You Never Know

It’s weird … just weeks ago, I came down with the green monster—jealousy—and ran a short, simmering, low-grade “fever” as a result. I felt envious over a friend’s normal life, her two normal kids. Then bam!–one winds up in shackles, taken by the police to a hospital where he is diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

            In the past, I’ve written how I’d like someone to live my life for a day so s/he could feel the pain of losing a child to a serious mental illness, and then lightning strikes and it happens to a friend.

No, I wasn’t happy about her families’ situation—I’ve heard the death knell when dreams are destroyed–but I think her son’s long-term outcome will be good. Of course, only time will tell.

When I was hospitalized last spring for, “The Beast,” depression there was an older man who clearly had a worse-case-form of schizophrenia. After every few steps he mysteriously did deep-knee bends followed by talking incoherently to voices only he could hear.

I made it a point to be nice to him, as did most of the patients on the ward. In his lucid moments he disclosed that he had once worked and had a son who now lived in a group home, having unfortunately inherited the disorder.

I felt so sad watching him, cognizant of his loss, while seeing the possibility of my own son’s future. At that point in time, Sam (my son) was committed to a state hospital, having gone off his meds and relapsing. While he is presently court ordered to take them, he doesn’t believe in meds, and I can only wonder about long-term brain damage when he stops. I realize meds themselves come with consequences, but one must weigh the risks. But there on the ward, with that man before me, I saw Sam thirty years hence and felt the burning sting of dread because I knew it didn’t have to be. If only someone could get through to him, I thought, so that he would understand that he has to take care of himself just like a person with any physical ailment.

Presently, Sam is doing better, back on his meds, but better is relative. What I’d like is “normal” even though I realize that’s not likely to happen. So in my prayers I say, “As close to normal as possible, God.” Is that asking too much? I’m not looking for “Best in Show.” I’m willing to settle. And while You’re at it, God, how about a dollop of happiness for me. I forgot how it tastes.

But one thing I can’t forget is the unwanted, the discarded, the homeless. How could I? Today when I’m out on the street and see a person behaving bizarrely, I tell myself this is someone’s precious baby, husband, daughter, wife since that “precious baby” could be my son, or even me, because when it comes down to it–you just never know.


About waywardweed

I am a consumer and parent of two sons, one with a mental illness and the other a third-year law student.
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One Response to You Never Know

  1. Visionary says:

    It seems to me all too many people are blind to the reality of living with mental illness, especially the more extreme forms. Some things are considered acceptable, almost tolerable. Others? Well, society turns a blind eye, doesn’t it?

    Perhaps it’s a little rough to wish that others could see what it’s like, but perhaps it’s a good thing. After all, you couldn’t have caused your friend’s son his bi-polar. In truth, it’s better that he finds a way to get help learning how to cope with it, you know?

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