Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Sick of the judgements

I was reading a blog post on Sunday written by a mother who can identify with Adam Lanza's mother and some of her struggles. You can see her post here. Reading ONLY that post, I identified with the mother just a little bit.

I do feel that there is a stigma attached to anyone with a mental health issue. Our own family is struggling with the lack of mental health care that is out there. After my son was brutally assaulted, he became suicidal. It's been a living nightmare for us all. The lack of help for a 15 year old boy with suicidal ideation is concerning.

When he first told me that he was having suicidal thoughts, I rushed him to the emergency room. We were then given a referral to mental health. I called the very next day to make an appointment, but they couldn't see him for 3 weeks. They gave me no guidance as to how to get him through those 3 weeks alive. There was NOTHING at all. No support, no help, nothing. Just an appointment 3 weeks into the future. I wasn't even sure that my son would be alive in 3 weeks.

I had to fight tooth and nail and raise all kinds of hell to get him seen before that. I needed to know how to keep my child alive, how to get him through until his appointment. It took a lot of yelling, screaming, crying, and guilt trips before they agreed to see him sooner than that.

It's not easy accessing mental health care. Sure, it's out there. But it is not always readily accessible. The professionals that you see aren't always all that great either. My son has been diagnosed with severe PTSD. The doctors suggestion? Lock him away in a residential treatment facility. I grew up in one of them. It's nothing but a glorified orphanage. I'm not sending my son away during the time that he needs the most support. They don't monitor the kids well enough there. They medicate them instead of properly teaching them coping mechanisms. The therapy is a joke. It's so easy to just tell them what they want to hear so that you can get out and go home. My son needs real care. Not to be shipped off somewhere where he knows no one at all and feels like his own family doesn't even want him.

I know how difficult it is to acknowledge that your child has any sort of mental health issue. I also know that people treat both you and your child differently once they find out there is something going on there.

It's not the same as a physical disability. A physical one would almost be easier to handle I think. People can see the limitations. People can see exactly what is wrong. With mental health, they always assume the worst. Not just of your child, but of you too. I've been accused of being a shitty parent over this. Since my son is suicidal, it MUST be because I didn't love him enough. BULLSHIT.

This woman made a very hard comparison. I'm sure it wasn't easy for her to admit that her own child could very well turn out the way that Adam Lanza did. I don't think that about my son at all, but I know how difficult it must have been for her to acknowledge her fear to the world.

Instead, she was attacked. This woman here took parts of the original blog and tore it apart, bit by bit. I don't even have to read all of the original content to know that the second woman attacked, fiercely. It's hard as hell to admit that you child could potentially be a threat to society. It's got to be even harder to have someone tear you apart, sentence by sentence.

I personally believe that the OP was simply trying to point out the difficulties of having a mentally ill child in this world. I think it took a lot of guts for her to admit what she did. She was begging for a change in mental health care and she was essentially ripped a new asshole.

We do need changes in mental health care. If our solution to a child with suicidal ideation is to lock them away, then yes, there need to be changes. If a mother can reach out and beg for help and not get it, then yes, there need to be changes.

And when a concerned, overwhelmed, scared mother makes a very very difficult comparison and is attacked for it, then yes, there need to be changes.

Our society sucks. We're so busy pointing fingers and accusing others of doing wrong, we don't bother to see when they do right. Or when they are asking, no begging, for help.

I'm not going to read either of their other posts. I don't need to see more than I already have. As a mother, I am scared shitless to even post this. Because I'm afraid of being judged. I'm afraid of being told that I'm a horrible mother because my son struggles to get past the assault.

I shouldn't be scared. I should be able to raise awareness, to discuss my families struggles. Just as the OP should have been able to do in her own post. Without the backlash that she received.

We need changes. And anyone who is brave enough to speak up about it should not be attacked. We need changes in mental health care, we need changes in gun control. We need a whole lot of changes in our world that aren't happening. But mostly, we need to change the way we react to people when they reach out and admit the darkest moments of their lives. 

2012 All wrapped up and ready to end

My wonderful friend, Wendy, made a blog post today here that really got me thinking about this past year. She's one of the most incredible women I know and it got me really pondering how things have really been for me this last year. The good, the bad, and the ugliest of ugly.

This year has been a nightmare in so many ways.

In January, my husband's grandfather passed away. The kids and I were lucky enough to have finally met him the previous November. He was a wonderful man who cherished the time that he had with his family. He accepted me and my children openly and showered us with a love that has not been typical in my life.  My husband has wonderful stories from his childhood and some of his favorite memories revolved around time that he spent with his grandfather. Getting my husband through that time was extremely difficult. We lost a truly incredible man and we will always remember him fondly in our hearts.

My husband was gone quite a bit this year. Compared to many in the military, it wasn't all that much, but for us, it was a lot. He's never been away as much as he was this year and it was a very difficult adjustment for our family to make. For the first half of the year, when he was here, he was still working extremely long hours, so we weren't getting time with him even when he was around. He was also on mid shift for the longest time, which in all honesty, sucked. I handled it the best that I could, but it wasn't easy. I just kept telling myself that I would much rather have him on mids than someone who had little ones in the house. He's finally on a much better shift and I am forever grateful for that.

I've had a lot of issues with friendships this year. I've had people who I thought were wonderful people turn their backs on me when I needed them the most. I had someone do her best to completely ruin my other friendships. I had someone who claimed to be my best friend over here turn her back on me at the drop of a dime. There have been several people that I've fallen out with this year and it's been very very difficult to handle. I'm just glad that I have the friendships that I do now and that those people judge me based only on how I treat them, and not on what others have accused me of.

My son was assaulted. I've posted about that on here previously, so anyone who reads this is already well aware of that situation. We are still dealing with the aftermath of that assault and it sucks. Royally. My son is struggling so much right now because of it and it is affecting the entire family.

My husband's aunt has been ill. So have his cousin and her poor children. Both are incredible women with so much life in them. Knowing that they are sick or hurting is heart wrenching.

There was a lot of bad this year. More than I can put into one post. I've been depressed, my kids have been depressed, the whole nine yards. But there has been a lot of good too. And I need to make sure that I acknowledge that.

Losing Adam's grandfather 14 months after I lost my own grandmother has taught me to cherish family. Considering that I've never really had a family to cherish before, this was a big deal to me. I don't take anyone for granted anymore. I know that I could lose them with a moments notice, so I try my hardest to make sure they know that we love them. Having his aunt and his cousin struggling with their own illnesses has me a bit worried, but I try to make sure that I have more consistent contact with them. Both are wonderful women and I hope to have them in my life for many years to come.

My husband being gone so much showed me just how strong I really am. I know that I am perfectly capable of taking care of my family. I know without a doubt that I am married to him because I want to be, not because I need him. I've been codependent before and it scares the hell out of me. I never want to be that person again, and I know now that I won't be.

Him being gone so much has forced us to really learn how to openly communicate with each other. We talk more now than we ever have before. We've also learned how to fight differently. We are learning how to discuss issues together, rather than just start screaming at each other! We make more of our decisions together, we back each other up with the kids, and we are trying our best to always fight fair. It's not always easy, but we are definitely stronger than ever before. I've always had a good marriage, but now, it's even better. There are no subjects that we can't discuss. Hell, recently, we've even talked openly with each other about some of our previous relationships. That wasn't something either of us was fully comfortable with doing before. A lot of that was my fault, as I was a bit bat shit crazy jealous whenever he talked about his ex. I've come to realize that he chose me. He wanted me. I'm no longer jealous and it's nice to be able to talk openly with him now.

The difficulties that I've had with my friendships have only made my other friendships stronger. I have some truly wonderful people in my life and I am incredibly happy to have them around. I may not have nearly the amount of friends that I once thought I had, but I have the most wonderful friends in the world. I cherish each of them more than I ever did before. We support each other through the good and the bad. None of my friends now would ever tuck tail and run over stupid shit. They are a big part of my success in battling my depression.

I can't say much good about my son being assaulted, but I will try to find something positive in this experience. I know that my son will stand up and do the right thing. I know that he is not likely to give into peer pressure. I know that he is not afraid to face his fears. I know that he will be open and honest with me about his emotions, even if it's difficult for him to do. He showed me an inner strength that I did not know he possessed. He's an incredible young man and I will do my best to make sure that he heals from this horrible experience.

This year may have sucked, but I am going to end it looking at all the good that's come out of these trying times. My husband is truly my best friend. My kids and I are closer than ever. My friends are of the greatest quality now. I expect better from the people in my life and I am not settling for anything less.

It's not always easy being me. But damn it, I've got a great life. Things can only get better from here.