July 01, 2009

Spilling the Boy's Beans - Part One

The Boy is at camp this week (still no phone calls urging his departure. Sweet!). We get a break. Life is good. Since I am not achieving my allotment of stress right now, I thought I'd blog about "interesting" stuff The Boy has done in the past. After all, he's not here to defend himself - nor here to interrupt or provide Monday morning quarterbacking to help.me.get.the.facts.straight. Though I doubt he remembers much of what I'm about to tell you.

Age 6: Taking control (when he was out of it)
The apartment we lived in had a lovely front porch with brick walls. There was no exit to the street from the porch, so it was more like a de facto balcony, but near street level. That's where I did my people watching, where I talked to neighbors passing by, where I smoked.

The Boy, in a period of mania (the week before he was hospitalized and diagnosed with Bipolar disorder), was driving me batty with his constant activity, and irritability; his lack of a need for sleep was maddening (to both of us).

I stepped out onto the porch for a smoke and a bit of quiet. It was February, and cold, but I didn't wear a coat. I'm a "speed smoker" - I don't really enjoy it, but the nicotine is oh so nice.
So, I'm outside maybe three minutes, max. I turn around and face the door to the living room when I hear The Boy laughing, well, maniacally. He had locked me out. No key for that door.

He then steps back from the door and announces, "Look what I did!" On the living room carpet, a sea of Fruity Pebbles. They looked like they had been sprayed with whipped cream (later, I was told it was hair mousse he got from the bathroom).

To summarize, you have me: outside, unable to get back in. Cold, but fuming with anger, and fraught with worry about what else this child was going to do while I was a prisoner on my own porch. The Boy is laughing, and dancing around the room, grinding the cereal and mousse into the carpet. I was outside for over an hour. I was freezing.

You'd think this was bad enough. But the day before, he took a 5-pound bag of flour and shook it all over my bedroom, then ran through the apartment, flour dusting every available surface, until the empty bag wasn't fun anymore.

I.had.had.IT. I was Popeye, I couldn't stands no more. Apparently, the face I was making (perhaps steam was coming out of my ears, I don't know) made the boy realize that he better open the door. He did, and ran off down the hall to his room.

I came in, surveyed the damage. I just remember feeling so tired, and sad, and worried. I called his doctor, and got his answering service. He called back, and told me to take him to the local psychiatric facility.

We waited in that waiting room for hours. I watched other patients, mostly adults, battle their inner demons. The Boy eventually fell asleep, purely out of sheer exhaustion. That's when the intake worker called us back to talk to a doctor. Even though I described his erratic behavior, and even cried, the doctor would not admit him. Apparently, you have to be actively exhibiting symptoms to get yourself admitted. (I would keep this lesson in mind on future drives to future hospitals).

I roused The Boy from his slumber on my lap, and we drove home.

Two days later, he attempted to jump out my bedroom window, wanting to die. I caught him, standing on my radiator, ready to hurl himself out the window. He was not refused admission this time. And now we had a name to describe the emotional roller coaster he had been riding. Thus began our travels with psychotropic medication, therapy, and eventual lithium toxicity. We're still on that trip, he'll be traveling that route the rest of his life.


  1. Wow a crazy ride for sure. I am glad though he is able to get treatment

  2. Yes, I'm grateful for the many caring doctors and therapists and teachers we've met along the way. And I'm especially grateful for the medications - they help keep things on an even keel most days.

  3. If I would have been out on the make shift porch, locked out there, I would have hoped (acutally my child would have hoped, prayed even) that I had the whole pack of cigarettes on me, and if they were smart they would have opened the window and thrown me more!

    WOW! Definitely an emotional roller coaster. So nice he can go off to camp now! and still no calls....Congrats!

  4. That is a crazy ride for sure...I'm glad you're both surviving it! Yep, thank God for the medications and for caring people along the way in your path to help out and give you a clearer understanding of everything!

  5. wow, how frightening this time must've been for you!


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