My 18-year-old son, Cody, has bipolar disorder. For the past two years, he’s been living in a residential treatment center. As a result of intensive inpatient treatment, Cody is thriving now, but as he’s regaining his health and nearing his high school graduation, we’re dealing with some hard truths and some tough conversations.
The other night in a phone conversation, Cody adamantly stated, “No one will ever want to hire me, Mom. Who will want to hire a person who has been in residential treatment? No one will want me. I have ADHD and bipolar disorder!”
Deep breath in. Deep breath out.
For years, Cody had no insight into his illness. Anosognosia is a significant component in severe mental illness. The person doesn’t know they are sick. They are too sick to know they are sick. They often refuse treatment. Our laws work against them. Thankfully, we are on the other side now. Cody has insight. We have something to work with. The truth.
But with that truth comes some hard realizations. Cody knows he has an illness. Cody is recognizing his challenges.
My heart broke as I listened to my son lament his situation and cry out to me in fear.
My son sees himself as “less than.” He sees himself as broken. He sees himself as un-hirable. He sees himself as unworthy. This illness is so destructive. And the world is a harsh and cruel place. My sadness quickly turned to anger
I wasn’t angry with Cody, I was angry at the lies and deceptions that were filling my son’s mind.
Through tears, I boldly proclaimed, “Those are lies, Cody. Those are lies.”
And then I spoke Truth over my son.
“You are more than a conqueror!” I said. I told Cody that for years the illness tried to destroy him…it tried to destroy our family. But today, with proper treatment, Cody is conquering the illness. He is definitely more than a conqueror!
I also told Cody that being in treatment and fighting such an illness is not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. Cody has worked incredibly hard to get to this place. That takes guts! Cody has fought for his life. Future employers will recognize that. And if they don’t, then he doesn’t want to work for them anyway! I told him his illness gives him strength.
And finally, I told him that in the two amazing programs he has participated in, he has been blessed with actual work experience to put on a resume. He has found skills and abilities that we never knew he had! His programs have equipped him. Employers will look favorably on his work experience. He is already one step ahead!
By the time we hung up, Cody felt better. And so did I.
We have entered into new territory. Facing the truth about an illness is hard stuff. But with faith, with honesty and with love, this is a hurdle we can handle. I am thrilled to be able to have these conversations with my son. Two years ago this never would have been possible. He is definitely healing.
I will continue to speak Truth over Cody. He is more than a conqueror. He has a hope and a future. He is strong and courageous. Cody is more than his illness.
So are you.
“Your illness is not your identity. Your chemistry is not your character.” – Pastor Rick Warren
“We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” – Romans 8:37
“‘For I know the plans I have for you’, declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and
not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.'” – Jeremiah 29:11
“Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged for the Lord Your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9