Christmas Hope: A Couple's Battle with Mental Illness
- Tuesday, December 14, 2010
As David started meditating on biblical promises by listening to Scripture tapes, the dark voices eventually stopped. As he focused on the truth of God's Word, he learned to listen for God's voice. David's prayer life took on new meaning too. His conversations with God became his lifeline to reality and truth.
After David was transferred out of the mental ward, he still faced a tremendous battle ahead. The medications had long-term side effects. David was extremely frustrated when trying to do common, everyday tasks, and he struggled just to walk. The doctors started cutting his medications so that Lori would be able to take him home. But David's prognosis for recovery still looked bleak.
Needing hope, Lori clung to the promises of Psalms 91. Every day she asked God to keep His wings over David, to protect him and keep him safe from the effects of the medication.
Lori and David flew home just before Thanksgiving time. When they'd go shopping at the BX, David couldn't even manage to make the change to pay. In public, he depended on Lori for everything. He had lost all confidence in his ability, and his self-esteem was at an all-time low. David wondered if he would ever be able to return to "normal." Even talking on the phone was hard for him.
Having been an independent executive all of his life, he felt utterly helpless and struggled with depression over the difficulty of accomplishing the most menial tasks. And Lori was exhausted being a caregiver on top of her responsibilities raising their two- and four-year-old children virtually alone. They both wanted their old lives back.
A few weeks before Christmas, their neighbor, Larry, invited David to come with him to cut down a Christmas tree. At first, David didn't feel up to it. But Lori thought it was a good idea and finally convinced him to try for their son, Tim's, sake. David and Tim joined Larry's family in search of Christmas trees.
Hours later, the doorbell rang. David slowly staggered forward, pulling a small Christmas tree. It was one of the ugliest trees Lori had ever seen. It reminded her of the scrawny branches of the infamous tree in Charlie Brown's Christmas--mostly twigs with sparse patches of evergreen. But it was also one of the most beautiful sights when Lori noticed that tears were running down her husband's face. It was the first time he had done something by himself since September. His tears gave Lori hope for the future. It was a sign that he was finally starting to come home in spirit. It was a special Christmas just being together as a family again.
Cutting down that tree had marked an important landmark in David's progress. He felt that he hadn't let his family down, as he had for so long in the months before that day. Cutting down the tree symbolized the first time David felt that he had actually done something right and useful again. Pleasing his family made him feel so good.
Slowly, he started doing routine tasks again. One day at the BX, he was able to write a check to pay without getting help. David felt another big boost after his mother-in-law commented one day how "confidently he was walking." Eventually, David started regaining his confidence on the phone. Next, he was able to leave the house without his wife. Then he began to take on more responsibility with their children and household tasks. He even was able to return to work part-time.
David and Lori both started to dream again. Before the end of 1974, David was totally off medication and he has never had any mental problems since. It was a total healing that was amazing even to David's doctors. They had considered him disabled for life and had already begun the paperwork to process him out of the military with a medical discharge. Instead, David continued his career, was chosen for special assignments, was promoted twice and given leadership positions of increasing responsibility. Ultimately, he was trusted with the highest security clearances, handling the most sensitive defense information. David went on to become a top corporate leader and a senior political advisor.
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