Let Me Have My Son Gives Voice to Those Struggling With Mental Illness and Those Who Love Them
“It affected me so profoundly and personally — my firstborn son — you know, the apple of my eye, and [he] was such an exceptional kid.” Cristóbal Krusen (Final Solution, 2001; Sabina K., 2015) recently spoke with The Stream at the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) conference. The writer-director’s newest film, Let Me Have My Son details his boy’s mental illness, which arose at the age of 17. The film is a heart-wrenching but beautiful story that explores what it is like to have a child who is mentally ill and the love of a father for that child.
“We just had a very close relationship,” explained Krusen. “We loved each other, what could go wrong? And on top of all that, he had been dedicated to the Lord from conception. I became a Christian at the age of 29, and he was born when I was 30. I just took it as part of God’s blessing, a whole new life, a whole new direction. And it was just kind of unthinkable that what happened, happened.”
Krusen’s son was involuntarily committed to the state mental hospital at the age of 18. He was kept in isolation for over 5 years and was allowed no physical contact, no touching. “I would sometimes, in those early years, reach through an opening in a Plexiglas door to hold his hand.”
Daniel, Krusen’s son, is now introduced to the world through Let Me Have My Son. “It’s my joy and my privilege to introduce this remarkable human being to the world.” The film is not a documentary, but a story of a beautiful life. “I changed the names and I took a lot of liberties … I invented, literally invented, some of the characters, but when the father’s in the chapel, the hospital chapel, and telling his story, [it was] his son’s story to the patients who gathered. That’s pretty much the real story.”
You are Not Alone
He also wanted to tell the story of his son’s illness to help others. “To the extent that the movie can show solidarity with those who are suffering this way or have a loved one suffering, to the extent the movie can comfort those who are going through a hard time, [I want] to just remind people they’re not alone. You are not alone. Not to mention that God is always with us, which I also believe that He does not abandon us just because we’re going through hard times. We might think, ‘Well, where is God?’ Well, He’s there.”
‘God Wants Us to Enjoy Beauty’
Krusen wants viewers to come away basking in the beauty of it all. “I think the film is ultimately hopeful and beautiful. I think God wants us to enjoy beauty. That’s why He has created this beautiful world — giving us the four seasons, the autumn colors, and the glories of the ocean and the mountains and so forth, and the wildlife, the birds that sing in the trees and so forth, little children — these are all signs of God’s creation and things that are beautiful. And I think God wants us to enjoy beauty.”
Not an Impossible Situation With God
More than beauty, Krusen wants people to know God. “I would hope that the movie would point people to perhaps a pursuit of a spiritual reality. Have you invited God into your situation? You’re going through a hard time right now. You’re suffering it. It appears an impossible situation, and you don’t see a way forward. Have you considered asking God for help, asking God for understanding, illumination?”
Krusen wants people to open themselves up and invite God into their lives and ask for His help. “I don’t know how people get through something like what I’ve been through apart from a relationship with God. I don’t judge them. I’m not sure how I would’ve been able to have gotten through it without that.”
God Has a Purpose
Krusen also said God hasn’t abandoned us. “Just because you’re suffering doesn’t mean God has abandoned you. Or your child is suffering — doesn’t mean you’re rejected. Abandoned doesn’t mean there’s no God. God is mysterious. Things happen that we will never understand this side of heaven in my opinion. We will never understand or know all the reasons why God would allow something like that to happen in our lives. But we can have trust and confidence that He does have a purpose.
“Furthermore, I do believe He gives us evidences of that, purpose and meaning here in the here and now. We’re, we’re not bereft of signs and right connectedness to God at all. He’s always giving us little signs. David wrote in Psalms, ‘I would’ve fainted … unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.’ So we should anticipate those good things.”
Daniel, who has been in a high-security locked down psychiatric hospital for over a decade, was granted a provisional discharge last month. He will now be living in a group home much closer to his father’s home. He will be allowed to hug his family.
His dad had this to say: “I especially look forward to bringing him to my home for a Sunday dinner with the rest of the family and organizing visits with friends who have heard about him all these years but have never had the opportunity to meet him in person. I think there will be hugs galore not just handshakes.”
Watch the trailer:
The film released May 24, 2023, to a virtual cinema event. The film may be watched at viewer’s homes by purchasing a household ticket for $19.99.