01/27/2014 by syrbal-labrys
I came from a family of extremes. My mother suffered some sort of major depressive issues — in fairness, those might have derived from being married to my drunk, verbally abusive father who was most likely suffering either bipolar disorder or a personality disorder. I’ve struggled with depression myself since age ten; fortunately, it is largely situational and I can manage to function. My one daughter reminds me heart-rendingly of my dead-by-suicide father. In her childhood and teens, I took her to get help on three separate occasions.
The first time was when she tried to kill her baby brother by putting tiny Lego blocks into his bed. I was told I was being silly worrying about a bit of “sibling rivalry”. The second time was a couple years later, when I had quit yet another job after so many calls to work because she was acting out/up so much at school and stealing from people. We had about six months of in depth at home therapy and were re-assured that we were “good parents and it would all work out in time.” The final effort was in her early teens, and she played the female counselor like a violin. That deluded psychologist told us WE were all just mean and not understanding of her sensitive nature. That lady didn’t hear my daughter laughing all the way home in the back seat of the car.
We tried, one more time, to get her to go for help when she was 18 after she had attempted to physically assault me. She informed us that we no longer had legal power over her and to fuck the fuck off. All our efforts were poo-poohed away; I was told I was just being “slightly hysterical” to worry so.
Every time she lost jobs, vehicles, and apartments, she came back home to us. We would go $5000 to $8000 in debt dealing with her issues, her debts, her medical bills, her college bills (a waste, as she wouldn’t go to class) and so forth. Finally, we told her not to come back after a second physical attack — this time on her father. We have not seen her since December of 2008. She was, at that time, both alcoholic and abusing prescription drugs. We often think of her with great worry and regret; but as she said — we have not got the legal power to intervene in her life.
And thus, the point of this post — neither do other parents. And the physical attacks are sometimes not so survivable if that mentally ill adult child picks up a weapon. Virginia’s Senator Deeds has returned to work, after surviving an attack from his own son — the son did not survive his own suicide effort. Senator Deeds feels ‘failed’ by the mental health system. And he is not the only one….watch the segment of “60 Minutes” to see others.
Welcome to the hell of many, Senator. My next door neighbor has a 22 year old son living in a small trailer on her property. He has been tentatively diagnosed with everything from Aspergers to Tourette’s Syndrome (never manifest when he is around anyone physically prepossessing), from bipolar disorder to schizophrenia. He wanders about talking to himself, beating on things and cursing. He races down the easement in his car at high speed, scaring all the neighbors. He walks around at night slamming doors and blaring music from his car; he is big, strong and often violent in action; he has screaming battles with his beleaguered mother. Any time I don’t see her for a few days, I worry whether I will find her dead. But there is no help. She wants to move to Florida some time soon; she does not want to take her son. He doesn’t listen to her, he verbally abuses her and if she leaves and sells the property (as she must), I assume he joins the ranks of the mentally ill homeless.
For the last thirty years, I’ve listened to the GOP talk about “family” — what they really mean, of course, is “Handle your own shit! ‘Cause we ain’t helping or paying.” But of course, even the most well meaning family cannot help someone denying the need for help and very few families can afford institutionalized health care that may be the only solution. The “nest” of the family can’t hold it all together alone these days. I lived in fear for my life when my father still breathed; he always said he would take his family “with” him when he “went” — thank goodness the drive from Mexico was too far! While I don’t think my daughter shares his murderous intensity, I can’t be sure, can I? And so, a helplessness is what we parents of troubled children share. Yes, worry and angst is not enough — but it surely seems to be what we are left with in America today.