Faith, love, hope – words I heard all of life but really did not feel the true meaning of such simple words until my son was born nearly 15 years ago. They are my motto every day and words I often express to others.
When loving a child with a disability of any kind they are words you cling to and believe in. My son suffers from emotional disabilities, or neuropsychiatric disorders or mental illness, however you choose to label what he lives with on a daily basis. He always overreacted to the most minor of situations, raging often, crying frequently and riding a daily roller coaster ride of emotions.
From very early on I knew something was wrong, which started this journey that is now 17 years long and prompted our book No One is Perfect and YOU are a Great Kid￼.(amazon) As he grew, suffered and tried desperately to understand what was happening to him he struggled with many questions of “Why?“, why me, why am I like this? along with feeling as if he were the only kid in the whole world who was struggling with these very complicated challenges.
I have often been called the parent who did not discipline my child, who raised a spoiled, manipulative, self centered, unruly boy, which are all very far from accurate. If you are a parent of a “high spirited, intense child” as I am, you have most likely heard some of the same accusations from parents of “perfect” children who do no wrong, who respond to their parents every command on queue, and perfectly behaved and well mannered.
My hope and prayer is that the people in general open their minds and come to realize that children like mine, who suffer with these illnesses, are not bad kids, not evil or purposefully oppositional but are lovable, kind, funny, smart and full of promise as is every other child. Yes,they may do things differently, loudly, extremely, and outrageously. They need to be given understanding, reassurance, patience, acceptance and compassion.
My wish is that other children who feel different for any reason find hope, promise, acceptance and the gift that is within them and realize they are not alone. Mental illness is not a choice, it is not contagious, it does not make you “less than.” I hope our story will open the lines of communication for parents and children, friends and neighbors to discuss and explore behavior they may not understand. My biggest hope is that children who are seeking acceptance, understanding and answers be able to find that from parents, friends and peers.
I am the mother of two wonderful children, married to my biggest fan for over 20 years now. We live in Simpsonville, SC with the other 4 “children”, their dogs Cruz, Ponchco, Deuce and Maxine. I recently quit my job for the Greenville Hospital System as a Patient and Family Liaison to be CEO of Good Boy Roy, a business created by and for Zack. I also work as a part time personal trainer, am a fitness junkie and Cross Fit fanatic.
If you suspect a love one suffers with a mental or emotional illness see my link page or go to www.nami.org for more information.