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.