Just as I began to wonder if my blog and our stories are making a difference, I received this message from New Zealand:

"My beloved son, Ben, has severe paranoid schizophrenia. He's 22. I live in New Zealand where there are no facilities to help him except medication. He's made to have monthly injections as he has no insight into his illness at all. He also has terrible drug and alcohol abuse and I'm his only support as no one wants him around. I found this site last night when I was feeling so hopeless and I read all night - every story - and cried my broken heart out. I just wanted to thank all of you because I really, really needed you and you are what helps in the dark times."

Thank you, everyone, for speaking out and sharing your stories on Sooner Than Tomorrow. Thank you to all of you who read our stories and pass them on.

Photo credit: Jen Collins/Flickr

Photo credit: Jen Collins/Flickr


I took my youngest son, Mitchell, to the hospital last night for paranoia and visual hallucinations. Upon my return home, my oldest son showed me a gun his brother purchased a week ago. No one had told me about the gun before.

I am livid. Shaking. Waiting for the police to take this weapon of destruction away. The gun was not reported stolen, but it could be. The police say there are gun owners who don't write down serial numbers so, when it's taken into evidence, they can't trace the owner. The most bewildering thing to me is how much the senior police officer doesn't seem to know about Utah's gun laws. I'll call the detectives next week and ask them to pursue finding the person who sold the gun to my son. It was an illegal sale as my son has no ID. 

The hospital was going to release my son this morning. When I told Mitchell he couldn't come back to live with me, he had a melt down and the hospital realized how sick he is. Now, they're transferring him to an inpatient psych hospital that has an open bed. He has to be stabilized on meds. The hospital crisis worker called and she "got it." She was perplexed about my son's access to a gun with his history. I also reminded her of his suicide attempt 2 years ago. She was calling about his health insurance. The Medicaid he has under mental health disability needed to preauthorize Mitchell's admission to the psych hospital. If my son didn't have Medicaid, he'd have a much harder time getting admitted.

I feel traumatized but can't really place the emotions anywhere. So many what if's. I'm lucky we're all still alive. My son was so psychotic last night. My husband said, "I'm glad Mitchell didn't try to shoot the aliens trying to get into his mind by shooting off bullets in the house."  Mostly my son would have taken the gun to his brain to get rid of the intrusive thoughts.

Guns are out there being sold folks. We must have stronger restrictions. It won't be perfect but, my God, what value do you place on a child's life? Your child's life? Put your guns in caskets, not our children. Our nation is a mess full of freaking a-hole cowboys and mental health care that is a tragedy. Innumerable parents and guardians are trying, behind the scenes, to get help for our children. Many, many of us. Yet we feel powerless to change this abysmal system with its lack of beds for treating our mentally ill. And I'm a nurse who knows the system well. 

My son is a beautiful young man inside and out. He's just seriously ill with a brain disorder. I love him so much.

See Heidi Franke's post - I LOVE MY CHILDREN - February 14, 2018.

Mitchell at 12, two years before life changed for him. He loved to climb.

Mitchell at 12, two years before life changed for him. He loved to climb.

I LOVE MY CHILDREN by Heidi Franke

My youngest son, Mitchell, remains at home with us and is trying so hard to feel well. He's been manic and short tempered. He's now highly aware of his illness and has felt depressed about having bipolar, anxiety, and schizoaffective disorder. He said he joined an online support group for people with bipolar disease. That is a first. Sometimes I question the schizoaffective diagnosis, but there is so little we truly know about the brain and it's machinations. 

Mitchell is always apologizing, now, after an outburst. This shows me he gets it. Before he held onto his dark angry moods. Brooding. I'm grateful he's not on the streets as he's been before. He would likely die. One time, while rambling through a rail yard, he was talked out of walking into an oncoming train by another homeless person. Something about age 23 seemed to add some healthier neuronal pathways this last year.

Mitchell's started back on Seroquel again. Though he smokes marijuana on a daily basis to help with his extreme anxiety, he says he no longer looks to get high. He says he's found he reaches a plateau with pot. All he wants is to not feel like there's a wound up spring in his head that pulses to every pore in his body. I describe it as such and I know he would agree. I'm blessed because, so far, he shares his thoughts at times. There are many times he doesn't. Those are the things I worry most about. The things that aren't said.

Mitch seems not able to focus and learn recently. He's been trying to send packages back to Amazon and has had trouble learning how to do this. I think it's more related to his short temper (which he, himself, is frustrated about). He's highly critical of himself which creates more anxiety. Circuitous routes of neurons and unorganized, capricious synapses are a hallmark of mental illness.

It's stressful at home with three men - Mitchell, my husband, and my older son. They lack closeness and live in a past of regrets and grudges which really is depressing in itself.  Neither my children nor my husband have been angels but they're all trying. I know you can't change another person. We only have control over our own reactions. I'd rather see the glass half full or get a smaller glass. Dealing with one's own expectations is key to surviving trying times. And being able to laugh.

We need my boys to be independent and we're doing as much as possible to get them there. I, too, am not perfect and wish I had some other quality I might be lacking. But I am who I am and don't want to live with regret should I kick my sons out again and have them die from an overdose or lack of care for their mental illness.

We all do the best we can with what we have at any given time. Housing costs are horrendous for someone making less then $12/Hr, or someone on disability of $750/month. They can't afford health insurance, let alone methadone treatment for an opiate addiction which is what my older son suffers with. It does leave the extended family to help fill in the gaps if they can and are willing.

I can. I'm willing. I love my children.




REALLY? WHO ELSE WILL DO IT? by Kecia Bolken Speck

My hands are shaking as I type this.

Update. My son is an inpatient and willingly taking Abilify orally. It's been several days now and he's responding really well to it. Although he continues to have disorganized speech and some delusional thinking, he no longer wants to make me cry and feel pain.

I am so strong during the hard parts. Now that the "worst" is over, for now, I am falling apart. All of those same feelings from the very beginning of this nightmare six years ago are coming back. Some of you know them so well. This is the time, today, right this minute, that I really should have a doctor appointment for myself. It seems that my doctor sees me hold it together so often and for so long that he doesn't think that I need help. Compliments from everyone all the time - "I don't know how you do it." "I'm not as strong as you." "I couldn't do it." 

Really? Because who else will do it? For now, I'm going to stay in my pajamas, drink my coffee, and cry and mourn the loss of my son. And the loss of myself.




Oh my goodness!  I'm never calling the crisis team or the police again.

This morning my son had a really, really rough time. He was calling and texting me, his grandma, his psych doc, and several members of the ACT team ( all the people who are supposed to be supporting him and who we tell him to call if he is in distress).

He was distraught because he believes that I, his mom, killed somebody in 1984. He texted me and said, "You need to cry and feel pain." So I was advised by the ACT team to call the crisis number and to have the police do a well check on him. The police said that they were really busy today but that they would try to get to him tomorrow. They did, however, advise me not to go near him. 

The crisis team said that because nobody's seen a weapon, and because my son didn't actually threaten me or threaten to harm himself (well not today but yesterday he did), that they would document my call but there was nothing else they could do.

Now the ACT team has called and they're too scared to take meds to my severely mentally ill son. They're going to scale back on their assistance until they feel safer sending workers to his apartment.

So my son has to go without meds during his delusional psychotic breakdown? Who will take his insulin shot to him? The police have advised me not to have contact with him. What now? My poor son's distraught and will not get his meds.