Tuesday, August 26, 2014


Most people don’t understand what a cycling, raging, out of control argument is like.  I hear all the time that it is just normal teenage behavior.  But, what we experience is NOT normal teenage behavior. 

Here is another example of an irrational, blown out of proportion, disconnected thinking incident:

At some point in the last day or so, he had used my laptop and plugged his I-Pod into it.  He immediately needed to know where the I-Pod cord was.  He was adamant that I had unplugged it from my laptop when took it back out of his room and now I needed to tell him where I had put the cord.

I said, “Well, if it was in your room when I unplugged it, then the cord is in your room somewhere.  You will just have look for it.”

But, for my son, the cord did not exist since it was not in plain sight.  Since I was the one who  supposedly touched it and moved it, I should have been able to tell him where the blankety-blank cord was and it was my responsibility to find it. 

I said, “If you are going to get mad and swear at me for touching or moving things that you plug into my laptop, then you are no longer allowed to use my laptop.”

He charged up the stairs and told me that if I wanted to freak out and if I wanted to start something, then HE would start something right there, right then.  He was towering above me--raging at me within inches of my face because I wouldn’t admit to losing the cord and didn’t know where it was.  

Once again, he wouldn’t stop and went on and on about how I am not an adult and not a grown-up and that I can’t even admit when I have done something wrong.  He went on to say that he sure as he** wasn’t going to school the next day without his f-ing I-Pod because the I-Pod is the only thing that gets him through school.

I had to call my husband and give him our “meltdown” code phrase (“the cat sat on the headphones”) so that he would know things were getting out of control and that he needed to come home as soon as possible. 

( Once, my son went into his room, stepped on his X-Box headphones and broke them.  Because he can’t accept that anything is ever his fault, he got upset and screamed at me that my cat had gone into his room and sat on his headphones and had broken them.  And, since, it was the cat’s fault, I was responsible to buy him new headphones.   It was so ludicrous to me that the cat had broken the headphones, that I made the mistake of laughing at how ridiculous he was being.  He got so mad that I had to leave the house to get away from him).    

The missing I-Pod cord was one of those “cat sat on the headphones” incidents.

Rather than look for it himself, he stood there and yelled at me, blamed me, accused me, and belittled me. 

I went into his room, looked all over the floor, under piles of clothes, and garbage and didn’t see it.  All the while he hadn't stopped ranting and raging.  I stood up and looked at the top of his dresser and moved the beanie hat that HE put on his dresser when he took it off his head--and the I-Pod cord was underneath it. 

And, maybe, I placed the cord on his dresser.  Or possibly, he did.  Maybe the leprechauns put it there.  But, HE put the beanie cap on it.  He obscured it from view.  He could not lift up a hat to see if there was anything underneath it.  And, yet he still would not concede that he should have been able to find that cord himself.  

He continued yelling at me that I needed to admit that it was my fault for not knowing where I had put the cord. 

At this point, I had had enough.  I resorted to yelling back at him that I was done talking about it!  But, because he was in a raging cycle and raring for the fight, next, he started in on me for being yelled at.  He said that I am always yelling at him.  I don’t yell at him as much as he thinks I do, but to him, anytime that I change my tone, tell him no, or won’t/can’t do what he wants me to do, it is yelling. 

Even though, he was the one doing the yelling and blowing everything out of proportion.

And so it goes again:

Another night, he went back to the fact that he didn’t have access to Skype.  He wanted to be able to talk to a friend while playing a game.  I would have liked to have been able to let him have that privilege, but he had not done anything to earn it back.

He played computer games and the X-Box all the time.  He didn’t keep his room clean.  He didn’t do any chores.  He didn’t talk to us unless he wanted something.  And with the constant raging about anything that did not go his way almost every single day, he was not going to get Skype back.

That night, in the battle that ensued, he threatened us that if we didn’t give him what he wanted, then we were not going to like the consequences.

As if threatening us was going to get him what he wanted. 

So, I went into the office, unplugged the router cord that goes upstairs to his X-Box and locked the door to the office and said, “You are grounded from the X-Box and the computer for two days.”  (This was the maximum amount of time that the psych-therapist told us we could reasonably ground him from things).

His response to that was that we don’t give a f*** about him, that we are trying to ruin his life, that we make him live with us and we don’t do anything for him.  He got very abusive and screamed terrible things about my husband right in his face.  

Two minutes later, he decided to change tactics and requested to be able to talk to me in private saying that he wanted to apologize for how he had been acting and to discuss the parental controls of Skype like adults.  I said I was sorry, but that there really was nothing to discuss. "Five minutes ago, you said that I didn’t give a f*** about you and therefore, I am not really interested in talking to you at the moment."  He wouldn’t listen when I told him that my not wanting to have a discussion with him was a consequence of how he had been acting and he began swearing at me, again, telling me that I was a jerk for not letting him apologize. 

As my husband intervened, taking the brunt of the hateful behavior on himself, instead of letting it all rest on me, he was told was again, by my son, that he never wants to talk to him again his life.

Later, as we talked alone about what had happened, I said, “Even if I had done the validating thing that we have been taught to do so many times, and had said, ‘I know it must be hard for you not to have Skype like you want and I know you really want it, and I am sure you have a hard time understanding why we aren’t going to unblock it…..etc.’, he would have yelled and f-bombed and everything else because he STILL wasn’t getting his way.

I am so tired of this.  Things will go smoothly for a day or maybe even two, and then something sets him off and everything hits the fan.  He reminds us that we are terrible parents, that he hates living with us, hates how stubborn we are, and hates that WE are the reason he has to listen to what a judge thinks because we are always calling the police on him. 

There doesn’t seem to be any light at the end of the tunnel.

I don’t want to be in the tunnel anymore.

I am tired of the darkness.

Around and Around

Toward the end of the first week that he was back in school, we had this conversation:

I said, “I just found out that school starts at 8:30 on Fridays.”

“Well, for me, it is going to start an hour and a half later because I am not going to my painting class anymore.”

I said, “You can’t just NOT go to your painting class.  If you don’t want to take that class you need to have the counselor move you to a different class.”

“You know what?  I am really going to just drop out.  As soon as I get done with court on Tuesday, I am not going to school anymore.  It is pointless.  I can’t graduate.  Going to school is a complete waste of time.”

I said, “Go to school now.  Pass 4th quarter and all of your senior year.  Do packets and then when graduation time comes, you’ll probably only be about 6 credits behind.  If you immediately go to the Adult High School, you can probably get your diploma quickly.  You’ll have the rest of the high school experience and a high school diploma, too.”

“I just want to quit school.  I’ll get my GED sometime if I decide to.  I want to work and get money for my band.”

I said, “Employers are more likely to hire you if you are in school.  They might not think you have much commitment towards a job, if you couldn’t stay committed to school.”

“What are you going to do – call everyone that I apply with and tell them that I am not in school?”

I said, “In your interview, you will have to answer their questions honestly.  If they find out that you lied, they will probably fire you.”

“Are you going to tell the judge on Tuesday that I am planning on dropping out of school?”

I said, “I will answer all of the questions that I am asked honestly.”

“You just go ahead and make my life worse than it is and tell the judge that I said that.  Because that is what you like to do—ruin my life.”

It seems like every interaction and conversation just goes around and around like that.

Even after he went to court and was given his sentence, he was not immediately concerned about anything that was said, except for the part that dealt with school.  He started an argument with us as we left the courthouse because we asked the probation officer to clarify the school stipulation so that there wasn’t any confusion that would lead to arguments.

This was his sentence:
95 hours of community service completed in 60 days.  (Therapy and AA meeting hours would count).
No drivers license for 1 year
5 days in detention, suspended
Drug and alcohol counseling 
Individual counseling
Meds as prescribed
Comply w/ DCFS
Reside at home
Screened friends
Fully participate in education program
No drugs/alcohol or associates who use
No violence or threats of violence
Random drug tests

The probation officer gave this clarification about fully participating in an education program: 

“Your will stay in school until you can provide me with information on another educational alternative that the court will approve of.  You need to come up with this alternative plan within one week.”

As soon as we were in the parking lot of the court house, the f-bombs began flying and he took all his anger about the situation out on us and said, “Thanks a lot for asking him that!  Now I can’t f-ing drop out of school!” 

For days on end after that,  there were tirades about parental controls on the computer, about bedtimes, about anything that he wanted that he couldn’t have, and of course, tirades about school.  Nothing that we did or said made him happy or was satisfactory to him in any way.

The situation in our home was intolerable and we didn’t know what to do about it.

DCFS was supposed to be helping us with this, but when we had our weekly visits, we didn’t even dare tell the therapist how it was honestly going because of the verbal retaliation we would get after he left.

I e-mailed this letter to him after the next home visit:

“Thanks for volunteering to go the school counselor appointment tomorrow.

I don't know if you felt any vibes when you walked in the door today or not, be we were having a "discussion" before you arrived and he wasn't being very nice. But, I knew that if I said anything to you about it that, it would just get worse after you left.

When we left the courthouse last week, we had just barely walked out of the building before he was f-bombing us about how we had no right to make the probation officer say that he had to stay in school until he came up with a plan that was acceptable to the court for his education. He was planning on dropping out of school the next day and was so mad when we made sure that it was clarified that he had to keep going.  We told him we were just trying to make sure he didn't burn his bridges at the high school before he found out whether he had to keep going to school there or not.  But, he was livid with us.

He took most of it out on my husband and said that he wasn't his dad anymore and that he never wanted to speak to him again.

Today, after school, before you came, he turned on the computer, then came running to me and said that a new update came out today for Starcraft and that if he buys it this week, it is only $30.00 and he wanted me to loan him $30.00 right then.

I didn’t want to loan him any more money.  It’s one thing to do nice things for your child when they are behaving and acting decently toward you.  I just can’t do it when he treats me the way he does. 

He gets so mad, if I don't give him what he wants, when he wants it. So when I told him I had to think about it, he was ready to fight to the death to get me to let him have the money right then.

He was badgering me and badgering me to tell him exactly when I would let him know if he could have the money because he had to get the update this week or the price was going to go up to $60.00 and that it was stupid for me to want him to have to pay $60.00.

I said that it had nothing to do with my intelligence, it had to do with the fact that I either wanted to lend him the money or not and that the ruder he was to me, the less I wanted to let him have the money. He said that if I wasn't going to give him the money, he had to get a backup plan before the end of the week and I told him to get a backup plan while I was thinking about it. He said that the only backup plan he had was to steal the money and that was why he was not going to give up until I gave in.

At this point, he was starting to get irrational, and told ME that I needed to act like a grown-up, because parents are supposed to want to make their kids happy. He declared that I had taken everything away from him that makes him happy and now I wanted to take Starcraft away from him too.

What have I taken away? He has his X-Box and he can hang out with certain friends, if he wants to. His example was that I blocked Skype on the computer and he says he needs Skype to be able to do live podcasting to people about how to play Starcraft.

I told him that the things that he has had taken away from him have been the consequences of his own behavior. For instance, he was looking at porn on the computer, so I blocked everything that I could to stop him from doing things he shouldn't do online.

He does not have any understanding that consequences are a result of HIS actions. In his mind, all consequences are someone else's fault. 

I don't even have a problem with giving him money every now and then to get the things that he needs or wants, but I do have a problem with him demanding that I do it, with him belittling me and being rude to me to try to get what he wants.

As far as school goes, he thinks he will be able to drop out when the next school year starts because he will be off probation by then.  He isn't serious about wanting to earn credits or get an education. And as you can see, no matter what we say, or how we try to explain how it is important for him to do it now, he won't listen.

He doesn't even listen to his sponsor (who struggled with addiction well into his 30's).  He has been through it all, can give great advice, and knows how important getting an education is.  Even though he has been successful enough in his dad's financial planning business to open his own men's sober living house, he is going to night school, too.  He wants to get his degree and is paying the price by going to night school, now.  

At the beginning of the sophomore year, his sponsor encouraged him to get his diploma and even offered to give him a big fat check and a car after he graduated. At that time, our son was excited about it and wanted to do packets and everything he could to graduate early.

Three months later, he lost his motivation and we are where we are right now with his attitude about school.

I know school is a struggle for him and I know that if he could do it on his own, through self motivation, and desire to succeed, it would be awesome. But, he doesn't have the motivation and even his plan to enroll in school online is just a game that he is playing to make it look like he is complying with the educational plan.

No matter what anyone decrees, or says, or does, he is going to show all of us that he doesn't have to do anything that is expected and that he is going to do whatever he wants to do.  

Thank you for all of your help.  As you can see, we need it.”
This was the therapist’s report to the probation officer, following the counselor's appointment:

“He did not appear particularly interested in his options. He repeatedly stated he plans to drop out of school in 5 months when he believes court jurisdiction will be terminated. His motivation to pursue an education is quite low despite the fact he could reasonably graduate on time with significant effort. Family relations are strained and he appears intransigent to problem solve when options do not include affording him the opportunity to do exactly what he wants to do.
At this point I would not support him engaging in schooling options that would afford him with less structure, support, and services. I believe that he has the best opportunity to be successful at the high school, if not a Day Treatment type setting.
I am hoping that through the provision of individual counseling he can become a customer and find some motivation to address his needs. I will meet with the family next week to further discuss options, expectations, and his thinking about school.”

This was my son’s report to me after the meeting:  “I am f***** until I can drop out in 5 months. I would have done credit recovery on my own at home if the judicial system hadn't f****** up my life.”

He said he would do packets in his CARES class, but that he wouldn’t do anything to pass his other classes. I said, "Why won't you do what you have to do to pass?" And he said, "I CAN'T pass!  Where have you been the last 5 years?"

For the last five years, I have been helping and pushing and believing and trying to make sure he would and could do everything that he had to.  I know he can do anything that he sets his mind to, so, why would I not think he could pass his classes? He is very intelligent and retains almost everything he hears and can quote it all back word for word.  

Of course I believed he could succeed.

But, not much could happen if only one of us believed that. 

Around and around we go.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

After Psych

We had a short meeting with the Probation Officer the day after he was released from the psych unit.  He was informed of his right to have an attorney, of the charges against him, and of what to expect when he had his court hearing.  He was told that he needed to be enrolled in school by the time of his hearing.  The therapist at the psych unit also wrote a letter to the school stating that it was in our son's best mental health interest to be enrolled as soon as possible.

We went to the High School and met with his counselor. This counselor had worked with us during his sophomore year.  He rarely took advantage of anything that she tried to do for him.  And, since he had switched schools, going to the school meant to help students who struggle, and hadn’t made an effort to succeed there, she didn’t seem very excited to see him back at her school.  She told us that it was too late in the quarter to earn any credit and that we should wait until the next quarter started.  I said, “There are quite a few reasons that he needs to be in school, but in particular, he is going to appear in court in a few weeks and the Probation Officer wants him to be enrolled in school by then.”  When she heard that, she left the room to go talk to the Vice Principal.  

As soon as we were alone in her office, my son exclaimed, “I am not going to go to school if I can’t get any credit!  That is really stupid.”   

As if it was smart to purposely fail all of his classes during the previous two quarters at school. 

The V.P.  tried to tell my son how important it was to take advantage of the educational opportunity that he was being given and of how essential it was to have a diploma.  But, the only thing that my son could concentrate on was the fact that he wasn’t going to earn any credit during the rest of the quarter.  As time went on he just got more and more angry. 

On our way back to the counselor’s office, my son told me that that he was re-thinking this whole going to school thing.

As if he had a choice.

He still thought he should be in total control of his life, even though all of his decisions lately had led to losing most of his free agency.

After the schedule was set up, it was time for the last class period of the day to start.  The counselor told him to head to class and he said, “No, I am starting school on Monday.”

She informed him that he was officially registered and from that moment on, he would be marked absent if he missed a class.  He still refused.  She went to get the Vice Principal and while she was gone, he turned on me, f-bombing me, and accusing me of setting him up to have to stay at school for the rest of the day. 

That is what happens to me in almost every situation with him that he doesn’t like.  I am blamed for things that I don’t even do or say.  Even after the Vice Principal talked to him, he would not go to his class.  He did not care whether he was marked absent or not.  

He was still upset that afternoon when the DCFS therapist came to see how things were going.  Of course, the topic of school came up.  Our son told him that he was going back on Monday, but that it was a waste of time.  The therapist pointed out that part of school is socializing and making friends and that would be good for him to start doing.

Our son stated, “I won’t be socializing or making friends.  I will go to school.  I will come right home.  I won’t have any friends.  I will have nothing in my life until I can move out in 18 months.”

I wanted to know why he thought he couldn’t make friends and socialize.

His angrily answered, “You will never like my friends.  You have never liked my friends.   The only friends I will have are friends who smoke pot.  Those are the people that I like.  And since that is not going to change, you won’t like my friends, and I will never be able to have any.” 

That was unfair of him to say because I did like most of his friends quite a bit until they started smoking pot with him.  Then, I was just as disappointed in them as I was in my own son.  I told him that I didn’t want to fight with him about whether he could make good non-drug using friends or not. 

His answer to that was, “I am not fighting with you, but if you want to fight, we sure as hell can fight.  I am ready.”

The DCFS therapist told him that I didn't mean I wanted to fight, that I meant it wasn't something we should be arguing about and he tried to diffuse the situation.  It was futile.  As usual, once my son gets the feeling that he has been wronged in some way, he won't let it go.  

I hoped that maybe after 10 days in the psych unit, and with all of this family therapy we were having, that we could start to get along better.  But, it seemed to me that my son was going to continue to be angry at me, my husband, and everyone and everything that dared to interfere with his life plan--to move out and start smoking pot again without having to live by anyone’s rules. 

He was just biding his time until then.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


When I held this child in my arms for the first time, I never thought that I would see him in handcuffs.  I never thought he would use drugs.  I never thought I would have to put him in a rehab facility.  I never thought I would hear doctors and therapists suggest diagnoses like attachment disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, below average brain processing speed, depression, psychosis, explosive personality disorder, and bi-polar disorder.  I never thought he would spend time in a psych unit.

At the same time that my son was freaking out in my home, beating holes in my door, and fighting with my husband, there was a terrible school shooting in one of the eastern states.  And, the sad thing about that in my own life was that I couldn’t say for sure that my son wouldn’t ever attempt something like that. When he is raging, he is totally out of control and doesn’t think about anything but the fact that he will do anything to get the results that he is after.  You just don’t know what it is like to see your son beat a hole through your door and then fight with your husband, who is just trying to restrain him.  I had no idea what lengths he would go to if he thought he was being treated unfairly by us, his parents, or the world in general.  It was awful that I even had those thoughts, but I had no idea what was going on in my son’s head.

He was given ten days by the insurance company for the doctors and therapists at the psych unit to try to figure it out.  We were lucky to get them to allow ten days.  At first, they were only willing to let him stay for five days, which would have been ridiculous.  He was rebellious and un-cooperative for the first five days as it was. 

The first thing that his therapist, Fred, said to me was, “You have one stubborn son.”

I said, “No, I have one REALLY stubborn son.”  And he laughed and agreed with me.  He expressed empathy and compassion for what we were going through and for that fact that nothing we had tried in the past had helped.  He let us know that in ten short days, we would be lucky to make any kind of breakthrough.  

Family therapy sessions were tough.  For two or three days, our son was uncommunicative and sullen.  The only thing he said to us was, "Will you bring me some of my own clothes? I am tired of wearing someone else's pants."  Even after those first three days, he would not speak to me or my husband unless he absolutely had to.  Then, he started “playing the game” with Fred, saying exactly what he thought Fred wanted to hear.  I expressed concern about that and he said that he knew what my son was doing and knew how to handle the behavior.  When playing the game didn’t get immediate results—going home and getting his X-Box back—my son started trying to manipulate me by promising to do all of the things that were on the list that he had previously sworn he would never do. 

Fred was amazing and didn’t let us fall for anything that our son tried to pull.  He was trying to make my son take responsibility for himself and for his actions and not blame us for everything that was happening to him.

The psychiatrist (I will call him Dr. Smith) spent a lot of time with my son and after a few days told us that he was going to prescribe a new medication to help calm my son down.  This was one of the breakthroughs that I was looking for.  When I researched the new medication online, I saw that this particular medication was generally prescribed for bi-polar disorder. 

Bi-polar disorder!  I had been asking doctors for over two years if my son had a type of bi-polar disorder.  His mood swings were rapid and cycling and I could often tell when an episode was going to end up in out of control behavior.  My concern was always just brushed off and I was told, “No, he is not bi-polar.”  And that was it. 

During that week of peace and quiet at home, I went to see a movie about a young adult with bi-polar disorder, who left a psychiatric hospital to go back home to live with his parents.  He didn’t like to take his medication and he had raging episodes similar to the ones that my son has.  It was interesting to see an episode portrayed on a movie screen, although the rages portrayed in those scenes were extremely MILD compared to the raging episodes that we experience in our home. 

So, for me, it was validating to know that a doctor had put two and two together to come up with the same feelings about an aspect of my son’s mental condition that I had been having.

This diagnosis could have the potential to be life-changing for him and for us as a family.     

We went back every day during the week to meet with the therapist and psychiatrist, followed by family therapy with our son.  Each time we met with them, they would shake their heads and empathize with us about how hard it was to deal with our son.  It did not seem like any progress was being made.  He still wouldn’t talk to us.  He still played the game with them.  And, he didn’t want to try to let them help him.  Every time they asked him questions about his behavior or choices he would say, “Because, I am bored.  Because, I don’t have anything in my life that I find enjoyable.  Nothing that I used to do is fun anymore.  No matter what I try I can’t find anything to do.”

And they responded with the question, “When you make the decision to be bored and to stop trying to have fun, how does that benefit you?”  He wouldn’t answer them.

As we drew closer to the end of the week, even though nothing had really changed, the next step was for our son to come up with a Safety Plan for what he was willing to do to keep himself and the family safe when he came home.  He was supposed to decide on certain behaviors, expectations, and consequences.  Fred felt that it would work out better for us if our son made the plan because then he couldn’t say, “That’s not what I agreed to do, so I don’t have to do it.”  But, he refused to try, to listen, or to give-in on anything.  Sometimes, Fred was just dumbfounded as he saw how unreasonable my son could be. 

He would send our son out of the room and give us counsel about things that we, as parents, needed to do when he came home.  He said that we should give him his X-Box back, even though we didn’t want to.  According to him, when we take something away, indefinitely, in our son's mind, it is the end of the world, life is over, and he will NEVER be able to get what he lost back.  He said that if we feel that we need to take something away from him, we should take it away for a maximum of two days. 

He also recommended that we put a door back on his room, since we had taken his door off when he smoked marijuana in there.  I was only willing to give him the door with the big hole in it and the Fred thought that was a great idea.  When he presented that idea to my son, his response was, “Fine with me.  As long as they like hearing my TV blast loudly all night.” 

To which Fred forcefully stated, “You WILL NOT be doing that.  Being disrespectful in that manner is not going along with the right to live in your parent’s house!” 

Of course, the rebuttal to that was, “I don’t want to live there anyway!”  And he began to spin everything in that direction again. 

Everything just went around and around.  We weren’t getting anywhere and were at our wits end.  What would we do after the weekend was over and he came back home?

We had just played our Psych Unit card, so what would our next course of action be if things got out of control again?

As the weekend approached, he suddenly began to cooperate and came up with ideas for his Safety Plan, thinking that if he did what was expected at the last minute, he wouldn’t have to stay any longer.  When he asked me if he could go home with us that night, Fred said, “It is not up to your parents.  This decision is not in their control.  I will confer with Dr. Smith and we will determine whether you can go home after the weekend is over, or not.”  My son began to cry and begged, “Please don’t make me stay here.  It is so f-n boring that I can’t stand it.”

I hated to see him cry.  I hated that he was going through this and that WE were all going through this.  I had certainly shed my share of tears.  I knew he was not having a good time there, but I also knew that I wasn’t ready for him to come home yet.

So, of course he got angry and went back to his sulking mood saying again that he didn’t ever want to come home with us and would rather go anywhere else than to our home.  Fred told us that we might as well leave and he would continue to try to get through to our son for awhile that night. 

During their discussion, Fred told him, “if I let you go home on Tuesday, you need to know that you will be going back to high school and that if you screw up at all, in any way, you will be put in residential treatment, immediately.  There will be a standing order waiting for you.  And, if it was my decision, alone, I would put you in residential treatment right now because you aren’t showing me that you have learned a thing in the last week that you have been here.” 

The only thing my son took from that statement were the words, “Residential Treatment.”  I received a phone call from our son a while later and he began begging me to say that if he was good all weekend, would I make sure that he didn’t have to go into residential treatment next week?

I just told him that I wasn’t going to commit to anything and that I couldn’t make any decisions, say yes, or say no to anything without his Dad, the therapist, and the psychiatrist’s input.  He hung up on me.

Five minutes later, a staff member called back and said that our son wanted to talk to me again.  My husband told him that I wouldn’t talk to my son if he was just going to get angry when he didn’t get the answers that he wanted and hang up on me again.  The staff member talked to our son, then put him on the line.  He asked us to come and see him the next night (there was no family therapy on weekends).  I agreed, but reiterated that I would not answer any questions about his release date or his future and that if he started to pester me, I would just leave. 

10 minutes after that, Fred called and told me that he wished he knew what was misfiring in my son’s brain that quickly turns a good situation into a bad one and causes everything to blow up, but he didn’t know what it was.  He wished that our insurance company would let him go into residential treatment, but he knew that it wasn’t a likely option.  He said that he should have left work several hours ago but was trying valiantly to make some progress with our son.  Even though he wasn’t supposed to work the next day, he said he was going to go to the morning meeting and fill everyone in about our son and try to figure out what to do with him.  I have never known any doctor or therapist who worked as hard to help our family as Fred did in that short time.  I will always be grateful for all of the extra time that he spent with us.  I wished we could have continued therapy with him on the outside because he has been the only person who seemed to be able to see past the games and the acting and try to get to the root of the problem. 

At the end of our weekend visit with our son, where we brought him fast food and played Uno, he actually initiated and gave me and my husband hugs when it was time for us to leave.  Wow!   

We had a fairly good time with him, but part of me didn’t trust that.  How would I know that it wasn’t just part of the act that he puts on to try to get his way?  But, then again, maybe a week in the psych unit taught him that it wasn’t as bad at home as he thought it was.

On Monday, I found out that no matter what argument or diagnosis or reason that Fred and Dr. Smith had for putting our son in residential treatment, the insurance company would not budge and would not cover a stay in the facility, or even Day Treatment.  It made me upset that our health insurance, which we had not downgraded or changed in anyway in the last three years, no longer covers any residential or day treatment for mental health or substance abuse.  Somehow they secretly red-lined that coverage without our knowing it.  Nothing was said about that change in coverage when we renewed at higher and higher rates every year.

The honeymoon period of good weekend behavior was certainly over on Monday night.  Once our son found out he wasn’t going to residential treatment, he was ready to be a jerk again.  He didn’t know that it was not allowed by the insurance company, he just knew that he wasn’t going at that point.  But, Fred did his best to put a stop to the rotten attitude by telling our son that if he didn’t shut up and listen and let us come up with a plan, he was going to change his mind about discharging him the next day.

The hour was over way too quickly and he sent our son out of the room to give us a last few minutes of reassurance and advice.  He hoped that our son would follow the rules and everything that we were working on for the Safety Plan, but he had reservations and he told us”This is off the record.  I will deny that I ever said this to you.  But, you do have a choice tomorrow.  If you choose not to come and pick him up, he will become a ward of the state.  You will be charged with abandonment, but with all that you have gone through, and all of the information that we can release from the records of his stay here, it won’t be that bad for you and you won’t have to deal with him anymore.  I can say that I would not think badly of you if you did this.  I don’t know if anything that we have done here in the last week has helped him and I don’t want to send you home with the idea that things have been fixed because they probably haven't been.”

I almost started to cry as he was talking.  How could I possibly do that?  Would I ever really be at that point?

I asked Fred if we could meet again for awhile before I took my son home the next day and he said, “Yes, I think we should.”   He set it up for 1:00 p.m. and I said, “Are you blocking out 3 hours?”  He laughed and said he thought we would probably need that much, knowing us.  Then, he sent us to a room with our son to try to finish the going-home plan without his assistance, since we hadn’t made enough progress on it during our session.

Our Safety Plan turned out to be different than the one that Fred was suggesting, but we had to get our son to agree to something, so we took what we could get.  And then, he actually hugged us again when we left. 

That night, I either got the stomach-flu or food poisoning or both.  I was so sick all night long.  The next morning, I had to go check my son out of the psych unit alone because my husband couldn’t miss work.  I don't know how I managed it, but I pretended that I wasn’t sick the whole time that I was at the facility.  

Fred told me that if we have to go through this again, he would make sure that he was our son’s therapist and that he would do everything in his power to make sure that if necessary (and because it was the last resort) our son would get admitted to the State Mental Hospital.  

I had just been wondering why anyone hadn’t ever mentioned the State Hospital and was glad to have him alleviate my fears about having no other options.  

He powered through everything again with my son about what was expected of him at home.   My son was quietly submissive and agreed to comply with everything.  

I was terrified to take him home.  I knew that my son still felt that everything that had happened was not his fault and blamed us for all of it.  I was so sick and felt so awful that I knew I could not handle it if he freaked out when we got home.   

I let him know that I planned on going straight to bed when we got home and he said he intended to immediately begin playing the X-Box.  But, surprisingly, he asked me what chore I wanted him to do first.  And, he did one.  

That was unexpected. 

Maybe things were going to be okay.

Yeah, right..maybe.