By Matt Gleason
Mental Health Association Oklahoma
Over the years, you may have read about the journey of Dr. Michael Stick and his family. The father, minister, and teacher, and his loved ones have endured the tragic events of October 5, 2012. That was the day Michael’s wife, Veronica, was found dead in their front yard. She’d been stabbed in the heart by their son, Matthew, who was in the throes of a mental health crisis and didn’t understand the reality of what he had done.
Newspaper and TV reporters have told this story many times since that day. But now it’s time for Michael and his family to tell their own story. To do this, Michael first helped Matthew release his illustrated children’s book, “When Mama Cries” in early September. The tale of a cartoon duck family is Matthew’s way of sharing his own experiences with his mother, who was impacted by clinical depression.
“As a child, I didn’t fully understand what was she was experiencing,” Matthew explained in the book’s introduction.” I wrote this book in hopes of opening a dialogue between parents (or guardians) and their children about depression and other mental health issues … Mental illness is a disease of the brain, just as real as cancer or diabetes, and it needs to be treated as such. It is not a weakness, a character flaw, or a spiritual fault. It is a sickness. If you are seeing symptoms in yourself or a loved one, please seek help and don’t be ashamed.”
Next week at the Zarrow Mental Health Symposium, Michael will celebrate the release of his own book, “A Father’s Love — A Story of the Devastating Effects of Mental Illness and the Power of Unconditional Love.”
To best sum up the intention of “A Father’s Love,” Michael was kind enough to share the book’s introduction with us. Just a quick note, Michael refers to Matthew as Bub.
There are several goals for this book, Michael wrote.
“First, this book is about the love of a Father – our spiritual Father … Next, my son and I want to tell our story. Over and over again, we ask why. There has to be some reason for our pain and suffering. We pray that someone is touched through our lives and that their life is changed because of this. If only one life is touched, if only one heart is healed, if only one person finds hope in Christ through our tragedy, then it’ll be worth the pain of reliving that horrific day.
“We also want to inform others about the devastating effects of mental illness. We’re not experts on this, but Bub is living it and I’m standing with him as he does. In my experience, many people don’t see this as a real disease. We hope to change that perception. Mental illness is devastating. It destroys people and families. There is a social stigma attached and we hope to dispel the negative connotations associated with mental illness. I often tell people that it would be so much easier if Veronica’s and Bub’s disease was cancer, heart disease, or anything whose effects can be seen physically. Instead, it’s mental, unseen, but the effects are just as severe and just as devastating.
“And last, we want to remember Veronica. We’ll always love her. We miss her, but our hope is in Christ and we know that we’ll see her again. She’s waiting for us. She can’t wait to wrap her arms around my son and hold him tight and tell him how much he’s loved.
“I also know that she’s waiting for me. Someday, I’ll hold her again and feel her kiss. In the backdrop of eternity, time is meaningless. In the blink of an eye, we’ll be together again. It’s this hope that gets me out of bed every morning and enables me to take another step. Each breath I take draws me closer to her. Till then, I keep breathing, I keep living, I keep believing, I keep hoping.”
Interested in meeting Michael and finding out more about the Stick family’s books? Michael will have a booth at our Zarrow Mental Health Symposium, October 5th & 6th at the COX Business Center, www.zarrowsymposium.org.
To learn more, you can also email Michael directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.