Friday, December 14, 2012

Thinking the Unthinkable

Michael holding a butterfly
In the wake of another horrific national tragedy, it’s easy to talk about guns. But it’s time to talk about mental illness.

Three days before 20 year-old Adam Lanza killed his mother, then opened fire on a classroom full of Connecticut kindergartners, my 13-year old son Michael (name changed) missed his bus because he was wearing the wrong color pants.

“I can wear these pants,” he said, his tone increasingly belligerent, the black-hole pupils of his eyes swallowing the blue irises.

“They are navy blue,” I told him. “Your school’s dress code says black or khaki pants only.”

“They told me I could wear these,” he insisted. “You’re a stupid bitch. I can wear whatever pants I want to. This is America. I have rights!”

“You can’t wear whatever pants you want to,” I said, my tone affable, reasonable. “And you definitely cannot call me a stupid bitch. You’re grounded from electronics for the rest of the day. Now get in the car, and I will take you to school.”

I live with a son who is mentally ill. I love my son. But he terrifies me.

A few weeks ago, Michael pulled a knife and threatened to kill me and then himself after I asked him to return his overdue library books. His 7 and 9 year old siblings knew the safety plan—they ran to the car and locked the doors before I even asked them to. I managed to get the knife from Michael, then methodically collected all the sharp objects in the house into a single Tupperware container that now travels with me. Through it all, he continued to scream insults at me and threaten to kill or hurt me.

That conflict ended with three burly police officers and a paramedic wrestling my son onto a gurney for an expensive ambulance ride to the local emergency room. The mental hospital didn’t have any beds that day, and Michael calmed down nicely in the ER, so they sent us home with a prescription for Zyprexa and a follow-up visit with a local pediatric psychiatrist.

We still don’t know what’s wrong with Michael. Autism spectrum, ADHD, Oppositional Defiant or Intermittent Explosive Disorder have all been tossed around at various meetings with probation officers and social workers and counselors and teachers and school administrators. He’s been on a slew of antipsychotic and mood altering pharmaceuticals, a Russian novel of behavioral plans. Nothing seems to work.

At the start of seventh grade, Michael was accepted to an accelerated program for highly gifted math and science students. His IQ is off the charts. When he’s in a good mood, he will gladly bend your ear on subjects ranging from Greek mythology to the differences between Einsteinian and Newtonian physics to Doctor Who. He’s in a good mood most of the time. But when he’s not, watch out. And it’s impossible to predict what will set him off.  

Several weeks into his new junior high school, Michael began exhibiting increasingly odd and threatening behaviors at school. We decided to transfer him to the district’s most restrictive behavioral program, a contained school environment where children who can’t function in normal classrooms can access their right to free public babysitting from 7:30-1:50 Monday through Friday until they turn 18.

The morning of the pants incident, Michael continued to argue with me on the drive. He would occasionally apologize and seem remorseful. Right before we turned into his school parking lot, he said, “Look, Mom, I’m really sorry. Can I have video games back today?”

“No way,” I told him. “You cannot act the way you acted this morning and think you can get your electronic privileges back that quickly.”

His face turned cold, and his eyes were full of calculated rage. “Then I’m going to kill myself,” he said. “I’m going to jump out of this car right now and kill myself.”

That was it. After the knife incident, I told him that if he ever said those words again, I would take him straight to the mental hospital, no ifs, ands, or buts. I did not respond, except to pull the car into the opposite lane, turning left instead of right.

“Where are you taking me?” he said, suddenly worried. “Where are we going?”

You know where we are going,” I replied.

“No! You can’t do that to me! You’re sending me to hell! You’re sending me straight to hell!”

I pulled up in front of the hospital, frantically waiving for one of the clinicians who happened to be standing outside. “Call the police,” I said. “Hurry.”

Michael was in a full-blown fit by then, screaming and hitting. I hugged him close so he couldn’t escape from the car. He bit me several times and repeatedly jabbed his elbows into my rib cage. I’m still stronger than he is, but I won’t be for much longer.

The police came quickly and carried my son screaming and kicking into the bowels of the hospital. I started to shake, and tears filled my eyes as I filled out the paperwork—“Were there any difficulties with....at what age did your child....were there any problems with...has your child ever experienced...does your child have....”  

At least we have health insurance now. I recently accepted a position with a local college, giving up my freelance career because when you have a kid like this, you need benefits. You’ll do anything for benefits. No individual insurance plan will cover this kind of thing.

For days, my son insisted that I was lying—that I made the whole thing up so that I could get rid of him. The first day, when I called to check up on him, he said, “I hate you. And I’m going to get my revenge as soon as I get out of here.”

By day three, he was my calm, sweet boy again, all apologies and promises to get better. I’ve heard those promises for years. I don’t believe them anymore.

On the intake form, under the question, “What are your expectations for treatment?” I wrote, “I need help.”

And I do. This problem is too big for me to handle on my own. Sometimes there are no good options. So you just pray for grace and trust that in hindsight, it will all make sense.

I am sharing this story because I am Adam Lanza’s mother. I am Dylan Klebold’s and Eric Harris’s mother. I am James Holmes’s mother. I am Jared Loughner’s mother. I am Seung-Hui Cho’s mother. And these boys—and their mothers—need help. In the wake of another horrific national tragedy, it’s easy to talk about guns. But it’s time to talk about mental illness.

According to Mother Jones, since 1982, 61 mass murders involving firearms have occurred throughout the country. (http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/07/mass-shootings-map). Of these, 43 of the killers were white males, and only one was a woman. Mother Jones focused on whether the killers obtained their guns legally (most did). But this highly visible sign of mental illness should lead us to consider how many people in the U.S. live in fear, like I do.

When I asked my son’s social worker about my options, he said that the only thing I could do was to get Michael charged with a crime. “If he’s back in the system, they’ll create a paper trail,” he said. “That’s the only way you’re ever going to get anything done. No one will pay attention to you unless you’ve got charges.”

I don’t believe my son belongs in jail. The chaotic environment exacerbates Michael’s sensitivity to sensory stimuli and doesn’t deal with the underlying pathology. But it seems like the United States is using prison as the solution of choice for mentally ill people. According to Human Rights Watch, the number of mentally ill inmates in U.S. prisons quadrupled from 2000 to 2006, and it continues to rise—in fact, the rate of inmate mental illness is five times greater (56 percent) than in the non-incarcerated population. (http://www.hrw.org/news/2006/09/05/us-number-mentally-ill-prisons-quadrupled)

With state-run treatment centers and hospitals shuttered, prison is now the last resort for the mentally ill—Rikers Island, the LA County Jail, and Cook County Jail in Illinois housed the nation’s largest treatment centers in 2011 (http://www.npr.org/2011/09/04/140167676/nations-jails-struggle-with-mentally-ill-prisoners)

 No one wants to send a 13-year old genius who loves Harry Potter and his snuggle animal collection to jail. But our society, with its stigma on mental illness and its broken healthcare system, does not provide us with other options. Then another tortured soul shoots up a fast food restaurant. A mall. A kindergarten classroom. And we wring our hands and say, “Something must be done.”

I agree that something must be done. It’s time for a meaningful, nation-wide conversation about mental health. That’s the only way our nation can ever truly heal.

God help me. God help Michael. God help us all. 

This story was first published online by the Blue Review. Read more on current events at www.thebluereview.org


3,779 comments:

1 – 200 of 3779   Newer›   Newest»
Visions said...

My heart goes out to you, Michael and so many others trapped in our culture with no humane solutions. The reaction will be to attack the guns. But we must provide an accessable system to address mental illness, just as we are striving for medical care for physical ills.

Epiphenita said...

Your post is starting to show up all over facebook. Thank you for the poignant insight into raising Michael. You don't know how many people you will touch and cause to rethink this issue. Thank you.

El said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Idaho PR said...

Cannot even fathom what you are going through, but thank you thank you thank you for sharing your story and raising our consciousness

Linda Q said...

OMG, this is my life. My son is 9. Is going into residential treatment after the first of the year. My heart feels your pain.

Moving to Europe said...

Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I can't imagine how exhausting it must be to juggle all of your responsibilities and worries. And to put it all out there for the world to know has got to be tremendously difficult. You are obviously an incredibly strong and caring woman and I send you my deepest sympathies and appreciation for working hard for everybody's safety and a system that should drastically improve the care of children like your son and their families. I live in Germany and things are very different here, far from perfect, but certainly much better as far as health care and special needs are concerned. It is one of my biggest wishes that the american government will finally adapt to a similar structure so that tragedies big and small (because really, NOBODY deserves to have to live with the fear you're faced with!) can be prevented.
Sending you so much love.

Zia Flower said...

I agree with you. In fact yours is one of the few comments on the mental health issue that I do agree with. One of the problem is is "mental health" is lumped together as it is all the same...so someone who suffers from depression and has never been violent is mentally is in the same category as someone who struggles with severe destructive mental health behaviours. It should be more on a spectrum...Like many other illnesses are...Why isn't it?

TerryJ2 said...

Excellent and timely. Thank you, from another mom who understands.

Terrel Hoffman said...

In the 1970s, Ronald Reagan pioneered the closing of mental hospitals in California. He called it being humane. His real purpose, of course, was to cut services to save money. I have seen too many people struggle to get their beloved, but mentally ill, family members to accept help, since they have the right to refuse it. I've seen the exhaustion, the hopelessness. I've also seen other family members cut out of the circle of love because this one person commands every ounce of emotional energy the caregiver has, leaving nothing for anyone else. I wish someone with political will would understand that some mentally ill people need some legal form of modified autonomy or full on guardianship. I wish you had the authority to command residential treatment for your son. I wish there were a magic pill or shot or operation that could miraculously heal these illnesses. I wish you peace. Cherish this quiet time and give to your other children. They need you. Thank you for opening the dialogue so we can find our way to compassion. My heart aches for you. My soul cries out for justice for you. You're right. Prison is not the right place for your son. But perhaps neither is your home. I hope you find a way to resolve this. Namaste.

TD said...

This is sadly not atypical in your situation. A friend from high school's mother wrote a memoir about her struggles with an adult bipolar son (who ended up taking his own life) and her unsuccessful struggles to get help for him. http://mindontherun.com/

Prayers and blessings to you and your family.

Tracey said...

This is so powerful. All I can say is, I wish you and your son healing and peace.

Michigan Miss said...

I am moved to tears because this is my story, too. My son has threatened to kill me and commit suicide. He has waved knives and threatened to jump off the roof. His father also suffers from mental instability and is aware that he isn't able to properly care for his son. I don't have a job at all and if you think getting help is bad when you have benefits, it does not even apply for those on public assistance. My greatest fear is that he will do something like a mass shooting or some other public violent act. I am screaming tor help and it as if there is no one to hear it.

Tai said...

I'm sorry you're aren't getting good help for your son, mental health care isn't very good in general and it's a problem for us all, especially if you (like Adam Lanza's mother) have guns in the house. It's not an either or kind of thing, both issues need to be addressed. And soon.

Gidget Utley said...

I agree!!! Hopefully we can start getting people to understand, aware and have somewhere where they can get help. Thank you for sharing your story.

Heather said...

Have you connected with your local NAMI affiliate? NAMI offers excellent support for parents. www.nami.org

thiegrian said...

Contact vernon woolf at holodaynaics.com....he can help...

thiegrian said...

apologies.....fingers slipped. Vernon Woolf is at holodynamics.com He is truly amazing...

Meghan said...

I've been working with these types of children for the past year and half. I have seen students whose parents couldn't care less--"not my child, not my baby". But I have also seen parents who will stop at nothing to see that their children receive the treatment that they need. I pray every day that the county begins to see mental illness for what it is--an illness that no one can control and is in need of medical attention. The families become so exhausted as they continuously run out of options. There are schools out there that work with these children--not to "fix" them, but to help them to heal, and to give them strategies to cope with everyday life in a world that often seems alien to them. Thank you for this post. I hope that people begin to see the necessity of focusing on mental illness awareness and that it is not something that people can respond to by "get over it". It's so much more than that.

Eliza Bolt said...

If he has an appetite for science and how things work, an idea might be to introduce him to the realms of sacred geometry, This will lead him to explore the nature of cymatics, vibrations, frequencies and quantum physics. With this comes a greater understanding of human interaction/mindfulness and he may come to understand by himself how his actions affect other people within a scientific/holistic paradigm- understanding the power of positive thought and action. It worked for me. All best. x

Mel Wing said...

Thank you for posting this. I have two children who have many, many of the same issues. It is so hard sometimes and there are so few resources to help. I just wanted you to know you are not alone and it is good to know that I am not alone either. God Bless.

Ryan said...

It's sad to hear you have so much trouble with your son. I hope he can receive the help he needs and get back on track with life.

Jennifer Steele Christensen said...

Thank you for having the courage to share your life with us in this way. I can't even come up with the right words to express how much empathy I feel for you.

I agree with you absolutely that it's time for a candid, raw conversation about mental health...

I pray that God does help you. And your son.

imsigne2 said...

thank you for this honest, gut-wrenching post. please know that you have lit a fire under many people with your timely comments after the horrific events in connecticut yesterday. i'm hopeful that people will contact their legislators and the president with the message that we will no longer accept this as status quo. i've also joined nami and donated...they need all the help they can get. we have to fight this together. or we'll fight it alone. mental illness/addiction services, funding and research all need an overhaul...let's do it!!

The White Devil said...

thank you for being brave enough to write this. good luck.

Don West said...

Dear brave lady and wise Mom,

Please take some time to get familiar with this story - Michael Schofield and his young daughter, Janni - in case you did not hear about them before. Hope it helps.

http://www.reddit.com/r/TrueReddit/comments/zv1a6/when_janni_schofield_was_not_even_a_month_old_she/


http://www.reddit.com/r/todayilearned/comments/t8ec2/til_that_there_is_a_little_girl_named_january/

http://www.janisjourney.org/


And one more thing: your story is 'making news' on reddit 'as we sepak'. Here:
http://www.reddit.com/r/TrueReddit/comments/14wvvd/i_am_sharing_this_story_because_i_am_adam_lanzas/

A little Saver said...

Thank you for sharing this. I am deeply interested in the pre-preventive aspects of these kinds of break downs, and really the lack of it. I was, in my past work life, a Special Edu. Bus Driver, and spent up to 2hrs with my back to mass labeled "special" children, that NO ONE could predict when they would act out and what they would do.
It was and is similar in schools, the child is not "dealt" with until they are written up and "bad". It saddens me that we don't address things until the worst has struck.
I praise your strength and ambition to continue to help him and voice to say something NOW.

Unknown said...

I see things like what happened yesterday and I understand all too well. I want to reach out to the kids who do these things. I want to say I get it. It scares the crap out of me that I understand them so well. It scares me to think what if this stuff was going on when I was a teen.

My IQ is supposedly off the charts. My parents had me tested before I was in 1st grade. I don't know what my IQ is, I've insisted strongly my whole life that I do not want to know. I was placed in school early. I was in the gifted program. I was bullied, laughed at and treated as an outcast all through grade school.

I was angry. I dealt with horrible depression. Unbearable anxiety. I couldn't relate any of this with my parents or any one.

I turned on my bullies three times during grade school. The first I lifted by his throat and held him against a wall, informing him he'd never bother me again. The second, I knocked him backwards over a chair very hard. The third I took to the ground with my knee in his chest, shoved so hard he needed medical care.

I couldn't ever reach out to my parents, teachers, or friends. I saw myself as I was treated, so to call out for help I'd be a weak, hopeless coward.

I'm over 40 now. My past haunts me. I still see myself as I was treated as a child. Years of medicine and therapy have only scratched the surface of my issues. I'm opening too many shut doors in my head to even write this. I'm not sure how coherent this will be. I'm skipping so many details.

I could have been one of those guys that cracked, grabbed a gun and went berserk. I won't touch guns, period. Won't go near them. I'm terrified of them. But at 19? I'm glad I never had one around me.

sarah gilbert , cafemama said...

I understand so well how you feel. I was afraid my son, now 10, would be this way by the time he was 13. (He threatened me with a machete we used in the garden when he was six. I was strong enough then to wrest it away from him.) I've somehow found the way to the place where his outbursts are nearly always simply verbal. I have a lot of ideas about why this was possible but I don't know if they are instructional or just situational. I'm not going to try to give advice here. But I can say that I understand so well and I agree thoroughly, that none of us should ever blame the parents, and that the prison and mental health systems in this country have been disastrously conflated. (A child diagnosed and educated in the behavioral side of special ed, for instance, has a 14 times greater chance than the general population of going to prison. 14 times! this is, I often feel, because they put them on the "punishment" track when they're barely big enough to understand that actions and consequences are linked, let alone hold back their impulses with this knowledge.)

the bottom line is that people with poor impulse control are never taught to have better impulse control through punishment, and prison, as you point out, only provides triggers for negative impulses. we need to be supporting kids to control their impulses, not retroactively shaming them and their parents and locking them up.

I feel like we need some sort of rallying cry. but I'm not sure what it is yet.

Alicia Decker said...

Thank you for writing this and sharing your story with us all. I am sharing your story as well because I believe in our societies mental health crisis. We are not providing appropriate nor effective mental health treatment. God bless your love and strength.

kari said...

As a mother of a teen daughter with schizophrenia, your post has left me nearly speechless. Thank you for sharing, and maybe if enough of us parents start being more open about it, people will be more accepting about mental illness.

Amanda said...

I, too, have been where you are. Just over a year ago we began the roller coaster of psych hospitals admissions for my 10-year-old. He has Asperger's and a mood disorder (NOS, of course). We struggled for years to find the rightg meds, keep us, him and his siblings safe from his unexpected, explosive meltdowns. He finally destabilized to a point where we couldn't handle it anymore and he was scaring himself, too. It's so isolating to live with a child with mental illness, especially when the "best" option is to call the police b/c there aren't any other options.

My son spent 92 days inpatient in a total of 3 hospitals, but has been home for over 6 months now. We're all hypervigilent and deal with PTSD daily, but when he's doing well he's a brillant, joyous boy. Please know you are not alone in your struggle and there are other parents out here who understand. I know I look for that all the time, both the parents and the understanding that I am doing what is best for my son.

Our children need better care and support systems and the chance to be children who are not feared or shamed. We, as parents, need the same.

Sarah is right-- we need a rallying cry.

Magpie Ima said...

Thank you for sharing your story. You may have done far more to help us find answers than all the hand wringing gun control advocates out there (not that they don't have a valid point). I will keep your family in my heart and hope that you all find a resolution to Michael's struggles soon. Thanks for being brave enough to share your story.

Lynne said...

I raised a boy like your "Michael". I get it. I so get it. By God's Grace my son lives in a supportive setting where he is supervised 24/7. That's what his illness requires. We fought so hard for treatment. We had so many days where we didn't think we would all make it. We need to have a national conversation about mental illness. I couldn't agree with you more!

! said...

I really enjoyed reading this blog post. I don't know if you've seen this, but I thought I'd share this story of Michael Schofield. His daughter Janni's story very much mirrors what I read in this post.

While schizophrenia usually does not appear in children, Janni was diagnosed at 6 years old. It's very possible, and can explain strange and violent behaviour. I'm not sure if this is something your doctor/social worker has considered, but this story is at least worth a read! http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/edge-of-the-abyss-20120820-24h4r.html

Thank you very much for sharing your story.

Karla said...

What to do when medications and counseling are ineffective in mental illness is perhaps one of life's and society's greatest challenges. All my wishes for peaceful resolutions and a positive future for your family and child - and for all those who struggle.

Danny Raede said...

As someone with Aspergers, and who has pretty much overcome it, I totally know where you are coming from. If you are serious about that help you need, I would love to share my insight with you.

I've had the sensory issues, the meltdowns, and the suicide threats. I've been there. The best way to get in contact with me would be through my website's contact page: http://www.aspergerexperts.com/contact/

ifinoxonifi said...

Hi,

Thank you for this article. Very interesting. I'd like to point out something regarding the inordinate stress being placed on the significance of 43 of 61 killers being "white males". This equals around 70% of the killers. Whites make up around 75% of the US population, so the amount white male killers is NOT disproportionate to their percentage of the population. They are disproportionately male, if anything, but race doesn't seem to be a factor here. I hope I'm not being pedantic, it's just that I've heard such stats being misused for racial reasons.

Angela said...

Thank you for sharing. It was like reading my own words. You are not alone. My daughter will be 19 in a few days. She has shut me out of her life and convinced everyone else I am the crazy one. I am terrified for her and I am terrified she will snap one day and no one will understand she is mentally unwell. All I can do is pray.

Freetail Therapy said...

WOW your son looks IDENTICAL to mine! They could be TWINS! My son is 9 years old and has Asperger's Syndrome. Luckily, I have no idea what you are going through, as my son does not exhibit those symptoms, but my heart goes out to you, and good for you for doing what is best for your child, even though it must be hard on you.

Mandrake said...

Reposting what someone else perfectly said: "I bow to your courage to share your truth."

Mandrake said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Peggy Dimock said...

I loved your post. Thanks for writing it-- I wish I had more to say.

Garrett said...

Excellent post. I'm not sure where you live, but I worked at a non-public school and special home for kids with problems like Michael's. It's a wonderful environment that is safe, supportive, embracing, and professional. It's called EMQ FamiliesFirst. It's in Davis, California, but there are other organizations like it (I'm sure you must know this). Anyways, I wish the best for your whole family and you, personally, for writing this.

Garrett said...

Excellent post. I'm not sure where you live, but I worked at a non-public school and special home for kids with problems like Michael's. It's a wonderful environment that is safe, supportive, embracing, and professional. It's called EMQ FamiliesFirst. It's in Davis, California, but there are other organizations like it (I'm sure you must know this). Anyways, I wish the best for your whole family and you, personally, for writing this.

wildfrei said...

I am so sorry. You are a brave and compassionate woman and one hell of a devoted mother. Keep the faith. Keep fighting the good fight. I'm sending you and all of your kids hopes for peace-- and peace of mind--in the days, months, and years to come.

Unknown said...

I feel for all of you, this is horrible, and what I am about to say will more than likely get me bad mouthed... However someone has to ask, what I really want to know given that you understand he is dangerous to you, your kids and others.. what will you actually do to keep us all safe before he is too big for you to control?

Ren said...

Thank you for sharing your story. I hope that it gets shared enough and reaches enough people that we indeed can start having this much needed conversation. perhaps your story will spark a revolution into how our country deals with mental illness. Thank you thank you thank you for your poise, grace, and clarity in sharing your life with us.

Macey said...

Wow, I absolutely disagree with your choice of action here.

I grew up with severe BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder), and let me tell you that being a kid and not being able to control your feelings is one thing. But being a kid with a "mental illness", is even scarier and it that inner pain is only multiplied tenfold when everyone *especially family* treats you like you are crazy and like you don't belong.

In every example you gave, you forgot to look at one very important part of the story. And that part is YOU. You are your son's mother, and unfortunately he's not the ideal kid you want him to be, and you'd rather have a cookie cutter child that can fit into your perfect mold of your hilariously simplified existence where everyone is able to easily conform to social "norms" and control their feelings on command. This isn't easy for everyone, and it is even harder for a person with mental issues, and EVEN harder for a child. Any child.

We have all said hateful and terrible things in anger. All of us. We have told people we loved that we hated them, that we wanted to die, and that we "feel like killing" them. These are normal words to attach to the intense emotions a frustrated kid feels. I understand that they are polite and it isn't okay to say these things, but that is where you should be a little bit more patient and understanding of your son.

Your son is becoming the psychopathic criminal that you are imagining him as. Your son is reacting to you EXACTLY the way you want him to. You obviously already have a mental image in your mind where your son is a murderer the likes of the infamous school shooters you mentioned. You didn't give any examples of the millions of people who suffer from mental illnesses and become successes. Maybe your son is the next Edgar Allen Poe, or Jim Carrey, or John Nash, or Albert Einstein, all who have their own unique mental illnesses that make them think terrible morbid horrible depressing thoughts much like the ones I'm sure your son has.

But instead of maybe listening to him, and trying to really understand where his anger is coming from and how he feels and why he is so quick to express it through violence, you are INCREDIBLY hostile towards him. You always make sure to let him know that he is WRONG and that you are scared of him. You have given his siblings a plan of defense against him, truly making him out to be an enemy of your household, and then you wonder why he behaves as such.

You are absolutely oblivious to how you are treating your son, and you have no idea that you are only confirming his anxieties and fears that he might be a monster and that he has "unfixable problems". You leave him with no hope. No one to go to. If a young kid can't even look to his family for comfort when he is having a hard time coping with reality, then WHO DOES HE GO TO? You have made him feel like a criminal and an outcast that is completely alone in this world, and I truly feel for your son and I completely understand his pain.

You are too self-centered in your thinking, and just because you aren't living the happy-go-lucky television nuclear family existence that you want, you stop being a mother to your own son. This is INSANELY selfish and you should be ashamed of yourself.

Getting help is one thing. But playing this whole "woe is me" scenario, so once again, YOU can be the center of attention is absolutely disgusting.

I truly hope your son finds someone who will actually listen to him and actually show him some true patience, compassion and love. I completely empathize with his situation as my family kicked me out of their home when I was 13 years old because I was unhappy and having frequent panic attacks, and emotional breakdowns. This forced me to go live with friends and create MY OWN chosen family. I can only hope your son finds the same.

consultingforspecialneeds.com said...

I was you and my son was your son. LIfe was hell- only worse. We went the hospital route many times. It just made things worse. Please send me an email: Lpritzker@comcast.net -- I want to help you. I have some ideas for you

Brooke Adametz said...

Wow. I don't even know what to say. This moved me to tears. My heart breaks for you mama. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for taking time out of your day to write this piece. I will be praying for a miracle for you and your child!

Robert said...

We have a son with mental illness. Now that he is an "adult" in the eyes of the law, he's decided he does not want to pursue any sort of treatment. Our hands are tied.

There needs to be a discussion about how to strike a balance between protecting the rights of adults with mental illness and protecting the general public. Until we do, incidents like Newtown will happen again.

Robert said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Spearwolfe said...

My son faced many of the same bipolar issues. His psychiatrists tried various drugs to control his brain chemistry but the side effects were often worse than the bipolar-ism. As a result, rearing my son was hell but he is 24 now and adequately controls his angry mood swings with a vegan diet and strenuous daily exercise. Thank God he grew up well enough and our family survived those dark years!
Have you tried Laminine on Michael? It's a unique all natural protein supplement (super food) that encourages the body to heal itself from the inside out. My serotonin levels were in the cellar, however, Laminine recently helped me conquer my own demons of life-threatening stress and depression. These crippling agents were normally demonstrated by occasional bouts of uncalled for road rage but the real dangers I faced were Diabetes and advanced Heart Disease. (I am willing to share my personal testimonial any time. You have but to ask.)
If your son can eat peas, tuna fish and the occasional egg, Laminine may be of benefit to the young man. Please, "YouTube" Laminine, then email me with any questions you might have, at: lancelotlink007@yahoo.com. Start with this short, yet highly informative, introduction: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZNW2lISC4Y
I really hope this helps. My wish for you and yours is a Merry (and calm!) Christmas season and a new year full of happy health.

riverdream0 said...

Did you ever think of what you do to your son by bringing his private life in such a bad context? Would you like your mother to speak of you in public and world wide web like this, even with a picture of you? Please, parents, do not blame your children if you are stupid. Even to give Zyprexa to children is unbelievable stupid. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UhO0Pul_FcE

I feel really pitty for your son.

If you love your child, stop treating him as a sick person and let him be sane.

riverdream0 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brittany said...

Thank you for writing this. Thank you for being an amazing mother. Thank you for your courage and strength.

Amy Austin said...

This is a brave and powerful post. I wish I had an answer for you.

Rachel Storch said...
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JenSwan60 said...

Thank you. I'll keep you and your family in my prayers. I have a family chock full of mentally ill and mentally shaky folks, most of whom manage successfully. It could so easily have been otherwise for me.

I have a friend who's daughter has been misdiagnosed for a long time and it turned out to be an odd learning disorder -- in case you haven't tried that avenue.

Jennifer

Rachel Storch said...

I can't believe it. You just described my brother. They say he's aspergers, but I don't know if that accounts for all of it. He's normally really sweet, sensitive, and very very smart, but when he snaps, he curses, hurts people, throws things, threatens suicide, and pulls knives. I have scars from where he's scratched or strangled me. You grow up in a household with someone like that and it starts to seem normal. My brother is an adult now, and we can't do anything anymore because he's legally independent. He went off all of his medications and is scarier than ever. I know that he's EXACTLY the sort of person that NEEDS more supervision and help. Sadly, he doesn't believe there is anything wrong with him, and he blames my mother, saying that she "labelled him" as special needs and ruined his life. He will not seek help. He will not even try to change. I don't know if there is anything anyone can do as long as he is in denial. Everyone here giving you grief doesn't understand what it is like to grow up with a family member who acts out violently from mental illness. You are doing exactly what you have to and you are very brave. Know that my family stands with yours in spirit.

Riley Kay said...

It's heartbreaking to hear about these stories and to think that I've put my mother through this kind of stuff within the past year. NO, I have never threatened anyone else's lives, but I did threaten mine.
I am a fourteen year old girl. I'm heavier set, but not extremely fat. I'm not an outcast. I have amazing friends whom I love beyond all belief, but within this last year, there have been moments when those friends weren't enough.
On May 7, 2011, I was so excited. There was only two months left until I was officially a teenager. The big 13! It was great. I spent the morning traveling in a car for a few hours with my Dad, my sister, and my sister's best friend (Who I was also very close to). On the way home, we stopped at the nearest WalMart and goofed around. When we got back out into the car, my sister got a phonecall. I kept hearing her say, "You better not be fucking joking or I'll be pissed." Then she started tearing up. I kept asking what happened, but all I got was head shakes and "You don't want to know... It might be a lie... I really don't want to be the one who tells you...You don't want to know, I'm serious. I don't even want to know." And finally, I kept nagging until she told me.
My Very best friend- The first one who had ever excepted me for being confident and a bit crazy- was riding shotgun with her father when their car was t-boned by a semi. She died before the ambulance got to her house.
I cried when I found out. I quit eating, and whenever I did manage to eat, I puked it back up. I laid in bed every single night and cried. I never wanted to wake up in the morning. I was severely depressed.
At first, I didn't mind the depression. Then I heard my other closest friend was going through the same thing, and she startede cutting herself to deal with the pain. Then, we both started drinking, and going to sleep before our parents got home, so they couldn't find out. And then, we both started seeing how many pills we could take before we got lightheaded. We were heading towards suicide. The whole time, my friend had no idea I was doing all this. I knew she was, and I talked her out of it multiple times. I knew she cut herself, and the very idea made my skin crawl. I took care of her before I took care of myself. And while I was telling her alcohol and advil weren't the answers to her problems, I was drinking and swallowing advil myself.
Wtihin the past year, I threatened to kill myself while my mom and I were having an argument. I hadn't even thought that way since I had gotten done with school that past year. I had put everything behind me- or I thought I did. I even went to therapy (Which I hated, so I quit).
I know now that killing yourself and popping Advil, and drinking are not the answers. I haven't touched alcohol in a long time. My friend quit cutting, although she thinks she might start again. I am calling her every night to make sure she's okay. I'm always making sure everyone around me is dealing with Marissa's (My friend's)death the right way. Not like me.
I know you're thinking, "Where the hell were your parents?" Let me just say they tried to stop me, but I would stay up later than them, I would get home before they got off work, I would make sure they had plans over the weekend. I was great at lying to them- which I am NOT proud of. And when they did find out the truth, they made sure to stop me. My parents made sure I was with someone at every moment, so I couldn't try to kill myself. They handled it the best they could, and 'handling it the best they could' was the greatest thing they had ever done. They- along with my friends, and a few very important school authority figures- saved me.
It's amazing that I'm fourteen and can say that I've been through so much. I found out my dad was gay when I was nine. I lost my closest friend. I strugled with life. BUT, I am living proof that it gets better. I am proof that hurting yourself is NOT the answer.

brothermartin said...

Macey, I appreciate your perspective--as a kid, I was "difficult," and spent a lot of time in psychiatric treatment. As I verged on adulthood, I was panicked, feeling that there was no place in the world for the likes of me. Fortunately, the year was 1970, and I escaped into the rural counterculture, where the stark reality of interacting with nature chilled out my crazyness. My oldest son was, in some ways, a lot like me--would not go to school or kowtow to authority. He started working with friends of mine who were/are carpenters, and they taught him the trade. He and his girlfriend had their first child when my son was 17 and his girlfriend was 18. They fought hard with each other for years, but are still together and have settled down emotionally, and my two grandchildren are now in their twenties. One is an honor student in college, the other dropped out of college to work with his hands. I have often reflected that, if we had grown up in an urban environment where my son would have had more interaction with police and social workers, he would have been jailed, institutionalized, and lived a very messed up life. As it was, we had the grace and dumb luck to let him outgrown his "oppositional defiant disorder," and he's turned out fine.

"Anarchist Soccer Mom,"That's my story. But your attitudes about, and behavior patterns with, your son may be too deeply engrained for you to break out of them and rescript your relationship. I wish you the best.

Linda Rigg said...

Thank you for sharing your story. You obviously love your children very much. You are a brave woman, I'm so sorry there's not more help for you.

Mama Feline said...

Macey, your post was the most insightful and probably the most on point. Thank you!

Tori said...

Thank you for sharing your story! Guns are not the problem - people are the problem. And most of those problem people have some kind of illness that hasn't been identified and / or dealt with appropriately. We need to address that first and foremost.

Vegetable Garden Cook said...

Thank you for sharing! What a powerful story!

I wanted to take a second and invite you to a facebook group that I started today called: End School Violence.

The intention of the group is for us all to come together as individual citizens to talk about what we CAN do to help curb violence in our schools. So many of us feel helpless, and yet, I think that there are things we can do, and this will serve as an outlet to hear all ideas.

Please share it with your readers too. Thank you!

Amy

https://www.facebook.com/groups/574455752570539/

findingserenity said...

its very brave and admirable of you to admit and face the truth that your son needs help.

Macey said...

@Mama Feline and BrotherMartin,

Thank you for seeing the truth behind this. My comment will likely be passed over, the same way this woman's son has been.

Annemarie said...

I live this.
THIS is what Sammy is like. Yes he is autistic, but there is so much more to it for my boy. on top of our hand flapping, repetitive behaviors, constant sensory seeking and sensory issues, we have this. We restrained him 5 times today in less than 3 hours.He threatened to kill his 5 year old brother.Right now we can manage it at home because he is only 8...he is only 8 and has broken my nose, my hand twice and injured my sternum.

it's so hard to get him the help he needs, too many professionals are willing to write us off. Sometimes there isn't anywhere to turn.
I can simply say I would love to have a gun. in HS i was on the rifle team it was a wonderful way to let off steam. I can't even keep knobs on my oven and a gun (even the air soft guns my teen wants) are out of the question. My sharp objects are watched until they need to be locked up. I feel like I have to sleep with one eye open.
So I guess what I am saying is I get it.

Siobhra DeWar said...

Finally a real idea that can help the nation instead of dividing us. Turning a national mental health problem into chance to grab guns is a scandal. And shame on those that do.

Larissa said...

Thank you for sharing your story. It takes courage to put yourself before the world and share your struggles (and it opens you to advice about sacred geometry and life coaches).

Thank you. I wish the very best for you, your son and your whole family. May you know love and peace.

Tom B said...

Your Michael sounds almost eerily like my 10 year old grandson Iain. My thoughts and prayers are with you and Ill make sure my daughter is made aware of your blog. You're one of the first people I've come across on line who is willing to talk about the entire situation.

FINGERED said...

Wrong, eh? "It’s okay for reasonable people to disagree about politics, and I am grateful for the perspective my liberal friends share with me (but you’re WRONG! Big wasteful disincentivizing government is not the answer! Sorry, couldn’t resist. And yes, for the record, I stuck my tongue out)." We're are all in this together - thank god we didn't elect Romney and the Rand Nation philosophy of the GOP. Thank you for your article, I think it is the best thing I've read in the last two days. I hope you get the help you and your son need.

Unknown said...

I absolutely agree with you. I hope you make a difference by telling your story!

Yvette said...

Has he ever been tested or treated for PANDAS/PANS? Thank you for telling your story.

Julia said...

If you don't have people to talk to who know what it's like to walk that hard road, contact me. You are in a lonely and scary place. My son is 16 and has had "issues" since age 5. He is doing better now, though if you'd asked me two years ago what would happen I would have looked at you blankly.




Andy Warstar said...

What if your child simply has a behavioral problem due to growing up in a completely demented American Society? And what if he doesn't have a mental illness at all? Your kid sounds a lot like me when I was younger, but my threats and thoughts of suicide didn't manifest, and nobody doped me up on anti-psychotics. Check out the following article:

http://www.infowars.com/dont-let-your-child-see-a-psychiatrist-ever/

Aleecia-Marie Fontaine said...

Thank you, Thank you for posting this, and thank you that you are getting help for your son and not hiding the problems.
I will keep your family in my prayers for healing for your son, but more so for strength for your family and wisdom in your decisions, and also for America to make a change in the way they look at mental illness and deal with it. Thank you once again. You are doing an amazing thing each and everyday, you are truly stronger for getting help for you son then you would be if you kept him with you. You made the right decision. Blessings.

Uncle Timmy said...

We can understand what you are going through. My grandson has Asperger's Syndrome and is severely cognitively disabled. My daughter is raising him on her own along with his younger sister. His father is in jail and is an alcoholic.

On Friday, we took him to our local area Children's Hospital for a check up. On the way home, he became angry because we would not stop and drop him off at his other grandma's house. She was at work, but he would not/could not understand and accept that.

On the hour long ride home, he screamed at me and my daughter, swore at us, hit us in the head (as I was trying to drive) and pulled my daughter's hair. We were both in tears and shaking.

Once we got home, he was fine and apparently expected us to be also.

The system has "rewarded" my daughter for 17 years of abuse and cleaning up pee and poop, being yelled and spit at, by accusing HER of child abuse-twice! The social worker and the police were satisfied once they came to the home and answered the accusations as "unsubstantiated" but it hurts to give up our lives to care for him, and we only receive disdain or indifference from the system.

Allan Bourdius said...

I will be praying for you, Michael, and your other children. I sincerely hope you all can find peace.

MB Isaac said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MB Isaac said...

I understand what you are going through. Thanks for sharing this information so openly - I am sure that this was not easy to do but I do hope that it sheds some light around mental illness.

Site manager said...

A friend sent this to me, saying that I might like to read it. Yes and no. Your story is my story and it is a very scary and often lonely path. As my son gets older and stronger the fear of what may be looms closer and closer and I just want to have the smart, sensitive sweet boy with me all the time, not the boy that when he says he wants to kill me, I believe him. The boy who wants to be tucked in at night with his stuffed animals and snuggles our dog, not the boy who can lift me off the ground in a rage and slam me into a wall. I pray daily for some kind of help and hope and in the meantime we have safety plans, doctors, medicine, therapy and some good days and some really brutal days when nothing is good. But in the end he is still my boy, my sweet boy who sometimes scares the hell out of me. When I see stories like this I cry and hold him tighter out sadness for the loss of these innocent children, out of fear that something might happen to him, and also out of just plain fear.

Cathy said...

I haven't read all the comments. Someone who knows my situation sent me your post. I have an 11 year old daughter like that. I have had to hide all the knives in the house (I don't carry them with me, but they're in a shoebox hidden). She's genius intelligent and if applied herself (and avoided what we call "the fits") would be an absolutely amazing adult some day. When this story came out, I felt I needed to write because my greatest fear is the "alleged suspect" will one day be my daughter. They are really tough kids to raise. They test your every strength and push to the point of, "I don't know how to do this!". My heart breaks for the older brother because my son is 4 years older than my daughter and has had to live with this. What if some day it all blows up? I've asked psychologists how do I raise her and they can't even tell me. So hugs. I'm with you.

runluau said...

@Macey,
Wow. Did you read the post all the way through? Or did you decide what this post was about without attempting to understand what it was all about. You are guilty of what you accuse the author of...and in a much more mean-spirited way.

Ron Friedson said...

Please have your sons hearing checked; in some cases super-sensitive hearing has caused this sort of stress: the person hears things that we dont, that and they block them out- but it causes stress in their system. Another is sleep disorder: my brother was only diagnosed two years ago that for most of his life he did not get the REM sleep, and therefore spent most of his life mentally exhausted without knowing it: he is also a brilliant person- so it may run with brilliance,,,good luck..

Christine said...

I applaud you for coming out with your story, and what you have gone through. When my 5 year old's behavior became nearly psychotic, I was at a loss. He also has Asperger's and sensory issues.
What worked was diet change. YES. I saw someone else post it and I cannot, cannot recommend it enough. If you can get him to a DAN(Defeat Autism Now, although the group is now called Autism Research Institute) doctor, please do so ASAP. In the meantime, put him on a gluten, dairy, and soy free diet. I am telling you it could possibly make a huge difference in your lives. It did for us. My son's outbursts, threats, and meltdown STOPPED when we took him off of soy, and came back any time he had some. www.tacanow.org has info on how to start making diet changes. Lots of ((hugs))

kelly stocke said...

I have an 8 year old who sounds justlike yourr son. I pray every night for mine and now for yours as well. My sons father refuses my son has any issues and that I just spoil him.

wendy toney said...

My heart goes out to you. My son is 15 and when he was about 2 1/2 I started to notice that his tantrums were different than just the terrible twos. He would hurt himself and scream. Since then, he has been in a mental hospital twice, through a variety of drugs and he seems to be ok most days, but I still worry. He has no friends, doesn't know how to make or keep them, and is in a special school because he just cannot maintain in a regular one. He also has won spelling bees and math bees in elementary school and is very loving and kind and sweet. But when he is upset like the other day when I got angry for him eating a lot of the snacks from the freezer he went to his room. When I calmed down and called him down to hug and apologize for yelling he said he had punched himself in the stomach because he hates himself for doing things like that and started to play a game that is a shooter game. Just the day before that when a student in class got him upset he said " I like guns". We don't own guns. I will never own one while he is here and with all of his issues I have to be prepared for the idea that I will have him with me for the rest of my life. When he is in a good mood he will pet the cats nicely, other days I hear the cats cry out when I see him pet them and I know he is trying on purpose to hurt them, so I think all the time, should I find new homes for them? When most kids are getting ready to learn to drive we can not even consider that for him, he cannot even look at one place for 3 seconds let alone concentrate on driving. I do get afraid because he is now taller than me and a large kid that he could really hurt me if he wanted to. But I still love him with all my heart and pray all the time that he grows out of this craziness and can function like a normal young man. I thank goodness that I am disabled because I would have been fired many times for having to come home or leave to get him from school. If he didn't need to socialize I would home school him. Hugs and for all of us mothers that have to deal with a troubled child and weigh their child's life and safety with the lives and safety of those around him on a daily basis, my prayers and love goes with you.

Kelly Dellicarpini said...

Please find a counselor or Psychologist who does Qeeg testing, a.k.a Brain Mapping and PAI testing. My husband is a board certified in this type of diagnostics and a board certified provider of neurofeedback. It is the best way to get an accurate diagnosis and determine the best mode of treatment, whether it be neurofeedback, meds or a combination of both. My heart goes out to you and the daily struggles you face. Best of luck to you and your son.

Simon Davies said...

I've not read all of the comments but bi polar comes to my mind when I read your description. Amazing story. Thank you for sharing.

None None said...

I was your son. Everything you describe to a T. I feel for you and him both.

I refused pharmaceutical medication and bucked every diagnosis thrown at me. What helped me? Listening to Love Line which helped me recognize patterns in my behavior and also gave me an emotional vocabulary. I started smoking weed at 18 which calmed me and helped me develop empathy. After about 2 years I'd had enough of that. I spent more time in nature, away from people, alone with my thoughts and calming surroundings. I watched comedy. I got out of my mother's house.

I have hope for you and your son. I think your son needs a lot of help, but it is probably only going to come from someone who has been there. School counselors, psychiatrists, most therapists...they haven't got a clue. Start with nutrition. Give him space. Let up on the tough love. When he apologizes, he needs that empathy recognized, honored and reinforced in that instant.

Kelly Dellicarpini said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sparksfley said...

My son is 12. He, too, goes to a special school. We've done the 5150 thing twice now. And while I watched it all unfold on TV, one half of my heart was with the parents of those children (my youngest is in 4th grade), and the other half was with the family of the shooter. Because while I do my best with my oldest, my best is not always good enough. And what will be the consequences when my best isn't good enough? I don't have any answers. I just have to live this way.

mom2nji said...

As a mom of a child with asd, adhd, mental retardation and other issues, you are echoing my thoughts reading this.

The Seeker said...

I understand that you are seeking help of any type. Has your son ever been tested for allergies? I have seen videos of children becoming extremely angry during allergy tests. These tests consisted of food, pollen, mould, etc. Dr Doris Rapp MD is the doctor that tested these children. www.drrapp.com or search for Dr. Doris Rapp on YouTube to see some examples of the allergic reactions.
I wish you well in your journey.

blogmom said...

Thank you for posting your story. My 14 year old son has been a similar struggle. Watch out, once a child turns 14 and commits a crime, they can be forced into adult court and tried as an adult (we are going through this nightmare with my son now). Thankfully, he is currently remanded to residential treatment, which is where he really needs to be to get the help he needs. We are just praying that the courts agree that jail is not the right place for him in the end (the case is still pending).

There IS help for you, and jail is not the only answer. What state are you in? Do you have a caseworker? Is DYFS involved (or whatever they call it in your state)? Your son should be able to get into residential treatment without having committed a crime. Also, you can speak to an attorney to ask how juvenile charges are handled... with a sympathetic family court judge, you may be able to use that route to get him straight into residential treatment. At his age, he is getting bigger, stronger, and more dangerous... also, if he commits a crime against a stranger who WILL press charges, you will have NO control over what happens then. Please try to save him before it gets to that point. We were investigating residential schools for my son, when he committed a crime that is now being prosecuted. It was 3 days after his 14th birthday, which changes everything in our state (from a legal perspective). Now, not only are we trying to help him and advocate for him, but paying legal bills and dealing with court stuff too. Oh, and we have THREE younger kids, ages 11, 9 and 3. I was laid off from my job back in August (from spending so much time on kid-related stuff), so no more benefits so the kids are on Medicaid. Marriage is in tatters, but can't make any decisions about that, since dealing with this mess alone is just not an option right now.

I SO understand what you have dealt with, the particulars of my situation are different, but not that different. Good luck and god bless.

None None said...

I was your son. Everything you describe to a T. I feel for you and him both. You sound exactly like my mother, to a T. It is really hard to see these scenarios play out for another family.

Rather than focusing on what you're doing wrong (and yeah, you are responsible for a lot of what's transpiring), I want to share with you what helped me:

I refused pharmaceutical medication and bucked every diagnosis thrown at me.

I started listening to self help radio like Love Line which helped me recognize patterns in behavior and also gave me an emotional vocabulary to find information on the net and books.

I revised my diet, reducing wheat, increasing protein and eating more frequently.

Marijuana helped me reflect on life and formulate a new vision for myself and my familial relationships.

I spent more time in nature, away from people, alone with my thoughts and calming surroundings. I learned to garden and found that to be an outlet.

I got out of my mother's house and assumed responsibility for my life.

Certainly not all of this is transferable. Your son needs to be empowered to find his own way. You could start by asking him what it is he needs rather than telling him his needs to express himself (even angrily or violently)are the product of mental illness. Have you considered he has very valid reasons for being the way he is and does not yet have the reflective capacity or emotional vocabulary to even understand the root of his anger?

I have hope for you and your son. I think your son needs a lot of help, but it is probably only going to come from someone who has been there. School counselors, psychiatrists, most therapists...they haven't got a clue. Start with nutrition. Give him space. Let up on the tough love. When he apologizes, he needs that empathy recognized, honored and reinforced in that instant.

Most of all you need to believe that your kid isn't as fucked up as you think he is, and I don't think you believe that right now.

I wish you the best. I really do.

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy said...

Thank you for sharing this! I saw it on FB and am sharing it there. You are not alone, and somehow we all need help with this. Praying for you and your family.

Kathy M.

mgporter said...

I, but for the vagaries of the universe, could be Michael... My father's side of the family has a history of mental illness. Bipolar. Schizophrenia. The whole damn gamut. And I know that whatever genetic cause there is, I'm at least a part-carrier.... I feel it inside me, inside my mind, this electrical power. It's like a fire that will never go out, it builds and it destroys. The incredible energy, like my mind is all racing towards a solution... It helps me in my art (I act, write, and sing), and in my schooling... as long as it's under control. But fires can be stoked, and when it burns up, when the electricity flares up, threatens to fry like a strike of lightning, when the forces within strain against the defenses of my mind, that is the greatest pain on earth. To feel your mind tearing itself apart, to hear the roar of your thoughts as you fight to remain "you"... It cannot be truly put to words. For years it made a normal life near impossible: I was too "off" to be "normal", to "normal" to be "in need of help," and it made my life Hell. I fled into myself, put up walls. I lost my faith. I hated life. But somehow I kept going, and by the grace of whatever force there is, someone taught me to live. Now I can control it: meditation, music, and theatre. I cannot put to words how much they, and my angel on earth, changed my life... I truly believe they saved me. They gave me a reason to live, and a way to keep my demons of fire and thunder in check... but I still know that they are in me, and they never go away. You can give in to the howling chaos that swirls inside, or you can learn to channel it, to use it for good (something that is incredibly hard). I know that every day I am able to live a normal life is a gift, a gift that in all honesty I probably shouldn't have.

If you need anything, if you want to talk, want advice, just want to vent, I'm here. PM me on reddit if you ever need an empathetic ear. And... maybe I can help another the way I was: http://www.reddit.com/user/majorgeneralporter

anne dacus said...

In many ways I agree..... I have seen all can of labels given to kids.... From doctors... Psychologist etc . Then a single parent trying to do the best they can... Deal with all the problems.... All she knows to do is believe the "experts" who then throw meds at the problems! Meds have side effects... It's a vicious cycle! I feel for u and this m and this boy. To some extent everyone has "mental illness". Situations... Stessors .... Chaos. Your point is well taken but the mom is misguided and fearful from what she is told.

missy said...

I don't mean this to be offensive at all.... but this is absolutely written in the voice of someone with BPD. As a BPD caregiver, it is hard to swallow and horribly familiar.

Rachel said...

I didn't read all the posts, so this may have been said, but you might want to consider energy therapy/healing. There are many things beyond medication that can heal.

Jenny said...

I disagree, Macey. She isn't imagining this. This behavior came out of her child unbidden because of mental illness, not bad parenting.

A Psych Aide said...

As a person that works at one of the few remaining state run mental hospitals in PA, I agree with this so much. Even the non prison places are not equipped to deal with mental patients that have really bad conditions because laws regarding how they can be treated have swung so much that they are harmful. Lawmakers would rather one patient beat another patient, or a staff member into a coma than have a staff member grab a patient by the arm and pull them off, and that patient having a slight bruise on their arm. There needs to be state run or even nationally run mental hospitals everywhere, and certainly needs to be new laws regarding treatment, their rights, and most importantly how they get to be receiving the treatment in the first place. It makes no sense to go "My son is a danger to himself and to others and I am afraid he will kill someone" and have the response be "Well he cannot be admitted unless he does kill someone" That is more insane than any illness.

missy said...

Sadly, she has BPD and that response makes total sense.

Jennifer Bush said...

This is one of the most powerful things I've read in a long time. Thank you for speaking out and I truly hope you and Michael are able to find peace and balance in your lives.

Debra said...

I have posted the link to your story on my FB page and I can't even begin to tell you how important I think your letter is. I believe that not only our mental health system, but our special education system has failed our children and their families terribly and it is critical that we address this and work toward effective change. Your letter puts a face to Adam Lanza and to his mother...and while my heart aches beyond belief for the children and educators who died, it also aches for Adam. The rage and the pain that must have simmered within him, the fury that must have driven him to such an act cannot be discounted in this whole terrible scenario...and I cannot help but wonder what the school and special education system did for him (or more importantly, did not do) all those years before now.....

Thank you so much...so much for making your story public. I believe it will make a difference.

Molly said...

Thank you for posting this. I grew up with a mentally ill sibling. My parents had money. They had insurance. There were still no resources available for them. They went through hell, my brother was never officially diagnosed with anything except an "unspecified thought disorder" and died in an alcohol/drug related incident some years ago. I miss him badly. Our society needs to focus on mental health! Thank you again.

SiteOne Services, Inc. said...

It took great courage to wrote what you wrote about your son, even if you changed his name. Talking about our children pains us deeply no matter what type of disorder they have.
I have a son who has been diagnosed with Aspergers, ADHD and ADD. He has lashed out many times verbally and physically- however as a Mom, I would have never threatened him at any age to send him to a mental hospital. I have spent many years with behavioral therapists, psychiatrist, psychologists; time at Children's Hospitals for testing- basically put my own dreams and life on hold to make sure my son and our family is a tight entity. In our findings- he also has Auditory Process Disorder- what people say or sounds do not process completely the way other people may do. APD is easily done by your school district- they can request it done through your IEP. Speech, Language, Social Skills- all of these extra's are done through our school district to teach our son how to communicate better. I do not however leave it just up to them- I communicate with him too with A LOT of patience and understanding.
The beginning of your story should have been elevated all together. A child with Aspergers or Special Needs- needs to have things the same or help in the morning. That pair of pants should not been in his reach to wear- only the ones he should be wearing.- do you see that now? People can take apart what you did, and go crazy- but a day in the life of a child with a disability is very hard. I just have learned, for my own sanity, to elevate the things that will set him off, keep the "same" timeline of events for him (daily activities ie get up, eat breakfast, (same breakfast btw), brush teeth, get dressed, (clothes laid out), brush hair, etc -- same same same..
Trust me- you and your other kids will be so much happier. Love to you and your family.

MareEars said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kaatyy said...

I have a mentally ill 10 year old son, and I spend most of every day trying to figure out what I can possibly do to prevent his functioning from deteriorating. It is something that - as much sympathy as everyone has - you only understand when you are mired in it. Hang in there - I'll be thinking about you.

US Youth Bowling said...

@Macey and those that support his comments. I doubt your or the other comments that point the finger of blame at this courageous woman will be passed over. I believe instead there will be more like me that find them deeply disturbing. Your comments send shivers of fear down my spine knowing ticking time bombs like yourself are among us. You are high functioning, and as her son is at times borderline genius.

I see through your deception, and so will others. May God give you the courage to seek additional help for yourself. You are not cured.

Someone who's been there said...

Unfortunately Michael's siblings will very likely be affected by PTSD for the rest of their lives if made to endure such stressful living conditions. Is there another family member other than their father or perhaps a close friend they could live with until Michael's care and treatment gets sorted out? It shames and disgusts me that our so-called great nation has no heart to care for its citizens that are in need due to mental or physical illness.

jeejeepoet said...

Thank you for posting such a brave and honest entry. Having grown up with a mentally ill parent, I can tell you the system is not equipped to handle mental illness. While I don't have a mentally ill child, I intimately understand the process and how difficult it is to get a mentally ill person the help they so desperately need. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. I agree with what someone above posted about getting in touch with NAMI. They were, at times, a good resource for me.

Lorelei said...

I would encourage you to check out NAMI. It sounds like you and all of your children are in a really tough situation and I am sorry for that. I hope your family finds the help each of you needs. I am curious where you live that a residential psychiatric or behavioral health institution is called a mental hospital. I work with adults, and have worked with teens, in community mental health services. Each person I have been fortunate to work with has had serious struggles with each person's recovery journey being different. Recovery is possible. That does not mean there will not be ups and downs, because there will be. I encourage you to seek support for yourself; a very wise man told me he couldn't be good to anyone else if he wasn't good to himself, he lost one adult child to suicide and has two other adult children who live with mental illness, depression and schizoaffective disorder. NAMI affiliates often have support groups for families of people living with mental illness, as well as sibling groups and groups for adults with mental illness. Support from others who "get it" is so important. Some states have Certified Peer Specialists, people who used their own lived experience with mental illness and recovery, along with coursework and state certification, to help others with their recovery journey. I have heard some states allow Certified Peer Specialists to work with kids. I wish you and your entire family well. Blessings!

Vegetable Garden Cook said...

P.S. We're really talking about your story a lot. We've signed the petition to the president to make mental health an emergency priority. But I hope that you will share with us further. WHAT CAN WE DO TO HELP? Please share! https://www.facebook.com/groups/574455752570539/

Wolf said...

Thanks for sharing this, Anarchist Soccer Mom. The behavior you describe your son having was in an article I read not long ago, about children with "personality disorders", and how difficult it is for their parents to deal with what's happening. There are many people who will blame you (directly or indirectly), tell you how to treat your son, tell you that they have the "right" answer. You're doing the best you can--and what you're doing sounds like the best anyone could do. I certainly don't have any answers; I hope you get help for your family. Mental illness runs in my family, including in me, fortunately NOT in my daughter. We aren't easy to deal with even when it's not the dangerous version, and even with someone like me, who follows doc's orders to a T. I wish I could talk with you in person, you sound like you'd be good to get to know. "Good luck" is empty, but still ... I wish you and your kids the best.

MiseryCreek said...

You poor woman. My heart goes out to you. As a person who suffers from bipolar personality disorder and PTSD the only way I can see your pain is what I see reflected in my wife and children's eyes. I carry tremendous guilt for what I have put them through, and will continue to put them through, as well as admiration for their compassion and strength in standing by me. I am blessed in that we have the financial means to afford a top flight psychiatrist and a highly regarded therapist to continuously monitor my condition and adjust my medications as necessary but know that many, likely most, are not in the same position.

This last week has been hard. After a progressively worse slide over several weeks into depression, paranoid delusions, and visual and auditory hallucinations my psychiatrist was finally able to stabilize me (using Zyprexa, among others) a mere 24 hours before she was going to have me committed to stave off a full on psychotic break. She made the call to leave me at liberty and stay in close touch on 12/12/12. We all know what happened on 12/14. It knocked me seriously off kilter, but I am maintaining.

I have not read through all the comments, and I'm sure you have done countless hours of research, but all I can recommend is involuntary commitment (at least until he's 18), support groups (for both you and him) and unconditional love.

There are advances being made in the treatment of this disorder, which is a physical one in nature. It manifests psychologically but the cause is physical, and I hope for your sake (mine as well) that a safe and effective palliative is on the way. With the increasing incidences and severity of these attacks one would think there has to be.

Due to the injuries that caused PTSD I have to have a separate, double filtered water supply than the rest of my family. Last week I was convinced my wife was poisoning my water. This week I look back with horror on even considering such a thing.

I'm not sure what I'm trying to say other than offer some kind of support, some kind of view from the other side. My thoughts and prayers are with you and Michael, and my sincere hopes that they can find a cocktail of medications that keep him stable and functional more often than not. Yours is a terrible predicament indeed. Stay strong, know that you are supported and empathized with and, above all, take care of yourself as well.

Reading back over this I can't tell if it's reassuring or not. Please take it as it was intended and I am very much on your side. Best of luck with Michael and in all things.

Will Johnson said...

As a high school special education teacher, I've worked with students who can be incredibly violent and destructive. These same students, like your son, are also often incredibly kind and generous. The problems underlying the school shootings are far more complex than the conversation about these shootings, so thank you for bringing some of that complexity into the conversation. Thank you also for connecting our health insurance system to these issues. Our society's failure to care for both the mentally ill and the mentally healthy, for both children and adults, is certainly deeply connected to the violence that results from mental illness.

This is a remarkably honest, generous piece of writing. Thank you finally for that. I hope that you and your son are able to reach a healthy place.

Peapopper said...

Please consider the GAPS diet for your son. I understand that it doesn't work for everyone, but it works for some, and maybe it would help.

Lorie Shewbridge said...

You are such a brave mom to speak so openly about your son and the troubles you and your family must deal with every day.
Thank you for being so honest and open and sharing this with us. God bless you and your family and I pray that a solution is found for not only Michael, but for all the children in the same situation.

Kristine said...

Thank you for sharing this! This could be my son in a few years.

I will be sharing this on Facebook!

Sky S. said...

I'm very sorry for your situation, and when I say I can relate, I TRULY can relate. My son is 7, and exhibits nearly all of what you posted you have dealt with. We have taken him to therapist after therapist, and none of them seem to be able to help us. They give us counterfuls of medications and books to read, but no real solutions, especially when your in a moment of danger, and they ARE tantruming and you don't know what is going to happen next. My heart goes out to you, as well as prayers. I know that all parents like us only pray to god that our children don't grow up and commit something like any of the people you listed. I have a brother with TBI, and he is in the prison system now. He is in the prison system as a direct result of no help for mental illness, disorders AND injury.

Rbit said...

Have you considered medical cannabis?

Juliana said...

Thank you for your post. I am so touched by your story and will keep you and your family in my prayers. I pray that your son can get the help that he needs and that your family will not have to live in fear anymore. I hope the US can invest in the mental health of their people to prevent horrendous acts such as the shooting in Newtown from happening again.

Kevin Olo said...

I would suggest you take your child to Russia or India and have him lobotomized before he kills one of your children, or yourself.

Jenni Smith said...

There are definitely no words that can be said to make your situation any easier. All I can say is that I admire you for telling us your story, for making other's aware of your struggles, and that mental disorders do exist,it is real and we need to stop dismissing it and blaming it on gun control. I know first hand how mental disorders affect people, my fiance struggled with depression and shot and killed himself in front of me 11 years ago, it was almost like it was a family secret that he suffered from depression. A person who does not have mental illness can handle situations alot more easily than those that have a mental disease. Thank you again for sharing your story, people need to be more aware that the solution is making society more aware that mental illnesses does exist and needs to be treated. I don't understand why there is clinics for drug addicts but not for those that are mentally ill.

S. Johnson said...

Thank you for sharing your story. I can't imagine how your heart is torn over and over again daily as a mother. This sweet boy struggling within himself. I know my story would be different if there was more awareness, funding and education for mental illness. I would be spending my Christmas with my loved ones. I have no idea why we focus so much on guns and totally ignore the real problems. I will keep you in my prayers.

Awberman@gmail.com said...

Glad this is going viral. Super important message and disturbing that we don't hear it more often.

Victoria Champion said...

I offer simple advice, that may help. It is based on intimate life experience with someone with similar behaviors and genius IQ. Get your child headphones (not earbuds) and an ipod. Fill the ipod with classical, ambient, electronic, and new age music. Uplifting and soothing sounds - not pop music. Let him wear it 24/7, whenever he wants. Never deprive him of it. This music will comfort him and calm him down. It will be something he can finally relate to, help him experience joy, and feel connected to the natural world. It will give him privacy even in a crowded room. Get your child a keyboard and music software. Get him other instruments as well. Teach him how to make it all work together so that he can compose and record his own music. This will give him a voice. You see, I believe your son feels that he can not communicate, so he lashes out. He feels overstimulated and exposed, raw and vulnerable. He reacts out of fear and discomfort. He is in pain. This observation is based entirely on your post, and comparing your descriptions of him to what I know of people who exhibit his behaviors. Do not try to make him 'normal'. He isn't. Really, no one is. Everyone interacts with the stimulus of the world in subtly different ways. His behaviors are more extreme than the status quo, but that does not mean he is fundamentally broken. He may simply need to be taught a different way to communicate, not just socially, but also with his environment. His suicide threats are unfortunate in that yes, they need to be taken seriously, but if he has something that gives his life meaning and purpose (such as the recording of his music), he will begin to see other opportunities for self expression and find value in himself. I speak from experience. Also, what I am telling you is practiced by many caregivers of special needs children. Their rage can be calmed. Learn to speak his language. Begin by experimenting with the language of music. (Music affects brain wave patterns among many other sympathetic body systems.) Also, I recommend you buy some books on hypersensitive people and how to help them cope with an overstimulating world. I offer this advice humbly and with hope. Good luck.

IhaveastakeinAmerica said...

I've heard there are a couple of schools for gifted/unwell children like your son.

MENSA should know more.

http://www.us.mensa.org/contacts

If they don't I go by rarey4 on twitter.

LisaG said...

Honest. Raw. Powerful. Thank you for sharing your story. Mental illness is a serious issue. I have seen the system fail my sister over and over. Something needs to be done to help in every country, a real global effort. Sending love from one mother to another, may peace find your family. XOXOX

Maggie said...

Your courage and humility are breath taking. Why why why do people refuse to acknowledge the depth of the tragedy?
Just seems there is too much big money to be made on building and filling the prisons. Very very sad for all.

Courtney LaCroix said...

Have you had him checked for Manic Depression? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y8SVQDKIt3s you may find that link interesting.

Kimberley said...

My heart breaks for you, for me and so many others. I have two mentally ill children. My oldest was bipolar and constantly on and off her medication. She threatened to kill herself regularly, and could be agressive toward others as well. She took her life going on five years ago. My oldest son is a paranoid schizophrenic, the kind of schizphrenic most likely to hurt themselves or others. He is stable and has been now for many years. But during his teens and early adult years it was a nightmare. Between the two I spent many nights awake out of fear that not only one of them could hurt me, but I would be afraid that they might hurt one of the other children and I would not know it. Getting help for them as children and as adults was next to impossible. The little help I did get was ineffective and often misguided. I will keep you in my heart and prayers and I am comitted to offering my time, talent and treasure to improving our mental health care and to making guns less accessible.

Amina1389 said...

As the mother of a 26 yr old son who suffered through depression and Oppositional Defiance Disorder for 12 years, I understand it. As the mother of a 14 yr old son, in puberty, with Autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and exhibiting signs of Bipolar Disorder; I get it. As the more of a 9 yr old son with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, an Intellectual Disability and a Learning Disability; I live it. Thank you for sharing what so many of us have and will always experience for as long as we live and/or our children are under our direct care. If you don't know this life of Mental & Behavioral Health issues, how can you truly understand? If only every legislator, every pharmaceutical executive, if only every doctor and every therapist, if only every police officer was the parent or caregiver of someone with these kinds of special needs; perhaps then will drastic systems' change finally happen. But of course, we know better than to wish our lives on anyone; not even our worst enemy. We grin and bare it until the situations become unbearable.
Sisters, Brothers, Parents, Loved Ones, Caregivers... let's continue to provide support for one another to THE BEST of our abilities. The reality is; without reciprocal peer support for one another, there's no guarantee we may ever get through these difficult times unscathed. Our children need help and we need support and for laws to change NOW. Time is of the essence and our futures depend on this.

Hlurp Seed said...

I know precisely what you need. You need an exorcist. No, I'm not a kook. No, I'm not joking. I'm as serious as a heart attack chased by a stroke and throwing a clot. I know a priest who is both a shrink and an exorcist. He regularly eliminates psychiatric problems with exorcism. I am not joking, and dead serious. Let me repeat one last time, I am not joking, I'm not a kook, I know praeternatural problems when I read them, and you need to have someone who understands both psychological problems and demonic oppression, and how to combat it and eliminate it. If you decide to not ignore this as the rant of some religious nutjob, email me back. hlurpseed at gmail dot com.

Cosi Mistral said...

As a mom of a brilliantly talented daughter (2) actually, one who is off the charts and as socially inept as they come, my heart goes out to you. You LOVE them no matter what but it's so tortuous sometimes.

Sybelle said...

Unfortunately I recognize most of what you write about. I am thankful for your courage to share with the world. People who don't live this have no clue. I am so grateful that my child is better now and his issues were of a more transitory nature. Nevertheless, a mom never, ever forgets the pain, fear and feeling of helplessness. I wish you and ALL your children strength, love and light.

Eric Hart said...

This is the single most important post I've read on the topic of the recent tragedy. My heart cries for you and you are in my prayers. Nothing challenges my belief in God more than the shadows that often lie behind a beautiful mind.

jnight said...

If you are looking for a program that can effectively deal with and help you and Michael, I highly recommend Wediko Children's Services (http://www.wediko.org). After working there for a summer, I have been a part of and witnessed the remarkable changes that the Wediko milieu therapy is capable of for children such as Michael. Hopefully you will consider this option or a program similar to it for both your well being, and more importantly, Michael's future.

Nyxy said...

Macey, I can see what you are saying. I may not fully agree with what and how you said it but at the same time I can also empathize with Anarchist Soccer Mom. I am 25 years old and for 13 years I have been living with symptoms still yet to be actually diagnosed. At 25 I have no explanation for why I am either very depressed or extremely energetic, why I can be the sweetest person imaginable and rip your head off a second later. Also at 25, I find it very difficult to explain to anyone how I feel at any given moment or give any valid reason why the thoughts I have run through my head almost constantly are there. I can function most days normally, but others I drown. Macey I realize that sometimes children need to talk but honestly at 13, I doubt he can even put into words what he is feeling or thinking. Society has put such a stigma on any type of mental disorder/illness and if you don't think that children pick up on that, think again. He may not even want to begin trying to explain because of this. And lets face it, she has other children to think of too and personally if one of mine were waving around a knife threatening to kill someone, anyone, I would want my other kids out of that situation immediately and would do anything in my power to protect them. No parent deserves to be terrified of their child. And more likely than not, she has only outlined a few of the things that have happened. She may have years of experiences like this and I bet she does.

Anarchist Soccer mom, my heart goes out especially to you. I can only imagine what my mother and father went through when I was trying, for all intents and purposes, to kill my sister when I would "snap" as a child. Thankfully I look back on those days now and thank god that I did not do any permanent damage but I can only imagine if I had. I applaud you for loving your child enough to try to get him the help he obviously needs and for doing everything in your power to protect your children, all of them. You and your family will most definately be in my thoughts and prayers and I sincerely hope that something can be done to help your son cope with what ever he may be thinking and feeling so that he can become the healthiest possible person he can be.

Nyxy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
A Psych Aide said...

@Macey and the others, I surely hope that families that read this to not start to treat their family members with mental illnesses how you think you should of been treated. It sounds like your family did not treat you well and you are projecting that onto this woman. You are accusing her of not knowing what it is like for the child, but you have no idea what it is like for the FAMILY. This woman and the other parents of mental illness children cannot treat them like they are normal, because they are not. It doesn't matter if its socially acceptable or any of that bullshit you want to spew in anger, they have to protect their family. Their ENTIRE family, if making her child feel like he is a normal kid with no problems makes it so her other kids have no idea what to do when he grabs a knife and chases them, that is horrible. How you are wanting mental illness kids to be treated is the exact thing that is wrong with how it is done today, and the main reason why "patient advocates" are the most harmful thing to the mentally ill. Mentally ill patients that are "cured" or well enough to be in society should certainly have a say, but when it is taken too far it hurts everyone, as if a group of kids say "we think it is unfair that we are punished when we hit people," Yes I am sure they feel its unfair, that does not make it so. What you feel yourself is just that, what YOU feel, not what is right for mentally ill in general, or for this woman's family.

Mark said...

I could have been your son. Please read the book "A promise of hope" by Autumn Stringam. Please look into how her father brought sanity to her life.

Shauna Smith said...

I applaud you sharing your story.. I fully understand it, I have children that are mentally ill. I am saddened by the negative comments posted by some.

These person have no clue. What you are sharing here is simple facts and really a short part of your life story with this child. No one wants a cookie cutter child, but a violent out of control child that you cannot reach no matter what you have tried is frightening. Its a child like that that is capable of what this 20 yr old man did.

Mental illness is ignored, denied and hidden. It needs to be brought out and people educated about it and there needs to be an available system to help these families. You aren't given directions for any child, you have to do your best and hope for the best but a child with serious mental illness needs help and so does the family. They dont get the help they need, period.

No one has the right to judge any person, but a parent with a mentally ill child, How dare any of you judge that person who is simply trying to get help for their child and others like him. No judgement from me, I am not perfect and neither are these people. There is nothing selfish about sharing this story or reaching out to the only help that is available. There are more people out there in the same situation as you and so many of them feel alone.

More power to you Soccer Mom! Share your story and look beyond those that think they have the right to pass judgement.

Love and light to you, may your son and your family find peace.

Martha Atkins said...

A brave and important post. Many thanks. Sending all of your family love on this journey.

John Doe said...

next time your son gets in a rage, roll him a joint, have him smoke it, see if he stays mad. Im not trying to shit around here, this would just be my advice. I never had any rage issues like this, but I cant tell you marijuana has made me a calmer person, and I figure if all the pharmaceutical medicine hasnt done jack its worth trying if only for the sake of your son's health.

Dana108 said...

Macey's comment impressed me and striked a chord, just like the other few who challenge the status quo on here by tooting into the same horn.

Ever thought that there might be serious issues deeply buried in your "healthy" family members that are acted out by your most intelligent, most sensitive member of the family? (Scape goat effect) Some skeleton in the closet that was never addressed, maybe over generations? That would be one thing to think about.

I grew up with a mother whose mother regularly committed her to mental health hospitals. As a little child, my grandmother told me constantly my mother is "insane". Everything my mom did was dismissed by her own family.
If she wasn't insane before, I am sure she became that way and the self-fulfilling prophecy became reality... latest when she was given electro-convulsive therapy back in the days.

My mother is a remarkable, loving, strong person. She is not how society would like her to be, and she never will.

I love her dearly and she taught me many things I would not have learned otherwise. One big thing I learned through her is accepting people's differences and ways of life... as quirky as they may seem. As a matter of fact, I see this as something rather beautiful.

It is about time society integrates people who are different instead of trying to break them. What happens if you try to break a person? Well, they become either depressive or aggressive.

I hope this makes sense and will contribute to clearing and healing... for everyone involved.

extraears said...

This a beautifully written account of your intolerable situation and very, very touching. I sincerely hope that you have sent copies of this to at least, your US Senators and Representative AND President Obama. You and other parents going thought the same thing much flood our elected officials with these stories. Lives depend on changing the system for the mentally ill and their families.

thecalmc said...

As a teenager who struggles to grasp the magnitude of things like mental illness when neither I or my siblings suffer from it, I thank you. Truly. From the bottom of my heart. These are the kinds of things that should be getting millions of views, not facts and figures about the life of a killer.

This is also on reddit now, I really hope more and more people start reading it. You're an inspiration!

A Psych Aide said...

In reference to people who are making comments along the lines of "society should learn to accept these people" I think you don't realize how dangerous that type of thinking is. Just because someone you know or someone in your family has turned out well with a mental illness does not mean there aren't thousands that turn out badly for one way or another, and more needs to be done for research and treatment, families should not be terrified of a family member because they have no idea when they are going to go off and hurt them. And it is NOT fair to say to that family they are doing something wrong BY being afraid which a few of you seem to do. "How dare you be afraid of your family member they are going through stuff and you should accept them" The problem with that line of thinking is that the families DO accept that family member and love them, but they MUST be aware of the possible danger, otherwise tragedy can strike.

Ashtyn said...

This story sounds eerily familiar to me. My, now 18, year old son was going through this exact thing up until a few months ago. He has Aspergers, Bi Polar and OCD. By the time we got him to the hospital he had calmed down and was nice to the staff who blamed us for his behavior and told us to 'just give him what he wanted and he wouldn't try to choke me, hit me, etc."

We ended up moving from our apartment complex where kids were being mean but also encouraging his bad behavior. He has been better since we moved to a new house, but you never know what is going to set him off or when. Nobody would help us or help him and his mom makes too much to qualify for healthcare. None of the plans would pay for any of his mental health needs so we pay everything out of pocket. No hospital wants to take your child to help them if you have no insurance.

It is a vicious cycle. Stay strong. You are not alone.

Mel, Pete and Clara said...

I read your post via a friends facebook page and am compelled to comment and offer a bit of hope to you and others who struggle with children who exhibit psychotic type behavior.

Several years ago I became acquainted with a wonderful family when we adopted together in another country. They traveled with their birth son who was 4 at the time. Their child was a handful, but seemed mostly just precocious and really active. Over the years we've become very close friends and I've seen the changes in their son, witnessed and heard stories very similar to yours. About 2 years ago, doctors were advising they lock their bedroom door at night for protection. This past spring they admitted their son to a hospital because he was basically starving himself, he remained there while doctors tried to determine if he should be in psych or an eating disorder program, a diagnosis was basically impossible but the same words you used about your son had been tossed around for years. Shortly after the hospital stay, my friends made the difficult and heart wrenching choice to send their son away to an out of state, residential program.. It has been the best decision they could have ever made. This child just turned 12 and is one of the younger residents at his facility. He gets to come home every few months, contingent on behavior and my friends can visit him to participate in various activities to build their bond. There has been an incredible amount of work done on the part of this child and our friends and I have been amazed at the changes I've seen in this kid, it's beyond comprehension. The program is terrifically expensive and my friends are very lucky that they can afford the tuition, but they do get assistance through their state and their insurance company. Like my friends have often said, they are making an investment in their sons life and the lives of those around him.

I have been fascinated to hear about the philosophies and approaches this facility uses to assist these kids and help them take responsibility, become a functioning part of a family as well as the coaching and support they give to parents and siblings. It's really nothing short of a miracle. I'd encourage you to check out their website and maybe even contact them to learn more. I wish you the best of luck in caring for your son, yourself and your other children.

http://www.cherokeecreek.net/index.html

Elle Fish said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Elle Fish said...

You are a brave, strong woman. And your son Michael seems like a young boy with a big heart who's dealing with a heavy and very difficult struggle. What came to mind while reading your post was whether you've tried any alternative methods for healing. If you're open to taking a suggestion from a total stranger, let me recommend you look into Brian Weiss, M.D. and his book "Many Lives, Many Masters," and then see if Michael would be willing to try out past life regression therapy (I know - it sounds WHACK! - but it's also been known to heal people who suffered from seemingly impossible conditions like his). May you be enveloped in strength, courage, peace, and love.

Motherhood's Zen said...

God Bless you and God Bless your son. I agree fully. We need to address the MENTAL HEALTH of this entire generation. Gun control is not the answer - a solution to the SPECTRUM is the ONLY way we will survive as a nation!! God Bless you and HEAL you and your Family and Son.

Mr. Chase said...

Violence is the one of the many outcomes of this nation's erm world's look on mental health. A conversation should be raised about mental health as a whole, not divided up. A person who suffers from depression will not always seek treatment/therapy just due the the negative look on asking for help for a mental issue. These disorders/illnesses are defined and divided up already but this not about looking at a specific one more so the bigger picture.

I encourage you to take a look at this fact sheet http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=About_Mental_Illness&Template=/ContentManagement/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=53155

notice the part where it states 1 in 4 adults experience mental illness in a given year. also take not of the bullet that states < 1/3 of adults and < 1/2 of children with a diagnosable disorder receive mental health services in a given year.

This issue is larger than just the people who suffer from disorders which cause them to be externally violent.

mommy3 said...
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mommy3 said...
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mommy3 said...
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Rachel said...

Thank you for your brave perspective and your honesty about the highs and lows of living with a loved one with a mental illness. I am a setting III elementary EBD teacher and I have 7 children like your son in my classroom every day. Sadly, I only have sets of parents who are as committed as you are to helping their child find a path in this world before the legal system has to become involved. I wish I had something brilliant to say to you, but all I can say is that your words have brought a much needed perspective to this increasingly politicized conversation and I pray that in the end it is voices like yours that rise above the din so we can finally find a way to support those who struggle with mental illness, and their families.

mommy3 said...

I cry as I read this because I know your pain only too well. My 9 year old son is a mirror image of your child. Help is/was elusive, the right meds are hard to come by, school staff think is is "cured" because he's getting along better there - yet my two older sons refuse to have their friends in our home because of the chaos that occurs when they have company. You can only imagine how embarassing it must be to have your brother throw 20 picture frames on the floor and threaten to kill you at your 11th birthday party........ The future for our children and the peoplpe they encounter scare me. We MUST find a way to get better treatment in this country.

FaerieInCombatBoots said...

Your story has touched me. Your son's rages and meltdowns sound exactly like the ones I myself experienced throughout my adolescence and young adulthood. I have been diagnosed and misdiagnosed numerous times. I too, have been hospitalized for my safety and that of others. I have an Autism Spectrum Disorder and ADHD.
I feel terrible guilt at the torment I put my family through, and it seems, so does your son.
I fervently hope that he finds peace, and healing.

holiday5804 said...
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Seifer Ganon said...

I rarely ever comment on these, and I do not know if you will read this comment, but in all seriousness, you should try to get into contact with psychologist Dr. Robert Hare. Google him, he is a world-renoun expert. He will be able to point in the right direction.

Dr. Judi said...

Look into Dr. Daniel Amen's work. He has found that many of these violent kids actually have physical brain problems, such as cysts or other problems. He suggests a SPECT scan that shows if any of the brain isn't functioning correctly, and has ways to treat it.

We have also found that neurofeedback can help change many of the brain problems.

Best wishes to you as you seek for answers.

Cathy said...

Thank you for bringing this to everyone's attention. I pray that you are able to find help and a way for your son to fit better into our society. You are very brave to share your story!!! It's people like you that help to make a change!

When I heard about the shooting I just couldn't come up with any kind of reasoning. The truth is that to most of us, we just can't wrap our brains around how someone could do it. We once again try to fit the shooter into some sort of mold based on how our minds work and obviously it's completely different than how the shooter's mind worked.

Please don't let any negative comments dissuade you from repeating your story as many times as possible. Help is out there, it's just a matter of finding it.

Amina1389 said...

http://mom2mom.us.com/

Joanne Irwin said...

Please look for physical illness that affects the mind when searching for reasons for this kind of behavior. Anything that can cause hormonal imbalances should be looked into. Anything. Because often, mental illness is actually a symptom of a physical disease process.

Cheryl Adams said...

Thank you for your courage to write this illustration of so many of our lives. I live with a child who threatens me for hours and then asks if he has been a "good boy today" repeatedly until he gets some kind of positive response. He is now 20 and is quite capable of ending my life. I do not think he knows he his stronger than me yet. I hope he doesn't figure it out. I can't get him help. We dose him with whatever the psychologist offers as an option. Very little helps. Good luck with your son.

Orianna said...

I feel your pain and wish there were kind and useful words I could give you to make things easier. Hang tight and strong, even though every day is a challenge. It's wonderful to see your post popping up all over facebook, as it's exactly the perspective we need to be considering. It's not just a gun problem.

doctressjulia said...

WHERE did your son learn such misogynist language? I would LOSE IT if any child of mine called me that. That is the most chilling thing about this... his HATRED for women.

jenniw said...

I have friends who have been through similar and might be able to help. I'm in Australia, you can contact me on this email address if you think I can help.
jenniw333 at yahoo.com.au
Love, Jenni

doctressjulia said...

I like the idea of the IPod with ambient music on it. It helps me, and I am ADHD/genius-level/PTSD as they come.

Marconi Union- Weightless.

Now that's the most relaxing song ever. Also...

http://youarelistening.to/deepthought

Just turn off the police scanner/dialogue track.

Nancy Simpson said...

please look into the phosphate and behavior correlation. I cannot tell you how eliminating them has changed my daughter's behavior. I was not your health food at all costs mom, but out of sheer desperation, I tried this. It is truly like a Dr. Jeckel and Mr. Hyde.

http://www.phosadd.com/mainpage/main33.htm

Dianna said...

While I think that this post was brave, I wonder if you should take it down and never post details about your son's life again. This is a personal thing, and if he ever learns that thousands of people have heard about his behavior and seen his picture, it will be very damaging to him. Please take this down. A friend of mine had a brother who dealt with things like depression and substance abuse, and he and his mom decided to write some music and even a play about him. Again and again we'd hear about how horrible it was for his mom to have a wayward son and about the dangers of drugs, etc. Though the brother got clean a few times, it seemed he could never get away from his legacy as the wayward drug addict son. I'm not blaming the parents and the brother, but I think they were not helping him to overcome his past and see his potential. A few years ago, he hung himself.

Your job is not to defend moms of mentally ill children who harm others. Those who judge are idiots. Your job is to help your son through these tough challenges he has and see his potential. If he knows you and your children live in fear of him, he will loathe himself and behave as a tyrant. Consider finding another way. Get some support, because it sucks that you're doing this alone. But don't give up on him. Pray for strength to find some answers. It sounds like one or two of the people who've posted here might have insights that could make some positive changes. And expect setbacks. In every process that involves change and healing, there are always setbacks.

There are adults walking around, living content, productive lives who have been where your son is. There are answers. And, for what it's worth, I do agree that gun control measures are not the answer to this. We need to stop being a society of labels and no accountability. We need more awareness of mental health challenges and recognizing them not as some form of leprosy, but just another challenge that some have. Some people are color blind, some people's brains work differently and they get pretty frustrated living in a neuro-typical world that doesn't understand the way they think. Everyone needs to be taught accountability and understand their own worth and value.

You need support, and your children - all of them - need you and the help and guidance you can get together. God bless you, and change some names and take down this picture soon. Don't let this follow him around throughout his life.

BTW, I am 38 with 4 kids, have PTSD and a mild attachment disorder, and I have an 8 year old with Asperger's Syndrome. I was aggressive and eventually self-mutilative in my youth (because I felt terrible after I threw some scissors at my sister and it cut her leg) and, though I've come through the hardest times so far, am still pretty hard on myself and others. But I'm still trying, and little by little, with the right counseling, I'm healing and learning to love better. Every troubled child has the potential to be a hopeful, productive adult. They just need some mercy and the right kind of help.

Get support, and don't give up on him. And please try to not to call the cops on him or get him committed just because he loses it when he doesn't get his way. :(


Skookum John said...

"In the 1970s, Ronald Reagan pioneered the closing of mental hospitals in California."

This is a filthy lie.

Deinstitutionalization was a liberal initiative that began before Reagan ever took office. Reagan, like Kennedy, made the mistake of listening to the bearded-weirdo left-wing psychologists who gave us the Community Mental Heath Act of 1963.

justforthoughts said...

in addition to increasing mental health services...... public schools should include psychology curriculum in the school day. i was fortunate to be able to take psychology in 10th grade, but it would have also been nice to have the class offered earlier, in middle school, or even earlier starting in elementary grades. psychology, sociology, philosophy, all these material would be very useful and could help everyone learn about mental health and social aspects earlier on.

Miss Tustall said...

I hate how people blame parents for virtually anything that goes wrong in their child's life. I am sure you are doing your best given the hand that you were dealt and it is plain to me that you love your son and aren't simply feeling sorry for yourself because you don't have the perfect child. We all could use some practice in showing grace and withhold judgement when we aren't in someone's shoes and can't possibly understand what it feels like to be afraid of someone you love. My heart goes out to you and I pray you find some answers to help your son. It is just as important to take care of yourself so you can take care of your son. I hope you have a therapist, pastor, or someone you can talk to.

Coco said...

Exactly.

Kylie Dunn said...

I don't want to detract from this amazingly brave post, and the very tragic story that is shared here. This is certainly a major issue that needs to be addressed and it should have a significant amount of attention given the recent massacre.

However, I think that controlling access to semi-automatic and fully automatic guns is also a part of the answer. With the facts that are emerging at the moment about the damage that was done to these poor little children and their brave teachers, surely it is clear that if this young man had not had such easy access to such violent and efficient weapons then maybe the outcome would not have been as tragic for so many families.

It is not the answer on its own, but controlling military-grade weapons in a civilian population is certainly a part of this equation. It means that if people are successful in getting mental health on the political agenda, then during the long road ahead to improving the state of mental health support services, the ability for people who are already outside the system to massacre large numbers of people will be limited.

Ryan Fischer said...

Take him off the drugs they are only making him worse.

missy said...

Caregivers and loved ones of people with BPD live in a constant loop of guilt, manipulation, and shame. "How could you let them talk to you like that?" Or ... "well, if *I* were you, I woulda done (insert extreme measure that would NEVER work and only result in more pain). " it is neverending and wears down on your soul. Macey's words are an exact reflection of that manipulation. I was a spouse and could get away- just barely. I went through the threats, the guns, the suicide attempts, and made it out on the other side scarred and battered. A part of me always feels horrible for the blood relatives who do not have that option. Divorcing a child is not an option. So, in the meantime, you just have to deal with those guilt ridden, mean tirades. My heart aches.

Heyruthie said...

Me: single Mom of 4. Two special needs. Run the spectrum of ODD, AD/HD, RAD, and who knows? My marriage couldn't survive, but I did. The custody junk stinks. The mental health stuff is worse. The fear of the future is the cherry on top. Thanks for this post. Hang in there, and I will too. *hugs*

Liz said...

I am glad that Macey came out and said what I was thinking. And so nice to throw her own diagnosis back in her face. This is a blog and you can't really know all about a situation from what someone presents from what they are writing. But absolutely I think a lot of "mentally ill" children become that way because of issues in their lives and then they are continued to be treated as "bad people". No one ever talks to them and ASKS them what is going on with them. I know as a child I behaved very irrationally because I felt invisible and unloved except when my mother was telling me off or comparing me to better behaved children or when I was being bullied at school. She even told me that I must be lying about the neighbor girl picking on me because that girl would NEVER do such a thing so either I must have "made" her somehow or be lying. I have taken responsibility as an adult for the fact that as an adult I returned my mothers treatment of me to her tenfold. I regret it. But a child is not an adult and when a child is acting out, a parents first thoughts should not be "wow, he/she has a disorder" but "what might this kid be trying to tell me about how I relate to him by his/her behavior?: Yes, I believe there is real mental illness but I also think that it has become a lot easier to label "problem kids" as "mentally ill" when in fact they are just crying out for someone to see them, really see them and listen instead of throwing a pill at them, locking them up or escalating to increasingly more severe punishments.

Amy Ringlstetter said...
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Serenity Collins said...

To those who keep trying to tell her that she is a "terrible mother" for "being so selfish" and "being so negative towards her outlook for her son", do you have any idea what she is going through?? Imagine having a son, who comes at you with a knife, just imagine how terrifying it would be to think your son can and has threatened to KILL you. Yes, I'd be scared, there is no way you wouldn't be. The only way to stop being outwardly terrified of such an instance is if you have had a lot of practice and therapy. Perhaps she should think her child will become the next successful genius with a mental illness, but ignoring precautions is ridiculous. Ignoring precautions could be exactly what mothers of the ones who end up mass murderers did. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being cautious while trying to figure out a solution. She doesn't want her son to go to a prison, she wants to get him help so that he CAN be successful. She is not saying he WILL be a killer, she said he has the capacity to be one. I for one, am thankful that she is trying to do whats right for the world and find him help before something tragic happens. thank you, thank you for trying to prevent someone's loved one(s) from being a victim. thank you for trying your best to do whats right for everyone, including your son. I can tell you love and care about him. And most of all, I am thankful that you are smart enough to recognize that he could be a danger, and that you are doing your best to prevent him from going down that path. Thank you.

Keyser Soze said...

Testing

Sayrah said...

I appreciate everything you wrote. Its so important to tell the world the story of your son. But I also want to say that Adam Lanza may not have been mentally ill. I have family members who are mentally ill and they are not violent. And they can't tell people about their struggles because people then instantly think they are dangerous or violent. Violent behavior does not automatically mean mental illness. This is not to take away from anything that you have written or experienced, but to caution us to assume that violence means mental problems. Soldiers are trained to kill. Pres Obama has even publicly said that he decides who dies from drones sent to Pakistan, including children yet no one says they are mentally ill--yet the outcome--dead children-is the same.

Texrat said...

You pretty much described my 25 year old bipolar stepson, who has been out of our home for several years now but who last year assaulted his 4 year old daughter and then me. Afterward he really went off the deep end, sending death threats to his mother and claiming he would send plagues down upon us.

At age 5, he tried to kill his infant half-brother.

He needs help... but all the system did was put him on probation. Until next time.

Keyser Soze said...

I was like your son when I was his age. Feel free to email me if you want tips and insight. soze318@gmail.com

Mary E Tyler said...

As I read your post, two things rang bells with something else I read today: mental health/ behavioral issues and sensory processing, and the fact that you cannot get a diagnosis. The article I read was about the neurological/behavioral effects of non-celiac gluten intolerance and a woman's toddler age daughter. This intolerance cannot be diagnosed by any test, but it results in horrible tantrums, sensory issues, and other neurological issues and can be very mysterious. The lady tried a gluten free trial: one month off, one on, one off and kept a diary of her child's behavior and sensory issues. It might be nothing, but it might be a miracle... seems worth a try.

I, too, had an impossible, undiagnoseable child... turned out to be post concussion from toddler-hood head banging. But am considering trying the gluten free trial. I mean, what could it hurt?

Travis Mays said...

You are a terrible parent. None of the things you child has done here has justified your callous disregard for his being. So he wants to wear the type of pants that he's not allowed to. So he acts out and says things in an attempt to get what he wants. You don't have the right to define your lack of control over him as a mental illness. Shame on you. Shame on you for giving your child mind-altering medication before his brain has fully developed. Your child is not mentally ill, your child is uncomfortable doing the things you are making him do, and instead of correcting yourself, you are doubling down on your oppression of his own personal identity. With regard to anyone here siding with the parent, I hope you seek help for your lack of parenting skills.

bassopotamus said...

As a foster parent, I've had some dealings with the local county mental health system, and agree with the general sentiment that there are not the resources out there to really help people. We had 2 teenagers with some pretty serious anger issues (not anything like what many of you are describing), but physical violence, school suspensions, trashed rooms, and such that go beyond pouting. Based on their experiences, it is no wonder they were angry. We were just looking to get them some counselling, somebody to help them work through their feelings, and the results of the consultation were basically "Yup, teenagers get angry sometimes" (with the subtext of black teenagers get angry sometimes). I'm really not sure what happened to either (the older aged out of foster care, the younger ended up back with his bio family) but without some sort of intervention (which was unobtainable), something bad will probably happen. Both nice guys, but one of these days, they will blow up at the wrong person and end up in jail or shot. Makes me really sad that there was not more help available.

Keyser Soze said...

If he's like me, drugs won't help, nor temporary hospital stays.

Tina said...

Wow - Macey's comment really made me think.

Justin Stoleson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bassopotamus said...

I'm appalled by the handful of people beating up on the parent in this case. Threatening murder/suicide over overdue library books isn't something you can just reason your way around.

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