The Journey of difficult child - 5000 Miles in 3 Months

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Steely, Nov 16, 2008.

  1. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    Yes, this is long........and painful........but yet, hopeful. So read at your will, or leisure, or not. I just finally needed to write it all down, because I have kept it walled within me too long.
    (I will be brief with the beginning because most of you know the episode that brought this all to a head.)

    About a year ago, difficult child started seriously isolating himself, developed agoraphobia, and decided he wanted nothing more to do with school, homeschool courses, college courses, period. In turn, I decided to get back into the career world, and got a full time job, after homeschooling him for 4 years. Four months later his Aunt, my sister (H.) went missing for 2 weeks, and was later found dead in a pond. This sudden and tragic loss, coupled with my new career caused me to lose complete focus on difficult child. As I spent time in
    Oregon trying to find H., and in Seattle in training for my new job, difficult child became even more isolated, addicted to WOW, and a certifiable, depressed, couch potato.

    In Sept., I was dealing with severe anxiety attacks from sister's death, work, etc and I got a XR of Xanax from the Dr. Inadvertently I left it on the counter while I went to run an errand, and unbeknownst to me, difficult child tried to commit suicide. I came back from the errand and difficult child was in his room, and I assumed he was just playing his game, sleeping, or whatever. Suddenly an old, old friend that I had not seen in years, came to the door and told me that she wanted to return a book I had given her. It was a book that H had given me for my bd, that meant the world to me. I cried, and cried. I still have the book sitting right next to my computer. H. came that day, to say she loved me, to give me strength for the next 3 months.

    True to difficult child's style he did not tell me immediately that he had downed not only half my bottle of xanax but about half the medicine cabinet. Hours later he came out of his room, stumbling, psychotic, claiming he was god, and rambling about how he had tried to commit suicide. As I tried to piece together all of these details, he hit me in the back, knocking me to the floor. I called 911 and he was hospitalized.

    Once the drugs wore off in the phosph, difficult child turned into "prince charming I know how to work the phosph system", which he does - and the phosph wanted to discharge him. I told them no - this was it. He was 6'3, almost 18, and I needed him to get help, a life, a path.

    Since I was pressed to the wall, with no time, I chose a working ranch in UT to send difficult child. I went to get him at
    6am the next morning to get him on a plane to go to UT, and as I was filling out his discharge papers I realized that the phosph had lost 2 pieces of paperwork and had unintentionally D/Cd his Paxil and Lamictal. He had been there 6 days - and he had been without these 2 medications. It was too late to just start them back up, and at 6 am I was hard pressed to figure out anything else except to get him on the plane and calmly tell him........well........the doctors decided to discontinue 2 of your medications, OK? I am sure you will be fine - good luck at that ranch buddy - and I will talk to you soon.:mad:

    The ranch had promised me, that difficult child turning 18 at the ranch would not be a problem, but 3 weeks into his stay there, they called to tell me that UT had changed their laws and they were not sure he could stay. I had opinions being fired at me from all angles about whether I should wait to see if the courts would deny his residency there, or not - but it seemed that the majority seemed to think he would not be able to stay - so I had him transferred to a wilderness program in UT. He had been at the ranch 5 weeks by that time, and was for the first time in years, standing tall, tan, and had an ounce of self assuredness. I had not talked to him once in the 5 weeks, the first time I had gone a day without talking to him in 17 ½ years.

    Unforuntately, the key factor that I failed to incorporate into where difficult child should get help next, was the psychiatric component. Most of these places for teenagers/young adults only have a psychiatric dr on call, which could take days to get back to the kids. For a lot that is OK, but when you are talking about a seriously bi-polar kid - that is not a good solution. Somehow, I failed to realize this - despite knowing him inside and out.

    None the less he got on the plane to the new wilderness camp on his own accord, and under his own volition. A week later I found out he could have stayed at the ranch. The state of UT had approved his variance. difficult child still does not know that. I wish I did not know that. The counselor that had told me he had no chance of staying after 18 got fired. It makes me wonder.

    He was at wilderness camp for 3 weeks. He backpacked every single day, built his own shelter every night, started his own fire with rock and wood to cook his food, had zero comforts of every day life " and yet in the physical sense seemed to thrive on it. I remember when he was younger, his favorite thing was to make forts in the back yard, and pretend he was a survivalist. He was cut out for the outback thing. However, again, the biological/mental component was not factored in and all of the physical stress of being a survivalist and the emotional stress of a new place, spun his bipolar right out of control. I will never know if it was the lack of the 2 medications finally kicking in " especially the Lamictal " or just the extremity of it all.

    He turned 18 in the wilderness camp " but I still could not talk to him " but as I got wind that he was cycling every 45 minutes I insisted on a phone call. Via satellite phone I listened to my son, truly, and honestly, spell out to me how seriously suicidal he was. I was beyond panic stricken. There was not any medical help, he was in the middle of no where, and he was cycling every 45 minutes, and the wilderness camp just kept telling me 'he is safe'.

    Who gives a flying flip if one is safe if they feel like they are ready to leap off a mountain any second? That is like telling a guy that just got his foot chopped off he is safe, simply because there is a tourniquet.

    At this point, with the phosph 'forgetting' and therefore d/cing the medications, and the ranch promising he could stay and then not, and now the wilderness camp seeming so hopeful, but not……….I had nothing to go on.

    An educational consultant went to intervene on my behalf at the wilderness camp and suggested moving him to a program in ID that also had a phosph connected with it. It is one of the only programs that is designed for over 18 kids in mind, AND, has the medical/psychiatric component. The only hitch was I had to make the decision within minutes because difficult child had become so manic and suicidal that we had to place him in a hospital in either UT or ID, or send him back to Tex ASAP. The only plus to ID was that there was a long term program he could possibly transfer into after hospitalization there. So I chose that one, at midnight - made the transfer, got him on the plane, and admitted to the hospital. The next day I flew up to meet him.

    I posted that night about this on the board and Toto PM me. She knew not only of the place, but the Dr who ran it. He was known throughout ID. I got chills. This board amazes me. I am in Dallas, and I have a friend that knows the Dr in ID that might be helping my kid. Unbelievable.

    Then she emailed me a kind PM about the bald eagles watching over me as I went to see Matt and determine a placement for him. I have always envisioned H. as an eagle. In fact that was in my memorial good bye to her " and then Toto said that. Again, chills.

    My friend at work told me that I should take someone with me to Idaho, which probably in my independent, warrior mom mode, I would never have considered. However, I realized I needed help, and I asked my mom to go. Definitely a double edged sword there " we almost killed each other " but we didn't " and in the end it was a good decision to have her support.

    Once in ID things were horrible. Matt was on the kid's psyche unit, which in theory was better for him than an adult unit, but he was the largest, oldest kid on the unit. They had 4-18 YOs there. It scared me.

    Our first visit, he was so excited about all he had done in the last 2 placements, his face was animated, he was mature, he was expressive, loving. Within 45 minutes of being there, and within literally 45 seconds, he put his head on the table and started to cry. His anxiety went through the roof, and he could no longer articulate one thought let alone a syllable. He regressed to being a child. I left feeling my heart in my throat, and him looking like the most pitiful, pathetic pup ever dragged into life.

    My mom and I spent our time the next day looking into this last hope of a program. We took a tour the next day " and as I walked into the group home for the young adults that was set on 17 acres " the first thing that jumped out at me was the huge drawing of a bald eagle in the living room. I smiled. Toto.:peaceful:

    The next 3 days were pure hell. Matthew did not seem to come out of his regressed state. The Dr had ordered Geodon, and that literally seemed to make it all worse. Matthew laid on the floor, all 6'3 and 180 lbs of him, and cried because he could not get the words in his head out of his mouth. It made me want to hurl. He knew they were doping him up on all kinds of medications, and he hated very minute of it. He also knew that if he did not take their medications, he would not be able to leave. I could so clearly see that the Geodon was making it worse, but all I could do is mention it to the Dr and staff. You know doctors……they have their own agendas, and parents really know nothing.

    Day three, Matthew was given a pass to go visit the new group home. After the pass, back at the hospital he mouthed off to the staff and got in trouble and was sent to his room. We had already had a family meeting planned, and Matt walked in, right in the midst of being in trouble, and self destructed. At this point he had been PRN'd Zyprexa & Klonipin, in addition to the new Geodon. He could hardly talk. In the family meeting, the Dr asked Matt why he had been in trouble and if he had been rude to the staff? Matt lost it. He ran out of the room, and subsequently put 7 holes in the wall of children's psyche unit. I sat there at the table. Numb, shaking, as I heard them scream CODE 3, STAT into the intercom over and over and heard the walls shaking as he pounded them. I left, tail between my legs, the mom of an out of control kid " and one I no longer could rescue, fix, or make better.

    That might have been the defining moment for me. I walked away, completely different. CODE 3 " repeated over and over, security high tailing it in, as I sulked away - I finally realized and accepted that I was helpless to do anything. Life had now become Matthew's journey. Not one I could fight, or fidget, or fuss over " but his. His to find, embrace, and define, himself with.

    The next day I had to say good bye to Matt. It was probably the hardest physical/emotional thing I have had to do, ever. I hugged him, and we both cried " and I walked away " to fly 2000 miles home. I could no longer be his consummate advocate, his mom that fixed everything " I had to literally/physically/mentally let him go.

    Thank God for my mom. Had she not been sitting in the front seat, just still, and silent " I might have stayed and tried to once again fix everything. But I didn't. I walked away, got on a plane, and flew home.

    Withing days he transitioned to the program's stabilization house, and then to the new group home. Interestingly, once in the group home he asked to be taken off the Geodon. His Dr called me to tell me he thought Matt was making a bad decision " but " I am not sure he was. I could hear how out of it he sounded on it on the medication. I was not going to say a word. It had to Matt's decision now.

    The Dr did ask me to file for extended guardianship, just in case Matt tried to run, or get aggressive. With extended guardianship I would still have authority over who helped him, if he got out of control. He would not go to jail or the state hospital, but he would be able to be hospitalized privately, is I had custody.

    So that is the saga of the last 3 months. Matthew's journey. Mine.

    He is now in the group home, trying for the first time in a year to make friends. He is being given the opportunity to finish his HS diploma rather than get a GED. He is living a normal life within the parameters of societal expectations, (even though he is at a group home for mentally ill young adults) that will hopefully transition him into a real life. He is actually better without the Geodon, (I am sure to the doctors surprise) and extremely conscientious of his moods and medications. He told me the other night that the last 3 months has changed him " which I can see " despite all the faulty human errors that transpired within those 3 months

    If you made it this far. Thank you for listening - it helped to finally write this onto paper, rather than letting it roll inside my soul.

    Hugs to you all,
  2. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Steely, I have read it. I can only say that I am so very sorry that you and Matt have had to go through all this. It is our system- it is broken. I understand that you've had a tremendous weight on your shoulders this past year and that Matt needs to find his own way of dealing with his own issues, but it is still so senseless that it should take a person going through such a guinia pig trial and error phase to get there. I can't imagine the pain either of you have dealt with in this process.

    I'm glad you've written this much- I ope it helps you. And please know, you are justified in feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, and extremely hurt. This isn't your fault or Matt's. Unfortunately, it's just the cards you both are dealt and there apparently is no better help right now. On the good side, he's doing the best he can and finding his own way to deal with a mixed up world. You have stayed strong and been there for him and tried to take care of yourself and him. You should be very proud of both of you for this.

    I'm not in the most positive spirits right now but I look to your situation with Matt for strength. I see that I can make it through you and that my son can make it through what Matt is doing. I honestly believe that many parents on this board are so frustrated with their kids many times only to remember that their kid has an issue that is beyond anyone's control and the parent reflects and knows not to blame the kid for it, but the bigger problem is that there is no one who can readily step in and help either the parent or the kid.

    You've done the best you can. It really sounds like Matt is doing the best he can. I hope (and believe) that you both will stay strong and become even closer through this process. You had to do what you did. If you hadn't, GD only knows what might have happened to you and where that might have ended Matt. Neither of you wanted that.

    And the psychiatrists and tdocs- well, let's face it- no matter what education or intelligence they have, they don't understand it if they haven't walked in those shoes as either a parent or a person with a serious issue. They just don't get it. Period. You have always fought for what you know to be the best and right answer. That is the right thing. Don't ever stop.

    PS By Matt's actions lately, it is apparent that you've taught him to never give up, too. That's one of the most important lessons you could ever teach, as I'm sure you know. I'm just sorry that after so many years of people struggling to get mental health treatment, they still have to go through so much BS to get something half-way right.
  3. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    I did make it this far, Steely. I found a lot of comfort in your post, knowing that you are letting Matt make his own decision about this, and that he is taking on the responsibility. {{{{{{{{Big hugs}}}}}}}}}
  4. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Hugs back atcha, Steely. :)

    I read the whole thing. I was with-you and am with-you the whole way.

    He is a survivor.
    So are you.
    So is your mother.

    Strangely enough, you have all survived your own losses and struggles in completely different ways, but you have survived.

    You are all eagles.

    The love you feel for Matt comes straight through my computer. The angst, the anger, the confusion, the determination, the resolution. And the calm.

    I am so glad you distilled this all into one note. It really clarified it all for me, as I'm sure it did for you.

    We are so lucky to have you here. And Matt will be all right. It won't be what you had planned when you first gave birth to him, but in his own right, in his own world, he will be all right.

    I am so sorry for the mistakes, missteps and struggles you two have had, not only in your mental health journey, but with-the amateurs you've encountered along the way. Thus is life. Everyone makes mistakes--moms, doctors, counselors, kids.

    Stay strong. :) We love ya.
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2008
  5. nvts

    nvts Active Member

    I read the whole thing. I could say a million things but the most important is:

    I'm so proud of you and humbled to think of you as my friend.

    You've come such a long're beautiful!

  6. Nancy423

    Nancy423 do I have to be the mom?

    I read it all too and wanted to offer my ((HUGS)). all us moms want is a good life for our children.
  7. DazedandConfused

    DazedandConfused Active Member

    First, let me offer deep condolences for the loss of your sister.

    I'm exhausted reading your post. I can't even image LIVING it.

    I'm pulling for Matt.
  8. totoro

    totoro Mom? What's a GFG?

    Steely you are a so much stronger than you give yourself credit for.
    Here I was about to try and sleep... so elusive. I felt this need to check in.

    Thank you for letting us know how you are.
    M is on a long journey, I truly believe you have given him roots and wings.
    and you are a good and wonderfully loving Mom.
  9. Rotsne

    Rotsne Banned

    I sound like the programs are not the right fit for your child. You did right by taking him from the wilderness programs. Just last year a boy hang himself in a wilderness program near Loa in Utah. His mom had lost one son in an accident and her son became depressed due to the grief. The wilderness program should have fixed that and now she has no sons.

    But check whether the program in Idaho is on the database for abusive programs.

    Good luck.
  10. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    I read your entire post, I am so proud of you. You are a strong and amazing woman. Many hugs and lots of love coming your way.
  11. crazymama30

    crazymama30 Active Member

    Wow. I read it all, and wow. I hope things work out well for you, you deserve it. You are a strong and amazing woman.
  12. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Me, too. My eyes are welling up and I am trying not to let it spill over at work.

    You are a rock. You can get through anything. You have proof.

    Toto - you rock!! How awesome of you to help!
  13. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It


    You and Matt have truly been through an amazingly hard struggle. It is SO HARD to see your child the way you described Matt at different times, esp when he was so confident at other times. You truly have done the best anyone could for him.

    I am sending you tons of hugs, strength to continue your journey, and my belief that H was and is watching over both of you every second of every day.

    Matt won't always make the best decisions, but he won't quit either. He learned that from his mom.

  14. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I've read it all, you have been through such an incredibly difficult journey. I'm sorry it has been so difficult, you have done an amazing job with such a hard journey. You and Matt are in my daily prayers and will continue to be.
  15. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    Thanks guys......especially about the not quitting part. I needed to hear from someone, that you feel like I instilled something in him - because sometimes it all seems so futile. Especially this last 9 months. He is still cycling in and out of depression, and when he calls it just breaks my freaking heart. Since I posted this I have actually had to re-read my own post several times, just to remember my own words of advice.

    Somehow, someway, there has to be a medication that will cause him stability - because as he told me today - he can't live this way his whole life.
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2008
  16. Big Bad Kitty

    Big Bad Kitty lolcat

    Steely, when you came up with the name Steely, I was like, hmm, interesting name, wonder what it means?

    Your post explained in ever way possible what it means.

    I got chills myself reading it. I've been keeping up with your posts, but to see it all there at once just blew me away. I agree with Toto, you are much stronger than you think. Nerves of steel and warrior gear of steel, you DID NOT give up until you were satisfied with your son's treatment. You are a role model for any mom to follow.
  17. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    Thanks. You made me cry Kitty.
    Steely - Yea, I picked that after H died, and it definitely is living out it's meaning.
  18. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    I read this earlier and didn't have time to reply, but I wanted to say it was very moving. I hope you've truly found some peace in at least this one place in your life. You need it and deserve it.

    Hugs to you. You truly are Steele.
  19. Jena

    Jena New Member


    I apologize for being so late to this. I havent' been on much in past few days. Boy did i miss alot here.

    you are an incredibly strong person, a survivor with whom has been through and acheived so much and done so much with yes a "broken system". i Just wanted to say hi, thanks for sharing all of that with all of us.

    It is a long hard road, and you have given so very much of you and made alot of hard choices, yet such good ones.

    ((( hugs))))