Sunday, August 31, 2003

Kyle's mom here. It has been next to impossible for me to write anything. My heart is broken with Kyle gone. His work called today because he hadn't shown up. I imagined the worst. Then when I was about to take our girls to the park with a friend he showed up. I turned him away and asked him about work. He said he just got there late. I am frustrated. He was very manic when he came home on Friday and I wouldn't give him a ride. I don't know if Jon had written that he let a girl shave his hair off. HIs sisters told me that he looked scarey. When I was working yesterday he came home and our oldest daughter yelled not to let him in. Our neighbor called her daughter home. Then today she told me that she didn't know the story and thought he might be violent. I didn't tell her that he is bipolar. I feel bad because I can't explain Kyle. It is hard to explain that there are so many sides to him. He can be singing Christian songs and loving Jesus. But ten minutes later he might be smoking pot in our garage. He would never hurt anyone's feelings. And yet he is my only child who has screamed at me that he hates me.

I want him safe but I want our whole family to be safe, too. I want him to take his pills but I can't fight him every day about it.

I want to learn about manic depression and yet the more I learn the more confused I am. How can he have no willpower over marijuana and yet give up swearing, pop, sugar. and candy for two years. How can he run two marathons and work harder that anyone I know, and yet be willing to work at a sandwich shop for minimum wage?

I am praying for him constantly. And yet I am relieved he is not here abusing himself.

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Kyle's been gone for two nights now. He came back yesterday twice, and this morning at 8:00 for work clothes. At least he's still concerned about getting to work. I have no idea where he's staying, but I know that in the past when he's left he has slept under the steps inside apartment buildings. Karen is telling him he will need to make arrangements to get his belongings - he can't use our house for storage and go on doing what he wants to do. He can make an "appointment" to come and get his things, but otherwise he's on his own.

He knows he can come back at any time if he's willing to follow the rules. He was seen by one of our boys yesterday hanging around with people in the neighborhood. When he saw my other son, Kyle hid what he was holding in his hand. They were obviously getting high.

I have a feeling as the weather starts cooling, he'll have a change of heart fairly quickly. I hope it comes from within, though, and not out of physical discomfort...

Monday, August 25, 2003

Kyle's dad here.

It's been a stressful day around our house. Kyle heard back from the Navy, and while he didn't tell us exactly what they said, he said he's not eligible for Navy service. I asked him to wait for me to get home from work so we could talk about his future, where he would live, and so forth. He hung up on me, and was gone when I got home. I had left a signed check on the counter for a workman scheduled to come by, and when I got home, the check was gone. It hasn't been cashed yet, so I stopped payment on it. Of course, if he tries to cash it now, he's really going to be in trouble.

Karen wrote him a letter that brought tears to my eyes. It said we loved him very much, but he couldn't stay in our house smoking dope, not taking his pills, and staying out all night. It said that until he decided to change, he wasn't welcome in our house. It's really been a sad night, as to have Karen come to this decision on her own means it will stick this time. I hope that's a good thing.

We could all use your prayers now. Karen and I for wisdom, compassion, and knowing how to best handle this situation. And Kyle, for safety, peace, and the strength to make the right decisions for himself, whatever they may be.

Sunday, August 24, 2003

Kyle's dad back again. I had a rare day off today. Working 2 jobs, I rarely get a complete day off. I wrote for a while this morning, and let Kyle sleep late. Finally I woke him and told him this was the day we were going to get his room in order. Since we moved 3 weeks ago he's been sleeping on the couch. He just couldn't bring himself to get his room organized and unpacked. I think it was just too daunting of a job given his condition. He got upset, and said he'd do it himself, that he didn't need me helping him and going through his stuff. I gave in, and let him go at it. He worked for 5 minutes, and pulled one of his disappearing acts. That kid can disappear into thin air. It's after midnight, and he's been gone since noon. His room is basically done, or at least livable.

While unpacking and organizing his room, I found a bag of pot. Now this is no surprise, but he's been specifically warned about bringing drugs into our house. I have told him, in no uncertain terms, that he'll be out if he does it again. I've drawn another line in the sand, and he's jumped over it again. I have tire tracks over my back this has happened so often. My wife, God bless her, just can't throw him out on the street.

I'm going to tell him he has to find another place to live. I will put him up until he hears from the Navy and while the enlistment process is working. If it's a no-go, he needs to immediately move out. Grandma doesn't want him anymore, and I don't blame her. I'm just worried that if I put him out, he'll be either dead or in jail shortly. I don't know if I could live with myself if he ODd or died on the streets. But I can't live with him, for all intents and purposes, running our lives and controlling the family.

Keep Kyle (and all of us, for that matter...) in your prayers.

Saturday, August 23, 2003

A glimmer of hope...

I took Kyle to talk to the Navy recruiter the other night. After the disappointing meetings with the Army and Air Force, we didn't expect much. Kyle had never considered the Navy, but wanted to talk to them after realizing the others wouldn't work out.

I wonder if the Navy would accept a slightly overweight, gray-haired, 40 something man with many kids...

They really painted a great picture! Kyle was excited, and frankly, so was I. If I was 19 again, I'd be asking where to sign. San Diego, Hawaii, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, oh yeah, the Persian Gulf, but then Hawaii again! It really sounds great. Of course, this young man did a great job of selling. I don't have any romantic notions of military service, especially in a time of conflict. But still, for a young single man, the Navy sounds great. They are pulling his test scores and his arrest record. We'll know first of the week if they say it's worth pursuing. If so, there's still a waiver process that has to be completed, and it's not a slam dunk. He could still be left out. Say a prayer for him about this.

Now the bad news. For regular readers, you know we just moved, and have been trying to sell our old house. Karen went over there the other night, and found that Kyle hosted a pot party over there. The air conditioner was turned all the way down, the house was 50 degrees, and it reeked of smoke. The kitchen was trashed - they made brownies and junk was everywhere. A real mess. No wonder we haven't had an offer yet! Grrrr! If the Navy doesn't want him, maybe I can pay them to toss him off the back of a ship. Just kidding, kind of, but it is frustrating!

An accomplisment: He is doing well in a part time job at a local sandwich shop. They chose him to be a "keeper of the keys" and he is proud of that. I don't blame him, I'm proud of that also!

Thursday, August 21, 2003

Kyle's dad back again.

Yesterday was an eye-opener for both Kyle and myself. All along Kyle had planned on going into the military. No matter what happened, he thought the military would take him. We sat down with both Army and Air Force recruiters last night. The Air Force is pretty much out. The guy was ready for us, having pulled court records showing every offense from the first traffic light violation he got when he was 16 to the convictions he just had. Even though they dropped some of the charges such as the marijuana charge, they still consider those for admission purposes. The guy said he would do the paperwork if Kyle asked him to, but that the odds of getting it approved at the top of the chain were very low.

The Army offered a little more hope. In 6 months he would be eligible to ask for his exception. But even with that, it still has to be approved by a General at Fort Knox. But the recruiter did seem interested, and not particularly concerned about the process. He told Kyle, however, that the specialty he wanted, Chaplain's Assistant, was probably not an option given his record.

I really feel sorry for him, and he is very disappointed. It seems like wherever he is, or whatever he does, previous bad choices constantly haunt him. The consequences we have always tried to make him understand are now slapping him in the face.

He still holds a sliver of hope - we're going to try and sit down with the Navy tonight. He really hadn't ever considered the Navy, and they are not his choice, but hopefully it will work out. Maybe their requirements are not so strict...

We have discussed what he can do if this falls through. He wants to consider JPUSAs mission program in Chicago - JPUSA - but I'm not wild about that idea. He really does have a strong desire to serve God, and he is incredibly compassionate. I think he should learn as much as he can about construction, starting with foundations up to roofing, then he could be invaluable with mission organizations or even the Peace Corps.

Keep him in your prayers now as he is forced to confront these issues and his future...

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Kyle's dad here:

Kyle's final court date was yesterday for his "spring fling" last May. They dropped the possession of marijuana charge, and the disturbing the peace charge if he pled guilty to theft and assault. He got credit for time served, and is done. So, overall, I think he has one shoplifting, one theft, and two assaults. He doesn't have the drug charges which would pretty much prevent him from receiving educational financial aid in the future, and probably preclude him from military service.

We talked about his future on the way back from court. He is very insistent about wanting to join the service. He really wants the Chaplain's assistant position in either the Air Force or the Army. I doubt very much he will qualify for that position given his criminal record, but we'll see what they say.

I have worried a lot about how he'll do in the service, and the closest example I can think of is the time he spent in jail. He didn't just survive, he thrived. He made friends, stayed out of trouble, and did very well with that structured environment. For this reason, I think he may do extremely well in the service.

I am pushing him to do SOMETHING, I don't care what it is. School is out at this time, until he decides to take his meds regularly, he won't be able to handle school. It will be the same struggles he's had since grade school. I have offerred to help him find a job in a trade. He immediately dismisses this, planning to enter the military. I am going to push him to do something - he'll put it off forever and and up doing nothing but make it harder to pass his drug tests in the future. If he decides on the service, I'm going to see if he can ship out within the next few weeks. If not, I'm going to see if we can get him training on a trade next week. I don't want him to have the time to sit around and get into trouble. And if he has nothing to do, he WILL get in trouble.

Do my statements and my motivation sound selfish? Do I just want to get rid of him? I think it's more a situation of wanting him to get on with his life, and start to accomplish SOMETHING.

Saturday, August 16, 2003

Sitting here on the deck of our new home with the laptop waiting for Kyle to come home. I just read my wife's post about Kyle's junior high school days, and it brought back a memory.

We still had our store, and I was 45 minutes away on the outskirts of town driving in. My cell phone rang, and it was Karen, and she was frantic. She was tending the store by herself. I was on the fringe of the phone's range, and the signal was very weak. Karen was trying to tell me the school called. "Kyle's been suspended" I heard. I shouted back (literally) "What happened?" She was really breaking up now, and I could only hear every third word or so. "He was caught dealing rocks..." The signal completely disappeared then.

I was left holding a dead cell phone to my ear, trying to connect, convinced that my son was caught selling crack cocaine. By the time I got back within phone range, Karen had already left the store and was on her way to school to pick up Kyle. When I got back to the store, of course I had to wait on the people waiting for us to open back up, and it was a while before my wife and Kyle got back to the store. Karen explained he was caught stealing locks from gym lockers. It was a prank, not a felony! I laughed out loud, and they both thought I'd gone off the deep end. I was so relieved I couldn't bring myself to even punish him.

Kyle's mom here. I am sorry that I have not been coming on as often. This move has been a little overwhelming. We lived in our old house for 21 years. I am terribly sentimental. I can't stand throwing anything away. Even letters that Kyle wrote from jail and that his sisters wrote him. The first day when he came home they painted him at least 30 pictures. Each one had a message to him. I think one of the best benefits of having a bipolar son is the compassion and love that you gain for other people. We have so many different types of people in our family anyway and with Kyle being bipolar it kind of completes the mix. We can understand pretty much every type of behavior because we have them all at our house. I love how easily Kyle forgives people. And I think our family has learned more about forgiveness through him. And we have had to forgive some horrible things that he has done to us and himself. And I think that is real love. I always told the children that I would love them no matter what they did. And I have. But I felt that if I wasn't perfect or made mistakes that I couldn't be loved. I have always been afraid of someone not liking me. But having Kyle has changed that. There have been people that simply didn't like Kyle. And I found out that that was o.k. And in a way that was very healing and helped me to grow.

Today I was thinking of a bizarre memory from junior high. Kyle would skip a lot of classes. He was not only failing but he was excelling at failing. I went to his conferences and sat at ten different teachers telling me how horrible he was doing. I had him come with me to understand what he needed to do. In a lot of the classes he was getting 20% or less. His younger brother said that he heard how he was bragging how bad he was doing. About the time of the Columbine shootings, I got a call from the school. The vice principal, who I had come to know well, called me as well as Kyle's dad to school. When we got there, there were also two police officers. They were accusing Kyle of a bomb threat which they took seriously because of Columbine. Kyle was scared and so were we. He had been in the bathroom where someone had written a bomb threat as a joke. They wanted me to say that the writing was Kyle's. It did make sense, however, I knew it wasn't his writing. It sounds strange but there was an @ symbol used in the threat that wasn't accurate. I knew at that moment that he didn't do it. When I explained this I could tell that no one believed me but I knew I was right. He would never write a flawed @ symbol. They let him go because they really didn't have proof. I think they wanted me to turn him in. We were afraid that they would search our house. We had just sold our bait shop and had a lot of strange things, chemicals for cleaning arrows, and such sitting around our house. Nothing came of it but at the time it was very frightening.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

Kyle's dad here. Checking in to say there's nothing to report. Things have been fairly quiet the last few days. Probably because Kyle has been staying out of my way. He could be getting in lots of trouble, but as long as he doesn't create a disturbance around home, I won't know it. He's 19 years old, I can't do much other than attempt to enforce rules here at home.

He still hasn't unpacked his room. It's like he's unable to begin. It would probably be a good idea for us to move everything OUT, and let him move it in and organize it a box at a time. Maybe that would allow him to complete the job.

He has his last (I hope) trial date on Tuesday. He's thinking he can go directly from court to the army recruiter's office and sign up. A few problems with this: First, he may get probation. Second, they may not take him with his condition. And lastly, I don't think he could pass a drug test. I hope it's not too much of a letdown for him if a roadblock gets thrown up in front of him.

We'll post more as we have things to report, and definitely after his trial.

Saturday, August 09, 2003

It is late and I have just had a fight with Kyle. And he has taken off. This is the very worst part of having a bipolar son. I have been thinking about what to compare it to. It is like having five horses. Then you find out that one is not a horse but a unicorn. A unicorn with wonderful magical powers. But you can't take out the wildness and he can't be handled like a horse. Sometimes the responsibility seems to be too much for me. I worry more about Kyle than all our other children put together.

He quit taking his medicine. We had suspected this, and the other day I found his pill on the floor. I approached him about it and he lied and said he had taken it. Then tonight I resorted to checking under his tongue. Sure enough, it was there. He refused to take it. I tried to force him and he argued with me. He said that he hadn't taken any meds for 19 years, so why should he start now. He had a fight with his dad this morning. I know that wouldn't have happened if he was taking his medicine. He claims that he isn't fun anymore.

Being the mother of a bipolar son is so hard. I worry that he will be arrested. I worry that he won't come home. I worry that he will do something dangerous and will die. His problems force me to think about him constantly. But his wonderful unicorn side is so much fun to be around.


Kyle did some wild, crazy things in high school. His junior year he caught and let a squirrel out in the halls on the last senior day. Another time, in front of hundreds of people in the cafeteria he yelled "They can take our trays but they can't take our freedom." Then he ran full speed and dove headfirst into a 20 foot slide into where they wash the lunch trays. The whole cafeteria cheered. On yet another occasion he read a children's book to the cafeteria. He even streaked through the school wearing a monkey mask on the last day of school. He would wear the most bizarre outfits to school. One day he wore a bathrobe with a rubber duck and sleepers. He wore trash bags another day. On yet another he went as a Mere cat. Now other stories are starting to come out. For example he just told me that he had someone (who was 15) drive him on the hood of their car down a very busy street in our city. In our futile attempt to keep track of him we had an alarm on his room so he couldn't sneak out. And yet he figured out how to do it all the time.

We have five incredible kids. And yet Kyle seems always to have center stage. It may sound simplistic but he truly is like living with a unicorn. The same rules don't apply to unicorns. He doesn't eat the same food. He doesn't sleep at night. He is untamed and uncontrollable. And yet his brilliance sparkles. He amazes me every day.

Kyle's mom here. I rented a carpet cleaning machine yesterday. Kyle got up pretty easily. We got over to our old house at around 10:30 a.m. He started cleaning and I could tell he was feeling overwhelmed. The cord kept falling out of the machine. I went to our new house to get some duct tape. I stopped and bought him some munchies. I cleaned out some rooms and vents so I could make sure Kyle would be o.k. alone. Then I left him and told him to call when he was done and I would pick him up. He worked until 7:45 p.m. The carpet machine was due back at 8:00 p.m. He did an absolutely wonderful job. He cleaned three bedrooms, two hallways, living room, dining room, and an entire basement. I was so proud of him. I talked to Jon about it. I wish he could get a better job. He is such an amazing worker. He is perfectionistic and doesn't stop until he is done.


Kyle has the same drive in anything he undertakes. He wrestled as a little boy and thought it was too late in high school. A girl talked him into it. He was a sophmore in high school and already running cross country, track, and doing musicals. I thought it was too much for him but he loved it. He completely gave up sugar, pop, and junk food. He threw himself into it. He lost most of his matches but kept trying. He learned more about nutrition from wrestling than anywhere. He studied fat content on every food he ate. There was not a bit of fat on him. Then he decided to run a marathon. He ran 26 miles in three hours and came in second. Two months later he ran another one and came in first. He was in absolutely the best shape of anyone. I wish he was still running because it was such an outlet for him.

Friday, August 08, 2003

Hello from Kyle's mom. I feel great because Kyle finally took all his pictures down at our old house. He will need to paint but that won't be a problem. My mom had him paint their two story house and a lot of their rooms. He always does a wonderful job. My parents say that his painting looks like a work of art. I was going to put off cleaning the carpets in the old house but Kyle said he wants to do them today. I rented a machine so I hope he can get it all done today. He went to a concert last night. He is like his dad in that they both love live music. He is talking again about the military. He had a dream several times that a bayonet was rammed in his neck. I told him that that sounded like a sign against it to me. He said he might take some classes. That was the first time he has ever suggested that. I am really looking forward to this school year. It is the first year that Kyle won't be going back tp school.


More history. Every school year was filled with anticipation and dread with Kyle. He always spent enormous amounts of his own money on clothes. The year he was sixteen he saved $3000 from a summer job to buy a car. He went school shopping and spent $1000 on clothes. I was absolutely horrified. Shopping brings him the most pleasure. He always overspent for Christmas. When he was working in high school he would spend the most money on his brothers, sisters, Jon and I . He did come up with the most perfect gifts. Two Christmases ago he bought so many toys for the girls that it was ridiculous. He then quit that job and had no money whatsoever.

Thursday, August 07, 2003

Kyle's mom here. Kyle has been doing fairly well with the move. He chose the bedroom downstairs, but he has been sleeping on the couch. My husband Jon said it is because he hasn't started unpacking. It reminds me of when he would try to get started on his homework. It was too overwhelming for him to even start. But once he started he would do a better job than anyone else.

Last night I asked our youngest son to cut the grass. He had already cut the grass at our old house and burned his hand on the lawnmower. He didn't want to mow this yard. I was going to ask Kyle to mow. I looked around for Kyle to ask him to do it. I couldn't find him. I grew very suspicious. Then I saw him cutting the grass. It's just like him - he can be the most thoughtful and hard working kid. He started cutting but then stopped after a small patch. He finished later after I had left for work. But when I came home from work he hadn't swept. He actually did a job less than perfectly. That doesn't sound like much but it is a big deal for Kyle. He either doesn't do a job or does it perfect. Perhaps the meds are doing their thing.

We had a talk last night. I haven't mentioned the manic depression for a good week. I told him not to limit himself so much. My girlfriend ,whose mother and grandfather are bipolar and extremely successly,had great jobs. He said he still wants to go into the service. He also said he needs a car. He lost his license due to an excessive number of tickets, and was in jail when he had to take a traffic class that would have allowed him to keep the license. Of course, his insurance was cancelled. But what bothered me was that he took this all in stride. I think it is a good sign that now he wants to get a car. Next week I'm going to look for guitar lessons. If he can even learn a little rhythm, he could be playing and singing with a band.


The expression "You can't see the forest for the trees" really fits our son. I look back and can't believe we didn't figure out that he was bipolar earlier. We had so many counselors and psychiatrists giving us the wrong diagnosis. Kyle got in so much trouble as a child. Our oldest daughter would always say, "Kyle is the only one in our family that makes you cry, Mom." Which was true. I would get so frustrated because I didn't know how to parent him. He would take California Achievement Tests and get perfect scores. He read constantly and could memorize anything. And yet he was constantly doing poorly in school. When he was in fifth grade, he idolized Frank Thomas of the White Sox. He had many of his cards, posters, and wore mostly WHite Sox shirts, coats, shoes, and hats. My husband Jon challenged him if he got a perfect report card that he would take him to a White Sox game. It was an unbelievable offer and challenge. For half of the school year, Kyle remained focused. On the last day of school he came walking down the sidewalk furious. He had 8 As and one A-. He assumed he couldn't go without all perfect scores. But Jon took him and his brothers to Chicago. But the funny thing was that instead of being excited about the game he spent most of his time buying more memorabilia at the concession stand.

The thing that bothered me was the fact that Kyle couldn't or wouldn't work that hard in school all the time. I felt like I was failing him. He had many friends that I knew were not as smart pass him up in school. His brothers got special honors in school that he never got. It was frustrating to me because I knew about his intelligence. Didn't the test scores prove it? Last year, in his senior year he signed up for the marines delayed entry program. In their testing he tested extremely high again. Through this program, he could apply for any job or schooling. But this frightened me. I knew in my heart of hearts that the marines would be dead wrong for Kyle.

Saturday, August 02, 2003

We're two thirds moved in, and spending the first night in our new (to us) house. I worked myself hard today, and every muscle in my body aches, but I'm wired. I love this house...

Kyle was an incredible amount of help today. The kid can work like no other. But the funny thing, when we had made our last run, he wanted to leave. He couldn't stay in the new house. I was puzzled by this, but my wife said it's too chaotic for him. He can't handle the fact that everything's so unsettled. He went back to his grandparents to stay tonight.

More tomorrow...