So I normally don’t write about anything too personal when it comes to my kids and I definitely don’t freehand my posts. But after the tragic events in Newton at Sandy Hook Elementary school, I woke up with the sense of urgency. The sense that people need to open their eyes to mental illness and realize the danger that comes with it when it goes unnoticed. Now, let me start by saying this is extremely emotional for me. I mean even as I am typing I am wiping away tears. (Thug tears of course lol) But seriously, this topic is an emotional one because no one wants to associate their child with mental illness. You look at your child as being perfect, as doing no wrong. When someone comes up to you and tries to point something out about your child that even remotely sounds negative, you are automatically put in attack mode and try to show them that they are wrong. But with some things, you have to open your mind and accept things for what it is. My story is simple. My youngest son, Cayden, has been on this journey since he was about 9 months. As a mother, you can tell when something is off about your child. He wasn’t talking, no cooing, no eye contact, nothing. This was not normal, despite what everyone around me was telling me. I began to research things and decided to have him tested for Autism. Now, this was extremely difficult. Whenever I would tell someone about what I was doing I would get all types of backlash. “You’re crazy. He’s too young for you to know anything.” “He’s normal. You’re just being high-strung.” I was getting it all. But like I said, as a mother you just know.
After he began his speech therapy, he was shortly seen by a psychologist. This woman was a blessing. Finally, someone was seeing what I was seeing. The anger, the aggression over simply not being able to turn a toy a certain way, the constant fidgeting. She understood me. She understood him and his symptoms. Now because he is just two she doesn’t want to fully diagnose him until January but she is leaning towards Aspergers and extreme ADHD. For some, this would be a shock, but for me I already knew. I had been researching these terms since he was 9 months. The reason for this post is to show people that they need to educate themselves. The man, and I use that term loosely, that killed those innocent children and teachers had Aspergers, among other things. Now, Aspergers does not link to violence. People with this illness are not able to function socially. I will not try to figure out what went wrong with this man, but I will say that not being treated properly could have possibly avoided this. Sweeping mental illness under the rug just because you don’t want your child “labeled” is an example of bad parenting. It’s no different than not bathing or feeding your child. You are not getting them the proper help that they need to live a successful life. Mental illness is not a sin. It is not a death sentence. (sorry more thug tears) But seriously, I have to tell myself this all the time when I look at my son. It is not his fault that he is going through this. He has no control over his feelings. I am the parent. I am the one who has to do the research and get him the proper help. I can’t sit back and do the whole “woe is me” thing because he is the one suffering.
The main thing I want people to do is stop being so passive when it comes to our children. We think that as long as they go to school, bathe, eat, and play they will grow up and be successful. This is not the case. We have to actually do some parenting. Mental illness should be a common subject and not a stigma. And this is with anyone, no matter what age. I will be the first to tell anyone that I know I need a therapist. Like seriously. And I am not ashamed. Neither should you. There is help out there, free help. We use Google for everything under the sun…try googling mental health. Just become educated. That way you will recognize the signs if you come across them.
The last thing I want to say is for the parents that are going through this with their child. I always joke and tell people that I used to pray for patience since I was a child and now God has given me my answer to patience. Cayden. I know how hard this can be. I know how frustrating it is to not be able to help them the way that you want to. I know how stressful it can be, especially as a single parent, to try to keep things calm. Trying to work, go to school, have a social life, be a good parent, and give that child the stability that they need. Trust me. It is overwhelming. Do not let outside people deter you from what you are doing. If you know you are on the right track, keep going. Your child is all that matters. And they will thank you in the end for doing them this service.