Thursday, February 28, 2013

Still invincible after all these years

Nobody is happy with me. Not only are we broke, but I am not feeling well. And yet, I will never give up. Knock me down, I will get back up. Push me over...I stand. I'm definitely not quitting. I am stronger than I've ever been and we will be stronger than ever after this.


My son has been in the hospital for fifteen days. After the initial shock of admitting and testing, learning about different diagnoses and beginning medication I felt that it was important to share this journey. How many other parents are there going through this? There are so many feelings when your child is admitted to a psychiatric unit. Confusion,blame,regret,hope,failure,hope..failure again...It is such a roller coaster of emotions. Every day brings something new.

We were preparing for my sixteen year old to come home when he relapsed and had to begin discussing his transfer to a longer term facility. Are there words to express how that feels? Is there anything I would not give to stop this from happening?

This is my oldest child. My son. We were just at a NAVY recruiter planning his future. Discussing colleges. Buying goggles for the swim team and planning on track season. Those are dreams that will take time to adjust but dreams that I won't give up on. Some things will have to change now, that is a certainty. But dreams die hard. There is a "letting go" involved here and it is harder for some than for others.

Many people noticed my son changing. He was not the kid he had always been. He was overly focused on the metaphysical to the point where all else was excluded. He wanted black out curtains on his windows-I thought to better focus on schoolwork-but it was really to shut out anything that could distract him from this new world he was creating for himself. He began to think of himself as a messiah. And nothing anyone said, no matter how logical or practical our words were, could make a difference. It was a complete helplessness. I began to make every effort I could to make him happy. I eased up on his chores. I stopped badgering him about homework. When he said that he thought a new living room couch and having the house fixed up would make him feel better- we did it. When he wanted a new room, space to himself- we made it happen. When he wanted new clothes and a hair cut and we thought that would boost his self esteem and make him feel more confident-we bought Galliano jeans and Express sweaters. There was nothing we were not willing to try if it would make him want to live. But these were all band aids. The real issue was happening in a place that could not be reached by us. All the love in the world was not going to fix it.

He had posted his ideology, his manifesto as it were, on Facebook. He was going downhill in a very public forum. There was no way to "hide" what was happening. Everyone was noticing, across the board. And our lives were changing as we sought ways to adapt and took any measures possible to help center our child. We are blessed to live in a community that is very close and very supportive. His guidance counselor visits him and his friends send cards and letters. Our local pastor, whose church we did not even attend, began visiting him a few days a week. His siblings drew him pictures and made picture albums to remind him of the happy times we had, and could still have MORE of. His father and I, separated for eight years, have tried to work together as a team to the best of our abilities and this has not always been easy. But it is best for our child. There is tension, blame to be passed around...and then acceptance to be found.

Today, we meet with his doctor and therapists to go over his test results. We will find out what the next step is. I have had to take every day as it comes and more than than, live in the moment as completely as I ever have. I had to be reminded that I had tickets to a musical with my other son, tickets I had had for months and was so excited about when I bought them. Something like a musical or a day out just falls under the radar when one of your children is in need. Yet, my other four children need me more than they ever have and I spread myself thin attempting to make everyone as happy as I can.

I want to HOLD my child. I want to take him back to infancy and do everything over again. I want to micro manage this situation and make all of the decisions myself. I see him progressing and want him home but am told he is not ready. When I see him staring out the window, wishing for some fresh air and normalcy I want to give it to him and yet, this is out of my hands. There is nothing I can do...but love him.

We have so many hopes and dreams for our children. And we do our very best. But, we can only accept what comes on a day by day basis. Perhaps, by sharing our journey, I can help someone else. He is already taking this chance to help kids he meets on the unit. Perhaps there is a silver lining and I just have to search for it. If anything, I am more focused and attentive to how every little thing I do affects my children. I am told that there is nothing I could have done to prevent this. I have gone over it a million times, and I am sure I will again and again...but the truth is that this illness is not something I could have stopped. We caught this as early as we could and are doing everything in our power to empower him and love him...and help him grow into wholeness. Every decision we make as parents has a consequence. I have to decide, today, what the next step will be and much of that is out of my hands.

Letting go, and loving. Lessons I thought I had learned. Loving my child for who he is, no matter what that means...a lesson worth learning.