Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A thief in the night

This is the news from Glacial Lake Missoula....I was standing outside in my yard, looking down upon the valley that, at one time, was a massive lake. You can still see the water rings on the surrounding hills, and the idea that my home was once lake front property is a little odd to me considering that the only water I can see from my house is the Clarkfork...you know, the river that runs through "it". In any case, I was standing in the yard looking out over the valley that was once a lake, thinking.

For once, I wasn't thinking about the little twins that could have been. No...I was thinking about the boy that got to be. My eldest son. A darling bundle of energy that had this young mother hopping up and down just to keep him safe, because he was nonstop trouble. 20 years later, that little bundle is a tall, slender young man with beautiful blue green eyes and sandy blond hair. His beautiful face marked lightly on one side where cruel pavement hit him without mercy as he fell to the ground in a bike accident that would alter the pathways in his brain for all time.

My son, my beautiful baby of 20 years ago...the boy that I defended and adored...this ball of energy and vibrant spirit...not only struggles with a brain injury that complicated his ability to remember and process information, but...he is also Bipolar.

Mental Illness runs in tangible lines through my family on both sides. You can trace it. I was raised by it. And when I became a parent....I raised it.

Being Bipolar can look different in different people. For some, it turns into extreme mania for weeks on end, erratic behavior, agitation, depression, racing speech and thoughts, etc...etc....For my son, it has a rapid cycle. Almost like a lunar phase that changes him. When he was younger, trying to describe it to therapist we would call him "our werewolf child" because it seemed cyclical...monthly. It wasn't until after his brain injury that they were able to diagnose him properly. 17 years of asking questions...of dealing with behavior that most parents would run screaming into the night about. I once went to a NAMI meeting (National Alliance of Mental Illness) to get support, but was sitting next to an 80 year old woman, who was crying about the fact that her Bipolar son was manic again....and I left that meeting in tears, seeing myself sitting in her place, knowing that I would one day be that 80 year old woman...still worried about the mentally ill son that she loved, and still spent sleepless nights crying about. I knew at that moment, that mental illness wasn't something I could get away from. I knew at that moment, that my son would never "get better", no matter how much I love him. No matter how hard I try to help him.

My son is a young man with Bipolar disorder.

Even if he improves in his skills with his brain injury...he will always be a person with Bipolar disorder.

And this young man. . .This beautiful, creative person that I love...that I gave up my freedom and childhood for...this person that I defended, protected, and adored...has not returned my calls for two weeks.

I am trying not to worry. The last thing I said via text message to him was that I wondered if he was doing alright. I mentioned that he had seemed a little irritable lately, and I just wanted to know if he was o.k..

He never responded.

This tells me that he's manic. It tells me that his medications aren't working, or that he has stopped taking them.

He is 20 years old. Out of my hands. In his own life.

But still,

I worry.

Mental illness. It's something that steals away it's victims. It leaves loved ones in the dark, groping for answers that it will never provide. It passed through me, to my child, a person I would protect with my dying breath. But just like Simon and Alexander...I couldn't protect my eldest from the Bipolar disorder that he most likely inherited from his great grandfather on my fathers side, or his grandmother on my mothers side. I couldn't protect him.

I don't know where he is, or why he isn't calling.

I left a message this morning that asked him to please call me...


nothing. yet.

My wise husband tells me not to worry, he reminds me of all the times I worried in the past...even called the police to find him....and he was fine. Self absorbed and manic, but...completely fine. I'll try to stop worrying. I'll try to keep looking for me breath.

But,I wish I could understand why life is so hard.

I wish I could understand.


  1. (((hugs)))
    Holding you and yours close to my heart.


  2. Bipolar runs in my family too. It is very hard to understand. I hope your son has been touch since this post was written. Your love for him is so present in this post. x


Thanks for reading! Please take a moment to add your own reflections.