October 22, 2009

I Even Scared Myself

Note: I've taken liberty with the "scary mommy" theory here. Consider it artistic license...naw, let's attribute it me being a stubborn SOB.

I've been a mom for 33 years now. For 25 of those years, I was the scared one. I started out being intimidated by authority figures - my daughters' teachers, doctors, even sport coaches - they all frightened me.

Once I figured out that all of us were interested in what was good for my kids, they seemed less scary, and I relaxed; my self-confidence increased. It was good.

Eight years ago, The Boy and I embarked on an adventure that caused me to become fierce; I was territorial, protective - in short, I became one scary mom.

When The Boy was six, he was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder. There were many scary times for The Boy up until his first suicide attempt prompted his initial admission into a mental hospital.

I entered a world not of my choosing. I was confronted with learning all I could about his diagnosis. I read about the frightening side effects of his medications; I listened to therapists tell me about the importance of consistency and learned how to do physical restraints.

The Boy and I were both afraid - this was some scary shit going down. When your child is in a locked unit at a hospital, you give up all semblance of control of your child; hospital staff chooses medications, orders blood and other diagnostic tests without your consent, and comes up with a treatment plan without parental input.

Parents are very limited in the times that you can visit your child. This is not a get well card and stuffed animal kind of visit - you have to pass through security (as do any clothing or books you bring in for your child). No food. No spiral bound notebooks (kids have taken out the wire and attempted to hurt themselves); even Mad magazine was off limits, because of the staples holding it together.

Purses, wallets and keys are first deposited into a locker. You get to come in heavy hearted and empty handed.

Being a skeptic at heart, I didn't want to believe wanted to verify all that the doctors told me about The Boy and bipolar. I researched, I checked side effects, I monitored dosages. I started getting scary.

I questioned authorities - something I never did before. I found out I had the right of refusal for prescription meds - no Thorazine for my kid (I went ballistic after a visit when The Boy looked at me with empty, zombie eyes when he was overmedicated).

When he returned home, and went back to school, I remained fierce and scary. I got an educational advocate to attend IEP meetings with me, to keep the school district from putting The Boy in a horrible residential program. I had school psychologists on speed dial; I knew my rights, I kicked some ass and took names.

I've continued my activities over several interstate moves (and an additional diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder). I remain committed to looking out for his rights.

I became my son's biggest and scariest advocate...a cause I'll be committed to for as long as I have breath in my body.


To find other scary mommies, visit the fun at Scary Mommy's place!


  1. Hey -- this is one time when you NEED to be a scary mommy -- a very scary mommy.

    (And I'm sorry I've not been by in awhile ... your feed has been wonky and I since I usually read in a reader, I haven't been getting updates! )

  2. You were scary out of necessity. You are definitely your childs strongest advocate...if you dont stand up for him no one else will!

  3. Your son is so very lucky to have you on his side!

  4. I don't know how you did it but you just ratcheted yourself up higher on my "AWE" meter. You were already up pretty high.

  5. Hey, you NEEDED to be a Scary Mommy!!! If you can't be fierce and scary on behalf of your children, who will??

    I loved your take on this!

  6. Your Son is so lucky to have a Scary Mommy. You should consider possibilities for your passion for advocacy and the desire to help kids like The Boy. I know you're a writer by trade, but I hear there's a lot of satisfaction in turning passion into profession and there are a lot of Mommy's out there that don't have what it takes to get what the need for their kids. Just something to think about . . . Have a great weekend!!

  7. You are not a scary mommy. You are an awesome mommy. The scary ones to be are the ones who just don't seem to care.

  8. Standing up for The Boy doesn't sound scary to moi at all. I think if you didn't care it would be much scarier. Good for you...keep on keepin' on!


Thanks for stopping by. I love your comments...I get all warm inside just reading them!