I am at my wit’s end. I can't take it anymore. I have a mentally ill son, Christopher, who will be 17 in February. I was a victim at 13, and he was born at 14. I read so much when I found out I was pregnant — everything that would tell me how I should have the baby and where there would be help. I thought I was doing the right thing. Fast forward. He’s now at a residential treatment facility. Since he was seven or eight, my son’s been receiving treatment for mental illness. It was a battle every day to make sure nothing made him mad, and when he did get mad, we followed safety plans to a “T.”

Christopher has bipolar disorder, ADHD, intermittent explosive disorder, and possibly, and probably, more. When he gets mad, he physically assaults people and it happens out of no where. He's gone after his infant siblings, strangers in the street, classmates, and teachers. He will attack anyone who’s around. He says, “I will kill everyone.” His main desire is to stab people to death. He attempted to stab me. He hid in the house with a butcher knife my grandmother used and forgot to lock back up.

We’ve exhausted all mental health services, and I mean all. I even drove him out of state to be hospitalized. The residential treatment facility is the last thing that can help, but I can't afford it. Child Protective Services, therapists, other family members, and medical providers all agree he needs this, but insurance won't pay for it unless he is a drug user. 

So here we are. All involved agree my son cannot be in my home. It's too dangerous for me and his younger siblings. He’s strong and over six-feet tall. I love him, but I'm deathly afraid of him. So are my two daughters who he attempted to sexually molest as well as physically assault. The state of Michigan would help me pay for his treatment, but here’s the catch: I'm being charged with child abuse and child neglect. Authorities say it’s the only way to keep everyone safe and to get him help. They’ve put me on a child abuse registry. I won’t be able to go back to working with children (I previously worked in an elementary school.) I can't go on field trips with my other children because my name is on that list. My trial isn't until January 10. The attorney they gave doesn’t seem to care about my right to a fair trial. He's only showed up for two hearings, talked to me less than 90 seconds each time, and has never looked at my son’s medical documents and other evidence that I carry with me to every hearing. 

January 1, 2019: I just now looked at my mail that didn't come until late yesterday evening. There is a letter from the court. It says a pre-trial management conference was scheduled for 12/18/2018 and that all witness lists and evidence were due by 12/21/2018. My attorney has none of this information and I'm being informed by mail that wasn't sent out until 12/28/2018 (stamped on the envelope). 

To make matters worse, the state promised me they wouldn't involve my rapist/abuser, a man I’m greatly afraid of. They said it would be in my son’s best interest not to involve him as he has a lengthy record. They lied. The letter I just opened says they sent a copy stating my name, my information, and the date for trial, to this man. He ruined my childhood and essentially scarred me for life. I never put him on my son’s birth certificate. I am scared to death, angry, and hurt. It feels like a set-up. 

Everyone I talk to feels bad but no one can help. The problem is legislation. I've contacted all local officials, from my local state representatives to the governor’s office. However, because of elections and terms being close to an end, no one could help. Here I am. I’ve never been in trouble with the law in my life. Now I’m being persecuted for having a mentally ill child, and not being able to afford the $300-a-day treatment he needs. Seems there’s no way to help a parent get the treatment her mentally ill child needs without charging the parent (me in this case) and labeling her as a child-abuser. The state’s stripping me of my parental rights, and sending me a bill for my son’s expenses while he’s in their care.

I have a therapist and, after he looked at all my documents and heard the story, he was in shock and felt bad. He said, “Nothing can be done.” It's a Catch-22. Usually, he tries to help his patients work toward a goal, but he doesn't have a goal for me to strive for. He can only allow me to vent which, at this point, isn't enough. God help me. I don't know what to do anymore. It feels like the state of Michigan wants me dead.

Note: Sarah cancelled her court appearance for 1/10/2019. She says, “I'm too afraid to go to trial Thursday and risk being found by my childhood abuser. My concern is his being in front of me at the trial, possibly following me home, or getting my address while at the trial. I was told by the judge's secretary they would ‘try not to disclose my address.’ However, I don’t put it past the courts that they would hand him a document with my mailing address on it, or say it out loud during the trial.”

Sarah and Christopher

Sarah and Christopher

DEAD BOY WALKING by Crystal Burks

When a mother's heard she's having her first son, it's a joyous event. I'd talk to my in-utero infant all day expecting his arrival in early 2000. He was a millennium baby — healthy pregnancy, healthy birth and hit all his milestones. He didn't even have any terrible two's. But about four, something happened. Something took my happy, charismatic, easy-going child and left a haunted, tortured, angry little boy.

We all know the next steps: intake, psych evaluation, diagnosis, prescriptions. It seemed to work for a while but it was intake after intake, drug after drug, and he was finally given the labels of ADHD, Bipolar Disorder, Oppositional Defiance Disorder, and the missing daddy syndrome (not a DSM5 diagnosis but, in the world of social work, a label for majority of low income boys).

I had no family and four children by the time my son was eight. At that point, he was so out of control I'd have to restrain him. He was kicked out of schools, daycares, and play groups and kids constantly taunted him. Then there were the voices. The voices told him to steal, climb through  windows, and beat on his sister. More drugs.

By the summer of 2008, my son was so dangerous to himself and his siblings, he was taken to a group home. Worst choice.  There, he was physically and emotionally abused. I yanked him out and off the countless drugs they had him on.

Fast forward to 2014. He began smoking cigarettes and marijuana, and stealing to get the money for his habits. He became abusive to his siblings. I continued to report this to the various agencies yet all they could say was, "He isn't dangerous enough to remove. However, if something happens to his siblings, you will be charged with failing to protect them."

I was told, if I wanted him removed, to call CPS. So I did, and they laughed at me and opened a case against me for neglect. I had a total of four open cases against me due to his behavior, yet he still wasn't dangerous enough. He was arrested for domestic violence against his little brother and was sent back home two days later. My two younger children were terrified of him at six-feet-three-inches and 350 pounds . He threatened to burn his sister with cigarettes, to kill his family, and slice my throat, and still he wasn't dangerous enough. My daughter now suffers from depression, anxiety, and low self esteem from the emotional abuse she's endured.

My son was arrested six times for possession and theft and all the system did was hand me a court date. It basically told my son that he was above the law and that if I or his step-dad attempted to physically discipline him, he should call the police. I was told by the court that he had to get enough arrests or seriously hurt someone before law enforcement would step in. This monster-sized kid, with a really bad anger problem, was shown that he could do what he wanted and face no consequences.

Finally, in March of last year, my teenage boy was recognized as needing services. He'd refused his medications and had a psychotic break. I admitted him to an emergency stabilization unit in town and then he was sent to a psychiatric hospital, and then to an inpatient facility for two months. In the meantime, I'd lost countless jobs, dropped out of college five times in six years, and fell deep into debt and depression. All the while, the law and therapists threatened me that I'd be liable for anything that happened.

He went through the first round of treatment only to come home and return to his same ways. He smashed a two-foot-by-two-foot hole through his bedroom wall. He went back for treatment to an expensive group home that gave him unlimited food and activities — basically, a vacation. He returned home and started misbehaving again. He refused his medication, got high and abused his siblings. I lost another job because of depression. Back to a high-priced group home with food, cable games, and outings. A home where somebody thinks two months of playtime is rehabilitation. A home where somebody thinks that's enough time to undo all the damage.

My son will be 18 in less than a year. As it stands, he has no high school credits, no real job history, and no motivation to do anything but drink, get high, and run around with drug dealers. Everything I've tried has been a waste of time and money. Had somebody listened to me years ago, had the system used less stringent criteria for the removal of an at-risk youth, had the funding been in the right place instead of on ball parks, my son may have a had a chance. They may have been able to help him and he may have had a future. But no, the system created a monster who lives by no rules, and has to answer to no one including me.  Everyday, I worry I'll get a call from either the police or the hospital. Everyday, I worry I'll come home to my son's suicide because he stopped his meds and drank too much, or worse, did a different drug he knew nothing about.

My son's a dead boy walking. It's too late, now, thanks to a system that cares more about quota than quality of care. The saddest part is there are thousands of people in this situation and yet the powers that be keep taking resources away. My heart hurts for anyone who suffers these terrible disorders and is ignored. I was asked, once, if I had one wish what would it be. I replied, "To heal all the ugliness, disease, and horror from every heart in this world." It's possible, but it will take a miracle. God bless. 💙