February 19, 2019: I don't usually talk about this. My oldest son, Mitch, has battled bipolar disorder for a long time, and has suffered from a head injury. He’s overcome addiction and the extremes of mania with medication and religious devotion, but a few months ago, he went off his medication.
Today, after the best week he’s had in many years — painting a beautiful picture for me, hanging out with old friends, volunteering at Helping His Hands, cleaning the house, and walking the dog — Mitch packed his bag and left while I was in another room.
He messaged that he’s headed to California because, “God wants me to save the lost there.” He’s taken off, before, and gone as far as Colorado where he was lost in a snowstorm and rescued by a good samaritan. He went to California with a homeless veteran, during a very bad time in his life. He’s always survived but I’m terrified, every time he leaves like this, I’ll get the worst kind of call or never hear from him again.
I don't know why I'm sharing now. I’ve been down this road so many times. I guess I’m tired. And I know there are other people struggling with PTSD or the neurological disorders that we label mental illness. I'm also hoping, if anyone sees him, they’ll help him get home.
I’ve rented him a hotel room in Carlyle, Illinois. I feel like I am enabling him, but right now, I don’t want him to freeze to death.
February 22, 2019: Mitch is hitchhiking and stayed at a hotel in St Charles, Illinois last night — the Sleepy Inn near highway 370. He was leaving there, this morning, to go further west. The night before, he stayed outside and I had the police check on him. He stopped at a hospital there for back pain but he didn’t stay. At the time the police talked to him, he was dressed warmly, cooperative, and spoke lucidly. They didn’t feel like they had enough to force him into the hospital. The local hospital wouldn’t help because he’d crossed state lines.
People helped him, this evening, and he’s now in Troy, Missouri. Someone fed him, and bought him socks and foot medication. I rented a room for him, in Troy, so I can sleep tonight. I feel like I’m on a roller coaster. Mostly, I’m trying to keep track of his whereabouts, and praying he stays warm.
My other son is away at college, with his girlfriend, so he’s been able to separate from the drama. I started a demanding job a few months ago. Thank God I have it or this would be even more stressful, financially.
A friend shared that her son is traveling the country in a bus he bought, and that he lived on the streets one winter. I had no idea her son was sick. We all hide and isolate.
February 25, 2019: This past weekend, in Troy, Missouri, Mitch said, “I still plan to travel west.”