[guestpost]Today I’ve invited a friend to dive into raw and difficult subject, one that sits painfully close to my heart. Her willingness to expose the complicated pieces of her own story lends you and I courage to authentically wrestle with our own. And the longer I live this undone life, the more grateful I am for such bold women. Please welcome Proverbs 31 Ministries speaker, author and my friend, Lynn Cowell. And be sure to leave a comment at the end of this post for a chance to win a copy of Lynn’s new Bible Study Book and DVD Bundle, Make Your Move. [/guestpost]
Lord, this feels bigger than me. I need Your help.
Even as I type, I can remember the very first time I needed this prayer of desperation for my girl.
Minutes prior, I received one of those calls you don’t want from the school. My daughter Madi wasn’t feeling well and wanted to come home. She seemed fine when I dropped her off this morning, I thought as I walked into the middle school.
Turning the corner into the office, I could see the distraught look on Madi’s face. The sadness emanating from her eyes was becoming all too familiar. Maybe she’s getting a cold, I thought, as I surveyed her once again. That is when my daughter became adamant. “Mom, something is wrong. I can’t breathe.” We took a sharp left; heading straight for the hospital. I had no idea what was going on. I just knew it wasn’t normal.
When you have no idea what to do next
Her doctor informed me that Madi was having a panic attack. I was too embarrassed to admit my lack of understanding to the physician. I thought she was experiencing teen angst.
What I was not seeing, because I was unaware, were the early symptoms of a mental health disorder.
All through middle and high school, sleepless nights and emotional unrest troubled her most days. Her dad and I, along with her psychologist, hoped a Christian university upon graduation would help.
It didn’t. When Madi returned home for Christmas break her freshman year, her psychiatrist diagnosed her with Bipolar Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
When we don’t understand God’s why
From that day on, Madi finally had a name for the battle she’d been waging. Since then, she bravely shares her journey of living with mental illness and not just surviving; but thriving. Because of the courage she demonstrates, she’s inspired our family to do all we can to support her and discover God’s best, even when we don’t understand His why.
Mental illness classes through NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) has helped me to move to being as supportive to Madi as I can be. I’ve also learned how to be a more compassionate and loving human and believer.
This process of learning the best tools and becoming empowered to move forward has not happened overnight. As a family, we’ve worked hard and been patient with each other as we grow and learn more.
Breaking the stigma around mental illness
Madi’s passion is to be a part of breaking the stigma that surrounds mental illness.
Stereotypes and stigma surrounds us from the jokes told on TV to the way the body of Christ hides from these struggles within the church. Through her blog and social work studies in college, she empowers those who have a mental health disorder to move toward a healthier life. She also educates us who need to understand, so that we can support our loved ones and those around us who wish to be understood.
Together, my daughter and I hope to empower others to face the fears that surrounds mental illness. And overcome the failures that have pushed down those with a diagnosis.
Confidence is not just for those who seem or look like they have it altogether. Christ died to give us His unshakable confidence. It is available to us; all of us. Confidence is developed as His truth invades every aspect of our lives. Each day we are learning more about what it means to gain mental wellness and what it looks like for her dad and I to support her.
We do this through educating ourselves with information from those who do understand these disorders, and we do this through soaking our hearts and minds each day with the truth found in God’s word. There are days when life is hard, really hard, but on these days when disappointment and discouragement deplete us, God’s word restores us.
Has there been a time when your confidence was shaken and you had no idea what to do next?
Comment below for a chance to win a copy of Lynn’s Make Your Move Bible study book and DVD bundle. (U.S. Addresses only please.)
In Make Your Move, Lynn Cowell explores how confidence-in-question keeps us from boldly experiencing what God intends for our lives. Learn more about her new Bible study and download 10 Verses to Build Your Confidence here: http://lynncowell.com/make-your-move/.
Lynn Cowell is a national conference speaker who is passionate about helping women of all ages understand the importance of Christ confidence. She is the author of several books including her newest study for women, Make Your Move: Finding Unshakable Confidence Despite Your Fears and Failures, and Brave Beauty: Finding the Fearless You , just for girls ages 8 – 12. Lynn and her husband, Greg, have been married for over 30 years and are the parents of three young adults. They enjoy spending time together, especially when it combines the mountains, well-worn sweatshirts, and anything with chocolate and peanut butter. Connect with Lynn today at www.LynnCowell.com.