My pulse is throbbing in my ears, and I feel fear at the very core of my being, as I watch my precious baby boy’s color turn to blue and his chest go still. There is no breath, no life. Frantically I try to recall everything I know to do as a registered nurse and breathe life into my child, but in that crisis state, the knowledge eludes me. I scream for someone in the other room to call for help. The phone appears before me, and the gentle but firm voice of the 911 operator on the other end calmly reminds me of each step to take until help can arrive.
Breath returns to his tiny body before the sirens break the silence of my neighborhood, but the overwhelming powerlessness and fear do not subside. It remains during the long months spent in the children’s hospital, with each test performed, and with each potential diagnosis given.
My lifelines…prayer, compassionate and knowledgeable medical professionals, the food brought by friends and family to nourish our bodies, the strength of having a community around me, the gentle and firm hug of a friend, the wise counsel provided to help navigate the endless doctors and diagnoses shared. Each one propelled me forward another minute, another day, as I navigated the waters of the powerlessness of having a child with medical struggles that no one could quite explain or solve.
Fast forward to the same child’s teen years. His body has stretched into a young man. Difficult life circumstances due to some of the same medical struggles have taken a toll on him. There is breath in his lungs, but the cunning invisible illness of depression wants to snuff it out.
Once again I find myself as a mother facing the same overwhelming powerlessness and fear as before. In my personal state of crisis, the knowledge I have from working as a psychiatric nurse is elusive. Where do I find that gentle voice to guide me?
I look for my lifelines, but they are harder to find. The look of discomfort on people’s faces when I broach the subject warns me not to share these things. My inner voice tells me that maybe they are happening because I did something wrong. I turn to the church, but they say they aren’t sure what resources would be helpful or anyone with personal experience to walk beside us. So I fight this battle for my child’s life with God by my side but without the power of community standing beside me and limited wise counsel to help me navigate.
It feels like I am fighting this battle with a blindfold over my eyes and no one on either side to guide or protect me. I feel defenseless and vulnerable. I do not wish this feeling on anyone else.
God still shows up in powerful ways. He has prepared me internally for this battle by letting me walk through the first ones on the medical issues. I start to use the gift He has given me to, as my co-workers say, “find the needle in the haystack.” I search and search to find the appropriate resources for my child and pray through each and every step. Slowly but surely a path forms in the darkness and my son grabs on to the lifelines offered and begins to climb his way out of the abyss of depression. Something I could not do for him.
As the fog clears, I start to wonder why does it have to be this way? Why can I find those lifelines when fighting a medical battle on behalf of my child but not when we face a mental one? There has to be a better way. This is one of the things that motivates me each and every day as I show up at the doors of Mosaics of Mercy. Every time I answer the phone and a parent is on the other end of the line looking for a hand to guide them, I remember what it felt like to be in their shoes. I dig in to find the “needle in the haystack” for their unique situation and pray every step of the way. I go to bed hoping they felt a little less alone and heard a gentle voice to guide them. I use the experience my family faced to help comfort others in theirs, and each time I sense the purpose in what we had to go through.
If this is you, know you are not alone. Each of us at Mosaics of Mercy has our own story that drives our passion for making a difference in mental health in our community. We brought those pieces together to form a network to help others find their way when faced with mental health struggles. We don’t want anyone to have to face their journey without the lifelines of someone to help navigate available resources, education on available options and mental health issues, prayer, and community. You don’t have to walk alone!