Dealing With The Mental Illness Of A Family Member | Kay Warren & Pastor Tommy Hilliker, M.Div.
Tommy: Welcome and thank you for joining us
today. Today I have Kay Warren with me. She is an author and speaker. She’s also the
wife of Pastor Rick Warren but to me she’s somebody very special because she is my mother-in-law. For us, we talk to each other as my mother-in-love. Kay: You’re my son-in-love and I know anybody
who hears us thinks that is the cheesiest thing ever but it works.
Tommy: They do but it works for us and we love it so it doesn’t matter what anybody
else thinks. Kay: That’s right.
Tommy: We’re going to talk today about a really hard subject for our family and for
us. It’s a time where we had many dark nights as a family but for Kay as mom, how did you
and Rick and how did you personally deal with those dark chaotic nights when Matthew was
struggling with his mental illness. When things were unraveling and they were chaotic and
they were crazy. How did you personally deal with that?
Kay: Sometimes not very well, honestly sometimes not very well. Sometimes I was completely
under tension, under stress. I would wake up with nightmares. I would be in my bed in
a cold sweat and I don’t do very well when that would happen so I would have to get out
of my bed because I couldn’t go back to sleep and I would go into my home office and
true confessions, there were times I turned on I Love Lucy because her antics and her
silliness distracted me completely from the tension and the heartache that I was feeling.
There were some nights that I needed the levity. I needed distraction.
There were other times where it felt like it was just me and God in the universe and
I needed His help. I needed some kind of intervention from God. I devised this … I had this hope
box that a friend gave to me and I began to put in this box verses that were encouraging,
verses that gave me hope, verses that I could rely on because there were sometimes I would
be in this panic and I would come to my little chair in my office and I would pull open my
Bible and I couldn’t even think where a Bible verse was.
The panic sometimes and the pain is so deep. I would go to this box and here were the verses
already written out and I would pull out this box and I would read these verses and reassure
me. The other thing that I did was I created a playlist of songs on my iPod.
Tommy: That’s a great idea. Kay: Yeah, it was because music ministers
to me. Music reassures me and so sometimes I would put songs on there that were just
really quiet and they were songs that brought peace in the middle of the panic and the anxiety.
Then sometimes there would be these songs that are like fight songs, they’re like
rah, rah I’m going to punch you in the face devil if you don’t leave us alone. They
were like these big old power anthem things because I needed that spiritual strength and
then there were other times that were just songs that affirmed my faith.
That would say God; I don’t know how we’re going to get through this. I don’t know
how we’re going to do this. I don’t have any answers but they were songs that I could
affirm my faith. I would distract myself through silly goofy things, I would have these verses
that I’d already picked and I could go back and reflect on and then this playlist that
was so powerful to me in getting me through some of those nights.
Tommy: You’re talking about the things that nourish our souls. Everybody has different
things that nourish their soul. What advice would you give to someone that is struggling
the same way we struggled as a family? The same way you and Rick struggled or even how
you struggled as a mom, as a parent dealing with someone who is mentally ill? What advice
would you give on what are the nourishments of the soul for them and what could they create?
Kay: First thing, don’t isolate. That is a big mistake that people make is when they’re
in deep pain and I fight this temptation to this day. When I’m in my deepest pain I
don’t naturally reach out to other people. I tend to go within. It’s been a learning
thing for me and I would encourage anybody who’s in those dark places is to not isolate,
to reach out to friends. You don’t have to reach out to 15 but one or two or three
people that you can pour your soul out to and they’re not going to judge you and they’re
not going to think man, you are the worst Christian ever because you’re having doubts
or you’re struggling. To not isolate, to connect with other people;
sometimes I think that people run away from God in their pain and when this pain gets
so deep and so dark it is a natural temptation to think well God you’re not answering.
You’re not there for me. You’re not there for my loved one. If we’re not careful our
hearts can get really cold. I don’t know if you’ve found that for yourself at all.
Tommy: I have, it’s a temptation, it’s a struggle to often times feel if you don’t
have people around you because you should never walk alone in your pain that you can
often feel so isolated and feel alone and even get mad at God about what’s going on
in your life and in your family. Kay: Is it okay to get mad at God?
Tommy: It is okay to get mad at God. Kay: Thank you.
Tommy: He can handle it, he can take it. Kay: I have this picture in my mind sometimes
of in my darkest moments and after Matthew died and to this day there are moments in
which I don’t like the way that God allows things to happen in life that are not what
I would want, not what I would choose. I have this picture in my mind of being in his embrace
and the safety of being in the arms of Christ and just beating my fists on his chest and
saying I hate this, I don’t like this. If you’re in that place of darkness, you or
a loved one, it’s okay to come into the embrace of Christ and beat your fists on his
chest. As Tommy said he can take it, he can handle
it. He’s God. You’re not going to push him away. You’re not going to make him decide
oh well, if you’re going to be that way then you just watch and see what I do next.
God doesn’t operate that way. In the safety of his embrace we can say anything. I’ve
learned through these dark moments to completely put myself there and allow myself to be angry
and allow myself to question. It’s okay to question. It’s okay to have
doubts; not be afraid of that. Don’t isolate. Really draw close to God rather then run from
him and I would encourage you to develop your own playlist. It could be whatever songs minister
to you. You don’t have to like the same kind I do.
Tommy: What works for them because everybody’s different.
Kay: You don’t have to watch I Love Lucy. You can watch Frasier or you can watch … I
don’t care but sometimes you just need something to distract yourself from these thoughts that
are just circulating inside your head. The point is that God is there with you. He’s
going to bring people around you to help carry you through and no matter what it is. No matter
in those darkest moments when you feel completely alone God has promised that he will not abandon
us. He will not leave us. His presence is there and you can make it. You can make it
through the darkest days. I know you can with God’s help.