In honor of Mental Health Awareness month, I thought I’d start sharing our story. Please know that this is just our story, and we are humbled by the complexity and individuality of each person’s journey towards mental/emotional/spiritual/physical health. Please feel free to reach out if we can encourage or help in any way. It meant so much to us to hold on to stories of hope and speak with people who had walked the road ahead of us and had found some clues and answers to direct us to some great paths forward.
I really didn’t know what the clinical definition of mania was until the end of October 2022.
I woke up on Halloween morning and checked the location of our middle son, Isaac, and it was in the Honolulu jail. That was very atypical, but the night before, on his 19th birthday, he had said, “I feel like I’m going to get arrested tonight.” I tried to convince him that there was no way that had to be true and not to dwell on it any further. Well, I was wrong. He did in fact get arrested. And I’m actually glad that he did.
Isaac had been at a party in Honolulu, and as it was getting late, the cops stopped by to send everyone home. Isaac started talking to the cops and basically asked them to arrest him. He felt compelled to get arrested, based on some verses he was reading in the book of Revelation in the Bible that weekend. It was interesting to hear him share later his reasoning, and I can see how it all “made sense” to him. While he definitely was experiencing psychosis, I believe God led him to safe places, and that night, Isaac said he heard, “Remember who you are.”
Everything was ramping up so quickly, that we didn’t really see it coming, but Isaac was experiencing a manic episode. He’d never gone through anything like that before, so we had no idea to look out for it.
Ten weeks earlier, I had dropped him off at the University of Hawaii for his freshman year of college. He felt right at home! He had the best roommate in an apartment about a mile away from campus, and they became fast friends, exploring the island, playing and singing guitar, camping on the beach, going to parties, learning to surf, and really just living their best lives. As Isaac was a talented videographer, he was capturing all these moments and sharing them on social media, even producing videos for clubs and boat cruises, and filming a couple Red Bull events.
Towards the end of October, Isaac was getting more and more excited about starting his own digital media agency, growing a business, and being successful. He’d call and share with us about what he was reading and learning, like Think and Grow Rich, and he just sounded very passionate and focused.
What we didn’t know – or what we didn’t know to really look closer at – was his sleep schedule, his lack of water and nutrition intake, his lack of attendance at his classes, and his alcohol intake. All of these things were likely contributing to a ramp up to mania with severe psychosis.
Halloween was one of the worst days of my life. As Isaac was in jail, we had to decide whether to bail him out or leave him in. Both were unknowns to us, but I had a friend in Honolulu who was willing to pick him up from jail and take him to her home to see how he was doing and wait for us to arrive.
She showed up at the Honolulu jail and tried to bail him out, but he actually didn’t want to leave, as he thought he was supposed to be in “prison” for ten days. The police knew something wasn’t quite right, and they advised my friend that it was better for him to stay there, and we would have been okay with that. But somehow, there was miscommunication, and they let him out. When he walked out of the jail, instead of going with my friend, he said, “No, you follow me,” and he bolted away.
He had no shirt, no shoes, no phone or identification, so we had no way to track him. My friend tried to follow him, but he was out of sight before she could call him back. She drove around the area in search for him, but to no avail. The cops took a while to figure out that he left, and also lost sight of him. We found out later that he ran all the way to the harbor at Waikiki beach and zig zagged between the ocean water, boat decks, hotel lobbies, and the sand. We were trying to call 911, but as we didn’t live there, it wasn’t going through. We tried to get a hold of Isaac’s friends, but his roommate has lost his phone the night before, and others were in class or did not have their own transportation.
Isaac ended up attracting a scene on the beach and borrowed a phone from someone to call us. Even though Isaac hung up and fled, that was a lifeline for us. Jonathan was a godsend and kept us informed with what he could see, and encouraged us greatly.
Isaac ended up walking around the Waikiki Mall in a white sheet, and actually Facetimed us from the Apple Store. He somehow thought it was connected to the Garden of Eden…you know…. the “apple” 😉 He hung up abruptly, and we didn’t know what happened after that until we got word from the police who let us know they had him in custody again and would take him to the behavioral health center. We later learned that he had tried to “release” some valuable purses (like Gucci and Prada) “to the masses.” Isaac eventually decided to start walking back to his apartment, but sat down on a bench to rest, and that’s where the cops found him.
As a parent, not knowing where he was or if he was safe was so hard. I reached out to all our family and friends to be praying for him, and thankfully, God answered our prayers and kept him safe. I still couldn’t wait to get my eyes on him and try to figure out what in the world was going on!
We packed our bags and drove to Denver to fly out on the first flight the next morning. Our oldest son Gabe bought a ticket for the next available flight from Austin to Denver to come stay with our daughter Jadyn, and so we met him at the airport, stayed the night at a hotel in Denver as he drove our car home.
5 thoughts on “Mania”
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Thanks, Ellen!!! I think maybe your comment was cut off. Love you!
Love you much and appreciate you sharing and being real and vulnerable.
Thank you!! Big hugs!! And thanks for your continued prayers.
God is so good and He went far ahead of us to protect and guide us in this new, disorienting chapter for our family.