If you are a new visitor to my blog, may I suggest you start at the beginning of our journey with Bipolar by visiting my archives

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

No Chirstmas Miracles Here

Josh is doing 'ok'. He's at his father's, and apparently doing quite a bit of self medicating with pot. Unfortunately, his father partakes as well.

He stops by every now and then to pick something up. Last week when he came by I asked if he'd like to go out to eat with me.

We had a very pleasant time together and there were moments when the conversation turned to 'heavier' things.

We were talking about pot, about how surprised he is by the number of people my age who smoke pot.

"Well, some people never outgrow it I guess, but me? I guess I'm high on life, I don't need pot."

"Well, you've got a pretty nice life."

"Yep, but Josh, no one handed it to me. I worked hard for everything I have."

He said that he doesn't really want what I have. He has his sights set a bit lower, a small apartment, food, maybe internet access.

Let's hope his desire for those simple things drives him to ACT.

Last night when he stopped by he said he hasn't begun looking for a job yet.

So maybe he's not all that driven yet?

Last night he seemed a bit down, I think his mood was mostly driven by frustration. Life is very frustrating for him right now. He doesn't LIKE living at his dad's, mostly because of his step mom, and his days must seem endless now that school is out and he's stuck in a house with no cable or internet.

Which would spur me to get the heck out of there and get a job, but then, he's not me.

He will be coming here Christmas morning for our traditional Christmas breakfast and he asked what we were doing in the evening. I told him we were deep frying a turkey and he was more than welcome to join us. Not sure if he'll do that or not, but I hope he does.

When we're together, he occasionally tries to play the victim card with me, or he gets accusatory, but I quickly set him straight.

Personal responsibility and all that, don't ya know.

While I'd love to see a Christmas miracle at work where Josh is concerned, I think it's too soon for him to have a real epiphany, but maybe someday soon?

Saturday, December 4, 2010


There have been many times in my life when The Serenity Prayer has been my mantra.

Once again, I find myself repeating it to myself silently.

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

With Josh, I've had to accept the things I cannot change. I cannot change the fact that he refuses to seek treatment for his Bipolar.

From where I sit, the solution to almost ALL of Josh's problems lie in finding the correct medication for him. And I'm convinced that his condition is mild enough that the dosage would likely be very small.

He is NOT the person he was a year ago. While he had become increasingly difficult to manage during the last two or three years, he WAS functioning well in general, with his schoolwork and extracurricular activities. He was happy much more often than he was difficult. The person I sent packing is not functioning well in any area of his life, and that makes me so sad, because I know it doesn't have to be that way.

I found the courage to change the things I can, and it takes a lot of courage (and just the right amount of total, utter frustration) to send the son you love packing, but that's where "the wisdom to know the difference" comes in.

Eventually the wisest course of action was to allow Josh to struggle against himself, and he is struggling.

It is heartbreaking to me when he comes over and I see the longing in his eyes, the longing to return to what is "normal" for him. But "normal" isn't going to move him forward and I pray that Rootie is right, that someday he will be able to see that by setting him free, I was giving him legs to walk into a better place.

But I think the most difficult aspect of all of this is that there are some amazingly wonderful changes going on in my life right now, and I would have loved for Josh to have been a part of them, to have benefited from them. Unfortunately, his perspective is that I've made him leave BECAUSE of these changes, and that simply isn't the case, but he's probably always going to look at this time as a time when I selfishly kicked him out so I could have the life *I* wanted. The truth though, is that I truly felt the changes in my life could move him forward.

I pray every night that God will walk with Josh and guide him; that he will lead him to a better place, and I keep asking for courage and wisdom and help with acceptance for myself, because I know that what has always carried me through difficult times is finding Serenity.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A LONG Time Coming

I don't intend to go into all the gory details here, I'll save that for my private blog, but Josh moved out tonight.

Since he failed to do his weekly housecleaning last week, I'd told him he would be moving out at the beginning of the year. He has been about as difficult and disrespectful as he could possibly be as a result.

He was sullen and snide on Thanksgiving. He's been shitty and pissy every single day. Last night I told him that if his attitude didn't improve 100%, he'd wouldn't make it in my house till the end of the year.

And then this morning I opened the refrigerator and noticed that the remainder of the beer I'd bought for Thanksgiving was gone.

He was asleep at the time (6 am) and when he woke up at (5 pm) I asked him if he'd drank the beer and he said he had.

"We've talked about this before Josh, you KNOW that is not allowed."

"What do you expect, under the circumstances?"

"Are you telling me that you don't intend to follow the rules?"

"Why should I? What's in it for me?"

We argued and I finally told him to go pack the things he'd need right away and leave tonight.

"I'll pack up the rest of your stuff and move it into storage until you need it, and you need to understand something Josh, this isn't the way *I* want it to be, I love you, but I refuse to continue to provide for all of your needs when what I receive in return is disrespect. I'm changing the garage code and the locks, you're not getting back in this house unless I'm home."

At one point, as I was standing halfway inside his bedroom door he started yelling at me to get out of his room, and as I was trying to talk to him, he repeatedly kicked his door, which bashed into my hip, as he yelled, "Fuck you! Fuck you! Fuck you!"

I reminded him that it isn't *his* room, it's a room in *MY* house that I've allowed him to use and that he's no longer welcome to use it.

I called his father and told him the situation and he said he'd call Josh and tell him to come and stay there. Josh wouldn't answer his father's calls though.

As Josh packed, he became nicer than he's been the last few weeks and when he was ready to go I hugged him. At first he balked, but then he put his arms around me and gave me a hug.

"I love you honey, and I get that you don't believe that now, but I think it's time for you to learn what it means to be a grown man. I think you need to talk to you dad and consider staying there for the short term, just a month or two so you can regroup and decide how you want the rest of your life to play out."

"That's not gonna happen, I'm not living in that hellhole."

"Well, your options are somewhat limited, but I know you'll figure out what to do."

And he left.

His father called me about an hour later and said Josh had finally answered his call and said he was chillin' with a friend, but agreed to go to his Dad's when he was done. My ex called back a little later and said that Josh was there.

I've cried off and on since he left, but I feel better that he's at his Dad's and I've spent the hours since he left walking around my house realizing that my home is finally child free.

For the first time in 26 years.

It's a strange feeling.

What happened tonight is what needed to happen, because I think Josh's older brother has been right all along; that Josh is NEVER going to get it while living coddled under my roof.

When I called my older son and told him that I sent his brother on his way, he said, "It's about fucking time. Congratulations!"

This would be MUCH harder to take were Josh out there in the unknown, but I know where he is and in spite of the fact that his father has dropped the ball badly as the boys were being raised, he related to both of our boys better once they reached their teens. He stands a much better chance of getting Josh to see the light than I do and I hope he's able to get the kid on the right path.

My only fear at this point is that the stress that Josh is under will send him one way or other on the Bipolar pole.

Oh, did I mention that he gave two weeks notice at his job last night and then slept through his shift today? When he woke up tonight, he called them and told them he wouldn't be back.

So jobless and homeless in one fell swoop, only he's not really homeless, he's just in a much more unappealing home.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

As The Stomach Churns

Well, I drew that line in the sand for Josh, and my therapist advised me that it was an appropriate line to draw and that I must be prepared to follow through if needed.

It's needed.

Josh failed to clean the house this weekend, which means he crossed the line in the sand.

Monday I said to him, "Well, it looks like you've CHOSEN to not live here next year since you didn't clean the house this weekend."


He gave me a bunch of excuses, like he had to work all weekend, to which I replied, "You worked all of 8 hours the entire weekend, mostly what you did is play online poker."

He wanted to argue, but I just walked away.

But can I tell you how hard it is to envision how this young man is going to be prepared to go it alone, and I don't have the available funds to help him. Furniture, household goods, etc, I can help with, but I have no money to assist him, not to mention assisting him financially is the opposite of what this is about anyway.

I'm sure he thinks I'm not serious, I've certainly given him reasons in the past to assume I'm not serious. When I've tried to discuss this with him since our initial discussion, he just says he doesn't know what he's gonna do and drops it.

He intends to take classes next semester, but I don't know how he plans on paying the fees above what his grant will cover.

He's in la la land!

Any advice?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

No News is Good News?

Schmadrian asked in a comment on my last post for an update and wondered if "no news is good news."

Actually, no news simply means not much movement is taking place in either direction.

Josh is doing better with his school responsibilities. He currently has an 'A' in one class, a high 'B' in another class, but is struggling still to get his final grade up from a low 'C'.

The adderall does seem to have helped him with his ability to focus and, for the most part, he's been better at time management with his school work.

He's still not doing so well with his household responsibilities and his lack of respect for me continues to be problematic.

I had a need to see our Nurse Practitioner this past week and when we were finished discussing my medical issues, she asked how Josh was doing.

I explained that the adderall seemed to help, but he had failed to put in place any of her other suggestions; a daily multivitamin and additional supplements, better eating habits and exercise.

And I started crying as I explained to her that what was hardest for me was remembering Josh as he's always been, very social, always out and about, and contrasting it to this young man who is content (and he DOES seem to be content) alone in his room much of the time, seeing his friends here and there.

We talked long enough that her Nurse finally tapped on the door to remind her that she had other patients waiting. She hugged me and asked if I were getting help for ME in coping with this.

"Well, I have a therapist and she and I HAVE discussed Josh on occasion."

"I think you need to make an appointment to see her. This is all very hard and you need some support and professional advice."

Prior to seeing my therapist though, I had a talk with Josh. He had, once again, failed to clean the house as agreed upon.

I basically told him that he had until the end of this current semester to 'show me' that he would like to continue living here. I told him that I'm not going to mention the housework again, but if he misses a week between now and the end of the year, he will be looking for other living arrangements when 2011 rolls around. And I told him that his lack of respect would not be tolerated.

"I deserve to live in a calm, peaceful environment. You are a GUEST in this house, and like many house guests, your welcome is wearing very thin."

When I met with my therapist, she encouraged me to call him on his disrespect EVERY single time it happens, but to also find opportunities each day to give him some positive affirmations.

"Tell him, "I really like the way you ________" and make a habit of catching him doing things well. It's not enough to read one of his papers and comment that it is good, point out to him an area of the paper where you think he really nailed it. Things like that will give him much needed confidence in himself, and it interjects 'good' feelings between you so that it doesn't all look like negativity regarding his behavior."

She also told me that I have to be fully prepared to set him on his way, but to be very careful of the wording I use. "You aren't 'kicking him out', he has CHOSEN, through his own behavior, to move on."

We talked about my fears, were he to leave my home, and my greatest fear is that he has isolated himself so much, and to go off and live alone would find him in complete isolation. That could lead to a slide into depression.

"Well, he is a young man who should only move out into a roommate situation. Not only will he not be in isolation, but he will then continue to learn HOW to live with someone else."

But finding a roommate situation for Josh won't be easy, he has no friends who are able to share an apartment with him.

My therapist's final advice to me was to try to get Josh to begin seeing her so he could learn anger management skills and better life skills, but also work through his anger and hurt regarding his father and me.

Josh completely shut down a discussion on the subject though.

When I tried to discuss his work situation he told me, and he's really right, that he has an obligation to pay me $100 a month for his car and $100 a month for his auto insurance, and as long as he is meeting those obligations to ME, his work and money situation is none of my business.

I agreed with him, but pointed out that he needs to keep in mind that his car could break tomorrow, or some other calamity could befall him and HE needs to be prepared for that because as an adult it is HIS responsibility to address life's little problems, not to look to me for money.

He has decided to meet with the counselor at school and change his major. His senior year of High School he was set on studying secondary education with a desire to be a High School Literature teacher. He's going to find out what curriculum he needs to follow for a secondary education degree.

I've never cared WHAT he does, but I think some focus would be good for him and honestly, he would be an amazing English teacher.

I told him when we talked, and I've told him this all along, that as long as he is functioning well, living in harmony with me and living up to his responsibilities, he can live here until he's out of school, but it's really all up to him.

He's gonna have to start walkin the walk.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Too Soon to Tell?

Josh took his first dose of Adderall yesterday and went to bed just after 11 PM, waking up this morning on his own at 9 AM.

Let's hope this continues.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Maybe Since SHE Said it He'll Listen?

Josh went to see the Nurse Practitioner yesterday and allowed me to go with him. He told her that he thought he needed to get back on Adderall, but gave her no other information about 'the state of affairs'.

So I did.

"Josh went off his Bipolar medication this summer and quickly returned to 'normal', but slowly he's begun to slide into the same patterns he was in last fall when he began slipping towards suicide and failed his classes. He sleeps all day and is up all night, as a result, he's missing classes and close to failing this semester. Basically, he's not functioning well at all, but I'm kind of concerned that taking Adderall might cause further sleep problems."

"Well actually, it might have the opposite effect, people generally sleep BETTER when on this type of medication. But Josh, you have GOT to force yourself back onto a normal sleep schedule. There are all kinds of ramifications to what you're doing. Our bodies respond to the light during the daytime hours and you're missing out on that. This throws off your circadian rhythms and actually effects your immune system and tons of other stuff. You need to establish a sleep routine where you go to bed each night at, say, 11, and then you get up everyday at 9 and the first thing you do is take your Adderall, that will jump start you.

You need to do what we call 'sleep hygiene', you monitor your caffeine intake, make sure you have nothing distracting you when you go to sleep, even the light emitted by your phone or an alarm clock can disturb your ability to get to sleep. You want total dark and quiet, nothing but maybe some white noise.

You've told me before that you don't want to be on 'brain meds', but if you're serious about that you need to get the sleep under control and also work on taking in a very healthy diet, and supplement that with vitamins just to be on the safe side, and exercise, I can't tell you how important daily exercise is for you if you want to avoid brain meds.

I have a friend who was terribly depressed and on medication and she became an avid runner and no longer needs any depression medication, exercise is THAT good."

"So," I said, "let me make sure I understand what you're saying here. You're basically saying that Josh needs to make important LIFE changes."

"Yes, and he's the only one who can do this. You can't do it for him, I can't do it for him. Josh, this is YOUR life and nothing that I'm talking about here is anything more than what we ALL should do to be healthy. Our bodies cannot function normally when we're not taking care of them."

She suggested that for the first few weeks, he take a dose of melatonin before bed, "It's something you can take forever, but I think it will be especially helpful during the first few weeks."

She wants to see him back in one month.

When we left, Josh said that while he was at work that night, he'd think about the best way to reset his clock. The NP had suggested that it might be easiest if he missed one night's sleep, so Josh was going to try to figure out how to work that into his work/school schedule.

We discussed the addition of Wellbutrin to his meds, but Josh would like to avoid that if possible. The NP told him that she felt if he REALLY addressed the things she'd discussed, he could probably avoid additional medications.

Now we'll see what the man/boy does.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

History Repeats Itself

Josh is not doing well at all with this school thing. He has missed more classes than he's attended.

HE is very disappointed.....and yet.....he wants to make excuses.

Everytime I have tried to talk to him about this his attitude is that *I* don't understand. Every discussion ends with him leaving the room in anger, only to return fifteen minutes later to repeat the entire exercise.

No matter how gently I try to couch my comments, they offend him.

He feels overwhelmed and I point out that HE keeps backing himself into a corner. I point out that all along I have been encouraging him to GET ON A NORMAL SLEEP SCHEDULE and be militant about maintaining it.

"Yea, but last night I had all that homework to do so I had to stay up and then I slept through my alarm."

"OK, but Josh, you left campus on Thursday knowing what homework you had to have done for Tuesday. You knew you had to work all day Saturday, which means you had all day Sunday and Monday to get it done. But you slept all day Sunday and Monday. This is a time management/sleep schedule problem and the 'answer' to it is really very simple and totally up to you. Sleep everyday from Midnight to 9AM and do your homework in your next available time slot. You act like you're being asked to climb Mt. Everest. Honey, there are lots of people who take 5 or 6 classes and work full or part time. You are taking THREE classes and working about 15 hours a week."

"It isn't just that though Mom. I sat up all night TRYING to do my homework, but basically just spinning my wheels."

"Yes, and you don't want to hear this, you get mad when I even approach the subject, but I think ALL of this is Bipolar related."

"How? How is this Bipolar related?!"

"Josh, if you were sliding toward the manic end of the pole, none of this would be a problem. You'd be buzzing around, busy as a bee and creative as hell. You still wouldn't be sleeping worth a damn, but you'd be productive. You are sliding toward the depressive end and in THAT mode, nothing is easy. It isn't easy to motivate yourself or stay on task. You sleep too much, and everything seems overwhelming. I hate to point this out to you honey, but one year ago TODAY? You were right in this same spot, functioning the same way. I BEGGED you to address this over the summer BEFORE school started and you promised me Josh, you PROMISED me that if you went off your medication and you began to struggle, you would get to the doctor and begin the process of finding the right medication for you. You are about one month away from sitting in the bathtub again with razor blades honey and you are deep in denial."

"Well, I told you I think I need to get back on Adderall."

"Yes, and I told you to try that....I encouraged you to get to the doctor and get a prescription for it, because if that's ALL you need, you'll know it really quickly. And if it makes no improvement, than I would think you'd have to consider Bipolar medication."

"Well, you never made the appointment!"

"You are NOT a child Josh, I asked you several times to call and make the appointment, so don't blame me. Pick up the phone and do it."

So he has an appointment Tuesday afternoon, but I'm pretty sure Adderall isn't the answer.

"Josh, a year ago I told you that it wasn't too late to salvage the semester, and I'll say the same to you today, BUT, you have GOT to act. Get the adderall, give it a couple of days, that's all it will take to see if it helps, and if it doesn't, you need to get back to the doctor and get on something for Bipolar."

"God Mom, remember what that medicine DID to me? I'll definitely fail if something like that happens again."

"I know honey, and maybe if the Adderall doesn't work, you need to consider biting the bullet and dropping out. Yes, you'll have to repay your grant, but that isn't the end of the world. Maybe you need to drop out and address medication and get stable on it and give yourself a year of just working full time, you can live here as long as you're working full time and doing the things you need to do. Pay off the grant and a year from now reapply for school and try again. This isn't a matter of you failing because you're stupid, you are failing because you're not functioning well. And you never know, the first Bipolar medicine you try, could be the right one."

Josh had to go to work, and he has to work till 2 am on inventory and he has to work tomorrow night, which means he really will not have the time required to get his assignments done. So yes, he has created a terrible set of circumstances for himself AGAIN. And he seems to want me to produce some magical answer to solve all his problems.

And I think I HAVE the magical answer, he just doesn't want to hear it.

This is a post I wrote on my private blog October 15, 2009...almost exactly a year ago.....

I am very concerned about Josh....about this depression which manifests itself as sadness, inability to sleep at night, inability to get up as necessary in the morning for class and basically not functioning well with his responsibilities.

I've cried a small river (does that mean I cried a creek?) of tears this afternoon. I talked with his brother, my sister and various friends in the blogosphere about this situation.

We all agree that medication is called for, but Josh is an adult and after meeting with his doctor several months ago, he refused the medication that the doctor suggested.

At 3:oo, before I left to go to the gym, I woke Josh up (well, he was awake, but still laying in bed buried under the covers). I was crying, and I told him that I'm very concerned about him, about the fact that he missed class again; that he isn't functioning well. I told him that I'm sure that he is as upset as I am that he overslept again. He agreed. I told him that I would be home by 4:15 and that I wanted him here when I returned so that we could talk.

And this is basically what I said to him:

First of all, I want you to know that I'm not mad at you; I'm concerned about you. I know that when you wake up, long after class is over, you are upset with yourself. I can see it in your eyes and your demeanor. And that's the whole point Josh...I know you WANT to do better, your intention is not to blow off your classes, but you are unable to DO better. (this is where he started crying)

I love you and I care about you....I want you to be successful, so we need to find a solution to this problem. You have all the symptoms of true clinical depression Josh (which I listed for him) and when you saw Dr P and discussed this with him, he felt that medication could help you.

I know you're opposed to medication, you don't want to be a "zombie", unable to "feel anything". But I have to tell you that your perceptions of what this type of medication does to a person is not really valid. I'm not a doctor, I can't begin to explain to you how it works or why it works or even what it might make you "feel like", but I can tell you that the people I know who take medication for depression swear that it changed their lives. There are people out there who suffered, as you are, for years, and I hear them say that their only regret is that they didn't take medication sooner.

This is what I know for sure. Dr. P is the first human being to ever touch you, and he has been your doctor ever since. He has always shown such caring and concern for the three of us. I trust him....literally....with our lives and I always have.

I trust him in this too. If he feels medication is called for, I trust that he is making that recommendation out of a desire to help you.

Add in to all that, the fact that *I* care about you. I know you better than any other person on this Earth, and *I* think that medication could be the answer to what you are struggling through. Let's face it, you have knuckled down over the last couple of weeks, determined to do better....but you're not. Doesn't that illustrate to you that possibly this is out of your control? If you don't trust Dr. P as much as I do, don't you at least trust me?

If you don't want to consider medication, than let's talk about other possible solutions together because, bottom line, I can't stand to sit by and watch your future go up in smoke.

He and I then talked about medication a bit more and I ended the discussion by saying that perhaps he shouldn't make a decision about the medication right now, but should agree to go talk to Dr P about it again...express his concerns about medication, have Dr. P explain how the medicine works, why it works, what he might experience were he to take it.

In the end he agreed to do that...to go see Dr. P again and discuss the options. He does not want me to go with him.

He left to go see his brother, and as he was leaving, I walked to the door with him and gave him a huge, gigantic hug and told him that I love him.

"I love you too, Mom."

And he was gone.

I'm still crying...I can't seem to stop.

The difference between last year and this year is that I'm not sitting here crying. I'm upset, but not consumed with worry. Because one thing has changed during the last year. I've realized that nothing is going to get better or easier for Josh until he gets a clue. My role in this is limited. I can talk. I can point out this and that. I can encourage. But I can't really own the problem.

I've made some progress since last year. Let's hope that Josh will do some growing too.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Laying Down the Law

I have been going around and around in my head, fighting with myself trying to determine where the fine line is between 'enabling' Josh and offering appropriate help and support.

I find myself often worried about him, but worse, I find myself doing things for him that I'm pretty sure I shouldn't be doing, like waking him up to get to class on time.

I struggle because all my 'normal' reactions to any situation with Josh, are followed up with the thought, "BUT, he's Bipolar!" I find myself excusing his behavior simply because he's Bipolar.

Other areas of my personal life have put me in front of my therapist a couple of times lately. She asked me how Josh was doing and I told her about my concerns.

He's back in school, but not functioning as well as he should be. While his general mood is good, his sleep schedule is still upside down and he often goes out with a friend late in the evening and doesn't return until 5AM. This is not conducive to getting up at 10:30 and getting to class. He's also struggled with the basic workload, missing the due date for his first written assignment.

I told my therapist that Josh and I had an agreement; he is to clean the house each Friday in lieu of paying me $50 a week in 'rent'. I established that agreement at the suggestion of Josh's therapist as a way to begin making him more responsible for himself.

Slowly over the last several weeks, the house hasn't gotten cleaned.

My therapist encouraged me to take a hard line with Josh about this issue. "If you allow him to just blow this off, THAT is enabling him, don't do that."

So that day (which was a Friday) I went home and told Josh that I would be going out of town on Saturday, returning late in the evening. "When I get home tomorrow night, one of three things better have happened. Either this house is cleaned as we agreed to, OR you leave $50 on the kitchen counter for me, OR your bags are packed. I don't care which one you chose, that's up to you, but one of those three things better happen."

He argued with me that he had to work Friday night and Saturday night and he had that past due paper to complete.

"Not MY problem Josh, figure it out."

I came home that Saturday night and the house was spotless.

That was encouraging. "Hmmm, there's something to this being assertive thing!"

The week progressed with lots of things going on in both our lives. I found myself worried about the paper Josh was working on, but instead of asking him if he was working on it, I'd ask him if he was still struggling with it so badly.

When he had starting writing it, he had complained about his inability to focus and gather his thoughts enough to write it. He had done the research, he just couldn't get the information out of his brain, onto the page.

He thought maybe he needed ADD medicine, I encouraged him to explore that and if THAT didn't help, perhaps he should explore a Bipolar medication.

But of course, he has been unwilling to actually call the doctor and make an appointment.

He was up all night working on the paper Monday night, so he could turn it in Tuesday. When I got up Tuesday morning he asked for my advice for his conclusion paragraph. I went to work and when I came home mid afternoon, he was gone to class. I was very curious about the paper he had written, wondering if the end product was disjointed and unorganized. I pulled it up on my computer and read it, and it was, without a doubt, the best paper he's ever written.

That was encouraging. That even though he struggled so badly with it, he WAS able to produce it in the end in a well thought out, cogent fashion.

When I met with my therapist this Friday, I asked her if we could discuss Josh for a few moments. I told her that her advice about the house cleaning had worked very well and having that work so well, it made me realize that I need to stop enabling Josh in other ways, but that I was always hesitant to totally 'let go and let Josh' because, after all, he's Bipolar.

"Well, doing things like waking him up for class and stuff IS enabling him. In the end HE has got to run his own life. And that includes learning to manage his Bipolar."

So last night I told Josh I had a couple things I wanted to discuss with him.

"Josh, you have been very vocal about wanting to 'live your own life' and that is exactly what I want you to do too, but I find myself doing things for you so you don't suffer negative consequences; like making sure you get up to go to class. I'm going to stop doing those things. That means that this is ALL on you, which is the way it SHOULD be. I hope you do whatever it takes to be successful in school this term. I want to see you succeed, but whether you do or not is entirely up to you. The ONLY thing I'm going to be monitoring from now on is your general mood. If I see you sliding one way or the other (depression or mania), I will sit down and discuss my concerns with you and we'll figure out what to do, but I'm not spending one more second of my time worrying about the rest of your life.

But listen to me Josh, if you fail out of this term, you will then be working full time and living in your own place, because if you're not a student, then you will become completely independent of me.

It's important for you to not just manage your work schedule and school responsibilities, but you also need to be very aware of how you're doing overall and get medication if you need it.

And one more thing, it's Friday at 5 PM and this house isn't cleaned yet. Because you have class on Thursday and Friday, I'm going to change our arrangement a little bit to make it more manageable for you. From now on, this house needs to be cleaned by Sunday evening, OR you can pay me $50. So manage your time to make sure that gets done."

So we'll see. But I feel very good about taking this position and realize that it's a stance I should have taken long ago. The thing about having a child with Bipolar is that it's all so terribly frightening. You've seen your child at both ends of the spectrum, and that's not pretty, and you live in fear of having to live through one of the poles again.

The reality here though is that Josh is very stable right now. No, he's not functioning the way he should, but he's not depressed or manic. While it would be hard to set him out on his own if he were in a bad state, the fact of the matter is that he's NOT in a bad state right now and so I've told myself that now is the perfect time to turn it ALL over to him.

I'm not terribly hopeful about the outcome, I'm pretty sure that Josh is not going to be able to get it together. I hope he surprises me, but more than anything I hope he remains stable because in THIS state, it would be very easy to push him out of the nest if he fails out of school.

And if he becomes unstable, we'll deal with it and then pick up the pieces and move forward.

I do feel that he WILL get it eventually, but it might take failing out of college and getting out in the real world to do it, and I'm finally OK with that scenario.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Struggles Begin

Josh had a paper due yesterday that he's known about for several weeks. He got ONE paragraph of it written after working on it all night. He didn't go to classes yesterday either.

So I talked to Josh last night about missing classes yesterday and not getting his paper finished. I told him, "First of all, I'm not mad at you, so don't get all defensive, I'm concerned. You have a golden opportunity here and I hate to think you're not gonna be able to take advantage of it."

He said the paper was impossible.

"OK, but the key here is that it was impossible for YOU. I doubt any other student saw the project as anything more than another paper, just like a zillion papers they've written before, right?"


"OK, so really think about this...why did it seem impossible to YOU?"

"I don't know Mom, I just couldn't even get past the very beginning. I did all the research and everything and I just couldn't pull it together, like my thoughts were a jumbled mess."

"OK, why do you think that happened? I mean, was it a function of having put it off till the last minute and the pressure you put yourself under caused you to not be able to form a coherent thought OR are your thoughts just jumbled? I know that with my work, I KNOW how to approach a certain job, I'm good at what I do and I step through a job very methodically; I do THIS, then I check THAT, etc. But if I'm under pressure, whether I've procrastinated or something unexpected has landed in my lap that I have to get done NOW, I can get all disorganized with it and I find myself attacking the job from all angles, and I can't seem to get myself to FOCUS and step thru it logically."

"Yea, it was kinda like that. Maybe I need to get back on my adderall?"

"Then you should make an appointment and go see the doctor, and maybe while you're there you could discuss a sleep aid with her. Do you feel depressed at all?"


"Well one thing to think about, and I know you don't want to believe you really have Bipolar, but you need to really consider that it's possible that the trouble you had with this paper could be the 'disordered thinking' that is part of Bipolar."

"I don't know how Bipolar could make me not be able to write a paper, it seems more likely it's my ADD. There are tons of people with Bipolar who can write a paper mom."

"Yep, tons of Bipolar people ON BIPOLAR MEDICATION can write a paper. But with Bipolar your brain doesn't process information properly and I think you owe it to yourself to really think about the possibility that the problem you had with this paper may NOT be ADD, but just a part of Bipolar. I know you wanna think you're not Bipolar, but things like this...this disordered thinking, are a part of it. If you think back to last fall semester, you had this same problem writing one of your fiction stories, something you used to be able to just sit down and pound out. I don't know Josh, if you want to REALLY be successful in school this year, you've got to take a hard look at what's happening and be willing to explore all the possibilities and do whatever it takes to make it better. Maybe see the doctor and try adderall, cause that will work IMMEDIATELY, if the problem is ADD, but if you find yourself still struggling, I think you need to consider a bipolar medication maybe."

He didn't make a decision, but I'm going to ask him to make an appointment with his doctor tomorrow. I've learned that *I* have to stay right on top of these things, cause he'll just let it slide and not address it. That's not gonna work, so I'm gonna have to push him to ACT.

Something I've been doing for the last year, with mixed results. The problem is he'll finally act after he's gotten himself SO FAR DOWN, I have to really keep pushing him to ACT NOW.

I did remind him that HE will have to repay the grant money if he fails a class, that I'M not going to repay it, the grant is in HIS name, they will look to HIM for repayment.

"Something else to consider is dropping all your classes now, before the grant funds, and getting a full time job and see what the next year or so brings in terms of this Bipolar stuff. You can go back to school at anytime."

"So you think I should drop out of school?!!!"

"No, *I* think you should address what's happening right now and realize you need help. Josh, something has shifted for you. In High School and your first year of college, you didn't have these issues and you can stay in denial and NOT look at the reality here, but if you're gonna be in denial, you might as well be there in a full time job MAKING money instead of at an institution of higher learning WASTING money."

Sunday, August 22, 2010

I Never Knew how Scary NORMAL can be.

Things around here couldn't be more normal, so normal that there are entire afternoons or mornings when thoughts of Bipolar don't even enter my head.

And then, out of the blue, I'm suddenly gripped by a deep fear when my thoughts turn that direction.

Josh starts classes Tuesday and he is very excited.

On very rare occasions, he will make mention of this 'creature' lurking in the dark, but for the most part, he prefers not to talk about and gets a bit snippy with me if I do.

For now, I am enjoying this calm before the next possible storm and I pray every night that things just stay as they are.

Schmadrian would say I have my head in the sand, that I should be DOING something to prepare for any eventuality. But this is Josh's journey and he is in charge of the road map, I'm just here to act when and if action becomes necessary.

But you can bet that I monitor Josh closely and will be contacting Peter, his therapist, for guidance at the first sign of trouble.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Still Playing the Waiting Game

Not much new to report where Josh is concerned. He continues to be 'fine'.

He got all of his student aid issues resolved and has enrolled for fall classes. His grant money and student aid is conditional on him not failing any classes or getting any withdrawls or incompletes.

He is only taking three classes and his classes will be on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, they all begin at 12:30. This schedule should work well for him since he won't have to drive either direction during rush hour traffic and he can sleep in which is the schedule he prefers.

Right now his sleep schedule is completely topsy turvy. He goes to bed between 4-6 AM and sleeps until 3 PM or so. I pointed out that not only is his schedule upside down (which won't work once school starts), but he is also sleeping 12 hours some days.

"You know Josh, people who are depressed tend to sleep too much, you need to check yourself to make sure you don't feel like you're slipping into a depression."

"I think I'm fine, I'm not sad or having any dark thoughts or anything."

"OK, but you need to monitor that because now would be the time to address it so that you will be ready when school starts."

He has been very slow to address his job situation. He has typically been working less than ten hours a week and this week, they didn't schedule him at all. In light of that, he has submitted some applications online, but his money situation has now become dire. Last week his car battery died and instead of giving him or loaning him the money to buy a new battery, I let him figure it out on his own, my thinking being that a new battery would take most of his available cash and he would FINALLY feel a need to act on the job thing. That seems to have had the desired effect.

He went without a car most of the week until he got his paycheck. He jumped his car and drove and bought a new battery.

In general he has been very pleasant. Often he'll do dishes or other household tasks before I can even mention them to him. Now, don't get me wrong, it's not like he's tearin' it up around here, but I see improvement in that area.

He also agreed to clean the house every Friday in lieu of paying me rent and he has done a pretty good job with that. Sometimes he won't get everything finished on Friday, so he finishes up on Saturday, but he's at least doing it with a smile on his face.

He still spends too much time alone, but also sees his 'good' friends fairly often. They will all be returning to college soon, but so will he AND I hope he has a new job as well. School and work will fill a lot of his time and force him to get on a more normal schedule.

I feel pretty comfortable about his return to school. There is no way to know what might happen as the school year progresses. It's quite possible that Bipolar symptoms will appear and I can only pray that if they do, he will address them properly. I think not moving forward with school plans would be detrimental to him at this point, he needs the routine that school provides and to feel like his life is moving forward after having it all derail so badly during the last year.

He would like to think he's not Bipolar, but I'm not convinced he isn't. I expect there to be further issues down the road and it is impossible to say that if he's in a Bipolar state of mind will he still 'see' the need for medication. I guess we'll cross that bridge when we get to it.

It's very hard feeling like we are sitting on a time bomb, just waiting for it to explode, but that's what we're doing. There is very little that we can do to prepare for that eventuality. Josh isn't willing to discuss the possibilities very much, about the only thing we've agreed upon is to seek his therapists help if things go tits up.

I have missed the last several DBSA meetings due to other obligations, and I won't be able to attend tonight either, but hope to go back next week. It is very hard to sit in those meetings and listen to other people's horror stories when Josh is doing so well. It feels a bit like what survivor guilt must feel like. It's nice to know that the group is there though because I have a feeling I'll be needing their support again in the future.

Josh is doing well, but that doesn't mean he's 100% where he needs to be. I'm watching him closely, there is no part of me that feels like we're out of the woods or anything. I'm just trying very hard to enjoy this respite; I'm getting a lot done around the house and enjoying time with my friends etc.

Basically, I'm waiting for the other shoe to fall.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Why do they have to make it so hard?

Josh was referred to an Endocrinologist by our Primary Care Physician.

No one mentioned how difficult it is to get an appointment with an Endocrinologist.

I was given three names and checked with Josh's insurance company to determine which doctors were in his network. I then called to schedule an appointment.


You can't make an appointment with any of these doctors without first having a years worth of medical records sent to them so they can determine the urgency of care needed, but the real kicker is that once they receive the records, the first available appointment isn't until mid to late September.

This was the case with all three doctors I called.

It seems to me that they're going to need not only Josh's records from his Primary Care Physician, but also records from his IOP at the Stress Center back in January, AND his records from the Psych Hospital.

By the time they receive all that information, I imagine the September appointments will be filled and we'll be looking closer to October.

And in all of this, there is an issue with Josh's Student Aid for the Fall Term. We have to present documentation from a physician stating that Josh is OK to attend school in the Fall. The problem is that Josh isn't really under any doctor's care right now. The student aid office doesn't know that he has been diagnosed as Bipolar, they are concerned with the depression that caused him to fail out of last Fall's classes. This documentation needs to be to the Student Aid office by the 14th of July. We were hoping that Josh's Thyroid tests would come back and indicate an underlying Thyroid condition that we could state we were treating.

Josh and me have an appointment with his therapist, Peter, this Wednesday. Peter is willing to compose a letter that explains the situation; that Josh recovered fully from the depression, became sleep deprived that resulted in a manic episode, whereby he was diagnosed with Bipolar. But then it gets a little tricky. We are not treating Josh's Bipolar at the moment, so Peter is going to have to dance around a bit, stating that Josh is functioning well right now and will treat any further episodes, if they occur, as needed.

Josh has FREE money available this year, for the first time, and I hate the thought of him losing out on that. He has decided to start back to school in a very cautious manner, taking only three classes. While he hates taking such a light class load, he understands that he needs to avoid stress. I told him that he could catch up during the summer session, but that since we really don't KNOW what might happen; he could experience more Bipolar issues, that a cautious approach would be best.

Worse case scenario, I will have to pay for his classes this year and I hate to do that since I have spent so much money on his medical bills this year. I don't think it is in Josh's best interest to sit out the Fall Term. I feel strongly that he needs to 'get his life back' because it has spiraled horribly out of control over the last year. Some normalcy would be good for him and he needs to be working towards a goal and school would force him to get on a healthier schedule.

In addition to the medical issues he is facing, his employer (a national chain) is close to bankruptcy. He may not have a job for long and they have cut back every one's schedules to the point that Josh is working only about 10 hours a week. Jobs are hard to come by though, especially with the college kids home for the summer. Josh's older brother has been unemployed now for a year and a half and his unemployment benefits ended three weeks ago. His brother is in that first wave pool of people who were laid off, so there will be a glut of those people whose unemployment benefits have ended, who are aggressively seeking any available opportunities. Which means it will be even more difficult for Josh to find employment.

Added to my financial woes is the fact that for the first time EVER, Josh's brother has had to ask me for money, and I'm sure his needs will continue.

Right now everything, every aspect of our lives, is in flux and that's a very uncomfortable position to be in. Josh could experience Bipolar symptoms at any moment, or he could be fine for years. It's hard to know WHAT to do because nothing is a given, so we'll just have to take things as they come, deal with the issues in front of us each day and be frugal as hell because everybody is in my pocket right now.


Saturday, July 3, 2010

Not Good News

Josh's thyroid blood work and ultra sound all came back normal.


The doctor has asked that Josh see an Endocrinologist anyway. She is still concerned about his elevated levels upon admittance to the hospital.

Josh is NOT a happy camper.

Neither is his Mom.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Fingers Crossed

Josh had his physical today. We both love our doctor, he actually delivered Josh, so he's been in our lives a long time. We didn't see him today though, our appointment was with our favorite Nurse Practitioner. She also has cared for us both for years and she has a very holistic approach to medicine, always more apt to suggest a supplement over a pharmaceutical.

Anyway, I went in with Josh because I wanted to be sure the NP understood Josh's recent history. She was pretty shocked that Josh's thyroid levels were as high as they were upon admittance to the Psych Hospital, and yet nothing further was done in an attempt to ascertain if there was an underlying Thyroid problem.

She ordered further blood work, and because she felt Josh's thyroid was enlarged, she ordered an Ultra Sound on it.

As we talked with her, I became a bit more hopeful that Josh may not be Bipolar at all, that perhaps a hyperactive thyroid created a vicious cycle of sleep deprivation that led to the mania he experienced.

I feel like Josh having a thyroid problem and NOT Bipolar is kinda like winning the lottery. Not likely, yet.......if you read the symptoms of hyperactive thyroid and then read the symptoms of sleep deprivation (Josh had had only two hours sleep in a three day period when he became manic), it's very easy to get your hopes up. I mean, after all, SOMEBODY wins the lottery, right?

So we'll wait and see.

Josh right now has been totally himself, right down to being a bit short with me sometimes, bordering on rude. (No screaming and yelling, let alone pounding his fist or slamming a door)

He's still having trouble sleeping, but he's getting a solid 8 hours, unfortunately he often isn't asleep before 4 am, this morning when I got up at 6 am, he was still up. For now, his schedule allows this strange sleep pattern, but eventually he's going to need to get back on a more normal routine.

I look over the last year of Josh's life and can see how everything that has happened could be explained by a hyperactive thyroid. The thyroid controls so many functions and the hormones it produces are very powerful. I've said before that his eyes have bothered me for some time, his eyeballs seem to 'bulge'. This is a symptom of Grave's Disease and if you read the following link, under the heading of "How is the Diagnosis of Grave's Disease Made?", the second paragraph talks about 'clues' that might lead to such a diagnosis. The very last line talks about family members with related autoimmune disorders, such as I have....vitiligo.

My sister had a hyperactive thyroid, so there is family history, but the biggest factor to me is MY autoimmune disorder (vitiligo) that is known to cause blood relatives to be more prone to ALL autoimmune disorders.

And if you don't think sleep deprivation plays a part in all this, read this.

I may be grasping at straws, but I just keep coming back to Josh's thyroid problem not being addressed in the hospital.

So, we'll address it now if there is a problem, and then we'll wait and see if Josh shows anymore symptoms of Bipolar or not.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

He's Baacck!

Josh is doing so well the last several days. It seems all his sadness is gone, he is functioning well, taking care of the things he needs to take care of. Hey! He's even back to ragging on me about everything, but only in the nicest way. He says his mind isn't racing and his thoughts are not at all disordered.

I'm not sure how long this will last, but I'll enjoy it while it does.

Today he told me, "It's kinda funny to say this, but I kinda hope I have a thyroid problem, I mean, who would wish for that?"

"Someone who knows the alternative is a mental illness. Weighing them, a thyroid problem would win out in anyone's book."

No matter how Josh's blood work comes back, I'm going to insist they perform a thyroid scan. There still may be traces of medication in Josh's system that could cause the blood tests to be skewed. I'm not taking any chances.

One of my girlfriends has an Autistic daughter. She gave me a book and an article to read the other day that pretty much says that there is no such thing as Autism, or ADHD, bipolar or schizophrenia. According to these professionals, all of these conditions have a biological basis; heavy metals, hormone imbalances, etc.

They propose that if you look, you can find an underlying condition and treat it, and they say that most doctors just aren't trained in these areas, that they are so busy running their practices that they don't take the time to fully explore ALL other possibilities before attaching a label.

I suppose there is something to all this and I imagine, over time, this field of study will probably advance and gain more support.

She has encouraged me to meet with her daughter's doctor for a full work up, just to see what MIGHT be out of whack. I haven't discussed any of this with Josh yet, but there is a lot of information out there that points to the fact that many people are misdiagnosed as Bipolar, but are really suffering a thyroid problem, so we'll start by ruling that out.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Giving Back

You know, I have gotten so much out of the local DBSA Support Group meetings I attend every Monday night, but sometimes being able to give back can also help as you cope with this thing called Bipolar.

My sister, who lives out of town, called me early one day last week on her way to work.

"Melody you HAVE to go out today and get this book I'm reading. I noticed it last night on a display table of recently released books (she works part time at Barnes and Nobles) so I bought it and brought it home. I was exhausted last night, but I thought I'd read a few pages before I fell asleep. I couldn't put it down. It's called "Welcome to the Jungle...Everything you ever wanted to know about Bipolar, but were too freaked out to ask." The author was diagnosed at 19 and she's probably in her early twenties now. Anyway, it is written for young adults who are newly diagnosed, it's the book she says she wished someone would have handed her when she was newly diagnosed. I really like the way she writes about this Melody, and I think Josh has GOT to read it."

So I stopped at every bookstore I came across and a few I went out of my way to go to, that day, but the book had flown off all the shelves. (My sister said that when she went to work a few days later, the nine copies that were on the display table when she bought hers were gone.) It's interesting that a book about Bipolar would fly off the shelves, but that seems to be what happened in all the bookstores around me.

Anyway, I ordered three copies of the book and went home and downloaded it onto my Kindle. It took me about two hours to read it that day, and my sister was right, Josh NEEDED to read this book.

It's written by Hilary Smith and it is a gem of a book. First of all, it covers EVERYTHING about this disorder, and it's important to note that it covers things a young adult would be interested in knowing about, in addition to the more practical things. Basically she says, -Yes, it totally sucks that you have this horrible disorder that has no cure, and you're going to have to manage it the rest of your life, but you get to choose how you let if effect your life. You can fight against it, or you an learn to manage it. You can let it destroy your life, or you can have a great life in spite of it.-

I think if I were Josh's age, this book would be indispensable, but I also think that anyone who is parenting a Bipolar child should read this book. It helps you understand their mindset, the REAL things that are going through their minds at a time like this.

The book is funny and hip, written in a vernacular that would appeal to this age group. A few of the reviews of the book on Amazon mentioned that the book had some curse words, and yes there are a few, even the 'biggies' appear here and there. I cuss like a sailor, so that doesn't bother me, but I could see that it might offend others. This book is valuable enough in its content to be worth getting over that little thing though, if you're inclined to be offended by cussing.

And Hilary doesn't seem to be afraid to mention the word 'crazy', a word many people whose lives are affected by Bipolar tend to tip toe around. The fact of the matter is that Mania? With delusions? Ummmm, call it what you want, but it sure looked crazy to me, and I found it refreshing that she writes about it in the way she does. And because she's Bipolar, she can get away with it.

But mostly, I felt this book would be so empowering to someone in Josh's shoes.

I picked up my three copies the other day and gave one to Josh, then last night I took the other two to the DBSA Support Group Meeting to leave in their Lending Library. Last week during announcements, I mentioned this book and let everyone know that I had ordered two copies for the group.

There are several young people who attend our meetings and I hope that they take the time to read this book because I think it has such a powerful message. The group leader told me that she had downloaded it on her Kindle after I mentioned it last week and that she was looking forward to reading it and having her daughter read it.

I really wanted Josh to read it, but he had been so resistant to even discussing any of this that I wasn't sure how to GET him to read it. I have a long time online friend who has been very supportive since Josh's diagnosis. He suggested that I pay Josh to read it, so that's what I did. At this point Josh has read about half the book. When I gave it to him, he was still deeply in denial, but agreed to read it, but he was also in a slow thinking, foggy place and he's found it hard to process anything; reading being difficult for him.

I know he's gotten a lot out of the book though, because once he started reading it last week, he began asking questions about things he's said in the past that were delusional, etc. His speech became peppered with some of the things Hilary says in the book, and for the FIRST time, he began his sentences with things like, "Since I'm Bipolar" or "Now that I have Bipolar".

That is HUGE, and I really think that even though he hasn't finished the book yet (and not gotten paid!), he's already gotten a lot out of it. I have a feeling that this is a book he will turn to often for years (hopefully when he's considering doing something boneheaded, like going off meds or dropping acid).

One of the things he asked me last week was whether or not he is going to have to change his career plans. He has struggled trying to decide what course of study to follow in college and over the last month or two, he seems to have settled into Psychology.

"Mom, now that I have Bipolar, am I even going to be able to get licensed as a therapist?"

"Gosh honey, I don't know. Let's see if we can find some information about that on the internet."

None of our searches turned up any information, (I SO suck at Google searches!) so I said, "I know! We'll email Peter (Josh's therapist) and ask him."

Peter responded immediately, "Josh can be almost anything he wants to be in the Mental Health field."

So this book has clearly already had an impact on Josh and he hasn't even finished it yet. I have a feeling that I've left a couple of real treasures in the DBSA Lending Library. Treasures that will hopefully have a positive impact on many lives for years to come.

And that my friends makes me feel a gazillion times better, because sometimes, when life hands you something really shitty to deal with, the best thing you can do for yourself, is to reach outside your pain and suffering and offer a hand to someone else.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Realities of Hospitalization

When Josh became manic, I didn't even know he was manic. I didn't know what manic meant. If I'm being honest I would tell you that I came home and found Josh acting nutso.


Anyway, long story short, off to the Psych Hospital we went, with me encouraging him the entire way that this was the right thing to do.

And he'll probably hold that against me the rest of my life.

It was not a good experience for him, but I've come to realize that Mental Institutions aren't a good experience for anyone.

It seems the goal is to bring em' down or lift em' up, begin a medication and get them out of there in a perfectly timed maneuver that has them walking OUT the door at precisely the moment their insurance stops paying.

Unfortunately, fiscal concerns determine the level of care received, and the hospitals aren't driving the bus, the insurers are.

That's a fact.

A sad fact.

In addition to that, there is very little competition to force better care. We live in a fairly large metropolitan area and I can only think of maybe four Psychiatric Hospitals in a 50 mile radius.

Mental Institutions are pushed up against a wall to make a profit, so things like, oh...communicating with caretakers, falls by the wayside, as does educating caretakers.

Seriously, Josh came home with a prescription and a piece of paper that explained side effects to watch out for and a notation that he had an appointment the next day with some dude. I had no idea what the dude's purpose was, just that Josh was to see him.

I also didn't know what to expect in the coming days. I wasn't prepared for his rages, or disordered thinking. I didn't know what my JOB was.

A simple pamphlet could have alleviated some of the missteps I made over the first days and weeks. A one page sheet of paper could have imparted much needed information.

Because in the end, Josh's best interests were not served by the lack of communication and education I received from the hospital...which was zip.

Another aspect of Hospitalization where mental illness is concerned is that the person in charge of making decisions and asking the right questions (the patient) is temporarily incapacitated mentally! Add to that the fact that historical data about past episodes and behaviors are being collected from someone who thinks he's a messiah put here to spread the truth, and it's pretty evident that THE DOCTORS SHOULD BE TALKING TO SOMEONE WHO ISN'T SUFFERING A MENTAL BREAKDOWN!

Even though Josh had signed a release so the doctors could talk to me, even though I left messages asking the doctors to call me, they didn't.

Because time is money.

So basically, they can prescribe whatever they want cause they know the patient isn't capable of any input into the decision.

Josh NEVER wants to go to the hospital again, and I don't want him to EVER have to go to the hospital again, but when you're in a state of mania, your options become limited.

It's just possible that if hospitals were able to provide the necessary level of care, communication and education that this Disorder requires, then repeated hospitalizations may not be needed, thus saving insurance companies money in the long run.

If a patient could stay in the hospital long enough to become stable, go on a medication that a loved one helped choose after discussing side effects, lifestyles and past behaviors, and then went home with a caregiver who knew what the hell was going on, the cycle of non-compliance could be shortened.

I'm just sayin'

Knowledge is Power

When Josh landed in the hospital and the man who had evaluated him opened his mouth and said, "Your son is in a mild manic state and from his history, it's clear that he has Bipolar Disorder," I was too exhausted and frightened to fully get the gravity of the diagnosis.

Oh, I knew it was bad.

I remember standing and talking with a teacher on Field Day when Jordan was in Elementary School. For some reason, this woman shared with me the story of her son, who was what was then called Manic-Depressive. Unfortunately, it was a fairly typical story of a young man who struggled against the Disorder and lost his battle with it at the age of 24 by killing himself.

I can remember so clearly having the sensation of this woman's pain pouring over me in waves.

So, I knew it was bad.

But I really knew nothing at all.

I now know more than I ever wanted to know about this Disorder, and I'm pretty sure I'll never stop learning.

The internet is a both a blessing and a curse when researching something of this nature. There is a wealth of useful information to be had and what you read there can scare the holy crap out of you.

I visited message boards and forums and the stories I read kept me awake at night, it seemed like everyone was so badly affected by Bipolar. What I quickly realized though is that the people who are posting on message boards fall into one of maybe three categories.

1. People like myself who are new to the Disorder and are seeking help.

2. People who are struggling with the disorder and are seeking help.

3. People who have the disorder and have no intention of addressing it properly, but want to whine.

The fact of the matter is, that for the most part, people who are struggling post on message boards. People who have control over the disorder and are living perfectly normal lives, thankyouverymuch, are out living their perfectly normal lives and not posting messages on boards and forums.

So keep that in mind when you are searching for information. Don't be discouraged by the dearth of happily ever after you read there.

While searching for information about various medications, there are horror stories aplenty too. Because these drugs affect everyone so differently, it can be disheartening to read about other's experiences with side effects and withdrawal symptoms. It is beyond alarming what some people have been through on the journey for the right combination of medications.

It didn't take me long to decide that I needed a book. A good book. A simple, but thorough book, and so I headed to Borders.

I came home with a book that I felt was appropriate to the situation, "Bipolar For Dummies", because I definitely qualified as a Dummy on the subject.

As a starter book, I would highly recommend this one. It covers all aspects of the Disorder and has a section for Caretakers. It is very technical in explaining the Disorder and I completely understood what "happens" in the Bipolar Brain. Granted, I couldn't explain it to anyone else if my life depended on it, but I understood it as I read it.

The book was copyrighted several years ago, so the information may not be the most up-to-date, but I still think it provides a good jumping off point in the quest for Knowledge.

Next I contacted the local chapter of The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance: DBSA and I began attending Support Group meetings.

This was a difficult step for me to take, and I hate to admit it, but it took me several weeks to make that call. And another week to actually attend a meeting. It seemed like stepping across that threshold was me acknowledging the reality of Josh's illness.

Yes, even parents have to work through denial.

If you're faced with a diagnosis of Bipolar, get over your denial quicker than I did, because the help and support you will find at DBSA will be invaluable to you. I actually look forward to our Monday night meetings.

Once I'd armed myself with knowledge and support, I realized that I didn't have a clue how to actually deal with my son on a day to day basis.

All of a sudden this son of mine was completely unfamiliar to me. He was unstable when he came home from the hospital, and while the medications had brought him down from his high, his disordered and occasional delusional thought processes were something totally new to me. I had no idea how to communicate with him.

At a time when I REALLY needed to be able to communicate with him effectively.

Josh displayed HORRIBLE rages when he came home, all directed at me. Anything was liable to set him off. One day he was sitting in my office talking to me and a bird flew by my office window. In a natural response to peripheral movement, I shifted my eyes to the window. Josh jumped up, pounded his fist in the middle of my desk hard enough to make things on it jump, and screamed at me, "Pay attention when I talk to you!" Clearly I'd done nothing 'wrong', but in his mind I was Satan incarnate sent up from the bowels of hell with the express purpose of infuriating him. His rages could have been induced by the medication, irritability IS one of the lovely attibutes of Bipolar Disorder, but some medications ramp it up a notch, to one notch just below homicidal.

So I learned. Slowly. Over WEEKS.

The problem was that everyday, a different version of Josh climbed out of bed. What worked yesterday in that mood, inflamed him today in this mood.

I'll save anyone out there who is dealing with a newly diagnosed Bipolar person some time and tell you a little secret. No matter what, stay calm and agree with everything they say.

OK, so I hate to admit this too, but early on I would make matters worse by arguing with Josh and occasionally I got downright mad at him.

Who wouldn't? Seriously?!

It takes time to realize that this person in front of you HAS NO CONCEPT OF WHAT THEY'RE DOING.

Oh, you know it on an intellectual level, but it takes real effort to remember that in the heat of a very violent moment.

The truth is that stress is one of the worst things for a Bipolar person. Stress builds and builds and builds inside them, and can send them directly into a manic state; do not pass go, do not collect your Seroquel.

So for days, maybe even weeks *shudders* I made matters worse for Josh, and myself, but I learned. Eventually I learned.

I learned to agree with anything he said, "Yes, I'm the most horrible parent in the world, I don't know how you've lived with me all these years, and yes, I need therapy and probably a parenting class or two."

But the biggest thing I learned was to let go and let God.

And God seems to be doing a pretty good job of handling this, because yesterday? JOSH climbed out of bed. My Josh. The one I knew before that awful man in the hospital uttered those words, the one I knew before depression settled over him like an early morning fog, the one who used to be happy and surrounded by friends, rushing here and there, living a busy, fulfilling life.

It seems the medication has quickly worked its way out of Josh's system and, where he was slow and foggy, he's sharp and bright. Where he was sad and desolate, he's happy and hopeful. He's not the slightest bit manic and his thought processes seem to be in good working order.

Today while I was out of town, Josh went out to play baseball with two of his OLD friends. You know, the friends HE pushed out of his life way back there when he was depressed and on the way to suicidal. And as I type this, one of those friends is in his room with him, doing what they used to do...play a video game.

The most difficult lesson I've learned though is that tomorrow is a complete unknown with this Disorder, especially at the stage of acceptance that we are in.

We aren't treating the Disorder at all at this point, although Josh is being very careful about his sleep schedule, because for him and many who suffer with Bipolar, sleep deprivation is a one way ticket to Mania City.

Josh could be fine for days or months, or possibly even years before the monster rears it's ugly head again. And Josh could wake up TOMORROW headed towards a manic state.

So I've learned to take all this one day at a time, appreciating the good days and looking for more lessons in the bad ones.

Because in the end? I'm just about all Josh has right now and I don't intend to let him down.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Semantics & Stigma

One of the first things I learned about Bipolar Disorder is that many people who have it can be pretty touchy.

They'll nicely tell you that there is a distinction between HAVING Bipolar and BEING Bipolar. They HAVE Bipolar, they are NOT Bipolar.

They would take exception to the very name of this blog for example, citing that it indicates my son IS Bipolar, where they would rather I refer to my son as HAVING Bipolar.

I get the distinction.

Just like I HAVE Glaucoma, I'm NOT Glaucoma.

While some people who have Bipolar can get almost militant about this distinction, I've made it pretty apparent right up there in the title of my blog, that I'm not gonna spend a lot of energy worrying about the semantics of all this. Hell, I KNOW the difference between there, their and they're, yet I often times, in my stream of conscience writing, grab the wrong one of them from my brain and throw it on the page. AND DON'T CATCH IT WHEN I'M EDITING!

What it all comes down to is there is such a stigma attached to mental illness and people who suffer with mental illness have the distinct pleasure of having to also suffer with the stigma connected with it. They don't want to be defined by their disorder. I don't want my son to be defined by his disorder, but I think there are much better and more powerful ways to reverse the stigma of mental illness than to get all pissy about semantics.

Since my son's diagnosis, I've learned more than I ever wanted to know about mental illness, bipolar for the most part, and I've developed a HUGE amount of respect for the people who suffer with it. I mean NO disrespect by the title of my blog, or how I might phrase a sentence.

What I hope to accomplish by maintaining this blog is to chronicle our journey and hopefully help others who are navigating through the maze of Bipolar. And I hope that in some small ways I can help lift the stigma attached to Bipolar, but I don't believe for a second that the stigma is worsened by simple semantics, there are much bigger issues at play.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

So Here We Are

Today I sat down with Peter, the therapist that Josh had been seeing before being hospitalized. Peter has been very helpful to ME as I've moved through the past few months trying to deal with something I have no knowledge about.


Specifically, I need Peter to help me in guiding Josh toward mature responsibility. Not just responsibility surrounding his disorder, but his long standing life issues; his inability to just basically get his shit together and act like a 20 year old.

I made headway this week during a discussion with Josh about his need to contribute in some way to the running of this household. He does basic chores if asked, on occasion without being asked, but he has a sense of entitlement that needs to change.

On the one hand Josh insists on being treated like an adult, because hey! He's 20 years old! But often his behavior is more akin to a 12 year old. I've been encouraging him to get a second job since he sat out a semester of college due to his depression. Well, it's about time for college to start again and he still has one job that offers him less than 20 hours a week. There's a whole lot of time in there that he needs to fill.

After much discussion we agreed that he would clean the house each Friday in lieu of beginning to pay me a nominal amount of 'rent'. His brain is so fuzzy right now though that he asked me to text him each Friday morning to remind him to clean the house.

Peter and I agree that baby steps are in order. The one thing that someone dealing with Bipolar needs to avoid is stress. Stress builds and builds and sends someone with Bipolar into a manic episode.

So tread lightly.

Peter and I talked about the discussions that Josh and I have been having where I feel he is leaning more towards acceptance. Peter feels that I am handling those discussions very well, acknowledging how difficult of a diagnosis it is to accept, and stressing the importance of management as the key.

Peter feels that Josh's questions regarding past delusional episodes, and his recognition that he was likely a bit delusional when talking with his friend one night, are all great indicators that he's really beginning to 'see' the truth.

Josh has been extremely flaky today. We went out to dinner and when we returned he told me he was going to smoke pot.

My stand on pot? Well, I'm not gonna sit here and lie and say I've never smoked pot, or lie and say that when I did smoke it I didn't inhale. Personally, I wish they'd legalize the stuff because then the product that our kids would be smoking would be controlled and safer, there would be tax revenues, and if you think for one second that you can control it's use by keeping it illegal, you're nuts.

Do I want Josh smokin' pot? I honestly can't say because I've read such differing views on the subject of pot and bipolar. I think that's a heavy subject for its own post in the near future.

I can tell you this much. The problem with pot is probably twofold. It affects everyone differently and each medication differently and the quality of pot and what it might be laced with is a concern.

And I'll also tell you this. After Josh smoked tonight, he joined me out on the deck and he became increasingly 'sad'. He said he feels like he's a shitty person, that *I* think he's a shitty person. And while his anxiety level was a little elevated all day, he became more and more anxious as the evening wore on. But the interesting thing is that HE noticed this himself.

His anxiety took MANY forms tonight. He's worried about his thyroid, had me pull up a picture of it on the internet. Then he was concerned that the benadryl he was taking to help him sleep was SO little it would get stuck in his throat because his throat hurts and he thinks his thyroid may be enlarged. And he's almost sure he's all of a sudden allergic to his contact solution because his eyes look weird to him and in fact, last night he got some contact solution on his finger and it burned.

It is almost midnight and he's having a hell of a time getting to sleep. I taught him how to belly breath, because he's SO anxious. I finally said, "Go lay down, put on some soft music and belly breath...just concentrate on your breath."

Sheesh, he's wearin' me out.

The fact of the matter is, and I told Josh this, the last eight weeks have been hell. For both of us, but mostly for his poor brain. It's be inundated with all manner of drugs. Sedatives, sleeping aids, this dose of medicine, NO, this dose, NO this dose. Sheesh, no wonder Josh is a walking buffoon.

"I think you'll feel less foggy in a week or so, once all these chemicals are out of your brain, and then we'll see what happens."

And today, while sitting on the front porch with me, Josh looked at me and said, "Well, what are we gonna do if I get bad again?

"You mean like manic?"


"Well, I don't know. I talked to Patrick today about the Psychiatrists in his office, and that's an option, but he also said they have a Clinical NP who is very good, a little less expensive and he felt she might be a good fit for you, so you should think about if you'd like to see her, or one of their Psychiatrists sometime soon, so they know you, you are under their care, and then if you become manic, we have someone who can help us out."

Josh and I both are having fasting blood work done next Wednesday, ahead of our Physicals which are scheduled for Monday. I will go in with Josh at the beginning of his appointment and discuss our concerns with the doctor. I told Josh that I want him to listen as I talk to the doctor so he can learn to communicate effectively with the professionals in charge of his care.

"It's going to be very important that YOU learn how to ask questions and even challenge the doctors. If they suggest something you don't understand, ask them to explain. If they propose something that you're not comfortable with, ask them what alternatives are available. YOU really are in charge of ALL the decisions about this, but you have to be able to be an advocate for yourself."

And I Just Keep Learning........

Originally posted on my private blog on June 16, 2010

Yesterday I went with Josh to his Nurses Appointment at the Mental Health Center. The nurse took Josh back and wouldn't let me go back with him. But when he came out, she asked to speak to me.

She said that Josh is unwilling to continue therapy there, has been resistant to talking to ANY of them and because of that he is considered to be no longer under their care, therefore she can't provide a prescription for him.

"That's fine," I said, "that's his decision, but he's chosen to stop his medication and I was hoping that you could at least prescribe enough medicine for him to carefully step off the meds."

"Well, I'm willing to give you a one month prescription, but really, he doesn't need to step off of this. He's on a fairly low dosage, so if he discontinues it, there will be no withdrawal symptoms."

Then she preceded to tell me that Josh needs addiction counseling. "He's going to get nowhere until he stops using pot, and I explained that to him, explained why pot interferes with his disorder. This is a very difficult situation for you, I know that, what are you doing to take care of yourself?"

"Well, I have a lot of support from friends and family and I attend a Bipolar Support Group, I'm doing ok, but yes, it's a very frustrating position to be in."

"Yes it is and I'm glad you're getting support, but you should consider seeing a therapist for yourself to help you with all this. The lines between helping and enabling get very blurry when you're in the middle of something like this."


Josh and I spent the rest of the day and evening together. We talked a lot. And for the first time I felt like I'd made a few small victories. He began asking me more questions about his behavior, specifically what things he'd said in the past that seemed delusional.

"Well, you told me that you and I could get along together better if I'd open my bedroom window. That my office window was open and that we could live peacefully here together if I'd just open my bedroom window too."

"Yeah, but I know what I meant by that."

"What did you mean then? In what context does a statement like that make ANY sense?"

He started to talk, but stopped and stared off into space. Then his face fell and he said, "None huh?"

Then later he said that when his friend Jon was over the night before, Jon told him that he didn't seem like himself, so he was thinking about what he had been talking about at the time, "I think maybe I was a little delusional Mom."

And the look on his face? Well, it was heartbreaking, because he looked so defeated.

"Josh, I know it must be so hard to realize that you've said things like that that make no sense, but to YOU, in a certain frame of mind, at the time, they made PERFECT sense. That's why I wanted you to read that book, "Welcome to the Jungle". She says, "Hey, it's horrible to find out you have this disorder, that you have something that can't be cured and that you have to live with for the rest of your life; that totally sucks," but the book is very empowering Josh cause she shows you that yes, it sucks, but it's manageable, you can live a normal life if you manage it properly with medication and good lifestyle choices, cause the alternative, to do nothing, will destroy your life."

"But how Mom, how can something like this destroy your life?"

"Well, it affects all aspects of your life. Like Jon last night, he knows about your disorder, so you can explain to him that your nonsense talk is related to that, but what if you were talking to a girl you just met at school and said something nutty, chances are good she's not gonna want to continue talking to you. And what if, as part of your job, you had to give a presentation to the Board of Directors, and in the middle of it you finish a sentence by saying, "so it's plain to see that if we dip our tampons in our coffee, it sweetens it." The point is that without treatment, Bipolar can affect every aspect of your life negatively, and it doesn't have to be that way. Millions of people who have Bipolar live perfectly normal lives. Yes, they have to manage it everyday, but there are tons of people walking around with this and you'd never even know they have it because they manage it properly."

I could just tell that he was really thinking about all this in a different way then he has in the past. You can tell he wants to stay in denial, that's a really warm comfy blanket, but he's beginning to at least pull back the covers and consider that there might be something to all this.
And then this morning when I got up I found him still awake in his room. He stopped his meds last night, and as a result he hadn't slept. He had taken a dose of pediatric benadryl, but it hadn't helped. He has been borderline manic the last two days, since he missed a night of sleep. He's not hyper talking, but his thoughts are jumbled, he struggles to stay on track in conversation. So another night of missed sleep and I fear we're off to the races.

I tried to explain to him yesterday that what SHOULD have happened is that he be under the care of a Psychiatrist when he stopped his meds, then the doctor could prescribe a sleep aid. But since he's refused to stay in care, he's in the position of having no one to help him with all this.

We also talked about 'what if', something he wasn't willing to talk about before. I told him that when he stops his meds it's possible he'll be fine, but it's also possible that he'll struggle with sleep and become manic. "You say you don't want to be hospitalized again EVER, but the first thing they do is give you sedatives to bring you down. If you become manic again, WHAT do you want me to do?"


"But honey, you can't just go on like that, in that state! A manic episode can last MONTHS, I barely made it through that one day with you like that! I suppose if you were under the care of a psychiatrist, he might be able to prescribe something that we could have on hand to assist in bringing you down, but you're not under the care of ANYONE. Honey, you kind of put me in a bad position here. You don't want to go to the hospital, but I have no real tools here to help you in a situation like that."

Nothing was really settled yesterday. I still have no idea what I'll do if he becomes manic again, I suppose I'd have to call the police and have him hospitalized against his will, but man, I hate the thought of having to do that.

Since he missed another nights sleep last night, I imagine the next day or two are going to be interesting.

So, I'm learning. I'm learning how to find the right words and the right moments to impact Josh's thinking.

Please keep Josh in your prayers. I'm almost sure the roller coaster is cresting the hill again.

Well, As Birthdays Go, That One Sucked

Originally posted on my private blog on June 14, 2010

Thank you for all your Birthday wishes. It would have been nice to have a bright sunny birthday, but that's not how it played out.

And really, it was just one more shitty day in a long line of pretty shitty days.

I'm struggling where Josh is concerned and I feel like I'm in a box.

I know how to get out. Of course I do! You open these flaps up here and climb out!

Easy right?

Only, I try to open the flaps, and THIS box isn't like any box I've ever encountered before. I push up on the flaps, and nothing happens. I try to punch through the side of the box and it's made out of some super strong material that won't give.

With Josh, I can SEE what needs to happen. And I know that allowing him to sit in his room doing nothing but getting more depressed isn't helpful.

But I talk to him and tell him that he's got to act. Must look for a job! Must participate in getting his life on track!

And I get blank stares.

I tell him, "You know that TV you've watched all week is run on electricity that I pay for. The food you've eaten all week has been provided by me. The hot water you shower with, the air conditioning you soak up? All me. How would you like it if I shut the breaker off to your room, disconnected your plumbing?"

"Go ahead."

Josh went to sleep Saturday night about 1AM (guess that's technically Sunday morning) and when I tried to get him up for my Birthday lunch at 2, he wouldn't get up. He talked to me, told me he was hungry, but after four trips into his room, I gave up.

I finally got him up at almost 6 PM! He had slept, well, you do the math. A LONG time!

When he got up he accused me of not even trying to get him up.

So, he didn't sleep last night at all, which means today I dealt with a young man whose thought processes were completely jumbled. There was no reasoning with him. So finally, I gave up trying to actually talk to him, and just listened to him.

For SIX hours.

And when I told him that I had to get ready to go out, he got angry and said that I didn't care about him. (I was going to a Bipolar Support Group meeting, because honestly? I could give a shit about the kid.)

So basically, not a lot of fun around HERE today.

Where the Blogger Considers Something She Never Thought Possible a/k/a Bipolar makes strange bedfellows

Originally posted on my private blog on June 12, 2010

I'm in the 'calm before the storm' phase of this Josh stuff. Not that everything is OK, but it's at least calm around here. Josh sees the doctor Monday to learn how to step off of his medications. Once that process begins, it's quite likely things will get stormy around here again.
Since we've returned from vacation, Josh has spent a small amount of time with his few friends, but most of his time is spent in his room, watching movies. He's lonely and depressed. I engage him in conversation, take him out to dinner, etc., but our conversations aren't all that interesting or stimulating. He's pleasant, occasionally even cheerful, has helped out around the house doing dishes, mowing grass, taking out garbage, etc., but mostly he's just 'down'.

His Dad came over one day this week and took him out to lunch and they talked on the porch for several hours, which was good for Josh.

Speaking of his Father, something strange happened on our vacation. Josh and I were sitting in a restaurant eating, when suddenly Josh look behind me, over my shoulder with a huge smile on his face and said, "OMG! What are YOU doing here?!"

I turned around and there was a guy standing there, "Hi Melody!"

I had NO IDEA who it was. So I looked back and forth between Josh and this guy, who said, "You don't know who I am, do you?"


Josh said, "That's Dad's Brother, Joey."

I haven't seen Joey in close to twenty years. He's probably fifteen years younger than my ex and I.

Anyway, we exchanged pleasantries, he was just finishing dinner with his wife and son and I asked him to bring them by our table before they left, which he did. They made noise about wanting to see us again during our stay, but I kind of pushed that aside and we said our good-byes.

In my last post I talked about another strange encounter that Josh and I had while driving home from vacation, at a rest stop, and my feelings that that encounter was not just coincidental.

While driving home from vacation, after that encounter at the rest stop, I was thinking about coincidences, about my belief that there really are few true coincidences in life. For instance, we run into an old, old friend in the grocery and chat for a few minutes, say goodbye, and walk away thinking, "Well, that was nice to see Susie again." But perhaps there was a reason that we ran into Susie. Maybe Susie needs us in her life, or it's possible that we need Susie in our life, we just don't know it. I just wonder how many times opportunities that have been put in our path are 'missed', simply because we're not paying attention, not open to the moment.

So I was thinking about all that and it occurred to me that running into Joey, who lives 45 minutes away from us back home....on this island, eating in the exact same restaurant as us, at the exact same time, is a pretty HUGE coincidence. I started wondering if I had 'missed' an opportunity, maybe I was supposed to entertain their offers of seeing us again for SOME reason. Maybe Josh NEEDS Joey in his life right now?!

Skip forward a couple days after we're home from vacation, and Josh is at loose ends, bored, depressed and lonely.

"Maybe you should go see your Dad tomorrow."

"Well, I don't have money to go see Dad."

"You mean gas money? Well honey, I'll give you gas money so you can visit him."

"Well, it's not just that, Dad's not living at his house anymore."

"What?! Where's he living? What happened?"

"He and Dee are getting a divorce, he's moved out. He's living with Joey."

Well, this made me very sad for Jerry. His life was already the shits. He's unemployed and has been off and on for several years now. According to Josh they're on Food Stamps. I know from recent discussions with Jerry that financially things are very bad for him. And now this.

So, over the next day or so I started thinking about Jerry living at Joey's AND us running into Joey on vacation, which is a HUGE coincidence, and I began to wonder if THAT was what was supposed to come out of us running into Joey, the information that Jerry was living with him. But because I wasn't paying attention, ANOTHER opportunity was placed before me to get that information through a discussion with Josh... and what the hell was I supposed to DO with that information. Why was knowing that Jerry was living at Joey's germane to my life in anyway?!

I continued to ponder it all and I began to think about the possibility of Jerry living with us. Josh could use the company while I'm at work, and I could use the support of having someone here to share the burden of all this. The more I thought about it, the more sense it made. Jerry and Josh get along very well, in spite of Josh's feelings about how his Dad has let him down in the past. This extra time together could do wonders for their relationship and Jerry could do some of the things around here that need done, like painting and repairs.

I called Jerry and discussed it with him and we both agreed to give the idea careful consideration.

Now, if two months ago you told me that I would EVER consider having my ex live with me, I would have told you that YOU need to be in a Psych Ward more than Josh did, but never before have I been through anything CLOSE to what the last six weeks have been like and I'm struggling on a daily basis with just holding myself together for Josh. In the end, I'd probably be able to convince myself that Osama Bin Laden could pitch in around here.

As I was carefully considering the whole thing though, it occurred to me that Jordan may take issue with the plan. He has NO USE for his Father, and if his Father was living here, that would limit OUR relationship and I'm not willing to go that far in an attempt to give Josh some much needed company and myself some much needed relief. Not to mention, neither of us know how Josh would feel about having his Father living here.

I think I'll speak to Jerry again because I think a better solution would be for me to 'hire' him to do specific things around here, thereby putting him here with Josh everyday, but not living with us. This would probably seem more 'normal' to Josh, wouldn't likely offend Jordan in any way AND the goals of his presence are met. I could pay Jerry (even though he owes me a small fortune in back child support and medical bills) so that he would have money for gas to travel back and forth everyday.

So we'll see.

As an interesting side note, when I approached Jerry I said, "Josh tells me that you're living with Joey, is that true?"

"Yes, I moved in the day before they left for vacation, but it still seemed so bizarre to me that you guys ran into him there."

"Well, I'm not trying to pry, but I have a reason for asking, a reason related to Josh, what happened, is there any hope for reconciliation?"

"Well, no, I'm pretty sure this is it. She's just decided she wants a divorce, for no real reason in particular, you know she's moved out twice in the last year and half. She's just...well Melody, she just makes really bad decisions."

"Is she drinking again?" (She was a recovering alcoholic AND she tried to commit suicide about the same time Josh did, so obviously she has some issues with depression as well.)

"No, but I'm sure she's headed back in that direction."

"Huh, God Jerry, she sounds Bipolar, that's exactly what so many Bipolar people do...quit their jobs, get divorces, decide to move to Burma, shit like that. They don't make good decisions."

(Another Side note: You know how when you're considering buying a certain car, you begin seeing them EVERYWHERE, where in the past you never noticed them? I fear I'm getting that way about Bipolar. It's like "I see dead people" only now it's like "I see Bipolar people" I'm just sayin')

"Well, funny you should say that because that is exactly what her mother thinks is wrong with her."

(It occurs to me that we have far too many names that begin with 'J' in this blog.)