs own crucified flesh the enmity caused by the Law with  its decrees and ordinances, which He annulled; that He from the TWO might create in Himself ONE new man–one new quality of humanity out of the TWO, so making peace.

When I read these words in Ephesians I am more convinced than ever that we, the gentiles are grafted into the olive tree ( Israel) and we now follow them, and their God is now ours and we are one with them.  Ruth displayed this perfectly when she left her land and became a Jewess and followed what Naomi told her to do.  But that is not what I read  or hear about.   All I ever read about now is how the body is secretly removed, without the dead in Christ rising first, and then God deals with Israel as a separate entity.  I think we are looking at this all wrong.  We are looking in the wrong places and trying to make the end of time fit our model of what we want and what we think we should get.  The Pharisees and Sadducees did the same thing.  They fit the coming of the Messiah to conveniently fit the mold of Christ coming in the power of the throne of David and ruling over all the world and putting and end to their enemies, presently Rome.  The problem was they were looking at what they saw in themselves according to the word of God and not what it said about all the people. they forgot God told Abraham they would be a light to the gentiles.  God already planned to make them one body   Re-Read Ephesians 2 again, slowly and in as many versions as you like.  Christ unites us into one body–one body marries the lamb, one body is the bride, one body to love and enjoy Him forever.  We become the people of God through Christ, just as they become fulfilled through all the law and prophets when they believe and trust the Christ Jesus is their messiah.  No one comes to the Father without the Son.  We both are joined in His death and His resurrection.

So when I see the fall feasts i Look for Christ and the implications of the great deception the God is sending;  and the falling away of the love of the body and a lawless man arising; I am on the lookout.  Satan doesn’t know when either, so he must always have a man of flesh prepared in every era of time, ready to fulfill the scriptures.  Don’t look for your ticket out of here, look to those who are around you and need to know.  What do they need to know?  That you believe, that you believe in this Christ, enough to stake your life on it, and the lives of your children and families.  Tell them what He has done for you.  Ruth did, she followed Naomi and did what she was called to do and Naomi’s God became hers, She ,  the  moabite, cast out of the family of israel for 10 generations because of her people could not be in the congregation of the Lord now became the 10th generation, the one to break the curse and then to become the great grandmother of David. Tell them so they will not be deceived, or ambivalent or a scoffer,  Or do you think that Christian persecution will not happen here?

I don’t have the answers, I am just a fellow disciple on the road following Christ like you, but I choose to look to HIm and wonder–not at a set plan that men have said must happen before Christ returns based on tradition and man centered ideas.  , The Jews during the time of Jesus missed it and Jesus wept over them.  This tribulation will be even worse, if possible the Word of God says, so increase your diet of scriptures, take them to heart. teach them, learn them, and then mentor others.   We all have a piece to play in this puzzle–being a part of the body, one body, one Israel, is the most amazing thing I could have read tonight.  Iam reconciled to His plan through a people He chose from the beginning knowing His Son would bring peace to this world, but only through a magnificent death and resurrection.   I for one am  praying for those under extreme persecution from ISIS and pray that godly teachers will hear from God and tell us  to be ready,to not be deceived and arm ourselves with the full armor of God, for we are in battle…the battle for souls… God Bless and get your nose in that bible as soon as your eyelids open.

Christ returns on a white horse and every one will know who HE is..

Christ returns on a white horse and every one will know who HE is..

Following the Path

Nite and me at the Yellowhammer ride. Our first first place ride together.

Nite and me at the Yellowhammer ride. Our first first place ride together.

Sometimes we go through life looking for signs. We search in the bible, we pray, we ask others and we even do silly things like ask God to sky write it in the clouds, or open a door that seems impossible to open; we want a sign, an answer that we are indeed on the right path. Recently I was called to ride ( I would say blessed or fortunate, but I am starting to believe God calls us to every situation even the ordinary or mundane), my new horse Nite in a 25 mile race and then Promise in a 50 mile race the next day. So many obstacles were in the way just to get there I felt I may never arrive. But arrive we did and got to work setting up camp, vetting in and preparing our game plan for the next few days. Torrential rains poured through out the morning the race was delayed for a couple of hours. We started strong and Nite and I raced to a first place finish, it was a delightful joy to cross that line and have a horse full of energy and elation at my first time to win first place.

 But the Lord had a plan for me the next day, the Day of Atonement for the ancient Jewish Nation, The Day of the Lord for future thoughts and discourse, but I digress. I took off in the lead for the first loop; as I came in guns blazing, I had a great sound vet check and waited the 50 minutes to head back out. Promise, without a horse ahead and one behind him, slowed to an average 7.5 mph, not lightening speed, but decent for a wet single track through the woods. I was on the green and white loop, which consisted of white ribbons with green polka dots, not exactly shinning beacons of color or obvious in the dense forest of autumns shifting colors.  The person who had marked this particular trail, unknown to them had set the course for a wonderful and Godly message not only for me, but for the ladies in my bible studies I would be teaching.   These ribbons were placed just far enough apart that as you trotted or cantered along you began to wonder if you had missed a turn, even though there wasn’t an obvious turn anywhere in sight.    Then moment would  come that I had to consider if I did indeed miss an obscure turn and should I turn around, and then BAM, a ribbon would appear. I would thank the Lord, continue my pace and sing and pray during this most High Holy Day unto the Lord, yes a joyful noise for sure, crazy and made up songs, but joyful according to His word. Soon this pattern of ribbons just beyond what I could handle would appear in the nick of time reminding me that indeed I was on the right path. Soon a very determined rider caught up with me and judging by the look in her eyes and the fact she didn’t stop to water her horse in the majestic creek I was in, gave me pause to consider that she was serious about winning. I came out of the creek and started up the trail and she immediately passed me and took off with lightening speed. Well, Promise would have none of that and he kicked it into high gear and we galloped the next 10 slick and sloppy miles along single track with great speed. Ribbons were still sparse and I was still aware that I was riding by faith and just when I began to doubt the ribbon would appear bolstering my faith and confidence. She had missed two ribbons due to her speed and I hollered “hey”, turn here and soon she relaxed and we began to talk and enjoy the ride.  At vet check after a fast 20 miles we checked out well, but my faithful friend did not want to eat or drink. I began the task of forcing him to eat grass and drink from a plunging tube and water bottle. I knew without eating or drinking on his own we wouldn’t pass the final vet inspection regardless of how well he trotted out. Off again in first we took off for the final loop.  She passed us again and now it was 12 miles of full gallop. This was not what I had planned. My mentor’s ever-present voice bid me , “don’t get caught up in someone else’s race” kept a steady cadence in my heart.  Soon two more fast women came upon us and the four of us went flying through the Talladega national forest. This was the white loop and I realized I was not watching ribbons anymore, we were going too fast, I was simply following them. I was no longer trusting the Lord ( ribbons) to follow the way set before me, but I was caught up with others as they went about their intense pace to finish the race. My horse was keeping up well but I knew this was not best for him. I couldn’t stop him well as I had shifted to a hackamore ( a bit-less bridle I can usually use on the last loop). I had to stop and get off their game plan.   Promise wouldn’t drink at the water stops with their horses, he only wanted to be in the lead. That was the final straw, I had to make a change, get back to what I was called to do with the horse I was on and what I had come to do; and that was finish with 50 more miles under my belt.   I got off in a creek, filled my water bottle forced him to drink two of them, forced green grass into his mouth and waited. I knew I wasn’t going to race them off and would be fourth no matter what, but if my horse didn’t pass I would be out and this day would result in a pull full of tears and regret. After I remounted, Promise knew they were up ahead and his pace quickened. I watched for the white ribbons and once again they came in the nick of time as I began to doubt I was on the right path yet again.  I am a slow learner when it comes to faith.   At the next creek I got off again and went through the force water and grass routine, he began to eat and drink on his own and knew I had done what I needed to do for him and that we would finish. My faith welled up inside me and I trusted the Lord for the rest. We finished 4th and had an impressive 50 mile race time. The girl who won, was showered with flowers and ribbons, but she carried with her a broken finger, bruised ribs and a mild concussion. In their speed the three riders were vying for position when the first place rider hit a tree and was catapulted 20 feet injuring herself. She is a tough cookie, remounted told her friends who had stopped to check on her she was fine, jumped on and out ran them to the finish line. I was so glad not to be near that accident, and  overjoyed to be fourth. 

  But I was so much more excited about the Lord teaching me about the journey and the ribbons and my faith.  Having that lesson and knowing I would be able to share this was the real prize.   I knew several people who were at a crossroads of sorts in life, going along a path and wondering if they were on the right path.  I could assure them that soon a ribbon would appear and confirm they were also on the right path.   The word says that we plan our course,  but it is the Lord that determines our steps.   Proverbs’ 16:9.   I learned that as we journey there are markers, and these markers are just beyond where you can see them. They are around the corner of Faith and trust. Many people simply think they have missed them and turn around, sometimes they get lost doing this, other times they lose out as others pass them by, some even doubt there is a ribbon up head and they lose faith. But…there is a ribbon ahead, you just must trust the Lord. Believing in Jesus is about leaning your entire personality onto Him, trusting Him with everything and believing.   It is our obedience to believe.  We get confused and think we should be “doing” things to obey the Lord, not so, we are to BELIEVE!   The actions come later in our belief.  TO BELIEVE, TO KNOW AND BELIEVE increases our faith, it allows us to pray with out doubt, being double minded.  It allows us to trust God.  Doubt would always creep in minutes before I would see the ribbon and then I would be so thankful and glad I would rejoice, but within a few miles I would wonder all over again if I had missed it, but then there it was.

Now we obviously don’t get real ribbons in life, but we do get His word, spoken in the right season, we get friends who encourage us and assure us of our faith, they tell us that “they know we are loved and that God has chosen us”, we hear a song on the radio, a scripture from a radio show or TV show and sometimes just nature declares His glory and we hear that still quiet voice and we know we are on the right path.  When I was racing too fast and following others I forgot the ribbons for my race- another valuble lesson. I have followed many, got caught up in their journey, jealous and confused about what they had and what I didn’t . But my directions were right there, I just didn’t see them because I was too close to another wanting to follow them and not my own path. You see, even on the same trail, with the same ribbons, we have a different plan. God can handle all of that and we don’t have to fret about it at all. When I thought I would not vet in, that I had pushed it too far, ruined it…..I declared NO! I knew that I knew I would finish, I refused to let doubt get in; I reminded myself I don’t believe in fate or “bad luck”, but faith in God and what He was teaching me. I didn’t think of what could happen, but only saying in advance thank you for the finish, because I trusted the Lord to bring me ALL the way through. He did. I was so encouraged I shared with both my bible study groups and told them that their ribbons were out there.   But to watch for that ribbon,  to believe it was  right around the next bend, the next corner, the next tree, that is faith, and that is where you get to be a part of a miracle that God has in store for you. Is Your marriage falling apart and you want to quit?   There is a ribbon ahead, wait for it while moving a head on that path,  Is your diagnosis is bleak, wait for that confirmation ribbon that comes right when you need it, and not a moment to soon.   As our faith grows I believe our ribbons are spaced out even farther to stretch us and make us grow more in the Lord, trusting and riding by faith and not by sight.  We want a “sign”, Jesus said there would be no sign except that of Jonah, ( three days and nights in the fish) to represent His resurrection.   The people wanted skywriting, a casting of lots, a prophet to lay hands on them, a medium to tell them the future…..all things He said to stay away from and yet we seek those   I want to encourage you that I have been on that path, I have doubted, even stopped and wondered should I turn back, investigate a trail that looked like another way….I am hear to tell you. Keep on keeping on, your ribbon is right up there, God can see it, He is just waiting for you to get there so He can reveal HIs glory to you and reassure you that He loves you and that He is right there with you.  On days I couldn’t, another rider would come along side me to reassure me, on days when you can’t, He sends me to ride with you and confirm the ribbons. What a great and mighty God to show us truths in our everyday life, our hobbies, our jobs, our families.   He has set the paths up, go to the ride meeting and get your map and find out what direction to start….church and His word, it’s all there.  we are in this together.  so blast the magnificent seven music and get ready to ride the path of His word and have the ride of your life
Your sister in Christ
Amy