When someone you love is struggling with mental health concerns, it sucks. When that someone is your child and you feel helpless, it’s devastating. 

Over the last few months, I’ve been trying to get my son the help he needs. Unfortunately, all it’s done so far is make things worse. Counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists are all doing their best… but not quite figuring out the best way to help my kid.

I feel helpless and scared and frustrated, of course, but mostly I’m angry.

The other feelings come and go but the anger? I can’t shake the anger. So, I do what I do and started looking at why I’m so angry…

I know my son. My son is kind and generous and brilliant. My son is a gentle giant and defender of those who can’t protect themselves. My son is hard working and always the first to lend a hand. I also know the monster that explodes like the Hulk. I know the monster that wants to (needs to) fight with anyone about anything and God help anyone in his path. I know the monster is a liar and tells my son that no one cares so why should he? I know the monster doesn’t care about trivial things like good decisions and school and love and affection and instead is seeking thrills through destructive behaviors that my son would never condone.

My son’s friends have abandoned him. High school kids are fickle and move away from those who scare them or make them uncomfortable.
His teachers have all but written him off as a “bad kid,” and with 24 other students in each class to worry about, they don’t have time for compassion. The police associate him with the kids who are still hanging around him–and unfortunately the bad apples color their view of my baby. At 6’2”, he’s still my baby… although a bit more imposing when his anger takes over.

His own father is still convinced that our first born is choosing this path and needs to pull himself up by his bootstraps and just quit acting like this. As if it were that simple.

If he had been diagnosed with a brain tumor, or in a car accident, or–God forbid–cancer, there would be no waiting. No confusion. Doctors would rush to offer aid to save his life. His friends would visit the hospital with flowers and wishes for wellness. The school (I like to think) would be understanding and offer support and assistance. His dad would be quick to defend his son and demand treatment as fervently as I’ve been doing for the last 5 months.

But my gentle giant wasn’t diagnosed with anything that appears on a CT scan or MRI. Mental illness is just as life threatening but the stigma prevents adequate treatment and diagnosis.

I know my son, and he’s not choosing to sabotage his life any more than a paraplegic is choosing not to walk or a coma patient is choosing not to wake.

My son is sick.

The mental health system is so broken that we have to wait for him to endanger his own life or the lives of others before anyone takes notice. It is reactionary to a fault, and when a mother begs and pleads for someone to help rescue her son from the grips of whatever darkness has overtaken him, those pleas fall on deaf ears. Oh sure, the psychologists and psychiatrists and counselors recognize that there’s a problem, but it’s not big enough to warrant intervention.

Can you imagine if it was a cancerous tumor that we were talking about? Can you imagine the outrage if a physician told a parent “Yes, we’ve found the tumor, but let’s wait for it to grow and spread before we deal with it”? Licenses would be revoked. Media would be all over that injustice. But when it’s a mental illness… something that you can’t see… then we wait until physical harm is done. And pray that it’s not too late when someone finally notices that your baby needs help.

 

Shelley is a freelance writer, blogger, coffee-addict and mom. When she’s not performing her duties as taxi driver and swim-mom cheerleader, she fills her evenings with kitchen experiments, Netflix binging and crochet projects. You can usually find her on Facebook Pinterest, or over at her personal blog, Slightly off Kilter, where she over-shares about relationships, raising gentlemen, and trying to find herself in the process.

Wannabee BLUNT
Author

Wannabe's are Guest Authors to BLUNTmoms. They might be one-hit wonders, or share a variety of posts with us. They "may" share their names with you, or they might write as "anonymous" but either way, they are sharing their stories and their opinions on our site, and for that we are grateful.

30 Comments

  1. thank you for this. you put into words what do desperately needs to be bellowed out from rooftops. schizophrenia x3 , bi polar, major depressive in etc. my family & it’s like pulling teeth with an olive oiled chamois cloth to be heard and helped.

  2. I was nervous to share my story but hearing that I’m not alone helps so much. Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. It means so much.

  3. Michelle

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I have a daughter struggling with mental health issues. I feel like I’ve been stumbling around, trying to find out what’s going on with her and what might help her. Some people are supportive, some are not, making it harder. You articulated this struggle very well. Hang in there and good luck.

  4. Even with the frustrations, knowing we aren’t alone does help. Maybe the more we share our struggles more people will hear us. Maybe someday, future moms won’t have to struggle.

  5. Thank you for sharing this, and you are not alone. I, too, have a gentle giant of a son. I’m in tears reading your words because I know how it feels to have this big love and big fear and big confusion and want to defend my child to people who don’t and may not even care to understand. But when you do find those who see what you do–the brilliance and the huge heart and everything else wonderful–there is huge relief. Hang in there!

  6. Omg, thankyou so much for putting into words how I feel. I too have a gentle giant. Life can be very challenging, but my love for my son grows more daily, as his struggles are so great. Thankyou x

  7. You are most definitely not alone. In 2010, our oldest of three sons started high school. I share with you some excerpts of my own personal journal captured during a time when our world disappeared.

    “While Nick looked forward to high school, I think sometimes he was a bit overwhelmed with everything. Again, he continued to set goals for himself. He started a small lawn service business and mowed lawns for a summer as well as providing some small-scale handy-man services for an elderly woman who lived nearby. He received his driving permit and talked about being able to get his first ‘real’ job. He surprised all of us by joining the speech team and competing in the ‘discussion’ category. He registered for Honors English and AP History classes. And (with hindsight), in late fall of 2010, Nick started to come undone.”

    “His grades began to suffer and he saw less and less of his friends. Speech kept him somewhat interested in school. He earned his first academic letter for his achievements on the team. Yet, this was not enough. Nick struggled to go to school each day and often begged us to stay home or said that he was feeling ill. We received a letter from the school district regarding his many absences. We argued every morning.”

    “One morning in April of 2011, Nick sent me a text from school.”

    “I don’t think we will ever agree on this…we are just too far apart. I don’t want to get up in the morning, I don’t want to do my homework, I don’t want to go to school…and IDK why.”

    “At that point it hit me like a ton of bricks. This was so much more than teenage rebellion, an inability to respect authority, and just wanting to be in control.”

    One day after he turned 16, we admitted him to the adolescent psych unit for the first time.

    My reflections / thoughts to Nick regarding that day: Leaving you at the hospital on April 21, 2011 was the hardest thing I have ever done. You wanted to come home – I wanted to take you home. Yet, I was so worried about your safety. You had a plan, you thought of the note you would leave. I wanted to throw up. You asked, “How will I get better here?” And said, “I don’t belong here.” So many tears. You told us to leave. My heart was in my stomach. I wanted to take you in my arms and make it all better. You would not let me touch you. I am not sure how I was actually able to turn and walk away. I guess we are stronger than we ever imagine.

    In and out of the hospital 4 times, residential treatment, none of which are geared towards his specific needs. My raw thoughts captured from these times:

    You say I piss you off so much.
    You tell me to go away, not to visit.
    You yell, “Fuck off!”

    Do I know how close you were to hanging yourself in the garage?
    Do YOU know how angry THIS makes me? Really? Not if you don’t tell me!!! TALK!
    Let me help you.
    Give me the chance.

    So sad. Helpless. Gdamn it!

    Frustrating for me because I can usually figure anything out. I am at a loss here.
    I want someone to tell me ‘this is the answer, this is what needs to happen.’
    No one seems to know. FUCK!

    How to keep you safe?
    Rifles – handgun – belts – ties – knives – leashes – cleaners – God, your meds – other meds
    Impossible.
    Only so far. Helpless. Again.

    Starting Nick on medication was, simply, frightening for me. Yet, now I believe it saved him. He no longer wanted to live, to be here, to experience life. The meds have allowed him to sleep, to get on a regular schedule, to level out his mood a bit, to bring him back to us…at times.

    And, so it goes. I have much more to share, so as to help others. Yet, this is my first sharing of any of my own thoughts / words about this lost time in our lives.

    I simply felt compelled to tell you, you are so very much not alone.

  8. I hate that you and your family are going through this. I hope you get connected with the right people who can see your child and not his behaviors. Continue reminding providers of who your child is. Even when they give you that condescending look because you are ‘just the mom’ keep on advocating for your son and the person you know he can be.

  9. thank you for sharing that- as painful as I may be to share, it’s important. It lets other mothers know they are not alone in the fight. I’m in tears over your profound words. Honored and humbled. Thank you for that.

  10. Lucky for me, I know no other way. I think we’ve got some good people helping us navigate and for that I feel fortunate.

  11. Jennifer

    I stumbled across this post from your comment on The Bloggess and wanted to tell you how moved I am by what you wrote. I can’t begin to imagine all that you and your son are going through, but my heart goes out to you and I hope that your incredible ongoing efforts and perseverance will lead to finding treatment and support that truly helps your gentle giant. He is so lucky to have such an understanding, compassionate and loving mother to care for him and advocate for him in this broken medical system. Thank you for sharing your story.

  12. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. I’ve heard from some how lucky my giant is to have me as a mom but the truth is… I’m lucky to have him. In the wise words of Olaf, some people are worth melting for and my kiddo is just that amazing. Thank you again. It means so much.

  13. I am so sorry for what you are going through. I could have writtten this as I am going through the same thing. After years of begging for help and being blacklisted from the hospital by a bitch of a psychiatrist who is convinced “it’s just behavioral,” we are embroiled in the legal system. You know what’s really sad? I am actually getting more of the help my son needs through the legal system than I ever have through traditional channels. If that’s not a sad commentary on the state of mental health care in this country, I don’t know what is.

  14. We too had a bought in the legal system and that’s where I got quite a bit of help. The case against him was dropped due to extenuating circumstances but I got some great assistance through that process. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I’m so sorry you are in this club.

  15. Thank you for this post, it is nice to know I am not alone.
    My son to is the most loving, caring, heart warming guy, but if you anger the monster inside, a whole different child appears.
    Socially he is isolated and looks to me for friendship and entertainment, someone to fill the void that friends and a social life provide for a teenage boy. It is exhausting and overwhelming that makes me constantly question myself. Is there something I did? Is there something I should do?
    Friends and family do not understand, and always comment that lack of structure, or physical discipline would “straighten him out”. When you see a child drowning in sadness and reacting poorly, how does physical discipline help?
    I feel I am the only one in the world who sees how lovely and caring he truly is, and worry about him graduating and what lies ahead? What if a boss mocks him in front of co-workers? What if someone doesn’t see that the monster is starting to takes over and continues to prod him? What if??
    I question if he should be medicated daily, if in anyway that may help? We have tried multiple forms of therapy, all giving there two cents why he is the way he is, but nothing helps. I worry that most of the medications that I have looked into have depression and sleeplessness as side effects. I am terrified they will make him worse.
    Again, that you for your post, this can be overwhelming

  16. Pingback: 7 Tips for Teaching Empathy - Slightly Off Kilter

  17. “Friends and family do not understand, and always comment that lack of structure, or physical discipline would “straighten him out”. When you see a child drowning in sadness and reacting poorly, how does physical discipline help?” This? This hit home… my Ex often treated my giant like a drill sergeant so I completely get where you are coming from that more discipline is NOT the answer… Sometimes more trust is… sometimes more compassion or empathy or space or love… and sometimes there IS no answer. Hang in there Mom. You are doing a great job!

  18. I am no expert, but I read a lot of articles on Wake up world and others sites about health, spirit and more. Though it is still illegal scientists and/or psychiatrists have found that psychedelic plants under supervision treatment help these mental disorders. It is so sad natural healing is not allowed. I read that these plants even help with addiction like alcoholism. Prayers for healing.

  19. God help me, I’m a member of this club too. My son cut himself repeatedly. 3 trips to the emergency room, 3 trips to to juvenile mental health lock-up. In 2 and a half years. Failing classes, unable to get out of bed each morning. Cyclothymia with severe enough depression that doctors thought it was bipolar. And I was the only parent advocating to get him help. I had to fight the school, the health care system, the health insurance, and eventually the bank. But he is so intelligent. So helpful. So loving. The monster threatened to kill me on three occasions, and one of those had me falling down stairs. But the monster goes away and he loves me still, and is so sorry for everything the monster did. I fractured bones in my right hand and had no money to even get it x-rayed. And he came out the other side. He is so much better and in control. Thank you, God, he’s still alive. I can’t stop crying as I write this. Would I do it all over again if I had to? Yes! With all my heart.

  20. Anna Mangold

    I have 4 children and have been married to the same person for 30 years. Just recently my youngest was bullied and tried to commit suicide. In this we also found my husband is bi-polar with anxiety and host of other problems. It took him 3 times attempting suicide before he received proper help, and even then as I look back and face everyday I do not think it is enough. I also have a 21 year old that I believe is full blown mental illness and refuses to get help, she states there is nothing wrong with her. I agree with you our mental health system needs to be fixed!

  21. My daughter is this way too. I don’t know where to turn for help. Sounds like us mothers should at least form a support group.

  22. Hugs! My son is autistic and suffers from Bipolar Disorder. I feel your pain. I hate that children have to be affected with mental illnesses.

  23. My heart breaks for you and your son. The struggles are never fun but if it means we come out the other side stronger, I’m with you on fighting the good fight. Big hugs to you! So many big hugs to you!

  24. If I’ve learned anything through this process, it is that there are far more resources out there than when I was younger and that gives me hope for the future. A tremendous resource is NAMI – National Association on Mental Illness – https://www.nami.org/ I’ve also found great support through community resources but am not sure where you are. I welcome you to contact me through email if you want to take the conversation offline. momma_oz at hotmail dot com. You are not alone. Ever

  25. Thank you Courtney. My heart breaks for all who suffer but I have hope that the more people talk about it, the less stigma there is, and the more resources become available.

  26. Holy crap, I can’t believe how many of us are dealing with/raising kids with serious issues. Ross Greene (who wrote ‘The Explosive Child’) should run for the U.S. presidency instead of any of the bozos I see on the news. I swear he’d win.

    Good luck to everyone. I’m trying to figure out my own wild kid over at https://ourviolentchild.wordpress.com/

Pin It