Saturday, December 29, 2012
Mental illness...what you have not who you are!
As I sit here in the quiet hours of the morning...as this year comes to an end, I'm compelled to look back at how far my son has come and the struggles he's had. Due to respect for the horrible act that took place at Sandyhook Elementary...I've been silent about my son's own struggles with mental illness. But I think now is the time to speak.
While watching the news over the past couple of weeks I noticed an alarming trend emerging. "Mental Illness" had become the topic of more and more CNN shows. But more heartbreaking to me as a Mom...our son noticed! He came to me and said "Mom...is everyone going to think I could do something like that guy did?" You can imagine...or maybe you can't...but my heart sunk and I got an immediate lump in my throat. "He is right." I thought to myself. But what do I say? How am I supposed to respond to that? It literally took me a long time to answer him...I just sat there and looked at him. Finally I said "Well...we know you are NOT like that...maybe it's time for us to show the other side of mental illness..." He agreed.
Mental Illness can be controlled with medications. It will never go away...we are totally and completely aware of that fact. Has he ever been a danger to anyone...no! Himself...yes. Ok...here it goes...
Back in October I was getting ready to go visit my parents in Louisiana, our son was struggling with obsessiveness and other things associated with his illness. I had told my husband that I thought he may need to go to the hospital when I got back from my trip, if he had not leveled out...I knew that in the hospital they could get him regulated on medications faster than we could at home. What I didn't realize what just how far down he'd gotten. I left for my trip...and even though what you are about to read is bad...what came out of it was the fact that we got our son back!
I got a call from him while we (my parents and I) were heading to lunch by the river...then I got another one...by the time we hit 17 in the hour...I knew he was in trouble. I told him I was going to call his doctor and that I thought he needed to be in the hospital...something had set him off, I can't go into detail but it was a stupid statement that was said to him. Once I got him calmed down and convinced he needed to go in, I called his doctor's office, told them what was happening...and I was told to get him to the hospital.
I made the call to my husband...I hated being so far away...but our son made me promise not to come home, that was a part of a bigger plan...not mine...but God's.
***A little backstory - Since the day I quit working to stay home and take care of our son, and my husband became the full time bread winner for the family...it was just me and JC. I handled all the problems, melt downs, doctor visits...everything! I didn't want to upset my husband with the day to day trials of mental illness...boy that was a huge and STUPID mistake! By keeping it all from him...the burden of all that had happened over the many many many years, was sitting on my shoulders, all to me to deal with and I had no one to talk to. I was becoming depressed myself.
So back to the story...My husband jumped into action, went home, packed a bag and drove him to the hospital...I was finally able to breathe...I knew our son would be safe...safe...sigh...safe. Then BAM...a phone call from the hospital. "Mrs. Kennedy, I was told to call you and let you know that we will not be keeping your son here tonight." Me: "WHAT? Are you kidding me? He's in trouble...he's obsessing...he's...he's...he's suicidal!" Them: "Well he hasn't told me or made any indication to that fact to me...so he's going home with your husband!" Me: "Wait...is my husband in there?" Them: "Yes." Me: "Please tell him to leave and hand the phone to my son!" (and there is the reason that God put me in Louisiana...our son was afraid to say anything in front of him...and that was my fault...my husband was left stunned and clueless and lost...and that was my fault...but NOW...he had to know...everything!)
He did...and I said to our son "Tell him!" JC: "No!" Me: "TELL HIM!" JC: "You tell him" Me: "JC YOU HAVE TO TELL HIM!"....finally...the words NO MOTHER, NO FATHER, NO GRANDPARENT wants to hear...but as horrible as it sounds...it was a relief to hear, "I...I am...I am wanting to kill myself" and with that...he fell apart...and with that...I knew they would HAVE to keep him then. He told me he loved me and handed the phone back to the nurse, "Well Mrs. Kennedy, we will be keeping him" Me: "Yes, I thought you would be."
It was a very hard time on him...on all of us as a family. He was in for 10 days...got off all of his meds...got a new doctor...got all new meds and was released...happy, ready for a new start. And he has been doing wonderfully since he was released. But most importantly...we became closer as a family...my husband is no longer out of the loop and clueless and I have someone to talk to about what is going on in the day to day life of our son.
I know this has been a bit of a ramble...maybe not as organized as I'd like it to be...but writing about all of this has been a personal challenge for me.