Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Fog bank

Today started out as a beautiful sun-shiny day. Then a fog bank rolled in. Within about 20 minutes, the sun disappeared and it felt like living in thick, soupy, foggy London. Fog horns blaring, all kinds of mayhem going on out on the bay. Well, this is to be expected when you live on an island at the coast, right?

What is interesting to me is the symbolism going on here. Let me explain...

Here I am, going along through my life just fine. Well, at least relatively fine. My current mindset is good. I am clear on my direction. I'm attending support meetings. My husband seems ok. My younger son seems to be in a good place right now. My older son is in treatment.  I'm back to fighting the insurance company for his continued placement. All good, right? 

And then the dang fog bank descends....

On January 20, 2014, it was exactly 4 months and 4 days until my son's 18th birthday. And I know exactly what the instigating fear factor of my current "fog bank" was; MLK Day. It was on this day 18 years ago that I began my hospitalized preterm labor with my son. My life changed forever that day. 

"All progress is precarious, and the solution of one problem brings us face-to-face with another problem." -Martin Luther King, Jr.

Looking back to Jan 20, 1996, I was faced with a very big problem... For it seemed my pregnancy was in very big trouble. I had landed in the hospital in "preterm labor" and my doctors had told me to go home, that they couldn't stop my labor, and that I would soon deliver a baby that was too little to be able to survive. Well, the outcome to this story was good. My son wasn't born for another 4 months and 4 days, and he was about as perfect and healthy as he could possibly be, given his very challenging start in life. 

But what I didn't know then was that the drugs I had to take to remain pregnant, (Intravenous Terbutaline) had been acting like a toxin to my baby's developing brain. So, now, fast forward 18 years, and we learned my son suffers from a Partial Complex Seizure Disorder, Marfan's Syndrome, severe depression, and other health ailments due to this in utero drug exposure. Using illegal drugs as a coping mechanism is about the worst thing my son can do. Illegal drugs affect him negatively, and seem to increase whatever is going on with him (anxiety, depression, euphoria, etc). In the past, doing drugs have always led him to the same cliff: suicide.

18 years ago, I was hopeful. Today, I'm not sure what I am, but I know residing inside my heart is a very big stumbling block: Fear. For my son, being on his own is a train heading for disaster.

Most days find me pushing this fear away. Some days find me with my hands on my hips, staring it down, and daring it to rule me. Lately and frankly, for quite some time, I have been reasoning with myself that I have no control over my son, that there are many forces greater than me, and who am I to be able to rule another person's life and will with my own? Do I think I am a God, or what??! (let's just ignore my answer to that question for the time being!) No, but in that, I am turning to God for help with my son...

"Strive to trust (God -or your higher power) in more and more areas of your life. Anything that tends to make you anxious is a growth opportunity. Instead of running away from these challenges, embrace them, eager to gain all the blessings (He) has hidden in the difficulties. If you believe that (He is) sovereign over every aspect of your life, it is possible to trust (Him) in all situations. Don’t waste energy regretting the way things are or thinking about what might have been. Start at the present moment—accepting things exactly as they are—and search for (His) way in the midst of those circumstances."*
So, today I am reminded of this. And instead of running away from my fears and challenges, I know in my heart that I have the power to do this... again. 18 years ago, I learned that my problem... ur, growth opportunity (staying in bed for 4 months and 4 days, and acting like a human incubator for the baby growing inside of me) took me to places I never dreamed I'd go. They weren't easy places, in fact they were the hardest places I'd ever had to go to. Places with names like Patience, Humility, and the big one: Not Being Able To Do Exactly What I Wanted (aka Sacrifice). Those places taught me big lessons. They let me know I could DO THIS. That I could take this Growth Opportunity, and make something Big of it. (Like a healthy baby)

So, now, as I glance up, I see the glorious sun has returned, and the fog has moved on. And I realize my mood has also improved. If I can just remember to Trust, to be strong in my heart with what I know is true, and encourage my fears to exit stage left.... well, I know that everything will work out just fine.

And I will go forth today with those reminders, carry Faith in my heart, and find renewed hope. Yes!

* Exerpt from Jesus Calling, January 22.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


It's my word for this new year. Boundaries.



I am a giver, a fixer, a doer, a holder-upper. To certain people in my life more than others.

And I'm good at getting walked on. Especially by those certain people. Um humm... Like all over.

But that's my doing too, and I accept that. In a weirdly passive way I can derive comfort from knowing I am needed. And I can take solice in knowing I am a helper-sort. And in a push-it-under-the-cushion way, I relish knowing that I can make things happen for them, to get things done.

But it is finally time to stop it.

Rather, it is finally time to embrace what I am doing, and own it. Be better about being manipulative and covert. Really, it's about approaching life honestly and looking it straight in the eye. Or heart. It is taking responsibility for my own stuff. And saying no to what is not mine to own. It is not feeling abandoned by myself if I stop manipulating, or threatening. About letting go of the need to manipulate or threaten. About forging through old thinking patterns and trying to do things a whole new way. About staying awake and alive to my own needs. To be disciplined with myself. To ask for support when I need it. To allow others to rely on me without expecting payback. To give more, from my heart, when I know it is right, and true.

To give more. In a limited, little bit selfish way.

And to NOT give, when it's necessary to hold back. That's going to be hard for me.

But this is what I am going to try for.

It's all I can ask of myself. Just try a bit of this each day.

Pretty soon, I'm sure it's going to stick like glue.

Then I will be a boundary whiz.


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Mental Hell

In case you're not aware of it, I want to share with you that there actually is such a thing as "Hell on Earth." it is located in a place called Mental Illness. If you are aware of this fact, I am sorry. You may be struggling yourself, or know a loved one who is. I am here to commiserate with you. It is Hell for everyone involved.

It has been two terrible weeks since my 17 year old son tried to take his life. He is suffering from a deep and profound depression, brought on by the stress of returning home after 18 months of residential treatment.  He was much more fragile than we realized, we just didn't recognize the danger signs until it was much too late. His pain wasn't obvious to us.  I don't want to beat myself up over this, but as a "fixer mom" I feel completely crushed by this entire situation.

This last week has been so difficult and challenging for my husband and myself, as well as our younger son. I can't imagine how it is for our older son. He is back in Texas, at Meridell Achievement Center, the place where they helped him so much last year. 

His mood is as black as the moonless sky. 
I pray he can find his way out of this.

As if it's not enough to live with this pain and sorrow seeping through every pore of my body, it's compounded by "miscellaneous people" I've been forced to talk with when these things happen. The insurance case managers (somehow now we have THREE), all shocked and speechless once I get to this part of the story: "suicide attempt." (Dang it... They are supposed to be calling me and offering support!) The new therapist I needed to interview because our family is in crisis, hearing the edginess in his voice as my story keeps unravelling towards the unthinkable. (I did NOT set an appointment with him.) The judge in the courtroom who is incredulous that we aren't bringing our son home for the holidays. I wanted to stand up and shout in the courtroom, "CERTAINLY YOU PEOPLE HAVE DEALT WITH MENTAL ILLNESS BEFORE???" And finally, the IEP team who have fought so gallantly against giving my son an IEP over the last 10 years now begrudgingly offer up the help my son has so desperately needed. I can't even type the things I want to say to them....

One of the crisis people I spoke with told me to not be discouraged by the recent happenings with my son. We know more now about the help he needs, and we can better focus the care he receives at this point moving forward. I just keep holding onto these words and pray she is right.

And so now I feel compelled to take up a new mission. My twitchie hand is on the handle... I feel the sword coming out of the sheath. My target? Mental health, and how it is so wrongly pushed under the rug in our society. Something must be done. Things have got to change.