This is what I know
I know that when you first discover your child has a mental illness, you immediately look back at your pregnancy and the child’s infancy to see what you could have done differently.
I know that when you discover the things you did that could/should have been done differently, you beat yourself up and walk around in a cloud of guilt.
I know that the more you study and research and learn about different things that COULD be wrong or are wrong, the more guilt you can inflict upon yourself for the myriad of things you just didn’t know or weren’t in a place to realize what you were doing at the time.
I know that eventually you have to cut yourself some slack…at least for that day.
I know that you make appointment after appointment after appointment trying to find the “magic” combination of meds, therapy, interventions…that will “cure” your child.
I know that when your child starts taking out his anger, frustration, and defiance on you, verbally, emotionally and physically, you take it and take it and take it, because you still think it’s your fault.
I know that the more you look and look and beg for help, the more you realize there aren’t many resources available and the advice you begin to get over and over is call the police, start a paper trail.
I know when you try to get advice from other well meaning parents, you hear, “be consistent”, “I wouldn’t let my kid do that”, “he just needs more one on one time with you “, “I’d just do this, this and this…” And after you’ve tried ALL of these things and more, it still isn’t any better.
I know that the first time your son pushes you into a closet and won’t let you out and pulls you hair and threatens to hit you with his cast and you are TRULY scared for the first time, you still don’t want to call the police.
I know that the first time the police come to your house and talk to your son they say things to him like, “If you were my kid I wouldn’t let you talk to my wife that way.” And he cries and promises to be “good” and says he’s sorry, you can’t bring yourself to actually have him go with the police.
I know that the psych evaluations they give in the emergency rooms are a joke and as you sit there crying, your son vacillates between telling you how sorry he is and how much he hates your guts and wishes you would die.
I know that having to go visit your child in the Psych Center is awful and heartbreaking, especially when he refuses to see you, and when he does see you, he’s so angry it washes off of him in waves.
I know that you start to walk around on eggshells because you just “don’t want to set him off” and your other children get angrier and angrier as they see their brother bully his way out of unpleasant tasks.
I know you secrete cortisol the entire time your pregnant because you are so worried about your older child and are in a continual cycle of abuse with him, so your unborn child marinates in stress hormones.
I know you become so angry you can’t look at your child, your spouse, or your other children without just wanting to either scream or cry.
I know that a baby born into a home with a mentally ill sibling will witnesses the abuse and rage and will become a toddler who can’t sleep, who can’t be away from me, who can’t tolerate any kind of change in routine, who cries often, who is easily angered, frustrated, scared or irritated, and who doesn't seem to learn as well as your other children.
I know that after many, many, many calls to the police, each one traumatic, several of them initiated by one of the siblings, because you are being hit, kicked, bit, spit on, and/or tackled, your child finally goes to live somewhere else for awhile.
I know that as the rest of the people in the house start to heal and begin to breathe normally, the guilt washes over you again because you can see the relief in your exhausted children’s eyes and are sure they can see the same relief in yours.
I know that even after your child is removed from the home several times and you know the drill, you still hope that THIS time is the time he’ll come back better able to manage himself.
I know that seeing and experiencing the old behaviors and attitudes start to surface again, this time with a bigger, angrier, stronger child, your heart breaks as you sigh your exhausted sigh and prepare to do battle for the sake of your other children who shouldn’t have to live like this.
I know that PTSD counseling is expensive and painful and difficult to navigate when the trauma is still occurring.
I know that I will not give up on my son with mental illness, even when everyone else has, including him.
I know that this choice is exhausting and difficult.