Thursday, July 31, 2003
BUT: We now own a house we can happily own till the day we die. A beautiful house in a wonderful neighborhood. Like my wife's good friend Nancy said, it begins Volume 2 in the story of our lives.
Kyle has been such a huge help. He has always been our hardest working child. He may not always like it, but when he jumps into a task, it is tackled with complete abandon. He did disappear once today. My wife called me at the house and said Kyle had disappeared. The negative part of me assumed the worst, and I thought he would be stumbling back at 3 in the morning high as a kite. But, he was only smoking a cigarette in the back yard.
Isn't it funny how your priorities change? 2 years ago, I would have flipped out if I caught him smoking. Now, I'm relieved. It's not a controlled substance...
But talking about smoking, a year ago, the kid was in the most incredible shape of anyone I have ever known. Not a pinch of body fat, and was running marathons. In fact, he won his age division in the last marathon he ran. Now, he hasn't run for months. Funny, when he was sitting in jail, he would describe to us how he fantasized about taking off and running. No limits, go as far as he wanted to, then turn around and come back. But he hasn't run since he was released.
The move begins in earnest tomorrow. It may be a few more days until we check back in.
Monday, July 28, 2003
After 20 years in our current house, we close tomorrow on our new house. Not new, actually, just bigger. It's a wonderful 5 bedroom house in a wonderful neighborhood. And God has taken our hand throughout this entire process and led us along. I never thought we could swing a bigger house, but it has come together. The idea actually started just after Kyle was arrested. Looking back I think it may have been my coping mechanism, but whatever it was the process jelled. Kyle will be coming back to live with us in the new house, and I hope it works out. He wants the 5th bedroom which is downstairs off the rec-room, and I grudgingly agreed to that. I hate to put him off by himself like that, but on the other hand, he won't adversely affect the family with his inevitable sleep deprivation sessions, which are a symptom of bipolar.
What I'm trying to say in this off the track ramble is that we may not be updating for a day or two. Then again, we may have so much to report we can't help but jump back in here. But one way or another, don't stop checking back.
And help us out with a prayer or two to help things go smoothly. It will be crazy...
I stumbled across a blog called Eyesicle and have been checking in from time to time. It's written by a lady named Trinity who is a recovering drug user. It is so well done, and she is so good at putting her feelings down I feel a connection between her thoughts and feelings and Kyle's. I feel it gives me an insight to how my son may feel about many things including drug use, and how difficult it might be for him to walk away.
From an e-mail she wrote to us: "...I sat and read for awhile and must honestly tell you how heartwrenching your story is to me! Mostly because I can identify with everything, being bipolar myself obviously, and it has always been quite difficult to understand or see the point of view and suffering of the loved ones of a manic-depressive. It's neverending chaos and drama with only brief moments of serenity. I can feel the tension and suffering in your writings (both of you) and I just wanted to tell you that you are not alone."
Thanks to Trinity and ALL the others who have taken a moment to write. It does mean a lot to us.
Sunday, July 27, 2003
I just took Kyle back to my parent's house. He asked to come over, and he seemed pretty good tonight. He put on our daughter's green pom pom on his head with a hat on top. He was dancing around with the girls. He was so much fun to watch. He also got some cds back from his friend and he said that he isn't much of a friend. I was glad to hear that because I know this friend uses marijuana. He stripped 3/4 of the stuff from the walls of his room in preparation of our move. He will need to paint because under all the pictures and posters and poems and prayers are more pictures and posters and poems and prayers. There are lots of unusual things taped to the wall like charlie brown cake mixes and strange brands of cereal that I bought at Aldi's.
I am so suspicious of him and then I feel guilty for being suspicious. He ran down the steps at my folks to hug me goodbye when I dropped him off. I didn't mentioned anything about him being bipolar. Then at dinner he brought it up. He said how in the book Electroboy the main character had to check numbers and figures over and over. He said that he is like that too. I didn't even notice it in the book. He showed me all the free samples of pills that our doctor gave him. I didn't mention anything about it. I'm trying hard not to dwell on it...
Tonight because I miss Kyle being home so much I would like to share a beautiful memory instead of a sad one. He never finished his art projects as a child. He could draw beautifully but wouldn't finish his pictures. Then one mother's day he made this incredible poster for me. IT had about thirty pictures on it and a wonderful sappy sentiment. The most incredible thing was that he finished it. I treasure it and it hangs in my bedroom. He is so genuinely sweet. His girlfriend of a year broke up. I don't really know whose idea it was. She wrote some hateful things about him on the internet. He didn't and wouldn't retaliate. I told him that he should have kept the picture she painted for him. He didn't keep anything. He gave it back to her. He couldn't even understand the concept of revenge. He was so kind to her afterwards. It really isn't in him to be mean on purpose. He once gave me the most marvelous advice. I was complaining about a particular relative. He looked at me and said, " I know that this particular person bothers you, Mom, but the way I look at it, how much time do we actually spend with them six hours a year at the most." " Why ruin any more time thinking about them." I thought that his thoughts on that were brilliant.
Saturday, July 26, 2003
I took Kyle to the public defender yesterday. I really like her. Kyle didn't care too much for her. He has never had much love for anyone in authority. I went in with him for the meeting. She went over his case. His record even showed all the times he ran away as a teen and we reported him missing. She asked if he knew what went wrong and he just sat there. I was glad I went to the meeting. I told her how he was bipolar and now on medicine. She said he will probably be fined and at the worst be put on probation. Kyle handled it pretty well. He said afterwards that she was pretty nice.
On the way home we talked on the way about the book, Electroboy. He said it was kind of discouraging. He also said he hates me bringing up the manic depression all the time. I promised him that I would lay off of him. I just want him to accept it and work with it. I told him that it was kind of like when I found out that his brother had asthma. I read and read on asthma and was after him all the time about his medicine. Now his brother takes care of himself and uses his inhaler on his own. I don't even think about his asthma because he has learned to work with it. If only this was as easy! I was very disturbed yesterday that he had burn marks on his hands and legs. He said a friend paid him to let him burn him. I told him that he didn't sound like much of a friend.
Kyle said that his friend, Tom, who is a youth director at a church wants him to join his band. I told him that was wonderful. But Kyle said that it is a real problem not having a car. We made plans to get his I.D. card on Monday and apply at a hotel reservation center where his brother is working. I hope he gets the job. I told him that if he gives his earnings to his grandma that he should have enough for a car and insurance in no time. We talked about his medicine. He has been taking it. He said he still has manic moments where he feels he must do something dangerous. He said he hates the feeling and wishes that he could be normal and just sit around watching t.v. We talked about the past and he said that he told me that he needed help last year. He refused to go to a psychiatrist last year after he signed up for the marines.
Today he asked to come over and we went to look at the new house. He loved the room downstairs and asked about moving in. He is going out with a kid tonight from the youth group.
Odds and ends:
We got some very encouraging emails. And yesterday at our church art school the pottery lady said her dad was bipolar and killed himself when she was in high school. She said that her brother is suicidal now. I told her to call Catholic Charities and gave her the number. We are not Catholic but they have had the most wonderful counselors. We are praying for each other.
One incident that sticks out from Kyle's childhood was a zoo trip. I took our three children to the zoo and Kyle got lost. We searched for at least twenty minutes. When I found him I scolded him because I was so worried. Later in the day he told me that some older teenagers were taunting him about his ears; calling him Dumbo and such. I felt so bad that he was lost and being taunted. He was made fun of quite a bit. He always acted like it didn't bother him. Once he went ice skating with his friend with one arm. I saw some girls teasing the two of them and I rushed up. I thought they were making fun of his friend but they were actually making fun of Kyle. Once some kids were standing in front of our store pulling out their ears. When they came in I charged them double for their pop and told them why. It got to be an issue at school. The principal asked me why we didn't just get his ears fixed. She was a rather callous person. I told my mom and she said if that was what Kyle wanted she would pay for it. The next time Kyle brought up someone making fun of his ears I told him that if it bothered him he could get them fixed but that his dad and I thought that he looked great. He asked if it would hurt and I said yes. He said he wanted to do it. We had it done before he started Junior High. He was so excited to start Junior High.
Friday, July 25, 2003
Today I spent some time looking over some other blogs, and listed some of my favorites in the section to the right. We became acquainted with Margaret and her son Dan, and their blogs Journey Inside My Mind and Me, Myself, and I . Excellent sites, and worth adding to your daily list.
If you all have any other suggestions of other blogs we should be reading regularly, let us know.
Thursday, July 24, 2003
Kyle was in only one fight growing up. He really got along with most kids. His dad and him fought but that was different. I always felt that they fought because they are so much alike. They both love music. Our whole family does but their love is much greater. They are both extraordinarily intelligent. They both have deep concentration levels. And they both stay up hours to finish projects. Kyle got into a fight with a boy at the bus stop. The boy's mom turned him loose outside, as she didn't like him messing up the house. He played in our circle quite a bit. The boy, Jason, was always making fun of people. He was making fun of an african american girl on this day. It started in the morning and continued in the afternoon. Kyle lost it and really beat him up. His mother called and yelled at me and so did his father. Kyle had been talking about the kid before so I knew the story. I told the mother about her son and she continued to yell about Kyle hurting him. She wouldn't listen to reason. After her husband started cussing at me I let her have it. I told her if she wasn't so concerned about her house looking nice maybe she would know how her son acts. By the end of the conversation I told her that I was sorry but I could have have beat him up myself. I never spoke to her again. Of course, Kyle made up with her son. It was a valuable lesson to me to keep my mouth shut. Her son was later removed from public school for throwing a desk at the principal and seriously injuring another student. I still felt bad that I lost my temper . I was afraid this was the beginning of a lot of fights for Kyle but he never physically fought another peer, even though he was cruelly made fun of about his ears. They called him ear boy for three years. I'll write more on that tomorrow...
Wednesday, July 23, 2003
I talked to my parents tonight. They are switching bedrooms because Kyle is up all night. I hope he is taking his pills. With this art school I haven't had much time to talk to him. I miss him terribly. He is the most remarkable person in that way. He has done the most horrible things to everyone in our family and yet we love him so much. I guess because he has also done the most loving things. He forgives like no one else I know and in that way we learn to forgive him. I need to take him to see the public defender on Friday. I have to leave the art school early which I regret. We are also trying to move so our house is in turmoil. I am sitting in Kyle's bedroom which is still not totally cleaned out. He plastered his entire room with pictures, stories, poems, songs, etc. His brothers would bring people in to show them. He did some very artistic things like 3 D posters, etc. But it is a nightmare to tear apart. He covered every inch of his room including the entire ceiling and closet. A lot of it is fascinating and makes me smile. And a lot is almost demonic. I hope I can talk to him tomorrow. I don't work tomorrow night but he probably does.
I was thinking back on when Kyle was so popular. My husband took off work to sit in on his fourth grade class. It was the beginning of when he was getting in trouble. He had a wonderful teacher who we loved. She thought he might be ADD. My husband came home frustrated. He said the other kids wouldn't leave him along. They were all trying to talk to him and get his attention. They adored him. The girls all had crushes on him. He got so many valentines and one even bought him a big box of candy. He started drawing incredible pictures at that point, acting, and singing. He fell in love with the Chicago White Sox for some unknown reason. He obsessively collected baseball cards. Every spare penny was spent on baseball cards. To this day he has four huge rubbermaid storage tubs full of baseball cards. It was the first obsessive thing he collected. Our family store was next to a baseball card store and he couldn't go in without buying something. He said he felt so bad for the owner if he didn't. It was also the beginning of his extremely hard work ethic. In preparation for the weekend business, we had to pack containers of bait worms on Fridays. We would pack around 15,000 worms on a weekend. This was a huge job. Kyle outpacked anyone. We used to dance around packing them. It was actually kind of fun. We would put on music. He was incredibly fast. No one could even come close to his speed. When he got into fifth grade he made a friend with a boy with a disability. He had the use of only one arm. His sister was a clerk in the local grocery store and said Kyle was the first friend he had ever had. I can't even explain how compassionate he is. I remember his teacher saying how he could tie the boy's shoes because he couldn't do it and make it seem o.k. for him to be doing so. He absolutely couldn't stand for someone to be made fun of. He wanted me to correct every injustice. But he was also such a dickens to watch. He lit fireworks in his bedroom then locked the door so I wouldn't find out. He burned a hole in his rug and I couldn't get in to put it out. He snuck frogs home from his grandparents. He loved to burn things. It drove me crazy. He would burn toys. But he never hurt anyone. Until one day he got in this huge fight. More on that tomorrow....
I thought I'd write today about my relationship with Kyle. I've said before, my one-on-one times with Kyle were probably my most enjoyable of all our children. But nobody could bring out my anger like he could. I don't know why, but he knows how to push my buttons.
I have learned a lot from Kyle, and respect many things about him. I am envious about his relationship with Christ. He really seems to have a deep relationship with Christ. He struggles with his behavior, but you just know that Jesus is waiting with open arms to welcome him back. That's the case with all of us, but seems especially so with Kyle. He doesn't stray knowing this like many do, he really does try to live his life in a way Jesus would - his "WWJD" bracelet is truly the way he tries to live. He just isn't capable of living the way he would like, and this is the source of significant internal friction for him when he strays.
I respect the way he enjoys all kinds of music. While all my kids are open minded to various music types, Kyle is especially so. That's why the Cornerstone Festival is such a manic highlight for him. He will bounce from the acoustic tent to the main stage, to the hardcore tent, taking in virtually every musical style, and enjoying it all. And when it comes to music, he has a mind for lyrics like a steel trap. If he's heard it once, he remembers it. I can see him as a jingle writer or creative advertising person. He would excel at that.
There's much more I could say, but I'll save it for another day...
Tuesday, July 22, 2003
I'm going to leave the last 2 posts - it effectively illustrates some of the strain and challenges a family faces when something like this comes up. It doesn't just affect the bipolar family member, the entire family changes, and everyone's lives are affected.
It has been a real challenge for me to accept this diagnosis of Kyle's bipolar, and understand the ramifications and challenges it poses for him. All my life, I have taken the stance that there is NOTHING that can't be accomplished through willpower and hard work. If it isn't happening, you just don't want it badly enough. There has been no room in my mind for the possibility that a chemical imbalance could make this attitude impossible. People say, "why don't you knock some sense into him" or "he just needs to get his act together" or "he needs the kind of structure the military offers" or something similar. I am realizing that he is not like most of us. That's not a bad thing, it's not a good thing, it's just the way it is. Things that most of us take for granted are not possible for Kyle. It's not that he isn't trying, or doesn't want it badly enough, or isn't disciplined enough to make it happen. His brain and personality will not allow it.
Are we doing the right thing trying to medicate this out? Would we be better off to help him realize the potential this brings him? Help him harness his personality? The mania - the sheer energy and pure creativity it brings could be a HUGE asset in the right situation, properly understood, worked with, and controlled. As a performer, artist, musician, writer, creative person, or anything else where unbridled creativity and energy would be welcomed he could be a huge success.
Just some thoughts for the day...
Monday, July 21, 2003
Second grade was difficult for Kyle. His ears protruded and he had warts covering his hands. Kids teased him constantly. He got a first year teacher who gave them a starfish if they didn't get in trouble all day. He came home from the bus dragging his backpack and would proclaim that he didn't get a starfish. I asked why he hadn't gotten one and generally it was for touching the walls when he walked down the hall, dragging his feet, or other boyish behavior. But when I went to the school's open house on the fourth week of school the chart showed that he was in the minority of never having received the relished starfish. I stayed up all night and prayed. Then I made an appointment with the principal and complained. She was wonderful and agreed this was not a good teacher for Kyle. She asked if we should remove him immediately or should we wait until the next day. I told her the next day was fine. The teacher was fired later and I took extreme pleasure at seeing her years later in a public building with her little boy. He was a normal but wild boy and she couldn't get him to behave at all. I pointed him out to Ryan and reminded her who we were. She was extremely embarassed and tried harder to control her son. It was one of those moments that makes me smile even now. His new teacher was wonderful and while he was still teased he did well academically.
We had bought a small fishing and archery store and ran it as a family. Also that year, my husband took our three boys fishing. An ice storm came up when they were driving home. They were crushed in their suburban between two semis. While not hurt seriously, Kyle was hurt the worst. He had a cooler fall on him. Because of that, I had Kyle talk to his school counselor. It was the beginning of counselors for Kyle.
There are little things that I look back on now and see were the markings of bipolar. His feelings were always so close to the surface. He did some truly amazing, creative pictures. In fourth grade he was given a part as a judge in Tom Sawyer. He had a speech and then a solo. I didn't believe that he could do it. It was a huge amount of words to learn. He didn't even attempt to learn it. The night before the show I asked if he wanted me to work with him. He refused. He didn't know a single line. He did great in a the small scenes. It was like he came alive on stage. Then his big scene came up. I held my breath thinking he would fail and fall apart. He did the scene perfectly. I love to watch it to this day on video. But I will never forget that moment in the audience. He has the same amazing voice as his dad. I love to hear him sing. He has gotten every singing part that he has auditioned for. A local theatre auditioned children for a kids theatre group called Kids Caravan. They auditioned over 1000 kids and picked twenty. Kyle made it all three years. One year his brother really wanted it and Kyle wasn't even going to try out. You guessed it, Kyle made it and his younger brother Johnny didn't. Kyle loved being on stage and singing. He played Jesus in the Passion play at our church and brought tears to the people's eyes. He was so much fun to watch. I love to hear him sing. He sings all the time around our house and in the car when it is just him and me. He went to a concert for his favorite band at the time, Grasshopper Takeover. The lead singer offered people in the audience to sing. A few people got up and the audience booed them off. Then Kyle got up and the audience cheered. He was so excited when he came home. He couldn't believe that they liked him. He loved being in the spotlight. A teacher whom he didn't get along with said that most boys' voices go through changes where they sound worse. She said Kyle's just gets better and better. They really butted heads when he was in Junior High. Kyle is a wonderful artist also. He won the yearbook contest at his school and a few others. But he would rarely finish pictures. I have a box of amazing, half done pictures. I wanted him to take art in high school but he told me that it would be too frustrating. He did well at writing too which was no surprise because his dad is a wonderful writer. Ryan would get 139% on papers and one time he got an A++++++++++++++. In fifth grade he wrote a 67 page paper on Hernando Cortez. His teacher said if she is ever on Jeopardy she would be set. But more often than not he wouldn't turn his work in. If he turned it in, I knew it would be an A. This problem started in the beginning of fourth grade. His popularity soared. The third grade boy who would be reading books in the corner of the playground was now the most popular boy in school. But it wasn't necessarily for good reasons...
There has been an unexpected ramification of everything that has happened - the family itself has really taken a hit.
My wife and I agreed completely on this last scenario, if Kyle left that night, he would be forced to move out. But now, in the eyes of my wife and at least one of our children, it's all been my idea, and my fault he's gone. I have a wife who holds me responsible, and an adult child who won't talk to me because of this. I still think it was the only option we had, and even though I am being hung out to dry on this decision, I still feel it was the right one.
If anyone is reading this, make sure you are in 100%, complete agreement before making a decision like this. This has ended up being a major bone of contention in a 23 year marriage. I would recommend family counseling for all those remaining, and the bipolar one, if you can get everyone together.
Kyle showed up at the house Saturday for several hours, waiting for his older brother to cut his hair and give him a ride to work. I was not comfortable with this, and when I voiced my concerns, I was made to feel like a hard-hearted demon. As it turns out, Kyle went through our drawers, and stole the codeine cough syrup we found when we searched his room a few days before. We were going to give it back to his grandparents, from whom he stole it originally, but he stole it from us before we could do that.
If my post sounds bitter, I apologize. But it's tough to go through this without the support of the family as a whole. In the absence of this, I make decisions I feel are best, and live with the consequences...
Saturday, July 19, 2003
He did well in school until second grade. He tested off the charts and did some amazing things. He memorized all the presidents in order in kindergarten, he read constantly at about a third grade level in kindergarten, and was head and shoulders above the rest of the class. I began to regret holding him back. He would read entire books on artists, presidents, snakes, or things that normally don't interest little boys. He would play nintendo obsessively. I would limit the time and lock up controllers. He would beat entire games almost instantly. But he would act so crazy when he was playing almost like his life depended on it. It frightened me and I tried to get him outside instead. This is when he was four before he started school. He loved animals and had an extrordinary kindness to him. Any child or pet being picked on he would protect. Any handicapped children, slower children, or just plain outcasts would be befriended by Kyle. He was invited to more birthday parties than all our children combined. A lot of times he would be the only child coming. But he also picked the wildest children in his classes to befriend. He would be attracted to their wildness. He would pick up loners at the park and bring them home. He has such a love for people. But there was a sadness to it because he would always put others first and he was often hurt. He was amazed when people wouldn't be invited to a party so his birthday parties were always the largest. One time the kids kept coming and coming. It was for a sleepover and we ended up with 22 boys. Not only had he asked his entire class of boys but other classes also. He couldn't bear to hurt anyone's feelings. In second grade he began to have problems. His ears protruded and kids made fun of him. Our city was integrated which meant he rode a bus for 50 minutes in the morning and evening. It wasn't a good situation for anyone but Kyle didn't handle it well at all.Kids were making fun of him and each other. He had a horrible teacher. It was the beginning of school problems for Kyle. More history tomorrow...
Friday, July 18, 2003
More history on Kyle......
As a toddler he had temper tantrums constantly. They were more like meltdowns. He couldn't make a birthday card for relatives like his brother enjoyed doing. They were never good enough and he would throw fits of frustration. This is at the age of two. He would come crying to me if he got grass on his mittens. He also did rather strange things like collect cigarette butts at the age of four and keep them hidden from me. He couldn't light them but collected them for some reason. He was extremely affectionate. He always sat right next to me. This lasted until he was twelve. The whole couch would be open but he would sit down almost on top of me. He would hug and kiss his dad and I goodnight and would ask several times, "Did I give you a hug and a kiss?" He adored his Daddy. I would say, " You are like me in such and such a way." He would disagree and say he was just like his dad. He had absolutely no fear of anything. His brother was afraid of going into the basement so he would go with him. My dad was put into the hospital and almost died. Kyle was staying at my aunt's but needed to spend the night with my inlaws. The day he came home he started stuttering. He continued to stutter for several months. He had some speech problems and turned five in April. I didn't feel he was ready for school. He had no desire to go. He would cry and say please don't make me go to school. So we kept him home another year. He went to Sunday school and enjoyed that. His kindergarten year was successful. He had 17 boys and five girls in his class. He did well and read early. More history tomorrow. . . .
A nice day turned bad. Kyle has a way of taking special days and occasions, and turning them into disasters. Mother's day was the first time he was arrested, and today, on his mother's birthday, he managed to make it memorable in a different way.
Grandma brought Kyle over so he could tell his mother happy birthday. He was here 10 minutes, disappeared in the bedroom, then came out and hopped into a car that had just then pulled up in front of the house. A black Lexus with heavily tinted windows. They were gone before my wife could do anything.
Worried about what was going on, she went into the bedroom, and found her purse open. Her ATM card was gone. She immediately called the bank and canceled the account, but a minute or two before that the account had been wiped out. Luckily there wasn't much there.
Kyle returned a little while later and denied any knowledge of what had happened. He finally broke down, and admitted he took the card and money, and gave it to the kid for drugs. The drugs were to be delivered the next day. I walked to the phone, looked at the caller ID, and called the last name and number listed. It was a smart aleck kid. I introduced myself as Kyle's father, and said he had some of my money and I wanted it back. The phone was passed between a few people, and finally someone said meekly "hello...." I repeated myself, and told him that I had his name, phone number, and license plate number. If he wanted to keep that nice Lexus, he'd better be back to my house in 10 minutes with my money. I got a scared "Yes sir..." in response.
A while later, two kids came walking up to our driveway. They couldn't have been more than 16 years old. They returned all our money, and we told them if we ever saw their phone number on the caller ID again, or ever saw their car in our neighborhood again, or if they ever had any contact with our son again, we would finish this discussion. We were very calm, non threatening, They were scared to death. Spoiled rich kids, worried daddy would take away the Lexus if he caught them selling drugs...
Kyle's older brother suggested he get involved in Narcotics Anonymous. It's an excellent suggestion, and Kyle agreed to it. I would be open to having him back in our house again if I knew he was really serious about fighting his substance abuse issues. Heck, I'm willng to try anything right now...
Thursday, July 17, 2003
Kyle is still at his grandparents house, spending most of his time sleeping. He is obviously in his "down" or depressed phase. He'll spend his time there in that phase, he won't hit a manic phase again until he gets somewhere else. That being said, he can't stay there forever. The way I see it, we have a couple of options:
1. We bring him back to live with us, so we can care for him, make sure he takes his meds, and try and motivate him to do something with his life.
2. We leave him at his grandparents, but that's only temporary. He'll eventually hit a manic phase, and they'll have no idea how to handle him (of course, neither will we...)
3. We dump him on the streets, take him to a mission, or similar. Best case: He'd be in jail within 2 weeks. Worst case: He'd be dead within a month.
4. We go to court and have him committed and institutionalized. This is a last resort. If his meds don't even him out, and we can't handle him for a second more, we may consider this.
Now all of this talk makes Kyle look like a monster, and nothing could be further from the truth.
Of all our kids, my quality time with Kyle is more enjoyable than with any of the others. I don't know why, but when it's Kyle and myself one on one fishing, biking, or anything else, he's the greatest companion a father could ever have.
He's thoughtful, gentle, and loving. He hugs everyone, and you can feel the love in every one of his hugs. He's extremely thoughtful, and will do anything to help you when he's not at one of his "poles". His siblings miss him, and want him back home. His mother and I miss him, and would enjoy having him back home, if we could avoid the problems.
Even in his manic phases, he's lovable. He dances, sings, and entertains us all. He pulled some stunts at school that had the whole school buzzing - he ran full speed through the cafeteria, yelling, and did a swan dive through the tray return window, sliding face first into the dishwasher at the other end. He emerged, soaking wet, to a 1000 person standing ovation. Even the teachers couldn't help themselves from laughing. He streaked a graduation ceremony, fortunately not too many people learned his identity in that incident. He has performed with high quality regional theater groups and musical groups. He is loaded with talent and energy. He was a letterman in track and cross country, and a hard working member of the wrestling team.
Kyle is a deeply religious person, and for most of his life was able to channel his excess mania into religious directions, and use that to avoid drugs and other temptations. He wants to be a pastor or a lay pastor, and work with youth. But recently, he's slipped into drugs and a bad crowd. If not for the drugs, I could handle most of his swings. JPUSA (Jesus People USA) sponsor Cornerstone Festival, and are looking for devoted people for street mission work in Chicago. He would be great at this, if he could channel his manic energy into something positive. And that's the type of atmosphere he could do that. He would shine at this. But we'll have to get past his court date, see what comes from that, and work out getting him enough spending money for a year away if he decides to go that route - if they'll have him.
Since this blog is getting more readers, I don't want people to think he's a monster. He's a loving, giving, talented young man. He just has this incredible burden to bear through life, and I pray he can find a way to live a full and enjoyable life given his condition. I know he can, but he needs ALL of our prayers...
Wednesday, July 16, 2003
When Kyle left Monday night, he knew what he was doing. We drew a line in the sand, he chose to cross that line. They say when a bipolar person is in their manic phase, the pursuit of pleasure will override everything, including the logical. My wife thinks it wasn't even an option for him, his disorder precluded all but this option. Nevertheless, he broke his contract, crossed that line in the sand, and he's forced to live with the consequence, and find another place to live. Just before he went out the door, we saw him reach under his bed. We went through his room after he left, and under his bed found codeine he stole from his grandparents. Tylenol with codeine, and cough syrup with codeine. That's what he was reaching for before he left. We also found pot, mostly stems. It looks like he cleaned a bag that day. We also found a diuretic he took from his grandparents. I wonder if he knows what that is...
He came back that night at 3:00 AM knocking on the door, saying he wanted in his room to "get his stuff". I wouldn't let him in, telling him he would have to come back in the morning and make arrangements with us. Of course I couldn't sleep, and walked out at about 6:00 AM, catching him crawling out of a hole in our garage door. He had kicked out a panel in our garage so he could climb in! Well, I lost it. I came after him for all I was worth. I'm not proud of this, in fact it scares me to death. I proceeded to physically beat him up in a fist fight. He got up, and ran off. I went back inside and collapsed in tears. While I do sometimes suffer from anger issues, I had no idea I was capable of an outburst like that. I told my wife what happened, and promised her I would see the doctor later that day to see if I would benefit from medication myself. As it turns out, l was diagnosed with depression, and prescribed meds for that and mood swings. But back to my son...
He did return later that morning, and my wife offered to take him to his grandparents until he could make other arrangements. He ended up making it to work that day, and I'm happy about that.
Now, more decisions to make. He will start asking when he can come home. He just can't realize he is an adult, and can and must be on his own. I really think he still sees himself as a kid. Ours is the only home he is capable of picturing. He doesn't talk about the future, never talks about earning money and buying a car, or getting a apartment, he is stuck in the here and now. I really and truly don't think he is capable of seeing tomorrow. My wife and I will need to reach a decision on this soon. I will take the stance he needs to be on his own so he no longer disrupts the family the way he does. She will want to bring him back in, and she will win out, as always. But I don't think he would ever leave for another place, he's not capable of picturing himself on his own. I don't know if he ever will be...
Tuesday, July 15, 2003
What a terrible night. I feel like bursting into tears. The terms of Kyle's contract we mentioned in the last post called for him to be home no later than 10:00 PM, to do the reasonable jobs around the house he is assigned, to not leave home without permision, and so forth. We made it clear that once he gains our trust again, we could quickly relax the terms of the contract. But since he's an adult, and is greatly disrupting the family as a whole, these were the terms. If he chose not to comply with the terms, we chose not to provide him a place to live. It was Kyle's choice, and he understood and signed the contract.
At 10:00 tonight the phone rings, Kyle is on the phone for all of 3 seconds, hangs up, and starts preparing to leave. We sit him down, and make sure he knows what he's doing. We tell him if he leaves, he can't return. He shrugs, says we knew he would break it eventually, and walks out. I follow him outside, watch him climb into the back seat of the SUV out front, and ask him if this was what he really wanted. He said yes it was. I told him I was sorry, and they drove off.
I don't know how things will shake out right now. Kyle just got a job, and was really happy about that, and I was really proud of him for getting one. I shook his hand and told him that. That's not the kind of event you hug your son about, it's a handshaking event. A "welcome to manhood, son..." type of thing. He is supposed to work tomorrow, his first full day, and I really hope he makes it there somehow. But knowing him, if he can't shower and prepare first, he won't go. That's the way he is...
I can't write more tonight, that's all I can handle. Damn, I hope we did the right thing...
Monday, July 14, 2003
Kyle came home last night at 1:00 in the morning looking for our cell phone. He said a friend needed to make a call. We told him to let him use our home phone, and didn't give him the cell phone. So for the next 30 minutes we had people coming in and out of our home. This morning, we found a pot pipe in his pocket. So, chances are, they were looking for drugs with the phone calls last night.
This is the final straw. Kyles's final court date is Friday, so our selfish reason for wanting to keep him under our roof so we don't lose our $1400 bail money is about done. I think we're going to sit him down today and give him a choice: He follows boot camp type of rules in our house, which we've unsuccessfully attempted to do before, or we give him until his trial date Friday to find a new place to live. Our fear is that he won't be capable of or even interested in caring for himself, and will be dead in 2 weeks. But, if we don't cut the cord, he will never be able to mature, and the cycle will undoubtably continue.
He is better recently, the medication he's on is definitely helping. But he is still capable of knowing what is good for him, and what is not. We have talked very directly to him about drug and alcohol use being part of the symptoms of bipolar, and he is very cognizant of that. He is also aware that drug use can offset or change the effects of his medication. He chooses to use drugs anyway. If we put him out, he won't be able to afford the medication, and therefore won't be able to continue with it. He's not so bad he qualifies to be institutionalized, at least in my opinion, and the opinion of the counselors he's seeing. But this family can't continue to revolve around Kyle. We have 5 kids, yet Kyle insures everything revolves around him, and it's not fair to the other kids.
We're going to attempt to sit down with him over lunch today. More later...
Sat down with Kyle over my lunch hour. He agreed, with attitude, to a contract we drew up. I have serious doubts of his desire and even ability to follow the terms of the contract. From his attitude, I can see Kyle has doubts about OUR ability to enforce the contract...
Just received bad news, they postponed his trial date. Man, just when you think things can start to get back to normal, we run into this. He won't make any plans, and is using this as an excuse to do nothing as he doesn't know if the trial will result in jail time or something else. So he sits around, and gets into trouble. We can't discipline him too much or kick him out because he knows we can't lose that bail money. We have to make sure he shows up for court. If it was our money, I'd be tempted to walk away from it. But we owe relatives for that, and I can't just let it go. I'm so frustrated I could just scream.
Absolutely the highlight of Kyle's year is Cornerstone Festival. 3 years ago, he asked me if he could attend a concert in Illinois, and of course, I immediately said no, end of discussion. My wife, in an uncharacteristic moment, immediately sat me down, looked me in the eye, and said "listen to your son." I looked puzzled, and she told him to continue. He said it was a Christian music festival, and he wanted me to take him. Surprised by this, and not knowing his interest in Christian music, I agreed to take him. Our youngest boy also attended that first year. We were only there for a few days, but our Cornerstone trip has become a bonding experience for our family. Kyle is in heaven at Cornerstone. He is at his manic peak there, moving a million miles an hour, seeing literally 30 shows a day. He barely takes time to eat. This year, I was particularly concerned about a let-down and depression after Cornerstone. It's such a huge build-up and event, I was really worried he would crash upon getting home. In a way he did...
Sunday, July 13, 2003
I think I must start at the beginning of Kyle's life to give you the full background of him. He was born on time in April. He was a beautiful big baby over nine pounds. He was the biggest baby that we had. He was jaundiced for a couple of weeks. All the counselors that we had seen asked about the jaundice as if it was an answer. One of our other children was also jaundiced and never had a bit of problems. I often wonder now if he was bipolar from the start or if that was something that developed later. He has always been difficult. The day we brought him home from the hospital he woke up to nurse every 30 minutes. I lost my baby weight plus twenty pounds extra. I also had a seventeen month old boy and I got very little sleep for two years after Kyle was born. He had colic for four months and then like magic it was gone. He walked very early like all of our children did. He quit nursing abruptly at ten months. I was disappointed. I wanted to nurse him for a year. He was a wonderful eater and was rather chubby. Besides the constant waking up at night he was a loving baby. When he was a toddler he became more difficult. More history tomorrow. . .
A book that I am enjoying reading is Electroboy by Andy Behrman It is an autobiography by a man who is currently living in New York City who is bipolar. I have enjoyed him describing the mania. I never have understood it.
Saturday, July 12, 2003
Oh Happy Day...!
Kyle started his job today, and was in pretty good spirits. I really hope he enjoys it, and gets some satisfaction out of it. But it's a huge step, and such a great boost to his confidence. I really am proud of him. It's funny, 2 years ago I would have just EXPECTED him to have career related job after graduating from high school. Not even thinking about it, it's what I would have expected. But now, it's not like my expectations are lowering, I'm just understanding him better, and the struggles he faces every day. Knowing this, I know what a huge step this was, and I am thrilled for him.
Let me share some of my thoughts and experiences about Kyle. First, him and I butt heads constantly. He is the only one of my 5 children I have ever spanked or struck, and that's because he was always blatantly defying me. There finally came a time when he stood up to me, asked me what I was going to do about it, and we had a knock down, drag out. It was at that time I realized this could never happen again, one of us could be seriously hurt. So, in the interest of avoiding conflict, I started just leaving him to himself. In hindsight, this wasn't good. It gave him more time, and in his depressed moods, which he spends lots of time in, he ended up by himself without interruption or intervention from me. But I knew if I asked him to do something, and he said "No, I won't do that", I couldn't let it go and walk away.
Edited at 10:30 PM
Well, potentially bad news. He just lied to us and said he was going out with one of his "good" friends, but we caught him in the lie. He stormed out, slamming the door. This means he's going out with some of his "bad" friends. He'll likely be impaired tonight when he gets home. There's been nights lately where he's been literally falling down drunk, or so stoned he can hardly talk.
It never ends. The really bad with the good...
Maybe my wife will be back tomorrow with a post. Anyone reading this, make sure and drop her a line with some words of encouragement.
Friday, July 11, 2003
My wife is really struggling with this blog. We initially thought this would be therapeutic for her, and would bring in messages of support from others in a similar situation. Instead, we have heard nothing, and she is finding the process quite depressing. I'm encouraging her to keep on logging, that her insights, struggles, knowledge, research, and most importantly love, will inspire her and others.
If you are reading this log, drop her a line at the email address shown to the right. Give her a word or two of encouragement. Give her some additional resources she might not have, such as your own blogs, websites, and books.
I really think that in recording Kyle's history, she's reliving this again, dredging up that difficult stuff again. I tell her to add some positive to each post, to look forward to the future.
I won't give history today, but will cover a few current happenings.
I came home last night, and Kyle announced he got a job! In questioning him, it's actually an interview, but the guy on the phone made him believe it was a job. I will be praying that it goes well, and it actually IS a job. That would be such a HUGE step, and a HUGE jump in his confidence. It's at a sandwich shop, and he's really looking forward to it.
I have been trying to talk Kyle into learning a trade. With his perfectionist tendencies, I think he would make an excellent finish or trim carpenter, or something similar. He won't consider it, however. He considers a decision like that permanent, and will not commit to anything "permanent". He wants to do things with his life, what he's not yet sure, but things besides what I suggest. He really wants to join the service, but with his record and the fact he's on medication I don't think they'll take him. I don't want to hit him upside the head with that right now, so I'm trying to get him to make other goals and plans "just in case" the military doesn't work out. It's like pulling a semi uphill.
That's all for today, I may post more in the future.
Thursday, July 10, 2003
More history tomorrow....
Kyle came home pretty quickly yesterday. He said he went for a walk. He smelled like cigarette smoke. He is helping my parents today. He is the hardest working of all my children. He painted his grandparents house a couple of years back. It looks beautiful. He has a very close bond with his grandparents especially his grandmother. We found out his trial date for his first charges is set for July 18, 2003. I hate to go back to the courtroom. I will be so glad when it is finished. I went to the library today and checked out a couple more books on mental illness. He went to a church youth group last night. He got home very late but not intoxicated. These are small accomplishments but they mean a lot to me.
The thing that has helped me the very most is talking to people who have bipolar children. It is more common than I ever thought possible. I am very selective about who I tell but have been pleasantly surprised to learn of close friends who have bipolar children or mothers. My husband started looking for a new house for our family when Kyle was first arrested. At first that was overwhelming but now it gives us all something to look forward to.
Wednesday, July 09, 2003
More history tomorrow. . .
Kyle is now looking for employment. He is very discouraged and hasn't put much effort into the search. He disappeared again this afternoon but doesn't have any money, so hopefully he will return soon. It is hard for me to judge if the Zyprexa is working. He hasn't had any severe rages lately but his cycles are very long. I read that long cycles are a positive sign. I hope so.
Another book I would recommend is by author Danielle Steel and is called His Bright Light: The Story of Nick Traina. New York : Dell Publishing, 1998
She writes a lot about baby bipolar and gives a lot of insight. Even though her solutions are very expensive, it is an excellent read.
Tuesday, July 08, 2003
More history tomorrow...
Here's a website recommendation for today:
The Zyprexa web site
It has a guide to caring for loved ones suffering from this disorder, and stories of hope.
Monday, July 07, 2003
More history tomorrow...
Here's a book recommendation for today:
We Heard The Angels Of Madness - A Family Guide to Coping With Manic Depression
by Diane & Lisa Berger
I found this very helpful for it's interspersing of medical knowledge with actual history.