How do you find God in the dark? It’s a question I’ve been asked countless times, since I published From Pastor to a Psych Ward. I was recently interviewed by Will Maule, Editor of HelloChristian. If you haven’t checked out their site before, you’re missing out! In our interview, Will asked me a similar question, and my answer may not be what you expect.
My wife spent a week on a psych ward following the birth of our first son. She had a miserable fight with postpartum depression and sleep deprivation. One year later, nearly to the day, I landed in ICU and then a psych ward following a suicide attempt.
After living through it, here’s my take on what to do when you decide to stay married to someone with mental illness.
I was twelve when my mom killed herself. My parents were divorced. My dad was remarried and lived nearby. My older brother lived in his own apartment, so it was just me and my mom making our way.
She sometimes left me home alone when she went out drinking. I begged her to stay home, but she would only promise to be home by a certain time. My neediness was useless to change anything.
I slept at my dad’s house the night my mom died. More accurately, I moved in. A few blocks were all that separated the houses—a slight but infinite distance. This time the sleepover wouldn’t end. When the sun rose I wouldn’t have a home to return to. Home as I knew it had vanished.
I will never forget how cold the tile floor was on that hot September afternoon, as I slid down the wall of ICU room number six.
The statement that made my knees buckle, as I stood at the end of that hospital bed, was, “No, I did not mix up my medicine. I wanted to die. I do not want to be here any more.”
My clearest thought was how I was not enough. But if not me, how was our beautiful baby boy not enough to make my husband want to stay? I wondered how I could possibly face family and friends at our son’s first birthday party the next day, alone. I wondered if I would spend the rest of my life the very same way.