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Breathe in, breathe out, move on.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Jimmy Buffett’s words describing the Gulf’s recovery from Hurricane Katrina. “If a hurricane doesn’t leave you dead, it will make you strong. Don’t try to explain it, just bow your head, breathe in, breathe out, move on.” No, I’m not talking about Isaac, though my thoughts are with those impacted by the flooding and power outages. We started school here Monday. For our volatile family, a pretty good week leading up. I hurt my back, pain meds; we managed. Kids set by Sunday with clothes, shoes, binders. No screaming swearing. No boys punching holes in the walls. No chairs flying across the kitchen, all of which we’ve experienced getting 3 ADHD kiddos ready and out the door. Monday morning, 1st day, we took pictures out front, every body went on their way. My oldest, 14 to 9th grade, middle child12 to 6th, baby @ 9 to 4th grade. An hour later, I got a message from my husband that the school nurse had our oldest: slurred speech and disoriented. I was flabbergasted. What had he done? Hubby headed to school; school had called an ambulance b/c child passed out. Overdose. He’d taken a combo of his bipolar meds, my pain meds, toss in some pot. I had NO CLUE! He was not in immediate health danger. Basically he slept all day. He was admitted to pediatrics to check his blood work and make sure his kidneys were working. Was it a suicide attempt? Don’t know. His counselor said he’d never talked to her about killing himself. He hadn’t talk to me about suicide. If I had taken a handful of pills= suicide attempt. His story: he was worried about school and thought it would help him relax. He didn’t realize how dangerous it was (although parents and doctors talked to him many, many times how life-threatening mixing meds would be for him).
In talking with doctors, nurses, MHMR (mental health agency), apparently my 14 year old son had been drinking all summer, the rum I stashed away and hadn’t looked at in months. Pot, about once a week. Yes, 14 year old has vocally supported the legalization of pot. My response: it’s illegal. You are not allowed to do that. With your meds and history, pot could be really dangerous. I never smelled it on him. Never found a joint. Cleaning out his room when he was in hospital, and finding his “pipe” I wouldn’t have recognized it anyway. He spent a night at the hospital, medically stable. Now, what to do next. Our only option from MHMR was short term psychiatric unit. For years, we’ve asked for long term care. At 14, bipolar, ADHD, Oppositional defiant, getting him to follow the most basic rules is a constant battle. He has so little concept of morality: he lies, he steals, he sneaks out, he sneaks friends in. A constant problem for us, yes! Can we supervise him 24/7/365. No. We have to sleep sometime. Last school year, it was cigarettes in school and probation for evading police. He struck me hard enough to leave bruises. We thought he’d stabilized; no, his actions were just more hidden. This year, it’s drugs and alcohol. What’s next? How do I parent a child who is unable to respect me? How do I keep him safe? We can and will lock up the meds at home ( we did it as foster parents for years before and after his adoption was finalized). We can and will ditch all alchol, which irritates the parents to be honest. We can drive him to school and walk him in or have someone meet us to take him, so he doesn’t sneak off to the gas station to get pot. He can still get it from someone in school, the neighborhood. We can turn the house into Fort Knox with alarms on all doors and windows. If he can’t get my meds anymore, will he be buying from a dealer at school? And where is the money coming from for the pot? What’s he doing to earn it? This summer he was here at the house almost all the time. He slept at a friend’s once. He went to the park a couple times. He won’t be doing those without parental supervision from here forward. How do we keep his younger siblings safe? What’s next? He steals the car? Driving intoxicated and killing someone?
Summer 2011, my life crashed. My hubby moved out. I adapted. Teen son imploded with violence, cigs and the police and his probation was that he live with hubby. I adapted, and I realized that no matter what, if the family is stripped away, I am enough. I am strong. I have to create a life that fulfills me and brings me glimpses of joy and gratitude (thank you SparkFriends). My son came back home 3 months later. Hubby returned a year after he moved out (“it was a mistake”). We seemed stable. Ha! My Dad was an alcoholic, so I grew up with the Serenity Prayer all around the house: God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change those things I can and Wisdom to know the difference. I cannot change my son’s mental health. He’s had psychiatric treatment, psychological therapy, parents and teachers and neighbors and pediatricians doing all we could imagine to help him. And he is what he is. Courage to change those things I can: I can manage my life choices: how I deal with him, the consequences of his actions. I will stay my own course of eating well, exercising, taking care of my family as best I can, teaching my Anatomy & Physiology students so when my kids show up in the ER, my former students can help them! Wisdom to know the difference. In a few minutes, a counselor from the psych hospital will call for “family therapy” as the hospital is 2 hours away. Do I want my son to return home in a few days? My mother’s heart screams how much I love him. My mother’s brain says I can’t keep him safe.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • DONNA0256

    Hang in there. You sound like a strong lady with some really tough choices ahead. It's important to keep yourself healthy while going through the hard times.

    2422 days ago
  • KAYLA0041
    HUGS, keep your chin up girl - this too shall pass. I have no words of wisdom but do have a heart full of empathy and hope for you and your family.
    2425 days ago
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    2426 days ago
    I knew I hadn't seen you in a while, and was hopping you were ok. Now I saw your blog, I am so sorry, I will be praying for you, your son & your whole family (you will also be in my thoughts) I have 3 daughters(25,23, & 18), have been having something going on with my middle daughter 23 year old, not good, but we can talk later. I just wanted you to know that your not alone in this (mom to mom) I will be thinking of you, if you need to talk (mail me) And I do like that your keeping you on track (eatting & exercise) the best you can. emoticon
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    2426 days ago
    Oh my God. I could have written this myself. OMG. That's all I can say. Hugs and prayers for you.

    I can only tell you that you are doing the best you can as a parent. I had so much self-doubt about whether I was making the mistakes and that's why my son was doing what he was doing (same . . . drugs, alcohol, cutting, sneaking out, lying, stealing, defiant). From the age of 13 he had therapies, meds and consistent expectations @ home.

    He ran away @ 18 " . . . because the rules were harsh" The rules being:

    1. No alcohol or substances in this house . . . PERIOD.

    2. You will attend school full time (once out of High School) and pass OR work full time and pay rent. PERIOD. No negotiation.

    After he left home 2 days after his 18th birthday, leaving a note stating "Left. Moving out. Be back on Saturday for my stuff." He ended up with an apt. he shared with an inbecile of a "friend" from which they got evicted for various activities. AND he got himself in a real financial hole. He wanted to move back home, but I was adamant . . . the same rules applied. It was then he admitted to a lot of things he did in High School . . . like ditching classes, more than I was even called to the school for . . . drinking and drugs. Well, I have not idea, as you, how it got "past me" but you cannot be on guard 24/7. That's just impossible.

    Anyhow, he was told that if he moved back here, after he was evicted, it would be under OUR rules, and since he was 18, IF he decided to drink or use substances while here, he was not welcome anymore.

    It took him 2 mths. of living @ friends houses and his car to realize maybe we weren't horrible to have the rules we did.

    Long story short, he moved back home in July 2011, enlisted in the Army (which he didn't tell us about till the recruiters paid a visit), graduated boot camp, shipped to his assigned post in Alaska, then ended up deployed to Afghanistan.

    On day #3, he saw 3 of his comrades killed by an IED. Day #6 he was shot and wounded, and got shrapnel when a grenade exploded as he was on the ground wounded.

    NOW, he is recuperating in Alaska, but believe me . . . all of this has changed him for the most part. That's what I wanted to tell you (sorry for being long winded about it). You son needs to figure out what his passion is and pursue it. Apparently for my son, joining the Army was "it" for him.

    I "get it". Sorry this is so long, just want you to know you're not alone.
    2426 days ago
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