Hope for Moms from the Author of ‘Shhh … Mental Illness’

Billie Jo YoumansBy Billie Jo Youmans7 Minutes

Hope for families facing mental illness.

An interview with K.T. Griffiths, author of Shhh … Mental Illness – The Silent Disease

Hope for Moms when a child has mental illnessMother of six and grandmother of 11, K.T. Griffiths began her parenting adventure over four decades ago. When her youngest child experienced the trauma of mental illness, the entire family embarked on a journey they never expected.  Recently K.T. sat down with us to discuss her new book and offer hope and help for moms walking a similar difficult path.

Let’s begin where K.T. concluded the interview, “It’s hard for me even now to share these things with you, but if one person is helped through my sharing, it’s all worth it.” And K.T. offered a brutally honest look at the heartache of loving someone with mental illness. May her insights bring help and hope to you.


An elementary teacher first shined the light on the unique challenges of their youngest child. Initially, the diagnosis was ADHD. As they journeyed on, new insights came into view including a childhood trauma that would affect all their lives. Although details remain buried, childhood games that other children brushed off pierced the gentle soul of Griffiths’ youngest child. That trauma opened the door to cutting, depression, suicidal ideology, bullying, sexual victimization, and on-going complications connected to mental illness.


Billie Jo:  K.T., with the clear lens of hindsight, do you have any advice for parents that might help them address some of the things you experienced?

K.T.: It’s all about relationship at every age – relationship with them and with Jesus. Even when they are little, keep pointing them to Jesus. Let them tell you their wild dreams and exaggerated stories. It is important to just listen, and build a relationship with your child. Help them learn to think for themselves. Ask questions like “Could you feel Jesus was with you?” and “Can you think of anything you might have done differently – any other choices you could make if you face that again?” As they get older, beware of judging them. Help them to know things that happen to them are not who they are. Help them develop their own strengths. Assure them God will see them through.

Billie Jo: How has your faith helped you face your heartache?

K.T.: I’ve always been solid in my faith. I grew up hearing stories of miracles from my Grandmother, so I never doubted that God was with me in every difficulty. My prayer closet is very important to me. I take everything to God and know He hears my cries. He will carry my burden. And I know He’s with my daughter. I deliberately lay down my worries and choose not to fear.

I would encourage every parent to get to know Jesus as your friend. He is listening, and He will answer you. The progression from hope to trust to truth leads to healing, and this is what parents and their loved one need. Masking pain will not work indefinitely. You need a Big Hope, and God is there for you.

Billie Jo: How has this journey impacted your other children and your husband?

We all love her, but we have had to learn to set boundaries. It’s important that our daughter know she is loved, but the other (adult) children have a right to establish boundaries. We practice respect for each other, and it works out. The poem I wrote and shared in my book reveals some of the heartache my husband worked through as the relationship boundaries changed.

(Excerpted from page 68-69)

I’m the One Who Loves You

I’m your daddy; I’m the one who loves you.
You are my daughter, and I will protect you.
You have walked away and turned your head,
But I never left you.

Billie Jo: K.T., can you share a bit about setting boundaries?

K.T. For me that has not been terribly difficult. I don’t really make judgments about her behavior, but I do hold her accountable for her choices. She has been in and out of treatment and currently chooses to live on the street. We do not give her any money, and I allow her to reach out as she desires. I taught her to think on her own, and I know God is with her. I’m a big picture thinker with a big faith in God, so that helps me get through.

Billie Jo: What final words would you have for a hurting parent?

K.T. Parents need to know God sees them and is with them (and their child). Another poem from my book is a good final word:

(Excerpted from page 83)

You See Me!

Lord, How can I be a mom without disappearing?
How can I be a wife without disappearing?
How can I be me without disappearing?
I know you see me.
You see all the effort and love;
You hear all my prayers and intercession.
The valleys are hard to climb out of, but I did not disappear.

You See Me!

Order your copy of Shhh…Mental Illness, The Silent Disease: A Mother’s Heart by K.T. Griffiths.