A Stigma-Free Home
Before I alarm anyone (hi CinDy!) everyone’s fine. I’m just getting some stuff off my chest.
Here’s the thing. We are a stigma-free home. We talk about our son’s mental illness around here as the disease it is. It’s a disease just like heart disease, kidney disease, etc. It’s a health issue just like dementia.
“It’s sort of like your brother has autism,” I said in a recent conversation with our other son.
It’s very much like his brother has autism. Kind of. In a way.
And so all we can do is love our child and hope for some sort of normal life for him.
It’s been tough around here lately. He seems to be struggling right now. We’re dealing. We’re loving.
I gotta tell you though. It’s fucking rough. I had to knock on his door one afternoon, to wake him up for work (I know! He’s well enough to maintain a part time job right now! Hallelujah!) and again, like many times before, I was so worried that I’d find him dead. That he’d take his life, as he’s sometimes threatened to do.
My baby. My poor baby. The pain and the inability to hope for/wish for more from life.
I don’t get it. I’ve never felt that much despair. Yes, I’ve felt depressed at times in my life. But not bottom-of-the-well depressed.
Look at that picture of the two of us, will you? A regular goofball kid who knew joy. Where is his joy now?
One of his brother’s friends was over here recently, and asked, in a gentle and kind conversation, if our son had always been “kind of weird.”
“That’s what’s so weird,” answered our younger son, “he was normal growing up. He just got weird later.”
People often ask me if there were signs when he was younger. I can’t think of anything. Except that one time, when he was really little and CiNDy was babysitting him, he cried because he wanted CiNDy to clean his room. Maybe that was a sign.
Or maybe it was a sign that his room was pretty much neat while his younger brother’s was a friggin’ pigpen.
He was normal growing up.
And now, like me, he’s got a new normal
I don’t know how much I’ve shared with you, public blog people. Although we are a stigma-free home/family, my son has a right to privacy. I’ve asked his permission to talk about his illness. He’s said he’s fine with it. Hell, he’s said I could write a book about it if I wanted to. And I want to. I just don’t know how I want to tell our story just yet. It will have a very special dedication to my Uncle Kenneth and Grandma J. Uncle Kenneth, who was born brain damaged due to his umbilical cord cutting off his oxygen supply but went on to learn to read and have relative independence. Grandma J, who had patience with him but really gave him the smack-down when he needed it.
I’ve been told, a time or two, that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle. I don’t know whether or not there is a God but I do suspect that there’s something out there that’s given me a special challenge or two. I will continue to handle the challenges I’ve received in the best way that I know how.
And if that means I have to have a roller skating birthday party now and again to get me through those days when I’m almost too afraid to knock on my son’s door, so be it.