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


3,860 comments:

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kari said...

Rule out the physical things that mimic mental illness (tumors, hormone disorders, etc), then the MMPI is an important diagnostic tool, however many times they can't (and shouldn't) offer an etched-in-stone diagnosis at that age.

If you haven't yet been introduced to DBT (dialectical behavioral therapy), seek that out immediately. Find a practice that offers DBT parents and kids take together.

As a teen/20-something I blamed everyone else for my BPD, and as a mother I've grappled with blaming myself for my daughter's illness. One thing I learned in DBT is that we need to accept that we are all doing the best we can with the tools we have.

Cassandra {Sleeping or Sewing} said...

It hasn't always been like this, sad and glad to say. Crazy behavior was treated as such, being crazy. My great-grandfather, in the 1940s, was committed as being a lunatic without causing a crime. Who knows if he really was. He was committed for flipping out and chasing my great-grandma and his kids around the house with a knife. Now I've wondered if it was just side effects of a stroke, since strokes run in the family. Either way, his actions...threat to hurt committed him for the rest of his life (1998). In the end he was in an elderly care facility, he seemed like a very polite quite man, but I have no knowledge of why type of faculties he was in early on.

I guess my point here is way back then actions were looked at with caution, and who knows maybe this caution saved my great-grandma and grandmas life. Unusual behavior should be looked into with the similar caution.

Unknown said...

My daughter, who is now 18, has not been quite as violent as your son sounds, however, since she was small, she would vacilate between a sweet, loving child, and an angry, beligerent tyrant. She would hit, kick, scream, yell, curse, and at 17 pulled a knife and threatened to kill herself. We had to call the police on her 3 times during the year she was 17. Finally, she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and anxienty disorder. She was medicated for the bipolar disorder but had an extreme reaction to the medication that required an ambulance ride and ER visit. She sees a new psychiatrist in just a couple weeks.
When you deal with this, those on the outside have no clue what your day-to-day living is like. They will criticize, they will tell you what a horrible parent you must be to have a child like that, if only you disciplined him, etc. It took me years to come to grips with the fact that her behavior wasn't tied to my parenting. Like you, I have another child who is successful and 'normal'.
My daughter, since being diagnosed, has made some very positive changes in her life that seem to have her on a solid path. She has begun to recognize when she is in a manic stage and while she hasn't yet learned to control it (the doctors say she never will fully) she sees that she needs to step away and get herself back under control. For the first time, we see daylight and are optomistic. I hope that you find that for your son.
Thank you for writing this. I know how hard it was for you to do this so publicly. You and your family will be in my prayers.

AnnieJoy said...

This is my family too. Thank you. We are not alone and you are not alone. This was my brother. This is my brother and I feel a special connection to you. I am trying to find the courage to share this with my mother--same situations in the past, and the same living in fear even in the current. There are some things you can't run from whether it's a family or a country.

AnnieJoy said...

This is my family too. Thank you. We are not alone and you are not alone. This was my brother. This is my brother and I feel a special connection to you. I am trying to find the courage to share this with my mother--same situations in the past, and the same living in fear even in the current. There are some things you can't run from whether it's a family or a country.

Pete_CT said...

Thank You for sharing your life with the country/world. This was needed... and your words are having impact.

Lybertygirl said...

I have been a probation/parole officer for 28+ years and worked with both adults and juveniles. You are so right about the mentally ill being dumped into the corrections system. It is one of the most frustrating part of my job. I can't tell you how many offenders I talk to each day who have impulse control problems. Because of this issue, they simply cannot follow rules so fail miserably at probation, get revoked, go to prison, make parole, get revoked....etc. While inside, they are either victims or predators and this just makes their condition worse. The state I work for is making a concentrated effort to address mental issues, however, this is expensive and no one wants to pay the extra taxes needed....no wonder burn out is so high in corrections....5 years to retirement.

AnnieJoy said...

This is my family too. Thank you. We are not alone and you are not alone. This was my brother. This is my brother and I feel a special connection to you. I am trying to find the courage to share this with my mother--same situations in the past, and the same living in fear even in the current. There are some things you can't run from whether it's a family or a country.

AnnieJoy said...

This is my family too. Thank you. We are not alone and you are not alone. This was my brother. This is my brother and I feel a special connection to you. I am trying to find the courage to share this with my mother--same situations in the past, and the same living in fear even in the current. There are some things you can't run from whether it's a family or a country.

Michelle said...

Thank you for your bravery in sharing this. I am one hundred percent behind you in every way. Your son needs help, not condemnation. I wish for you only happiness and peace. With love.

With your permission, I'd like to reblog this on my blog - http://theycallmemummy.com
It's a message that needs to be spread and you are one courageous woman for putting your situation out there.

Unknown said...

I could hardly get through this article w/o crying hysterically. I too am a Mother of a beautiful sweet intelligent son with Schziphrenia. It is time to start this conversation in the open. Thankfully I fought for my son tooth and nail with the medical community. Putting a 13 in jail is outrageous. It is time for them to do their job and find proper housing and oversight for these poor souls. And if they suggest in any way shape or form it is either jail or your home, you tell them you are going to media. that works. Call the Administrator of the hospital. Insist and do not take no for an answer. Fight and advocate for your child. They only have you. It is unthinkable and unconsionable the well mental illness is treated, step child of Obama Care. Money money, more resources. Otherwise these types of things will continue to happen. Parents must be educated and not afraid to drive their children directly to the hospital even if they feel a little threatened or talking about sucide. Something must be done.

Michelle said...

Thank you for your bravery in sharing this. I am one hundred percent behind you in every way. Your son needs help, not condemnation. I wish for you only happiness and peace. With love.

With your permission, I'd like to reblog this on my blog - http://theycallmemummy.com
It's a message that needs to be spread and you are one courageous woman for putting your situation out there.

Michelle said...

Thank you for your bravery in sharing this. I am one hundred percent behind you in every way. Your son needs help, not condemnation. I wish for you only happiness and peace. With love.

With your permission, I'd like to reblog this on my blog - http://theycallmemummy.com
It's a message that needs to be spread and you are one courageous woman for putting your situation out there.

elsa said...

Ma'am, I don't know where you live as I am just a Facebook user passing through because of a friend's share. But I do encourage you, if you haven't already, to find out the details of the juvenile justice system in your State. I see you have been encouraged to create a paper trail by having your son charged with a crime but of course you do not want to see him go to jail. In the juvenile justice system, "jail" is only "jail" in some States; in others it is "programs", and sometimes the programs are excellent. I worked in the juvenile justice system in one State where it really was "jail". Then I moved to another State and started foster parenting teen boys on probation and parole. I can tell you as a Mom I did really dread my boys being caught in violation and sent to "jail". I did all kinds of gymnastics involving convincing Parole Officers to send my boys to other environments such as mental health and drug rehab, to try to prevent this. Wish I hadn't. As it turns out, two of my boys did violate and have to be sent up for a year. The only thing at all like a jail they experienced, was the relatively quiet, tame juvenile detention they sat in while awaiting review by the judge. They were then sent to a highly structured program in which both thrived. One of those young men was visiting a couple of days ago talking about getting his GED, and I told him I thought he and his foster brother would have probably been better off if they had spent all 4 years of high school at that program. He said, "I know, I got more high school credit that year than in all the rest combined". Of course I am not just talking about school: they thrived in many ways. I just mention this to emphasize that my kid did not resent being "sent up" at all; he agreed it was good for him. It definitely depends on where you live, but please do look into this because a "paper trail" would indeed be helpful and if your State has good programs for juvenile offenders, you can have your cake and eat it too: a paper trail and a highly structured environment, which is excellent for many young people with behavioral disorders.

Unknown said...

Liza Long has made a vital contribution to the debate. Mental health MUST be discussed, and MUST be discussed intelligently as a huge spectrum, not a "single illness". And funding MUST be found. No massacre is an acceptable trade off for reduced taxes.
But I have read Liza Long's article carefully, and no where does she suggest that a discussion of guns is wrong. I campaigned against the post Dunblane handgun ban on the grounds it was stupid, badly thought out and demonstrably unfair. But it did reduce the number of guns accessible to lone nutters.
Now, lone nutters in the UK need to know a criminal who will sell, or lend his guns. Or they can try stealing them. I don't know any armed criminals, but I think they are choosy about who they lend guns to, and why, and are decidedly anti theft of their weapons.
The deeply unfair, seriously stupid handgun ban, like the deeply flawed post Hungerford ban on automatic weapons, has reduced the number of guns accessible to nutters.
It hasn't reduced them to zero, nothing ever will. We are safer in the UK thanks to two seriously flawed pieces of legislation. Embarrassing though it is, I have to say I am grateful to the Government for making our children safer. And also enormously grateful to Liza Long for pointing out that on the issue of mental health, our Govenrment policies have massively increased the risks to our children.

Pamela said...

You said, "Big wasteful disincentivizing government is not the answer! " Actually, it is exactly the answer. A robust public health system could provide the kind of protection and services you are staying in a job you don't want just to pay for. Your son is ALL of our problem once he is no longer under your control.

Professor and Mother said...

Macey is wrong- first to chastise you and second about parenting. Blogs are often personal and your writing doesn't negate that you are doing the right thing by seeking help. Macey does all parents a disservice by condemning your efforts. Mothers are human and need to express the details about the difficulties in parenting. Macey is wrong for expecting that mothers will sacrifice everything (including other children and the family's health and sanity) for the one child who may never be well. I hope you find some answers or at least support in your efforts to do what's best for you and your family.

Unknown said...

Thank you for this brave account. Maybe it will make a difference; it is all over Facebook and Twitter. I wish you what you need to help Michael and that your courage here will help our country to undertand that there is more to this issue than gun control, however important this perspective is.

Nitza said...

I want to tell you you're brave, and that I'm so glad you wrote this because the awareness is so necessary - but what I want to say most is just this:

You're a great mother.

We all do what we can, with what we know, with what we feel is right for us and our loved ones - and nothing we do will ever be accepted by everyone as the "right" thing.

You're a great mother.

Maggi Smith-Dalton said...
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Jen Greyson said...

I have two boys, 5 and 3. I cannot imagine what this must be like for you as a mom...because we never stop loving them. I pray you find help, and a solution so you don't lose your boy to prison...or worse.

Thank you for having the courage to share this.

<3

Dos said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dos said...

I want to tell you you're brave, and that I'm so glad you wrote this because the awareness is so necessary - but what I want to say most is just this:

You're a great mother.

We all do what we can, with what we know, with what we feel is right for us and our loved ones - and nothing we do will ever be accepted by everyone as the "right" thing.

You're a great mother.

Ashley said...

Thank you for writing this.

Jenn Rice said...

Please stop further spreading the fear of autism. Adam Lanza did not shoot because he had autism. Your son isn't threatening because he has autism. Autistic people are already stigmatized enough. Please stop spreading the fear.

Do you even know what autism is? Judging by your post, I'd say not. Your son sounds like he needs help. Look into bipolar and schizophrenia. Stop saying autism is a possibility.

Maggi Smith-Dalton said...

You are courageous, and your post, as evidenced by the response, is needed. Blessings on you, your son, the rest of your family...and all of us, too. We care...very much.

markira said...
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jacqui said...

I haven't been able to read the many comments above, so I'm sorry if I am repeating anything written by others. My heart goes out to you and I share your concerns as I have a son with similar issues. I STRONGLY recommend two books to you: The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children by Ross W. Greene and
Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students: Helping Kids Cope With Explosive Feelings by Christine Fonseca. Our society is very difficult for extremely gifted children because they become enraged at to any hint of authoritarian parenting and are then pathologized. I have found these books tremendously helpful in my parenting journey because they clarify how to maintain parental authority without getting into power struggles. Best wishes to you and your son and thanks for sharing your experience so widely.

Marilyn Derocher said...

I know exactly what you are experiencing. The inexplicable bouts of rage for reasons I never understand - the threats - the destruction and the seemingly never-ending list of disorders and conditions. Aaahhhhh.

I found musicbymarcey.com. Of all things, this music is helping to balance his brain and emotions.

Bless you and your family on your journey.

Peace in the Light......

Rosemary said...

You are a brave woman carrying an unimaginably heavy burden. Thank you for giving this dark secret a voice. This is a problem everyone just wants to go away, but like most problems it won't go away until we deal with it. The mentally ill need professionals dedicated to understanding and dealing with their particular issues. I hope your son gets the help he needs and deserves.

~Brandy~ said...

Thank you! From the moment this event in Connecticut occurred I've been waiting for more information to come out about the mental health of the shooter. I have the mental health vs monster argument with people daily over this issue.
Again, thank you!

Karen KH said...

http://feingold.org/violence.php i know folks have already posted about diet, but i wanted to post this that i found a long time ago when i was working on my family's diet...

Karen KH said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
shaunita said...

Thank-you for your bravery and honesty in sharing your story. I hope that more people will share their stories and get this issue more exposure in the media.

Unknown said...

My heart, mind and prayers go out to you. Thank you for this lucid description of what is an illucid life. From my end, you have engaged the conversation,

Gaia Sun said...

This is such a sad and troubling issue for us all - parents or not. I am a parent and this is a great concern for my husband and me. In our home, the food we eat is of the highest priority. It may sound unrelated, but I wholly believe that the food we eat is a directly related to our mental and emotional health. For Michael, I would consider cutting out any and all foods that are not 100% organic - and non-gmo. The chemicals and genetically modified organism in food today is making our children and us all very sick physically and mentally. High fructose corn syrup should be the first to go. It's in everything conventional - catsup, yogurt, bread.. everything. Next is eliminating all metals - aluminum is found in everything from canned drinks to doritos. Very serious issue and one that is tremendously overlooked - but I say it has everything to do with these problems.

Katie said...

There but for fortune for any one of us.

I have a child like this. You have captured the chaos, the unpredictability, the volatility and the utter debilitation of our lives.

I want my kid to become as engaged and attached to the world of people as possible. As she does, she becomes more motivated to keep it together. She is learning empathy. Her meds largely keep her managed now, and, thankfully, she will usually let me administer more (a "chemical restraint", as they say) when I see her cross that imperceptible line to the dark side. This especially matters because she is bigger than me now.

I had the support of my kid's great shrink and a residential program in her darkest years. Otherwise I'd be dead too.

Wildheartmuse said...

I think we should take the money that churches save on taxes and build a mental health system that will prevent such awful shootings. A system that will work to understand and heal the troubled souls. Pray has done nothing to stop these atrocities so why don't we put the money where it is really needed.

Unknown said...

Thank you for sharing this truth. I think you are an amazing mom and I'm going to pray for you, your son, and the needs of our nation's mental health system every night.

Peter Blackstock said...

It's encouraging to see that you are in fact getting the beginnings of "meaningful, nation-wide conversation about mental health" right here on your comments page. That's the value of good, honest writing. Lots of the same in the comments, from all sorts of different angles and perspectives.

Whenever I read such a moving piece by a writer, I'm usually interested in seeing a little more of their work, to help provide context and perhaps a fuller picture. To that end, I looked through a few more of your entries. I was struck by the following in one of them:

"I am grateful for the perspective my liberal friends share with me (but you’re WRONG! Big wasteful disincentivizing government is not the answer!)"

No intention of detouring this down a political path, as I respect the views of both right and left on these kinds of macro issues. But I feel like I need to get a sense of what your position is on mental health care in the United States.

You mention that "With state-run treatment centers and hospitals shuttered, prison is now the last resort for the mentally ill" -- are you in favor of such mental health facilities being shuttered, as part and parcel of reducing the size of government?

This is an honest and sincere question; not trying to allege hypocrisy, just would be interested in knowing where you stand on the issue of spending public tax dollars on mental health care.

And thanks, again, for a really well-written piece. Glad it's getting widespread attention.

Unknown said...

Your story is chillingly familiar. I have a friend whose son was behaving in a similar fashion. In a last ditch effort to get him help they went to an acupuncturist who found that he had sever food allergies. Long story short, they now have a son who has graduated from high school, has friends and is leading a "normal" life. Barb's son held their family at knife point for more than 10 hours in a hotel. I don't want to suggest that everyone has the same issue, but I just felt compelled to share that story. You can contact me at 1kuhlsara@gmail.com if you'd like additional information. Best to you and your entire family, Sara

Karen said...

Thank you so much for your honesty - you are helping other parents in similar situations more than you can ever imagine.

Unknown said...

Report your concerns to your local authorities. The timing of your concern mentioned in your penultimate sentence should get a response in light of what's happened recently.

schnzchx said...

As a parent of a child with nearly the same experiences.......I wholeheartedly agree with you! I am living this nightmare too. We've had a couple of good years, but during those rough years, there is no respite, there is no help....until they are hospitalized-until they've devastated you financially.....until they commit a crime. Something is terribly wrong with our system where can't get appropriate treatment or respite from the situation until some form of severe damage has been done! I hate to admit it, but my first thought about that tragedy in CT was wondering if he was another tortured soul like. We removed our son from public school because his problems weren't addressed and there was no love in that environment. He now attends a christian school and it is a very calm environment where picking on people is not accepted or overlooked. Our mental health care system needs to be totally overhauled! I've had a doctor who (although extremely intelligent) tell me I was a crappy parent-I've been trying to help my son since he as 18 months old. I certainly didn't need to hear that! Nor did I need an insurance company tell me that my son needed to be on the cheapest form of ADHD meds.....they were a stimulant and he was chewing off his entire toenails because they were irritating him so much! What he needed was a non stimulant and they weren't going to pay for that! I had to do a lot of fighting to get that covered! Not what a parent needs to be doing when there is enough stress with an out of control child! None of this has been put in place to give our loved ones appropriate care.....it's all been put in place for the insurance companies! What we need is legitimate REAL mental healthcare for our loved ones. One good doctor can do wonders. Thank God we have been blessed with 2 pretty good years after several years of hell.....A doctor change, a med change and a school change. I pray for these families and I pray for all who have to deal with this everyday. It's a hell that others outside the box just cannot fathom. I have 2 grown daughters that were a breeze, socially perfect, homecoming queens, good students, good citizens, yada, yada, yada.....Back before my son was born I would have blamed parenting on a child that appeared to be like my youngest son. You just can't understand it until you are living it. Please don't judge; you really have no idea!

PAW821 said...

Thanks for sharing this. My best to you and your family and I will continue to share this post with other sites. We all need to discuss this issue in our society if we want to see change happen. I hope help is just around the corner for you. Much Love, Patricia

Rae said...

I ABSOLUTELY AGREE WITH MACEY 100%

Start looking at yourself lady. You are taking the wrong route and only making things worse. Stop being such a victim and find some real solutions for your son. Wake up. He is responding to a system that is WRONG in every way. He is naturally pissed off that he can't express his autonomy. Maybe you have lost the passion for freedom. His little spirit has not yet been broken. Love him and stop acting like a child. He needs an adult.

How dare you call yourself an Anarchist. Read some books on Voluntarism.

Stefan Molyneux has some great books on raising children, non-violently. Please get some help help lady.

Unknown said...

Thank you for such a well written description of your family's situation. I have worked with emotionally disturbed children for many years and know you are speaking the truth for so many parents. Please keep writing and informing others. It seems to be the only option ... spreading information and truth. I accessed your blog through TUMBLR. You are making a difference!

~D~ said...

I'm Afraid of MY SON...

Colorado, and now CT, have had people die from someone with mental illness.

As a parent of a child who has it.. Believe me its not easy to have them commited to keep them in a hospital. My son has been released 6 times on his own accord..

Thank God he has two very loving and Devoted Parents who stay on top of his ever move. Most are treated and released in 72 hours fully medicated,, but onces thats over and there on there own. All I can say is LOOK out. Our Health Care MUST change for thoses suffering with Mentel illness.. Or the killings will never stop.!!!

My Biggest FEAR is he's going to KILL someone one OR many. That he will Kill family memebers.. Or my worse Fear is that the Police not understanding hes ill KILL HIM.

Hes currently in the State Hospital. Am I afraid of him Still. HELL YES. Do I love him.. HELL YES. Will I walk away. NO hes my son. To Michael's MOM I hope you contact me Via Facebook. I know your Fears.. the pain the Tears.. the HOPE.. only to have the Circle Repeat. The one thing that never Ever goes away is the FEAR. You can Contact me Via my Email or on Facebook under Dianne Williams. I pray I hear from you.

Scared Mom.

Di Eats the Elephant said...

Has Fetal Alcohol Syndrome been considered as part of Michael's illness? There needs to be more about this in the schools, before pregnancies occur, but without the knowledge, some core component of the fetus's development into knowing right from wrong will be lost.

xlaurenstephens said...

this has NOTHING to do with guns. this has a lot to do with our schools demanding that our kids get on every drug imaginable and of course not even entertaining that there is a real problem that requires hospitalization. how many times was i told my kid needs *counseling*. counseling?? are you serious? these friggin schools need to stop illegally practicing medicine without a license and stop telling social workers and the government that the kid doesn't really need treatment!

Unknown said...

Some of the comments on this section prove that the stigma of mental illness is alive and well, along with the denial that people live in trying to say nothing is wrong. The care of the mentally ill is probably our biggest failing as a society. The earlier in a person's life that mental illness is treated, the better their, and their family's, life's will be.

Donna said...

There, but for the grace of God, goes my son, my daughter and me. I have a 20 year old with Aspergers, and a 13 year old daughter who's been hospitalized twice. The last episode resulted in a mental hospital stay, and I was told, "If you had private health insurance, we would get your daughter in a long-term treatment facility. Because you are on state insurance, we can only release her back into your care after 7 days." I don't worry too much about my son. My daughter terrifies me, too. And help never, ever comes. No wonder 80% of married couples with a disabled child end up getting divorced. :-(

Andrew TSKS said...

I had a lot of trouble as a child, though certainly not to the level your son has. I was never violent towards anyone except myself, for one thing. But yeah, you're handling things much better than my parents did, and you're a super cool person for continuing to see your son as a good kid who just needs help rather than some kind of evil devilspawn that should be locked away. A lot of parents don't have the strength to keep looking at it that way.

I wish the best for you and your family, and for everyone else in a similar situation.

Lynn said...

I could have written this post about my own son. I have tried everything and given everything of myself to advocate for my son, to no avail. I have heard the same advice from professionals about the paper trail. I am at my very wits end. I am a single mother, a kindergarten teacher, and my son's name is Adam. You can imagine what went through my head the minute I heard about the shootings in CT. Please contact me, as I have never met someone else who knows what it is like to live with a child like this. Lynn@flanmommy.com
--Lynn

Unknown said...

You are so brave to tell your story to enlighten so many people who want to blame the parents or guns without really getting to the real problem of mental illness. I pray for you and other parents who are experiencing what you are experiencing, along with all their children. Stay strong.

Narcissa said...

This is a fantastic post! Thank you so much for writing this. You are absolutely correct in your assertion that mental illness needs to be treated as an actual illness rather than a crime. I wonder how people would react if we put people with cancer or AIDS in jail simply because they are sick.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Unknown said...

I found this very moving. Thank you.

Sosanna said...

Sending love and strength your way.

Julie said...

God bless you for the work you are doing, and thank you for being willing to help us all understand better.

Lori Campbell said...

Thank you for sharing. My thoughts are with you as you walk this difficult road.

alf said...

i fully understand your feelings. and i hope you and many others with simmilar troubles can find some mitigation. my best.

Kate Epstein said...

thank you

Ginger said...

I really hope you read this..... The way we handle mental illness in this country is flawed. We are quick to label and drug. But there is something happening to our food supply that is greatly contributing to mental illness. Nutritional deficiencies, GMOs, digestive disorders, and food allergies can have a dramatic effect on the brain and behavior. I should know. I used to suffer from major depression (I wanted to die), panic attacks, and had two nervous breakdowns (nervous system exhaustion). It was not until I came across research on "gut and psychology" and "the brain/gut connection" that I healed, am symptom free. Unfortunately, mental hospitals do not address diet, food allergies, deficiencies or recognize their significance on the brain. You have to find a holistic doctor who works at this level. There are books and much research now on this approach to treating such serious condition as schizophrenia and autism. I have heard stories of people being cured of even these conditions with the brain/gut healing approach. Not to over simplify what is happening with your son, I do not know. But this approach should not be missed.

Unknown said...

Thanks for posting. I have been watching the news in sadness, both for the parents of the murdered children and for the mother of the murderer, who we now know was the first victim. I have 2 sons with autism. My older one, who is non-verbal and severely autistic, has been in a residential school for over 5 years after he became too violent for me to handle. He spent some time in a psychiatric hospital as well, until a place was found for him. I fear for my son's future, and I fear for those around him for when, not if, he becomes violent again. I think what's hardest about situations like ours is that we live in so much isolation. Few people really understand what we go through. Having to lock our kids up, saying that they are more than we can handle, and then still not finding the help that they need, is more than just frustrating. And, then puberty hits. It would be nice if there was a support group we could all meet at, to know that we are not alone.

Unknown said...

Why do you call yourself an anarchist? My heart goes out to you. I just wonder how your personal philosophy affects your son. I don't intend this as a criticism. It is just that anarchy is a very strong word with strong implications. I was once almost as bad as your son and finally started a regular meditation practice (and became a Buddhist.) You are so right about how we treat mental illness. I just felt like a lost soul for most of my life. Dedicating myself to a spiritual practice has been the only thing that has made a significant impact on my mind and subsequently, my behavior, but it was entirely my choice. I will pray for you and your son. Happy Holidays and thank you. Victoria

Sarah Moïse Young said...

Oh Mama, I think you're very brave and it sounds like you're doing the very best you can. I'm so sorry there aren't better options for your family.

alf said...

i fully understand your feelings. and i hope you and many people with simmilar troubles can find some kind of mitigation. from far away, my best.

ElChepi said...

I know what's up with Michael, and I can totally help him.
Unfortunately, there is no permanent 'fix' for the situation, but there are several coping strategies conforming a complete method of living that will enable Michael to express his potential in useful ways.
Please feel free to contact me.
Love,

Unknown said...

Which Insurance companies did you get quotes from that did not cover mental illness? I would like to write them letters of disapproval.

Unknown said...

What an incisive picture of the elephant in the room.

Supporting families struggling with mental health issues is the biggest challenge here. Being from London, I would also advocate that gun control really needs to mean banning the ability for people to house weapons designed to murder scores of people in seconds, but I am sure that these types of massacare would be prevented more by addressing mental health care.

There are some interesting comparatives that can be made between health care, and specifically mental health care, in the US and the UK. You state that you had to get a job that ensured the right benefits so that you could deal with your son's problems. I think this illustrates that unlike every other facet of our lives, healthcare of a basic nature is not a commodity but instead prevents suffering in the wider community rather than just on an individual scale.

In the UK, the NHS provides on the tap mental health care for anyone - to the extent that any problem, even mild depression, can get treatment immediately. Although I am certainly no socialist, America, I think on this issue we are striking the balance slightly better than our brethren across the pond.

We have a very high incidence of autism in the UK compared to almost any other country on earth (we probably wouldn't have had such beautiful nutty inventors as Newton, or writers like Shakespeare otherwise - both of which could be described with some kind of spectrum) but we do not have the incidence of horrific violence as a byproduct.

It's time we all work together to make our societies more resilient and accommodating to the diversity of mental health that our wonderful biology can create. In order to prevent more innocent lives being lost we need to support these families. We need to support the mentally ill and integrate them into society.

Finally, is it the right summation of these events for some of the more sensationalist papers to be branding Adam as satanic? I don't think that it will help us deal with the elephant in room, because ultimately it is about challenging ourselves to support people with mental illness better than we have been doing.

Sandy Smith said...

You are so brave and strong. My prayers are with you and your family. What an agony ~ your love for your son is evident; how torn you must feel.
I understand from a terrible perspective. Three years ago this month, my cousin acted on similar threats and murdered his mother, my aunt. The family had tried, unsuccessfully, to get him psychiatric help. But as he was not "in immediate danger or actively harming anyone else," help was denied because he was of age.
Trust me, you do not want to be in the position of looking backward to see what more could have been done, when it is already too late to save her, or to help him. What will his life be like now? What could it have been?
God bless you; don't give up hope.

Anonymous said...

Your post is so well written and speaks for so many people. No one is untouched by mental illness. The more we put the problems out into the world the better chance we'll have of more acceptance and more solutions. I'll pray for you and your family.

Unknown said...

Macey - so glad you found peace with yourself. Now back off and allow a mother of more than one child to express her fears and anger and feeling (and sometime being) unable to cope without outside support. And to who ever it was that said the author shouldn't be putting a child's story out on the internet - women have always talked things through, i suggest men start to do it too.

Unknown said...

Sharing your story is so important and needs to be spread all over. Thank you for your voice. I surround you and your family with angels and blessings. Truly hope that you are able to get the help you need and the changes that need to take place in our mental health is done.

jstew28379 said...

Been in the system with my own issues and overpaid do nothing psychiatrists and big pharma are why the mental health care system does not work at all for the patients. TRUST me on this.... I despise ALL psychiatrists because I have never met one he seems to genuinely give a flip about their patient and are glued to a prescription pad....

Holistic Therapies said...

Yes I agree I used a Shaman it worked

dominic whittles said...

Thank you for your story and your courage. As the father of a daughter who struggles with an underlying personality disorder and addiction, I know first hand the horrible fury and violence even a five foot two, 110 pound teen can inflict. A fury and anger that can not be comprehended unless experienced first hand. Whose violence, even if only verbal, has the power to disrupt even the most stable household and destabilize even the most devoted and grounded parents.

Bless you. And thank you again. My thoughts are with you and the families who lost loved ones last week.

May our collective higher power, however defined, help us along this difficult path.

FernWise said...

I'm impressed by the number of people who are sure that they have solutions without ever spending time with your son.

Jpeazy said...

As I read this post I cannot help but think how much Michael sounds like me growing up. I want to speak from Michael's perspective, but how should I start?

For starters the incident with the navy blue pants. He said "I can wear them," "They told me I can wear these." That implies to me that he asked someone (probably of authority) if he could wear those pair of pants prior to this incident. You then said "They are navy blue," "Your schools dress code says black or khaki pants only." So you were splitting hairs to speak and he found that unreasonable, after all it is just pants. He may have been more upset that your nagging caused him to miss the bus. But it is also likely that he wanted to wear the pants, pants that you most likely bought him, because he liked the way they looked or the way they fit and he was looking forward to the self esteem boost when his fellow school mates saw him in them. The reasonable thing to do would have been to let him go to school in them and if the school objected they would then send him home or condemn the use of them via a phone call to you. Instead you had him committed to a hospital where his character among his school mates would be further defamed, lowering his self esteem among his peers and he would only be let out of there until he was completely demoralized. He is not stupid, he was aware of all this prior to you condemning the use of the pants, not the school, you.

The library books incident does not seem to be a reasonable reaction. I bet Michael is a very reasonable person, so I believe there is more to the story but from what I can surmise. Michael has some attachment to these books. Have you considered buying him these books instead of going to the library to check them out for a predestined time period? I bet he would like to have them as a gift even. Maybe it was the manor in which you asked him to return the books? It may have been demeaning, after all you already treat him like he is a monster having a 'safety plan' and all.

These wild and belligerent episodes are most likely preventable. All you have to do is be attentive and reasonable. When you find yourself in an argument with your son, use logical proofs in your arguments and stay away from emotional proofs. Michael clearly has some chemical imbalances, mood altering pharmaceuticals and antipsychotics only make it worse. The best solution is nutrition and exercise, discipline would be a huge help, so maybe put him in some kind of martial arts class (this will also get him off the electronics some too). Study nutrition and its effects on mood and include him in your research, he will be interested, and you can bond over your new found knowledge.

Have your son read this comment and see if he does not agree?

elizabeth said...

Thank you for taking the time to write one of the most insightful peices I have seen in wake of the recent tragedy. Over the course of my teaching career, I have had a couple of students just like your son...and the exact fears! I don't think mental illness should be criminalized any more than any other ILLNESS! I teach students in middle school so I watch helplessly as they become increasingly disenfranchised, physically bigger, and closer to the "adult" status of 18. Really, we can do lock down drills, teacher background checks, and bully assemblies all day long and they are the equivalent to "duck and cover" in the 1950s. The issue is mental illness. How about funding some research into this (often) genetic condition?

Miss Trudy said...

Thank you for sharing such a painful situation. Just reading the comments from so many parents going through the same is overwhelming. This is not right, parents and siblings should not have to cope with this alone. I would not mind paying much more in taxes if this meant that states provide parents with all the necessary help in these situations. Families ought to get the help they need, rather than be left alone to cope like this. We should not be that kind of society, I know we can do better.

Stacy Walker said...

Thank you for this. I am sorry for your pain.I wish there was more for me to say but thank you for shining a light on mental illness.

BeckyO said...

Thank you for sharing. If you have not yet, please find your local NAMI organization. If you are lucky enough to live in MN I know for sure you will find the support you need. Peace to you and your family.

lcmc said...

I will pray for you and your son. I have a daughter with PTSD and the rest of the diagnosis is a "maybe" because she is 16. She has had violent episodes in her past. We finally found it was because she was on an ADhD medicine. It was a possible diagnosis at the time. I am lucky(?) that the only violence she exhibits is on herself. I live in fear of when she turns 18, as I know you do with your son. I pray that there is a better answer for him soon.

Anonymous said...

My heart goes out to you. When my son was young, we were terrified of what he might be capable of doing. I feel so blessed to live in Canada, where we were able to get him the intensive mental health treatment he needed. My son is 19 now. He's happy, healthy, on the right medication. There are still bumps in the road but he is NOT the young man I feared he would grow up to be, but the young man I DREAMED he would grow up to be. HANG IN THERE!!! You are not alone! It's time we all let each other know that we are NOT alone in our struggles with mentally ill and troubled children. It's a well-worn path many parents have walked before.

Unknown said...

I saw a link to your post on facebook and was compelled to read it. I am a 41 year old woman who suffers from mental illness, which started as a child. Although I am stable now on a good combination of medication and therapy, I can understand what you are going through. I put my family through hell for a very long time until I was ready to accept my disease and the treatment I needed. Thank God I had a mother like you who was willing to stand by me, love me, but use tough love when necessary. I will be praying for you and for Michael. It CAN get better. And you are very right....once the negative stigma about mental illness goes away and people start understanding that it is a disease, and not a character flaw, I think we will see a big change in the world and a lot less of these tragedies. God bless you and your family.

Kiesa said...

I think maybe you could use some training on how to manage meltdowns. Deborah Lipsky and Jim Sinclair might have some insights. It hurts your child to be identified at such a young age with mass murderers. I recommend that you reach out to Carolyn Grammicci, founder of leanonus.org, and also read the chapters by Deb Robson, Judy Fort Brenneman, and Stephanie Tolan in the book HIGH IQ KIDS.

Emily said...

You are clearly a wonderful parent. Michael is so likely to help you. Thank you for sharing your story. While guns are getting much media attention, I feel like more and more people are bringing up the idea of mental illness than ever before. Likely because there is simply no other explanation- reasonable or unreasonable- for why this tragedy occurred.

Please keep posting and letting us know how we can help or what we can do.

Anonymous said...

Finally, someone who gets it.

FWC said...

You disgust me with your self satisfying garbage. Your son is like tens of thousands of others, and public shaming of him (he knows how to use the internet and about his mom's blog)is a disgrace. You are the problem as much as him and YOU need to be treated. Your fake portrayal of the conversation where you grounded him displays that you are in an illusion where you think you are perfect and somehow your son is just broken. I pity your son and you should be ashamed of yourself. It takes no courage to post the despicable trash you have. This will help nobody but your ego and sick desire to be an authority on something.

Kiesa said...

Also, may I say one more thing? Not all mentally ill people have violence issues, so associating mental illness with violence is unfair. It's like saying all people with heart disease beat their wives because your neighbor has heart disease and he did it.

Kangaroo Heights said...

Fantastic piece and thank you for writing it. It's catching fire all over social media, and this means it will hopefully draw attention to a problem that truly needs addressing.

Thank you for taking the time to write it and for sharing your experiences.

Unknown said...

Thank you for courageously sharing your powerful words. My heart goes out to you

Delia Lopez said...

I live in OR near Thurston High where one young man killed his parents before shooting up the school. His parents had tried everything they could come up with and had him committed to the mental ward, because they were terrified of him. He kept threatening to kill them and others. He spent 3 days there, they sent him home to his parents. Now you know the rest of the story. That part never made the news.

Sarah said...

I am so proud of you for sharing your story! I think today's psychotropic meds play a big role in our modern day violence, both homicidal and suicidal. I don't think we have heard the whole truth in how these meds or withdrawl from these meds impact violent behavior.

Have you read Natasha Campbell's Gut and Psychology Syndrome? I think her research and experience offer some new insights to our increases in autism, mental illness and other disorders and syndromes. In a desperate situation, any new ideas are valuable and worth looking into.

May God grant you wisdom and peace as you continue to navigate this difficult situation.

Unknown said...

My heart goes out to all of the parents and siblings who have to live with a fear such as this everyday. Our day to day issues pale in comparison to this. If there was a natural fruit juice that would possibly help calm and possibly reduce inflammation in the brain would you try it. I know I do not know any of you and you don't know me but I have seen some amazing results and if it helped even a bit in your day to day life with your child who do doubt can't stand to be in his own body as well, wouldn't it be worth looking at? Let's try to investigate some solutions together. Please call/e-mail Helen to talk. 905-691-4931/hvanderbreggen@gmail.com

Bozo Faust said...

Are you Lisa Long who also posted this article on bluereciew.org ?

ksuss said...

I saw this blog post show up as re-posted through another blog I read and wanted to thank you for bringing attention to the mental health issue. It can be so incredibly difficult to get care that works and it can be so easy to lose even after you have it because the system is so broken. I think maybe some people don't understand that mental illness actually exists and what various forms it can take and the conversation very quickly devolves into pro vs anti prescription treatment which is so detrimental to the conversation. I blame Tom Cruise. Just kidding, kind of. My thoughts are with you and your family and I hope you find care that works as soon as possible. Thank you so much!

Kiesa said...

Also, there is a really good network, Mother Bear CAN, the Mother Bear Community Action Network, that can help. It is www.motherbearcan.org. You can check it out to get some support and education.

LAKSHMY said...

He needs friends and not medicines. You may even go for a Golden Retriever or any other breed of puppy, if you can manage. And a piece of advice to the moms-to-be. please avoid alcohol and smoking when you are pregnant. It surely affects the mental health of the kids and make them hyper sensitive.Today nobody has time to respond to hyper sensitive people and that is where problem starts. (michael's mom-no offences pls. i am advising generally)

adena said...

my nephew is schizophrenic.. my heart goes out to you. Thank you for writing this, you are brave and I hope you and your son find what he needs. xoxo

Madalene said...

Your post is poignant, and makes a perfect case, in my opinion. Putting it on Gawker and changing the headline took away from all of it. Had I not read it here, first, I'd have totally ignored the post from Gawker due to the sensationalism and lack of respect for the deceased mother. You may wish to inform Gawker to change your post heading, as I am sure you do not mean that, and it was probably their editor's bad idea. Thank you for this wonderful post. I am sharing it around in its original form, from here.

Unknown said...

This was our story too. Our daughter was a "handful" for years and we were constantly told we were overreacting - by doctors, by our families. When she was a freshman she became the third student at her school to attempt suicide that year. The other two were successful. Earlier that day I had called her vice principal and was told "comparatively, you don't have any problems." Later that day we are in an ambulance on the way to the ER for a Tylenol overdose. While she was in the hospital, we found a journal entry where she claimed to have stood over us with a knife while we were sleeping.

Like you, we have two other children and had to consider their safety. We made the decision - against advice and some of our families wishes - to send her to a residential treatment center in Arizona (we live in Texas). When I brought this subject up while she was in the psych ward of a local hospital they said, "no one does that after a first attempt". Really? How many attempts does it take for someone to take this seriously. We took her. I cried all the way back to Texas.

She didn't do the program there and was eventually arrested for assaulting her therapist. Our choices were bring her home and then face charges of assault and disorderly conduct (resisting arrest) or send her to wilderness school in Utah (brat camp). She called from the jail and said, "I'm glad I hurt that woman." I said, "Send her to Utah."

Utah helped but it wasn't a magic solution. Like you we took all of the sharp objects, knives, razors, everything out when she came home. We made our other kids sleep with their doors locked. We had her in the dining room where she wouldn't be behind closed doors. She continued to have problems after coming home and as recently as 2011 made a suicide threat and was in the hospital. The original attempt was in 2005. She is an adult now, a mother herself. We cared for our granddaughter when our daughter went into the hospital last year and even then the laws are not on the right side. Our daughter went about a month without seeing her child and then called me out of the blue after a fight with the father and said she was taking her child that day. I said no. She threatened me with the police. I said let's call child services while we are at it. She backed down. I found out later that child services would have done nothing. Grandparents have no rights and our daughter didn't abandon her child...she left her with someone she trusted.

I want you to know there are others out here who have been where you are. What happened to us was very isolating. People didn't understand what was really happening and what we were going through. Some thought we were obviously bad parents for these things to go on. We weren't. I know we weren't. Our two other children will tell you the same.

Do what you think is right no matter what others say. You are the one living in the situation. The most relief I ever experienced was when the doctor at the psych hospital called to say we needed to consider long term residential treatment. Someone finally understood that what we were up against was more than we could handle alone.

Unknown said...

I think the simple soultion here and what I would do if I was his parent ESPECIALLY having the other children to consider is to institutionalize him. I'm sorry but better he spend the rest of his life in an insane asylum/metal health hospital or whatever they are calling it these days then have him out to one day hurt the general public much less you and the rest of your family. Also where is his father in all of this you have failed to mention him. Are you on your own? All the more reason for permenant hospitalization. Set up a paper trail now that establishes a patern of behavior but GET HIM COMMITTED and KEEP him that way, otherwise he may kill you, the rest of your family and then go on to hurt others. I'm sorry but he needs to be put away not prision but a hospital maybe they can help him and maybe they can't but at least he'll never hurt anyone else there and that is the bottom line of what is needed here.

Casey said...

Thank you for writing this. Mental illness is something that needs to be brought forth to light in this country. I have mental illness history in my bloodline and I'm so so glad and moved that you wrote this. Somebody needed to,

Unknown said...

You have my immense respect for writing this - and for "coming out" on behalf of parents in this situation. As a child and family therapist, I have worked with families and children like yours in partial hospitalization day treatment settings. I have had the immense responsibility of telling one set of parents that their child would in all likelihood mature into a sociopath. The parents were RELIEVED when I told them because they knew. They lived it. I was just the first clinician in years of treatment who had been honest with them. Another child who our treatment team ended up referring to residential treatment because we could not contain him had a more immediate conclusion to his fate. I had worked with his family to make sure they locked away guns, put away knives (like in your tupperware container) and do what they could to make the house weapon free. I did not think to tell them to get rid of hunting crossbows. I am not a hunter and such a thing never occurred to me. This child ended up returning home on a visit from residential treatment and killing himself with a hunting crossbow. He had clearly practiced. He knew where to aim exactly. When I met with his mother after the funeral, she and I shared sorrow - but we also admitted relief that he had taken no one else with him when he killed himself. I write all this just to say YOU ARE NOT ALONE. And to thank you, again, for your courage in writing and sharing your family's story.

CoolKarma.com said...

I'll leave out my personal "qualifications" save to say I know that raising a gifted son can often look like a mental illness in our society. And of course that I am not qualified to offer advice and you certainly may be right that you're raising the next Charles Mason. But all of us looky-loos can only go on the events you provided, and with that, I'll offer my deconstruction of a day gone horribly wrong.

I'm going to use the word "special" rather than mentally ill or gifted, because I believe children with very high IQs and emotional issues are indeed "special" cases. So in raising special children, it is important that we learn to pick our battles. Blue/black pants are most likely ones we can leave for the school to address. It may well be that some teacher in some obscure conversation with your son, told him that the blue could be acceptable in some situations. Whatever the case was, your son believed his story. So the first place we stray down the deeply rutted road of trauma and conflict is to even bring up what would otherwise be a minor infraction.

When we do make a decision that we feel we have to stand behind, the next challenge as a parent is to allow our "special" child an opportunity to express their feeling about our decision. We can't let our egoic mind get in the way when it hears we are a "stupid bitch". Because if we let THAT ruffle our feathers WE are going to escalate the situation to untenable places.

Again, there's a place to let go here. But instead, we have two people, doing their best in the moment, who both are in a bio-chemical reaction to a control battle. This is the wrong time to talk about consequence. Consider for a moment what it is to have a super high IQ, and the mental noise that accompanies it. There are few opportunities to "tune out the discourse" to "escape" in some version of Zen meditation. For most teens that escape is through "technology". It is their Zen. It is the one time they can be STILL inside the monkey mind of adolescence. When we are in a control battle with our gifted child .. threatening to take away the one thing that makes them feel "at peace" ... will always lead to an escalation because we have now added "panic" to the mind of an already frustrated child. When you were both at a calmer place, other alternatives, like yard work, may be a more suitable consequence, but again rarely should be discussed in the heat of the matter.

In the child's final plea, from a panicked mind, he tries to apologize and ask for the technology back ... because he's terrified at the prospect. Again, not a good time to kick things up a notch .. he was already trying to settle down. It may have been possible to leave it open ended with some version of "Gosh I don't know, we both had a hard morning, let's talk about this later today and I'll consider what you said." But instead we go again down the familiar path of the dirt road riddled with pot holes falling into each one. More words exchanged ... more opportunities for seeing that we are lost and coming back together with love and compassion ... "Gosh, I'd miss you if you killed yourself, hope you don't. Love you, have a good day." Which may sound trite, and way off the mark .. but turning the car around and taking your son to a mental hospital has to be at least as far off of the spectrum of options for that morning.

I am sorry for your pain and frustration. I am. I am very sorry that the two of you are so lost and can see no way out of your situation. But I do believe there is an answer and I will pray that both of you will find it soon.

Jared Field said...

Sadly, I believe that your problem is not your son, but the way that 9-5 government employees choose to treat the issue that you and your son are going through. It's unthinkable that you should have to have your son charged with a crime to create a paper trail for anyone to think about turning their head towards your son to even see that he may have a problem. America needs change NOW. And sadly, I don't see that happening unless people give up their power for the sake of taking care of the human race. I wish you peace and love in your life and thank you very much for sharing your story. I hope you and your son find the way soon.

Don West said...

Also relevant:
"The monster inside my son
For years I thought of his autism as beautiful and mysterious. But when he turned unspeakably violent, I had to question everything I knew."


http://www.salon.com/2009/03/26/bauer_autism/

sophanne said...

Those commenters who direct anything but hearfelt compassion to you have not walked in your shoes. I have no children of my own, but as a public school teacher for 25 years I can tell you that the term "they'll probably grow out of it" is not the mental health solution these kids need. Sending them home (and to school) with a different (generally experimental-because there is so little research on mental illness in children) drug cocktail is not the answer. I am not sure what it but you have my support, compassion, and ear on this subject and I applaud you for this post.

the English Beat said...

Please dont listen to Travis Mays. he obviously has mental health issues of his own.

LaurieRo said...

Thank you for sharing your story. I am convinced it will help many families and society as a whole. May you find strength to get through the darkest days. I empathize with you and am grateful for you.

Tam said...

Brave, bold, compassionate. You are all those things. Thank you so much for sharing your heart.

My son began manifesting these behaviors around age 4, with them getting worse around age 7 when his father had a psychotic break. He was placed in residential treatment several states away after two failed junior high school placements. It helped a little; mostly it protected his family for a year and a half from the knives and large rocks, sticks, whatever he could get his hands on to try to kill us with. In Minnesota, there is no place that a child can be placed for more than a few weeks without an arrest. And if I hadn't found a treatment center that would take him, I would have needed to press charges on attempted murder.

My heart goes out to the young woman with BPD who responded so passionately; but we have to get past the idea that Mom is the problem. We need to tell ourselves, and our children; and the world the truth. Often, the child knows it already; and that must be part of why s/he rages.

Telling the truth is not unkind. It is the way of compassion. It says to your child "I see you, I validate your experience, I love you. But I will not allow someone to treat me this way, not you, not anyone, no matter what the reason is. I WILL try to get you whatever help you need, whether you like it or not."

Anarchist, you are doing the right things. My son is grown, and left the home (on our insistence) at age 18. We are slowly working on building a new relationship with some pretty firm boundaries that I was unable to establish when he lived in the same house as I did. He still takes his meds; he still works at doing better; but illness still sometimes overwhelms him. That was and is and will be his life.

I hope that I've taught him something about respecting others and taking care of himself, and about being compassionate with himself. Occasionally I get a glimpse of some of these values in his life and I am happy for him when I do.

But whatever he did or didn't learn, I am still alive, and safe, as is his sister, my wonderful partner, and his classmates. And he is still alive. We were able to give him a life; which really, is about all any parent can give their child. What he does with that life now is up to him.

Jessica said...

Macey, it is absoluelty NOT normal for children to threaten to kill people.

Nico's blog said...

This must be an incredibly hard life. Thank you and congratulations to hanging out there.

This story highlights both the mental illness problem and the broken US law system, in this case in connection with mental illnesses.

One is human nature and hard to fix.

The other one has been created by interest groups in DC and parliaments across the country and can be fixed right now, if only the decision makers had the guts to talk about it.

Maremare said...

Dear mother...how saddened I am for you and your son. You did such an unselfish task by writting this. I cannot even imagine a day goes by that you are not at peace. Keep writing. Others need to step forward, be brave so they can help their own children and society. God bless you and Michael...and all those suffering from mental disorders.

Mindy said...

Your post mad me cry! My heart goes out to you and your family. I hope you don't mind me sharing this post on F/B, something needs to be done to help these kids.

Nancy said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post. I work in the public schools teaching very young children with special needs. Also, I have a brother who I am sure had an undiagnosed mental illness (he passed away a few years ago). I occasionally see children like Michael who are beautiful, wonderful, and frightening. I see adults like my brother who are amazing and unpredictable. This is not about guns, or disciplining children, or God. It's about families who struggle alone. Thank you and please know there are people trying to help every day, even though that help continues to fall short.

Carlos said...

I recommend taking your son to Dr Amen for a brain scan and possible therapy. Check out the book "Healing ADHD" http://www.amazon.com/Healing-ADD-Breakthrough-Program-Allows/dp/0425183270 and read story after story about children with similar issues to your son. Read about how a brain scan identified concrete, physical problems that were causing their incredible behavior issues. Read about how mental health professionals consistently failed to diagnose anything or generally make any difference. One of these scans will cost you about the same as one of those ambulance rides. If I were you, I'd try it. Its worth a shot.

Digital Hope said...

Thank you for sharing your story and steps to help you son. Did you end up filing charges? You are so right about society not knowing how to help mentally ill people. If someone has a broken leg or bald head from chemo, we feel sympathy. Not so much with mental illness.

Helen Lindhorst said...

http://www.amazon.com/Your-Drug-Problem-Revised-Edition/dp/0738210986/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1355673683&sr=8-1&keywords=peter+breggin+your+drug+may+be+your+problem

mommyrocker said...

Thank you for your bravery. I too have a child who struggles. More of her anger is turned inward and we deal with her wanting to end her life after bouts of anger at us over simple things, then she is devastated by the things she does and thinks during those moments, and wants it all to end. I don't talk openly about it because I fear those who don't understand will judge her. I fear not the other kids around her knowing but the parents of the kids. I appreciate so much your willingness to share with the world your own struggle so that awareness can be brought to the fact that any of us could be the mom of one of those torchered souls that everyone prefers to hate instead of help. It's not bad parenting. It's not the NRA. Its a system that fails giving us the help we know as mom's our kids need in the way they need it. My thoughts and prayers are with you on your journey!!!!

Ali - My Suitcase Full of Tricks said...

Sending you love, hugs and an enormous amount of prayers for the support you, your family and your son need. Thank you for speaking up.

Unknown said...

My heart goes out to you as do so many of the people reading your post. I cannot imagine what you must be going through and what your son is going through as well. I sinerely hope he receives the help he needs so desperately. I'm praying for you and your family that you will find peace and strength you need to endure.

God Bless. Lori

corpblues said...

Bless you for having the courage to share truth. Our American society tends to hide the truth with the lie that everything is perfect behind the closed doors of our homes. It is those such as yourself that are courageous enough to share the truth, that will plant the seeds of change to move us towards providing effective solutions to our struggling loved ones. I pray that through your loving strength that your son builds the coping skills to have a wonderful life.

Unknown said...

Thank you for writing this. It's hard to imagine how difficult all this is on you. I hope you and your son find answers and the help your family needs soon. I admire your courage exposing your difficulties to public scrutiny like this.

I saw someone mention NAMI above. Their Family to Family class is outstanding.

http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=Family-to-Family&Template=/TaggedPage/TaggedPageDisplay.cfm&TPLID=4&ContentID=32973

I've written some about my experience with the class here, and I think every one, not just family members, needs to know the material taught in the course.

http://sneadspaisaudela.blogspot.com/2012/09/the-thing-i-might-as-well-try_5.html

http://sneadspaisaudela.blogspot.com/2012/11/gratitude.html

MCatherine said...

Since reading, I have shared your post everywhere I can think of. I'm sure you also have an extended plan for the children waiting in the car that includes a cell phone for them to dial 911 or a neighbor if the unthinkable day arrives when you are unable to disarm your son Michael. I also hope you have joined a local chapter of NAMI (National Alliance for the Mentally Ill) support group for family members with a mentally ill loved one. If hugs help, I'm sending a ton virtual ton!

Delores said...

I am so, so sorry for all your pain and struggle. And my heart breaks for your son, and what he struggles with every moment of every day. I am sharing this story in the hopes that it will help spread more awareness and eventually facilitate our national dialogue about mental illness. Thank you for your bravery and willingness to be transparent and vulnerable so we can all learn.

Jennifer said...

On Thursday I addmitted my 9yr old son into residential treatment. Your story is very close to home for me and my family. Thank you for sharing so openly your daily struggle. Most people don't understand what I call "Jekyl and Hyde Syndrome". Mental illness is a shot in the dark, my son has had several diagnosis over the years, begining when he was only 4 years old. He is currently a High functioning autistic, with ADHD, Tourette's Syndrome, a rare Chromosome disorder and a Mood Disorder-NOS (Not otherwise Specified). We have tried every available option before deciding to do a short term residential care facility....in hopes that 24hour round the clock care and observation by medical professionals may be able to identify something we have been missing. I know, as well as my husband, this is very unlikely. But we have to have faith, that there could be an answer we have been waiting for, that we have been praying for. I wish you luck with your son Michael, and all the other mothers, fathers, siblings, and family of children like ours. It is a long painful road and it helps to know when you are not alone. If more people were more willing to speak up, reach out, and not feel ashamed....we may reach the medical advances and social advances needed to overcome this epidemic.

Tracey said...

Vernon Woolf is at holodynamics.com...he can help. Some woman just replied with this.

Anonymous said...

www.pecanbread.com. all natural and avoiding trigger foods makes all the difference!

Unknown said...

No. You are not his Adam Lanza's mother. Adam's Lanza's mother gave him lessons in shooting firearms and kept semiautomatic weapons in the house. My heart goes out to you and the very difficult situation you have with a son who is showing signs of becoming a psychopath, but you do not appear to be abetting and enhancing your son's dangerous behavior, as did Adam's mother.

Unknown said...

you need to find a Neuropsycholigist to do proper testing... and you need to do it now. :( be safe and pray!!

Unknown said...

Why the dig at teen moms?

~D~ said...

NAMI can only give you lind or ideas,, the area we live in the closest Nami is two hours away. And they have been of NO help. Cut backs is what we were told. :(

Its also not up to the doctors to get HELP its up to your Magistrate in your county. ODD right.. But its how they deal with Mentel Health in American. A judge.

Unknown said...

This is my sister's story as well. Prayers for you and all parents struggling with this heartbreaking challenge.

Lynn Lovejoy said...

I am so sorry for your situation. That is truly frightening and I hope you can someday get the help and answers you need. I am not an expert in any sense of the word, but I do have experience working with children who have been involuntarily committed. These people who were involuntarily committed were done so as part of a "civil" commitment... i.e. not criminal. I don't know why the social worker told you he has to be arrested. I don't know what state you live in, but involuntary civil commitment should be an option where you live. I also know someone who was committed for suicidal ideation and after he was released, he maintained his medication treatment and has done quite well. Jail is not the only option, and don't feel like you need to arrest your child. I can't imagine the pain you are feeling and I am so sorry that you have to go through this without being able to find the help you need.

SJ Ballinger said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
HK said...

Dear Anarchist Soccer Mom,

Michael can recover. Tai Chi practice will help him recover well.

See this video on Tai Chi for Kids:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jaZwO3Z8k0s


See also To Redeem One Person is to Redeem the World: The Life of Frieda Fromm-Reichmann:
http://www.gailhornstein.com/_i_to_redeem_one_person_is_to_redeem_the_world__the_life_of_frieda_fromm_reichma_78431.htm

"There are no goals, only the goal...to lift up the fallen and to free the imprisoned...to work toward the redemption of the world."

Keep well.

Unknown said...

Extremely well-expressed. Thank you for sharing your story with us. We all needed to hear. The WORLD needed to hear it. God bless you and give you strength for your journey.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your story, but how is changing his name going to protect his privacy when yours is displayed? Or is this about someone else? And his picture REALLY needs to come down.

theconfidentmom said...

You are a brave mama - one, to live each day in fear and now to share your story. Thank you for bringing to light this topic - it needs to be out in the open. God Bless You!

Blondet said...

I completely agree. I know it by personal experience.

Jay C. Rehak said...

Thank you for having the courage and strength to write this. I pray for you, your son, and all of humanity. We need to get serious about mental illness. 1377

Unknown said...

I agree that the children need help, REAL PROFESSIONAL PSYCHOLOGICAL HELP! From a trained counselor, not just someone to push meds and not get to the bottom of the problem.

My 9 yr old son is somewhere on the Autism spectrum, probably PDD-NOS. After seeking treatment from Brain Balance and doing my own independent research I believe THE FOODS WE CONSUME ARE A LARGE FACTOR IN MANY LIVES. Example: After eating eggs, my son is an emotional wreck. He reminds me of a female with a raging case of PMS. He just can't control his emotions and can become very angry. He does not have an egg allergy, but rather a sensitivity found on a 0400 Triad profile. A test many doctors deem unreliable and most insurance companies won't pay for, but I personally HIGHLY recommend.

Today we eat foods full of chemicals - pesticides, preservatives, artificial colors, artificial flavors (the "natural" variety are a mystery ingredient), hormones, and God only know what else. Dairy products are one of the big offenders. Think about it, we are the only species on earth that consumes milk past youth and we consume ANOTHER MAMMAL's milk. It is not genetically engineered to provide nutrients to a human. Any chemicals the cow consumes is passes to us in the milk.

I encourage any parent who has issues with their child to try an elimination diet (get a food allergy/sensitivity testing if you can). Take any suspected foods out of the diet for one month. Reintroduce them back in one at a time. Keep a food log and make note of any issues.

There's a lot of research out there if you look, but traditional methods are not going to offer up this as an option. The food and pharmaceutical industries spend big money to keep us in the dark.

I wish all parents good luck!

Unknown said...

There was a fantastic article last February in the NY Times Magazine called Wonder Dog about a family that got a service dog for their sometimes violent mentally challenged son. The dog could sense their son's tantrums before they hapebned and would lay on or next to him to calm him down. And the dog can go everywhere with him including school.

I hope you consider this for your son and I wish you and your family peace.

Jackiekjacobs said...

Thank you so much for sharing this... My son has Aspergers, and he is very literal. His dad, my ex-husband, does not accept this. He told our son to find a gas can and light our obnoxious dog on fire. Well, the next time we had a fire at our fire pit and we left the gas can out on accident, Christopher doused the dog in Gasoline. I can only imagine what would have happened if he could work a lighter. He is only 5. Needless to say, we are more careful about putting hazardous things away, and we played a game called "Can I touch this?" To point out things around the house that are unacceptable or dangerous to touch. Mental Illness needs to be discussed. Let's not hide it. It's a RELIEF to know there is something going on. Give it a reason, not a label. You poor woman. I give you many many many kudos for your poignant blog.

Jordan said...

Thank you for having the strength to share this. I only wish that I could share this with others here in Canada without someone attacking me about US gun control laws.

S said...

My mother-in-law had to commit her husband when his paranoid schizophrenia became to much for her and my husband (a teenager at the time). It was a very difficult decision, but it was one that needed to be made.

It's strange. A lot of people who would decry your actions are the same people who would shout, "Why didn't do you do something" to the mothers of those shooters. It's a strange, hypocritical world we live in.

I think you did the right thing, and my prayers are with you, your son, and your family.

Domain123 said...

Wow, thank you so much for sharing your story. My heart goes out to you and your family . Hopefully Michael can get the help he needs. Is there any charity you would recommend that we might be able to contribute to help families like yours?

Write Jane Write said...

It's ridiculous for anyone to criticize the blogger's parenting based on the snapshot of life presented in this blog. Obviously many weeks, months, and years led up to the way things are now. The coping strategies in place now are not just spur of the moment decisions.

Mompom said...

Thank you for this heartfelt article. I share your pain. I haven't had a chance to read through the comments yet, but I suggest that you read the work of Dr. Demitri Papolos, The Bipolar Child, and the website of the Juvenile Bipolar Research Foundation.

Unknown said...

I was working for a gentleman who ran a mental health live-in facility in the late 90's when the pulled ALL the funding and said they would no longer recommend long-term care for the mentally disabled. Those people were put out on the streets - lonely, afraid, and untreated. Since then the options for parents with children who need intensive care is - as your article states - limited to the penal system.

It is important to remember that at the turn of the 20th century, just 100 years ago, mentally ill people were sterilized and submitted to electric shock therapy and lobotomies. During the latter part of the 20th century we believed we had become more humane. But we turned BACK THE CLOCK by passing legislation that took the care of these people out of the hands of professionals who CARED ABOUT AND CARED FOR the severely mentally handicapped.

I am sorry to say that I don't believe this nation is progressive any more. But that is another soap box. Perhaps we need to partition for things to return to the long-term care facilities of the past. At least those who lived in those homes were safe and treated with empathy - and so was the population at large.

Debbie said...

May I have permission to forward your story to my Congresspersons? I truly believe that they need to hear your, and many other similar stories. We need to take action before any more families are destroyed by mis/undiagnosed mental issues.

Thank you for having the courage to come into the public with your story.

Ang said...

I have lived what you are going through now. I understand how painful it is to watch your son go through his moments. I also know the relief and joy you experience on the good days ... and the hope.

I can't say it gets easier, they learn to cope better as they get older and seem to succeed with structure better than anything else but my son is 18 and still hasn't grown out of it; he is angrily sitting in a wheel chair now because of it. I wish there was something I could say to you to help or a direction I could point for you to get help but I'm still lost. I just wanted to reach out to you and tell you that you are not alone.

There does have to be more done for children and adults who cannot control their rage and impulses. We didn't have to wait for the "unthinkable" to occur nor can we wait for it to happen again. Too many people are focusing on the guns and not enough are considering what brought this about in the first place. I'm all for gun control but that is like changing the tire when the brakes are out.

lzambeni said...

This is terrifying! I feel so bad ....and scared...for you that you're stuck with this little mostro! I'm an RN not a psychiatrist but i have read widely. I know this will sound harsh, call it tough love but here goes. You'd better clear your head and get objective about this unfortunate... birth defect (you didn't cause it, it's obviously a genetic defect)... and start getting that criminal papertrail accumlated on him pronto so he can be put away as soon as possible before he kills you, your kids or others. I agree...the prison system is no way to treat the mentally ill, but sorry to say there is no cure for this kind of mental illness. This is not "garden variety" mental illness or depression you're describing. This kid is obviously a young psychopath (1:100 people are). He will end up being a Ted Bundy or Adam Lanza and you and/or others will be his victims someday if you don't take action. As you pointed out in your story, he's a conniving, remorseless little devil that will turn on the fake charm one minute and then become an wild animal with death in his eyes the next. That is a sign of a psychopathic killer. Unfortunately,there is no "cure" for them the way there's no cure for pedophiles. Maybe someday, a century from now, we'll be able to do gene therapy on these people to "fix" them or PET scan their brains and see what's wrong so we can fix it or at least lock them up so that can't hurt anyone ...but till that day there is nothing that can be done for these accidents of nature. My heart breaks for you. I hope you do the right thing and don't let your maternal emotions get in the way of protecting youself, your family, your other kids, and society from him. I know this sounds harsh ...but it's THE TRUTH! I hope you listen...Good luck....

srob64 said...

Thank you for sharing your experiences. Bless your heart, you have the courage to stand up, even up it isn't "politically correct" and take the initiative to save your son, and your other children, possibly others. So many just would give back the video games/electronics to the child and walk out of the room...in hopes that turning the blind eye will make the problem go away.

Luna said...

Thank you so much for sharing this. I am the sibling of a child much like Michael, who is now an adult. We have made it through the worst I hope. I am wondering if you keep guns in your home? My mother never did and I think that is part of what made a difference, and should be part of the conversation.

James Carli said...

Sounds like the campers I worked with at a summer camp for autistic, Aspergers, and ADHD kids. They are all super smart, but have social and behavioral challenges, that our camp program is specially designed to work with. Have you considered a specialized summer camp program?I worked at one called Talisman, in western North Carolina. We have kids from all over the world come to the camp. As an ASD person myself, I found the experience life-changing, and I saw the same in our kids, too.

http://talismancamps.crchealth.com/

BB said...

macey, your borderline is glaring thru. what you experienced has nothing to do with what this mother is struggling thru. i'm sorry for your past but it bears no connection to "michael." not all out of control behavior is due to bad adults. there are so many chemical and neurological malfunctions that are barely understood or even recognized that it is a daunting portrait of an icy mountain surrounded by fog being climbed by people clothed for the equator. to equate your psychological history with this child is both incorrect and full of hubris. please stop assuming that every broken life is like yours was. you do an injustice to both michael's and his mother's struggle.

Unknown said...

I was working for a gentleman who ran a mental health live-in facility in the late 90's when the pulled ALL the funding and said they would no longer recommend long-term care for the mentally disabled. Those people were put out on the streets - lonely, afraid, and untreated. Since then the options for parents with children who need intensive care is - as your article states - limited to the penal system.

It is important to remember that at the turn of the 20th century, just 100 years ago, mentally ill people were sterilized and submitted to electric shock therapy and lobotomies. During the latter part of the 20th century we believed we had become more humane. But we turned BACK THE CLOCK by passing legislation that took the care of these people out of the hands of professionals who CARED ABOUT AND CARED FOR the severely mentally handicapped.

I am sorry to say that I don't believe this nation is progressive any more. But that is another soap box. Perhaps we need to partition for things to return to the long-term care facilities of the past. At least those who lived in those homes were safe and treated with empathy - and so was the population at large.

Jenn B said...

Thank you. I'm a healthcare worker that is witnessing a serious decline in the amount of mental healthcare that we give. Many years from now, I believe that our society will view mental illness as an actual disease and we won't treat those affected by it like they are seeking pain pills, but rather with empathy and swift action -- Just as if the affected patient has diabetes or cancer. I am sorry for your troubles, but just know that there are those of us that will act, will intervene and will help you. Even if it's just a hug when you need it.
When our country realizes that the root of this issue is that we do not have adequate mental health treatment facilities, and that we simply hand out medications instead of treating the illness, I believe it will change, but it's going to take people like you to bring it to the attention of the powers that be.
Again, thank you for your story, and I will pray for peace or your family.

wally said...

Mental health is the driver, guns are the enabler.
Every time.
We need to work on both ends of the problem.

just4janet said...

Regarding Macey's comments, please tell me more. I am feeling such an affinity toward the author but after reading your post, I want to hear more about your point-of-view, specifically what actions can I take to make my son feel that he is understood, supported in the face of terrifying outbursts by him.

Kelly DeBie said...

Thank you for writing this. You are so brave, and have touched many people with this piece. We must do better as a society, we must.

Unknown said...

I am the daughter of a man murdered by another mentally ill young man (you may have heard of the Boy Scout leader stabbed while on a hike with boys). One of the things we decided in the aftermath of our tragedy that there needs to be a law - literally. Mothers/parents of these children lose all control when they hit the magic age of 18. They need to automatically be granted medical power of attorney until the child turns 21, and they need to be told how to petition the courts to continue the address the medical needs of their mentally ill child.

Unknown said...

Wow. All I can say is wow. You ROCK, Soccer Mom. Good luck to you and your son. My heart goes out to you.

jana said...

Not to be overlooked: SSRIs, vaccines and above all, poor nutrition and GMOs. Look up the Failsafe diet - developed by an Austrialian doctor. Kids have come around after taken off the chemically laden 'foods' we eat.

Add in fractured homelife and violent video games....and a society that doesn't teach civics anymore. Not surprising all this.....

Lisa E. said...

Anarchist Soccer Mom, THANK YOU! For anyone who has never had to have a "safety plan" to protect yourself from a family member, I hope that you never know that horror -- the horror of having a knife pressed to your side or the hands of your spouse or child attempting to strangle you.

My husband (diagnosed with BPD about 8 years ago) took his own life last year. I was grateful that he did not take others with him as he had threatened MANY times before. I had stopped his suicidal attempts SEVEN times before he was successful.

My experience is only with BPD and everyone with BPD is different. I pray you never have to know the kind of story described in this blog.

We don't and can't know whether Adam Lanza had a disorder that would have caused him to react with such violence, but it seems likely to me. He was still a son, a brother, a nephew and a person of import to someone in this world, and that person(s) grieves not only the loss of a loved one, but the loss of many in a terrible fashion. You bet your a$$ his family needs our prayers.

SFC MAC said...

Okay, so this mother going to endure her son's daily rampages without putting him in a mental facility where he belongs. All I read in the article was excuses. She and her other children will end up dead because she refuses to check her lunatic kid into a psychiatric hospital; permanently if necessary. There are mentally "disabled" people in my family. My second cousin is autistic, retarded, and violent. His mother finally placed him in a assisted living facility where he gets guidance and learns constructive skills. He has his own room, he takes care of animals, and he's monitored by professionals who do not let him get away with tantrums. Trust me, we'll be reading about "Michael" in the newspapers as soon as he's old enough to commit murder.

Unknown said...

This is an excellent article touching upon many issues that our parenting team faces with our children, albeit not as extreme. Your writing sent me on a 1 hour trip down the rabbit hole of your entire blog. You are an excellent writer and I wish you all the best. CC

ldyplantagenet said...

They are beating up on her because they are mentally ill. Their posts attacking her serve to further illustrate the point of this entire blog post. You can't reason with ill people. I've lived this in my own life and saw myself in this blog.(I hope she can ignore these people--she's doing the right thing with her son--I'm guessing with what she's been through, she can). She's strong and brave. Kudos to her for writing this. God, I hope she can get some assistance. Hang in there, Anarchist Soccer Mom! Even though I don't know you I have dealt with similar issues. Sending you support via the internet.

The Meezers or Billy said...

you story is my mother's story, and my story from a sibling's perspective. My brother, now 53 years old, still exhibits all of these behaviors that he has exhibited since he was 2 years old. I wholeheartedly agree with you that we, as a nation, need to do something for the mentall ill, so that these horrific tragedies do not happen again. I live day to day terrified to turn on the news or open the newspaper, because I am afraid I am going to see my brother's name associated with one of these tragedies. And there's legally nothing we can do.
God Bless you for all of your efforts to find help - for yourself, your son and your other children. I pray that you can find peace in your chaos.

Amy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

This is my life everyday with my step-son. Very similar. We've been told the same thing by social services. Thank you for letting others know what is wrong with the system and for sharing your story.

Elizabeth said...

I am a juvenile probation officer and I totally agree with you! Jail is not the answer! Unfortunately, it seems mental illness in teens is becoming an epidemic. I see it everyday! Please feel free to privately email me for help (if I can). Bkoozer17@yahoo.com

Unknown said...

First off, thank you mama for sharing. I first read this from a friends link on FB when you only had like 9 comments and they were all supportive.
Second, you know that expressing yourself in this way will open you up to a slew of criticisms, complaints, and now from what I've read above- some downright nasty thoughts/feelings from others. STAY FOCUSED, STAY STRONG, and do what is best for you and your family. Including sharing your story in this public way if it helps you.

As the daughter of a woman who's suffered from severe paranoid schizophrenia since i was 10, I can only share that it is constant and it is never ending. The good and the bad. I'm 35 now and have my own daughter, who just turned one, and thankfully neither of us seems to have any mental illnesses. So we can focus on my mom who is doing "good" for now after 20 plus years of poor support from any mental health institutions.

I'm mainly commenting to say I understand and you are not alone. Peace be to you and your family.

JAB said...

By the tone of the comment, it sounds as though Macey is still dealing with her BPD. When a child threatens his family or himself, action needs to be taken. This fairy tale that you can just "listen to your child" and it will solve everything will endanger innocent people.

Anonymous said...

This is my brother - except for without the intelligence part. I've had to hide myself and our youngest brother in the car while babysitting so he didn't stab us with the kitchen knife. Macey has no clue what she's talking about. I know that doesn't help. I just wanted to say something.

colleen said...

thank you, thank you for sharing. (i also picked this up on facebook.) i have worked hard to manage my own mental health and i am a 7th grade teacher. your perspective echoes my own thoughts concerning a lot of issues. i hope you can find some true help within our country's health and school systems. your family sounds wonderful and i wish you peace!

Unknown said...

Thanks you so much for sharing this & don't pay too much attention to the people who are bashing your parenting! NO ONE knows how they will react when presented with different scenarios & might even act in different ways when presented with the same scenario more than once. NO ONE knows what your senses are telling you in these situations, even if they THINK they do.
Just keep being the best parent you know how to be your children & focus on the support I see the majority of the posts! You are doing the right thing by trying to keep yourself & others safe in these situations!!

In The Garden said...

Please read this book.

http://www.amazon.com/Gut-Psychology-Syndrome-Natasha-Campbell-McBride/dp/0954852001/ref=sr_1_fed0_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1355675536&sr=8-2&keywords=gut+and+psychology+syndrome

Morgan said...

This hits really close to home. My little sister is 12 and going through the same thing. I really hope something comes of this. Thank you for your post.

jsteiger said...

We also dealt with a child like Michael only we were lucky because she was adopted and we were able to essentially return her to foster care where all of the services available to the county's dependent children were available to her. And yet we remained her family with visits and some rights. She is an adult now, we are still legally her parents, she carries our name, but she does not set foot in our home I will not allow it. Yes I agree we need good mental health institutions that allow the patients to blossom and develop their individual skills which are often numerous. BUT these institutions should not be like prisons nor punitive they need to protect both the patient and society from those who are too unstable to function without limits.

Unknown said...

As a doctor of psychology who specializes in the assssment & treatment of sever problem behaviors in children - often comorbid with mental health disorders, I find this story relevant, important, & admirably personal. I also find comments, such as that posted by Travis Mayes, ignorant; obviously made in haste & with a careless disregard for the circumstances of a child and their family.

Morgan said...

This hits really close to home. My little sister is 12 and going through the same thing. I really hope something comes of this. Thank you for your post.

Donna Barr said...

Those people beating up on this mom: when I wait until your back is turned and you suddenly hear your little monster shut up, it's because he's found the face of a Cannibal Aunt in his own face, with a silent, intense look he can interpret: "Keep it up, you little horror, and I'll protect the troop by tearing you to bits and devouring you - and sharing you with my daughter." (One of you has actually turned around and said, "Thank you.") There. My dose of injected paranoia for the day to those of you who deserve it. You're welcome, society.

Khadija Dawn Carryl said...

You are so strong and brilliant. Thank you for sharing this intimate part of your life with us. I hope my shares on FB help. I wish I could do something. We need to change this. We need to stand up and do something. I'll be there if anyone ever needs me. I'll do my best.

Mother to 6. Khadija

Unknown said...

like the others, my heart goes out to you. Can I applaud the comment about geometry and quantum mechanics.. also mindfulness. As a clinical hypnotherapist I would be willing to do skype or googleplus sessions with your son for free. I would involve him in investigating these techniques for himself..if this is of interest to you then email me. Ang

Liz Kettle said...

I have been close to where you are. Not quite, but close. You may not see this with so many comments and the last thing you want is suggestions I am sure but I must tell you that my son is cured. All of his mental health problems disappeared two years after being diagnosed with Celiac and eating a gluten free diet. There is very little research on how gluten affects the brain and some research suggest that there may be a mast cell connection. I don't know but my son who I thought would never live on his own is a happy successful young adult living on his own. Doctors don't know everything.

Anonymous said...

Where is the father? Boys need a father figure in their life. If you take that away, you will have a screwed up kid. What is the pattern between this story and the Sandy Hook story? Both kids don't have a father in their life.

John said...

Thank you for spilling your guts with this post. I'm stating the obvious, but it is excellent. I would love to follow you on twitter. My handle on twitter is @johnjwillett I will pray for your family.

Piotr Migdal said...

Why you forbid him to play video games? For such kid such decision not stated in advance (e.g. "from the next week so on, if you reference to me as "bitch" then that evening you won't be able to play video games") is shocking, as if someone have told you "you annoyed your kid, so this evening you need to move to a different house" (assuming that you are neurotypical, which most likely is the case; just try to imagine).

When it comes to jeans - your kid is right. The society is illogical, not him.

And from the story, he is a smart guy, smarter than most of people, who are good only at adhering to social norms. So putting him in jail is going to waste his talent. He is not worse, is is different (if not better).

BTW: Perhaps you read Graham Farmelo's "The Strangest Man: The Hidden Life of Paul Dirac, Quantum Genius".

Jenny from the cellblock said...

You are incredibly brave to write this. I am so sorry that you have to deal with any hatred and ignorance in the form of appalling comments. But you've written this beautifully and with such honesty -- thank you for daring to do so. Thank you. Sending enormous wishes that much help and much peace come to your family. Stay brave and bold and truthful. Your words are much, much needed in this world.

Lisa M. Cherry said...

Thank you so much for your post. You said exactly what needs to be said. As a health journalist, I've come across many ideas and one which may really help you and others is the work of Doris Rapp--she was on Oprah (and other shows) and showed kids before and after who were just like Michael (before).

Believe it or not, allergies to even food colourings, and just eating some sugar were flipping them out. Please check her out and get him tested for all this--by following her protocol, you may change his life.

Please also check out the work of Dr. Abram Hoffer (and the Orthomolecular Medical Society) who changed the lives of many.

I'd love to hear back from you to see how it goes. Take care and I wish you all the best,
Lisa
www.lisacherry.ca

kywrite said...

Amazing post. My son has PDD/NOS and, though he never got to this point, he has shown nearly every symptom you describe here at. My heart goes out to you. Thank you for telling your story, and I hope it is listened to by those who can make a difference.

Lisa M. Cherry said...

Thank you so much for your post. You said exactly what needs to be said. As a health journalist, I've come across many ideas and one which may really help you and others is the work of Doris Rapp--she was on Oprah (and other shows) and showed kids before and after who were just like Michael (before).

Believe it or not, allergies to even food colourings, and just eating some sugar were flipping them out. Please check her out and get him tested for all this--by following her protocol, you may change his life.

Please also check out the work of Dr. Abram Hoffer (and the Orthomolecular Medical Society) who changed the lives of many.

I'd love to hear back from you to see how it goes. Take care and I wish you all the best,
Lisa
www.lisacherry.ca

kem said...

highly intelligent people experience the world differently than the rest of us what they need is support . They are mostly free spirited . They need space to express themselves creative freedom , they don't need forced social norms .

adam , micheal all had something wonderful the could contribute to society like bill ,steve and John Nash but they are in the wrong environment.

Lisa M. Cherry said...

ps. Please also check out the fantastic book, BRAIN ALLERGIES. :)

All the best,
Lisa

Christynemarie said...

Spoken like people inserting their own childhood issues into an entirely different situation. All people in this disagreement column talk about their own childhood or outside experiences. Don't judge until you have a child actually pull a knife on you and threaten to kill you and perhaps the siblings.

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