I had a beautiful baby boy on December 2, 1980. He was very wanted and we were so happy he was finally here. We went into the hospital at 5:00 p.m. with great excitement. His birth was very difficult and finally they called the doctor at 6:00 a.m. in the morning. He was turned upside down so they tried to turn him and finally delivered a battered little boy that was so tough he held his head up on the table. He cried a lot in the hospital, but as first mother’s do, they think that it’s their fault. As a young baby he was so bright, beautiful blonde, blue eyed and smiled a thousand dollar smile. People would just have me bring him by to see his smile and hear his laugh.
During pre-school, he seemed to spend a lot of time in time-out as he had energy and impulsivity combined which causes some mischief. I was constantly trying to keep up with him and he loved taking things apart and music thrilled him. When his sister came along 4 years later, I worried if I could love another child as much. It was then when I realized that a baby could be calm. I thought maybe it was just girls.
Beginning school was difficult for him because he was bright and bored and had a temper at times, which sometimes turned to tears. Tears get attention from the stronger peers and teasing pursued. He had a small group of friends through elementary school and middle school that were very bright, not that popular and all interested in the same things, technology and music. It is nothing now, but in 1988 computers were new and these little guys took classes and began to learn many things before adults had a clue. Band and guitar was a way to express his love for music and he began to form a group there. Scouts was great too, as there was a macho feel to go out into the snow and build an igloo to sleep in for an award and trek in the mountains with a backpack. All of these interests nowdays are considered nerdy but they were very sweet and great kids and everything that they did was amazing. My son developed a friendship with one young man from scouts and band who could talk a good game and convince him that he was an expert in everything. My son enjoyed his company because he could connect thru him to other kids because he had the appearance of confidence. They were always together, even though this friend was not a great influence over his judgment at times and would step back to let him fall. Adolescence is hard enough but with mistreatment by bullies and the realization that you are different, ADHD, depression, also not as widely discussed back then, my son became very angry and we walked on eggshells. His “cool” friend fed him full of mistruths about us which fueled his anger and at 15 and 1/2 he was taken to the hospital under the advise of his psychiatrist for an overall medical and psychological evaluation. He was the only adolescent on the ward and we wanted to take him home so badly. We all cried together but were told to go home and it was AMA to take him. We found another place for evaluation after he began to hit his head on the wall and they were doing nothing to change his medication. It was not great, as there are no places for loved, middle class kids, but something. He finally was released to enter 9th grade a few weeks late. They had really done nothing, but we had hopes that all would be better. His friend “announced” to others that he was in a mental hospital even though we practiced a script about where he was with him. We continued to try to use behavior management and get along the best we could. We stayed with the same Psychiatrist even though there was not a feeling of compassion but what do lay people know? In March of that year he took all of his medications plus tylenol. I was on jury duty so he knew I wouldn’t be around. As he threw up that night, something clicked and I went in as he is never sick, and asked him if he did something stupid. He began to tell me what he took and I wrote them down and my husband took him to the hospital as I stayed home with his sister asleep. Little did we know, he should have died of a heart attack and the pills were already too digested to use charcoal. He was in great pain for 2 days when they discovered that he had developed pancreatitis due to taking one of the medications for that long. Emergency surgery, and 24 hour watch brought our sweet boy back to us and we prayed and found another place for evaluation and safety. He was his old self again for those precious days as he regained strength to walk and play Risk with friends. He met a psychiatrist at his new facility that loved puzzles and followed him around and finally discovered what medications might help his complex chemical imbalance. It is not unusual to have comorbidity; more than one diagnosis and he finally got him on the track to peace. He did very well for the next three years in high school and overcame his shyness to become outrageous with his friends and was a great party planner and host. He had a girlfriend for 1 and 1/2 years. His laugh and smile were attractive but there was still a side to him that caused them confusion from time to time. Bipolar does that. Obessive compulsive disorder does that.
It was a side of anger and confusion and magnifying what was really happening that caused his newer friends to grow in understanding and patience. He was great to be around, but sometimes he was work. However, if you ever needed anything, he was right there. Including me. If I had a hard day at work, he would hug me. If I helped him work himself out of a jam he would say, “I love you mom, thanks for all you do for me, “smiling that precious smile that made his eyes twinkle. He loved going to his Psychologist once a month and was a Fruedian dream as he would lay down on the couch and set up the session with his list of priorities.
Complete independence was his goal and he finally had that at 21; did not let us pay for anything but meds and moved into a dream townhouse with a friend through one of his great girl buddies of 6 years. At 21 you can drink, and they did party some as he worked and went to school. He had been warned many times about the interference of drugs and alcohol but having lived a strict life since 4, he had to escape. His medications had already interfered with his weight, although I never told him that, and he worked out constantly and was never fat. His memory was affected by all of his meds and he was frustrated with school now, as retention was so difficult. His thyroid was affected, another pill, and now his blood suger was low, hypoglycemic. We had worked on that too, but it was a new piece in his puzzle this summer.
17 days of complete independence; his major goal. He had a lot of friends but somehow did not see it. He had been left out of the circle of late and was sad about that. His job of one year was demanding physically and making him work overtime. His favorite worker had been fired a week before. He needed a new job. An unfair lawsuit was finally resolved which shadowed his previous year with anxiety. His new roomate was too popular (in his eyes) and had people over all of the time so that he was intimidated to go downstairs. Many times when he got off work, they all went to work and he was lonely. High expectations were always present and he wanted it to be like the movies; people over all of the time and lots of fun. He bought an 800 dollar TV with monster cables for surround sound which he could hook up in a second. A new girl was scared off by his love of action and need to shower attention with gifts and fun activities. He was lonely. He spent too much time on the internet, his first paid vacation, which also he knew made him more obsessive. His friend had a first girlfiend of two weeks which interfered with their plans of his new found freedom. He never came over to the apartment much at all. One night while drinking, my son wrote him an e-mail saying to not dump all of the old gang for her and come to his 4th of July party, his favorite holiday, breaking tradition to celebrate it with us and 20 others at the lake. His friend wrote back that he was always a convience and he never had hung out with him unless there was nothing to do. He called him a 5 year old, drugged out alcoholic and more. That was very devastating in his present state and he read it over and over I am sure. He shared it with his sister who cried. To affirm himself, his friend also e-mailed the letter to all of the others in the group to see if they all felt the same about him. They did not but he never found out. That was the axe that took him down as he expressed in poetry. I cannot stand. On that Tuesday. He e-mailed back that he always knew he was a convience but never shoved it in his face and that he would have problems too if he were bipolar, adhd, ocd and more. He invited him to the party again with his girlfriend and went out for cups, plates, napkins, chips and liquor. He was alone that Tuesday in the apartment; we didn’t know, and slowly decided to try to resolve the friendship one way or the other. He visited with another young man till 10:30 on the phone and e-mail, inviting him over the next day, went over to the friend’s parent’s house where he lived and they appeared to get along-until 1:30 a.m. That’s what we were told. When leaving, the friend said, see you on the fourth, my son said, Bye, and pulled out a gun and tried to shoot his friend and then shot himself. He never had a gun before, never held one but somehow was able to get it that afternoon or something. I don’t know laws, but that seems insane. They can’t trace it and maybe they both knew about it. We’ll never know. The friend is fine, back in college and working while living at home.
My son’s dream of independence lasted 17 days. He had it, but at what cost? He just didn’t want us to help him anymore. He told me he was sad the Wednesday before, and I urged him to come talk to me and I wouldn’t say anything. He refused and tried to make an emergency appointment with his psychologist but was afraid that week he would be fired if he left. He could make it till the next Wednesday. He hadn’t been sad for a long time. He died on that same Wednesday. His friends have all forgiven him and miss him. His sister is stripped from her future with him as they were great friends. Their band is now missing a bass player. She is an only child.
We have lost our talented young son who could make my heart sing when I heard him laugh when in the other room. Our computer and electronic skills are so poor it is frustrating to be so uncapable to do anything. He always would help and fix it in a second. His dad has lost a great helper with building things and lawn care equipment. The Sunday afternoon movie club is no longer, a family tradition we set up 2 and 1/2 years ago. Take whoever, let’s go to Tinseltown and see what’s playing.
The only good piece to this is that we all left on great terms even though that day he may have not been feeling the same due to the intense depression. I told him Monday night as they practiced a new song here how cute he looked and how well he played. His dad had a good conversation with him and discussed Minority Report after seeing it together. His sister went over to his apartment with the others that Monday night to complete the lyrics for the Thursday 4th party. They laughed together.
It’s over. It’s done. We got 6 extra years but they went too fast. His deep friendships and living life were done mostly in those years. Our hearts are broken and everywhere around the house is a reminder of him. Two months have passed today. He had moved out of the house but not out of our hearts. He will never move out of ours or those who knew and loved him. I say goodnight to him in the moon and get a hug. Then I go to sleep with a prayer and a tear.