Today Starts #ACT4MentalHealth Take Action

This is my beautiful daughter, Kelsie, she will be 16 soon. And she has Mental Illness.

Does this look like the face of #mentalillness ???

NO!!

      Mental illness has no Face, it doesn’t affect the poor, illiterate, Hispanic, underprivileged ….it does NOT discriminate!!  Mental illness has No boundaries. No limitations. This is my beautiful baby girl, and yes she struggles and lives w Mental illness every day. The brilliant, beautiful, wealthy, poor, homeless, educated…. Have Mental illness.

And, it’s OK !

     Mental illness is not a choice, is not contagious, does not make u less than. Let Congress know that More help needs to be provided for ppl and those families living w Mental Illness.

Use hashtag #act4mentalhealth starting today, September 4 to, help spread the word.

 

 

This is my son, Zack, 19. He also has Mental illness.

 

How did both of my children end up with Mental Illness?? That is  a good question. One I have yet to figure out. You see Mental illness is usually, not always, genetic. Neither my husband, nor myself have a history or family history of mental illness with the exception of depression. My children however have been burdened with far greater difficulties in addition to depression.

My daughter struggles with severe depression, bipolar disorder and anxiety. Her depression took over her mind, twice, when she could see only darkness, leading to two suicide attempts. Thankfully, she was unsuccessful and medication has helped her to get her life back.

My son suffers from IED, OCD, Tourettes, depression and anxiety as well. He is the one who suffers the most, difficult to treat and hard to  manage. Since birth his illnesses have been present and as a family we have all suffered, struggled and tried to live with his daily outbursts, rage attacks, destruction to our home and lives. My daughter, only recently did the evil problems of mental illness rear its ugly head to reek havoc in her life.

How can you help? How can you take action? Today starts the launch of Act 4 Mental Health by NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental illness.

Check it out. See what it’s all about. Share. Knowledge is Power

Tweet me @kimwhix or Kelsie @n0_boundaries We would love to hear from you

My child is in the Psychiatric Hospital and no one cares

Rethink Mental Illness

Rethink Mental Illness (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was speaking to a friend today whose child was recently in the hospital, the Psychiatric Hospital to be exact. This smart, educated, kind, soft-spoken mom I have gotten to know because we both love and raise children with mental illness.

She was asking how things were going, knowing the past few weeks have been incredibly difficult with my son being unstable. As we discussed the ups and downs of mental illness, the stability and instability roller coaster, we discussed how the Stigma associated with Mental illness is still so wide-spread and doesn’t seem to be making any headway with culture and society understanding this. She commented that when she had to hospitalize her little boy, who is diagnosed with Bipolar disorder, a few months ago, that no one acknowledged it. Unlike when someone is in the hospital for an illness, cancer, injury etc…neighbors usually rally to the family to offer support. Well meaning and kind neighbors bring casseroles and food by for the family to “help  out”, cards are sent to the family and/or person in the hospital. But, when you are in a metal hospital NONE of this happens. No cards came to her family or the child. No one asked if she needed help with anything. It was simply not mentioned.

Why?

Why is that?

Why is it that when you are in the hospital because your mind is “sick” that no one cares? Why is it different from your body being sick or broken? We understand Autism, and how that manifests itself in the childs behavior, actions, social functioning. Mental illness is no different, it can and does affect people the same way, in varying degrees. Is it because most people with a mental illness “look normal“?  You can’t see what their disability or challenges are? You can not see the sick mind?

I have been told that too. “Your son looks so normal. I would never know anything was wrong with him”

Well….ok. No, you can’t SEE OCD/Depression/Anxiety/Tourette’s or learning disabilities until and unless the symptoms of these are actively present in the person. But I can assure you, lack of any outward, visible “disability” does not lessen the severity.

Please, if you ever have a friend, a loved one that suffers from mental/emotional illness, hospitalized due to their illness, please don’t ignore them. Don’t pretend they aren’t really sick. Dont pretend they are there because they aren’t “strong” or can’t “handle things”.

They need help.

Help with a brain that has an illness, just like broken bones, diabetes, cancer, lupus, COPD and others.

Send a card. Bake a casserole. Offer a kind ear and understanding.

My Pity Party

I am posting after yet another episode of hell here due to  raging and lack of impulse control and inflexibility of my 17 year old son. Pardon me, or not, if this is really raw.

These episodes happen usually as a result of something very minor.

Really. Minor.

Today he was set off because his younger sister asked to watch her “show” on the main TV in the den, where he was watching a show.

(background) the show he was watching he has seen several times already, and has recorded, so he can watch any time. The show she wanted to watch is only on the Netflix channel, that she usually watches in the upstairs play room which seems to run cold.

So, she asked could she for once watch her show downstairs and he could finish watching his show when hers went off. Sounds simple enough. Right??
Wrong

For a child who has a brain like concrete and NO flexibility in his thinking at all it is impossible to “switch gears” like this.
I asked him if he would help me out, and let her watch her show, and the standoff began between him and her.
The showdown began.
He becomes more and more agitated, as does she, name calling begins. So, since it seemed like he was not being agreeable to something I thought was not a major request, I told him he had to let her, for once, watch in the den, especially since his show was recorded AND he has seen several times already. I hoped for a miracle of agreement. NOT

The Rage begins.
Oh, did I mention a plumber was at the house doing an emergency plumbing job? It usually happens this way. So, outside our house, the plumber can hear my 17-year-old son screaming, like someone is killing him. Along with him yelling at his sister, them chasing each other and the total chaos going on. (while I am outside trying to talk to him about what the problem is)poor guy is looking at me with some concerned expression as he is hearing all of the commotion from inside. I just calmly say..”that’s just my 17-year-old unhappy because he didn’t get his way”

The next thing we  hear is  a bang on the front window, above where we were at the source of the plumbing problem. As I look at the window I see that my son has hit it, and broken yet another set of blinds.

Oh well, par for the course here.

Things are always getting broken during his rages.

Throw in this mix of madness my husband just left again for out-of-town business trip for a week. And I am here, as always, dealing with the chaos alone. Trying to get two kids from killing each other.

As I enter the house, my son is crying and sobbing like a 4-year-old (again, usual behavior). I wonder, will this ever get better?  Will He ever get better? Will he ever mature enough to someday be independent? Ever? I give up.
We had a beautiful new house 6 years ago that now looks like a place of destruction because of all the holes he has made in walls (during rages). Fortunately I have become pretty good at plastering and re-painting them. Yet some I just leave, the ones where he slams a door so hard it puts a whole in the wall where the door knob hits.

I am feeling so, so, hopeless, worthless, not caring anymore, giving up. My pity party begins.

We live in constant upheaval, the house always needs repair, when we try to get ahead financially something always breaks or needs to be fixed. It’s never-ending. Now, I know, we are not alone. Not by a long shot.

But I am thinking, why?? I’m a good person. We are good people. I pray, am faithful, as does Zack. Poor kid prays everyday for GOD to help him get better. For him to feel and act better. Nothing, no peace comes to him or us. Many days we feel lost, unheard. And he asks, often, why did GOD do this to me? Why am I like this? Why wont GOD answer our prayers? I don’t know. I just don’t know.  My heart breaking, again. His doctor is fantastic, but medications usually only bring stability for a brief time. Never long enough.

This business of Good Boy Roy I have been diligently working and trying to grow for 3 years now, for him, to be his future, seems to be going nowhere. Or, should I say, not where we hoped it would be by now. This too makes me feel like a failure. I think to myself, if I was better, smarter, more business savvy it would be a National brand by now. If only I could do more. He will not, I am sure, be able to work for someone else, on their terms or time frame, but will need to work when he is emotionally and mentally capable. Which was the reason to start the business. People with the extent of neurologically based challenges that he has need great flexibility. So, we plug along. Living our life. Hoping. Praying.

I go about the usual business of cleaning up whatever destruction is left. Trying to gather my nerves most of all. Waiting, hoping, praying he will calm down soon. Hoping, praying, my daughter will somehow grow up to not hate her life or her brother, but somehow understand he is sick, and not purposeful of most of his actions like this.  He has been under constant medical care since about the age of 4, with tests run, EEG, Cat scans and the like, which show total disorganization in his brain. The cause of his multiple diagnosis, OCD/ADD/Depression/Anxiety/Tourette’s (caused by a strep infection in 5th grade) and 3 head traumas.

As I continue on my pity party, I as always, am thankful for what we do have. Thankful for what my son has accomplished and what he can do. He is a loving, sweet boy, as long as he is stable. But the inflexibility rarely, if ever, gets better. We have much to be thankful for as so many have lost children, lost loved ones, devote lives to children who are unable to even feed or bath themselves. Yes, a midst the turmoil and chaos, we are lucky. Very lucky.

Pity Party over.

Will he ever be ok??

    Today is another disappointment.  Zack quit his part-time job at Ingles.

Yet I must stop and remind myself of the thousands of times this child has amazed me. Astounded me. Delighted me. His zest for life, his determination, his never give up spirit. Loving him has made me into a much better person. A kinder, more generous, more understanding, more tolerant and accepting person.

I guess the disappointment comes from wanting to know he could do this, manage the work, hold down a job. The disappointment is not with him.

He looked and tried so hard to get a job, wanted a job, then amazingly GOT this job. IT was perfect in every way. The drive was close to home, one he could navigate alone. They were not asking him to run a register, which we know he would not be able to do, due to his extreme anxiety and slow processing speed. He was simply getting buggies in, stocking shelves and bagging groceries.

How easy is that ??

For teenager with so many strikes against him we knew finding a job would be hard since he is limited in what he can do, what he can “handle” emotionally and cognitively. So, when he got this job we were thrilled and excited. So was he.

It started out well. Really well. He was working about 20-3o hrs per week, but at night, getting off most days at 10pm, which put him home around 11 pm. This was NOT good. At all. You see, Zack requires a whooooole lot of sleep. If  he does not get it, well, it is not good for any of us. He usually gets to bed around 9, very early for a 17 year old. So these late nights really messed his sleep/wake pattern up and he quickly began to go down hill emotionally. For most people with mood disorders, mental illness, sleep or the lack of can play a huge factor in their stability.

     About 2 weeks ago he was scheduled to work, he was in a “mood”, had been battling some depression and huge anxiety. Well, I drove him to work that day, and he would not get out of the car. Sat there, sat there, sat there. Would not, COULD not get out and go in. He said his thoughts were really racing because he knew he needed to go work, but he was afraid. He was paralyzed with the fear and anxiety.

So, I, as always, am left to go in, find the manager and explain why Zack could not work today. Thankfully, they were kind and understanding. The agreed to “work with” Zack and limit his shifts to only 2 a week since school was starting. GREAT !!! Surely he can handle that.

NOT

     No he can’t. Today being Saturday, he is scheduled to work tomorrow and already his anxiety is working on him. He simply could not face going in. So, we made the decision for him to go ahead and resign, the best thing since they need dependable, willing workers.

Which leaves me with my thoughts of this??????

     If my son, who is 17, and yes, heavily weighed down by complicated, sometimes debilitating mental illness, if he can’t maintain a simple job, two days a week of pushing buggies and bagging groceries then will he ever be able to work?

My answer to this question, again, is NO. I don’t believe he will be able to work for someone else, on their schedule. Which is the purpose of creating the Good Boy Roy business. And knowing this, makes me more determined to make it work. It must work. It must be successful. It must be something he can support himself with later, working on his time when he is capable. Supporting himself with what he loves, drawing.

It has to work. Has to

     So he wont end up living homeless under a bridge somewhere if and when my husband and I are no longer here to care for him. So he wont be dependant upon welfare and other people. So he can live his life, his dreams, on his time.

Such is the ramblings of a mom loving and raising a child with mental illness.

The fears. The worry. The hopes. The dreams. The love.  Knowledge is power.

Kids Matter

Rethink Mental Illness

Rethink Mental Illness (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

     Faith, love, hopewords 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.