Five newspapers in western Ohio regularly publish this column. If giving you the real name of the newspaper and some of the people involved in today’s and next week’s column, I could be causing harm. So certain details have been masked.
Back in February, I received an email from a reader thanking me for sharing the story of 18-year-old Hope Noble, a college student from Cedarville University in Ohio. (Noble’s name has not been masked here.) Noble had been diagnosed with cyclothymia, which a National Institutes of Health website states is a “mild form of bipolar disorder in which a person has mood swings from mild or moderate depression to euphoria and excitement, but stays connected to reality.” It can become a disability when affecting a person’s ability to carry out day-to-day tasks.
Hope Noble had “awful” mood swings, fought with her parents, often contemplated and had tried committing suicide, and sometimes relieved her depressive feelings by cutting her arms and legs with a razor blade. She encountered confusion trying to reconcile her emotions and actions with her Christian faith.
“Then your column (about Hope) in the local newspaper fell into my lap,” said “Brenda” of western Ohio in a telephone interview. Brenda is the mother of a young woman I’ll call Christine, who recently was diagnosed with cyclothymia.
“In your column, Hope sounded just like my daughter,” said Brenda. “(From what she said) I had some information about cyclothymia. So I wrote to Hope and asked for more information.” Hope and Brenda quickly became friends.
She added, “Hope has answered questions for me that therapists haven’t been able to. I’ve asked her about cutting and she has given me pointers and what to watch for. We’re staying in touch. I hope we can get together after she returns to school from summer break.”
In another twist, Brenda said Hope even looked like her daughter.
“And I’m so glad you wrote that column because it meant a lot to us,” she said in our telephone interview. “Christine had a problem and I needed a helper.”
Which brings up an important point: People with disabilities and their caregivers often can draw strength and inspiration from others. I have tried over the years to impress upon readers the importance of establishing and maintaining personal connections like those written about above.
Next week, read more about Brenda and Christine.