18 years ago: The death that launched Truehope

The Stephan family

The Stephan family:
David, Daniel, Joseph, Celeste, Debbie, Autumn, Tony, Sunni, Jeremy, Brad, Angela

What good can come of a suicide? None.

Even so, I wrote this article in honor of my mother and all of the good we have tried to create in the wake of her terrible death.

Debbie Stephan

Debbie with her grandson, James

Did you know Debbie?

She was a dedicated mother and a loving wife. She was the kind who sang her heart out in the kitchen, worked in group homes for lost and lonely teens, volunteered in schools, and every once in a while, started up a little business in woodworking, real estate, or donut baking. Debbie was creative and energetic, despondent and dark.

Debbie, my mother, said her bipolar illness began when I was born.

When I married, she called me 5 times a day to see how I was doing. When I gave birth to her first grandson, she drove 6 hours to hold him and shower him with a wardrobe, a crib full of stuffed characters, and a basket of little shoes.

She died a year later in a well-planned fury of internal anguish only the severely lost can comprehend.

It didn’t take long before I became my own version of Debbie. I took the meds she didn’t take and stayed in the hospital she managed to avoid, but I fared no better. Many times, I felt the anguish that led her to her death.

Then came the discovery that changed my life, my brother Joseph’s life, and your life.

The micronutrient formulation was born out of a lot of prayer and a cobbled-together hunch that people are a lot like pigs and that certain minerals, fed to swine in specific ratios along with the appropriate vitamins, could change mood and balance brain chemistry.

Truehope headquarters

Truehope head office, Raymond, AB

I got better, and a couple of years later, in 1998, I sat in a hotel room with three brilliant men where we devised a mission for our fledgling company called The Synergy Group of Canada, whose work and mission is now encompassed in Truehope.

We were determined to:

  1. Challenge pharma and the Canadian government for the wrongs done to the mentally ill through ill-founded psychiatric practices. (My mom’s most recent prescription drug before her death is now known to increase suicidal ideation in many patients who use it. Why would you give a suicide promoting medication to one who is already suicidal? Check the known side effects of the medications you are taking, and wonder if they are really good for you.)
  2. Get as much research as possible completed in order to prove the discovery of the micronutrient formulation was correct and a real answer for bipolar. (Since our initial meeting, there have been 16 articles have been published in reputable medical journals showing using the micronutrient formulation provides an effect that far outreaches any drug on the market today.)
  3. Provide unique care for the severely mentally ill who could not care for themselves well enough to make a safe transition from drugs to health. (Over fifteen years, a protocol has been developed and refined that allows people like you and me to safely reduce and eliminate medications and transition to the micronutrient formulation as the standard treatment for the symptoms of bipolar. Doctors have access to support and education via the Truehope Program, and training conferences like “Micronutrients for Mental Health” held last fall in New York City.)
  4. Tell the Story. I tell it every day and now you can share it through my book, “A Promise of Hope” (HarperCollins2007), blogs like Joseph’s I’m Still Here (josephstephan.wordpress.com) and myLeftovers, a blog about second stage healing (atautumnstringam.com) and through our Common Ground Newsletter. We share the story of our loss and the good given to us to honor our mom, with the hope somehow our sharing will save your life or the life of someone you love dearly.

January 30, 2012 marks the 18th anniversary of Debbie’s untimely death. The pain has never left us, but it fires within all of us at Truehope the desire to change the way the world sees bipolar and other similar disorders.

On a desperate day in 1995, I was inspired to find hope that God would trade my pain for something good someday. Isaiah 61 saved my life when I read that He would bring beauty for ashes. Later, after the birth of my second baby girl, I wrote a poem for my mother. A tiny excerpt from that poem is engraved on the back of her grave stone.

His promise He keeps
He comes with winds of redress
Cool and easy
Ashes scatter in His presence
He lifts, we rise to glorify Him
He brings the promised gift
And we are free
Beauty for Ashes

There is no good in a suicide. But it is my family’s hope this season that you have found some beauty in our ashes.

With hope for your healthy future,
Autumn Stringam

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