I found this site when I was having a rough day and since its been 5 years since I lost my son and I'm glad there is a place to connect with others who are a bit like me. Reading your stories have been helpful. .
My family has suffered alot of losses with my mom to suicide when I was 17 yr. old, brother in car accident, my 9 yr. old niece to cancer, my 17 yr. old niece in a car accident, and just 3 yrs. ago with my father and sister both dying of cancer 5 weeks apart. It's all so surreal to me. I have to admit though, that losing my son hurts far worse than any of the other ones. It just seems so preventable...or maybe not...I'm still just not sure.
Growing up in a difficult home, (my mom was diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic but now I'm told she was probably Bi-Polar like my son) and going through her times of hospitalizations and upsetting behaviors, and losing her eventually to suicide as a teenager, my life has been one of survival. I learned early in life how to "stuff" what I couldn't cope. Learning this "skill" seemed to be essential to survival as a child, plus I had the added burden of caring for my two youngest brothers from the time I was 9 yrs. old when my mom spent most of her time either hospitalized or incapable of doing what needed to be done at home. What I learned that has proved valuable to me is to take the grief in doses. I can sort through some painful memories a little at a time. It's sort of like allowing yourself a little bit of indulgence at a time, rather than all of it at once. All or nothing is never a good practice in life - balance is key.
Now that my youngest is going onto her life of college and career and I'm finding myself with more time on my hands which tends to bring up alot of memories. Being physically disabled from a car accident has added dramatically to this and I'm learning to focus on positive thoughts such as thankfulness, serving where I am able, loving whenever possible, and just choosing life.
My son Taylor was always the happy, energetic, creative child that was so boisterous when he was around people. He loved being the center of attention. Most of his teachers would tell me that he was highly intelligent, but gets bored quickly after finishing his work early and begins to be disruptive. He was never the type to be hurtful to anyone and his teachers really enjoyed his input in class. But there were a few who did not appreciate his enthusiasm. He kept the class lively with his unique participation. Occasionally as a child he would do something so strange that it kinda would scare the other kids, usually something risky. He was always different from most kids, either in his dress which was highly imaginative or in his outspoken comments and humor. We enjoyed a lot of humor. Taylor loved to laugh, many times at himself.
When he edged toward the end of jr. high, something in him kind of changed. He became disappointed towards the authority figures in his life, some for good reason, as he became aware that they didn't always know what was best and right. Taylor had a very high sense of justice and could easily sympathize with the underdog in a situation that just didn't seem fair. He was just 15 when one of the friends from the private school he had attended through jr. high, took his own life. Taylor never showed much emotion over this event, but I know he was deeply moved. He began getting into trouble with the law over shoplifting items of clothing approx. 6 months later. Over time, his sense of right and wrong and logic seemed to get skewed. I don't even think he was all that sorry for doing what he did, as he thought that the stores charged too much for the clothing in the first place. He was assigned to community service, which he had a very hard time fulfilling. He put it off to the last hr. getting it all done.
Since he entered a public high school, he began really trying to be "a part" of the crowd by joining in on activities such as drinking and smoking and staying out late. He took the car a few times prior to him even having driver's training, so by the time that came around, the instructors knew they had an experienced driver on their hands!
He also began a fascination with graveyards. This was during the time that "Gothic" style of clothing and make up was just coming out and he would sometimes dress in that attire. His style was very ecclectic and was different every day. Most often, he preferred the classic look and would thrive on finding just the right piece of quality clothing. This type of clothing was high dollar, but he would make the sacrifice, or expect us to, or he'd just steal it. He liked to fashion his own clothing and others when they'd let him. His dream was to become a fashion designer.
He had gotten in trouble for shoplifting a couple of times and was not dealing well with the punishment attached. By this time, after going to counseling for awhile, he was diagnosed BiPolar I, rapid cycling though we resisted medication and opted for the behavioral counseling offered instead.
The first psychiatry visit we had, as referred by a counselor, was when he was treated for severe depression right in the office. The dr. saw that Taylor had been cutting himself and was bulemic and insisted on the new medication. It was 7 days later, that Taylor had his first serious suicide attempt, taking an over the counter sleeping aid. He was in ICU overnight and woke up saying he was not supposed to be here (alive) and that he just wanted to go home (heaven). Since he could not say that he was no longer suicidal, he was sent away to a children's psychiatric ward 7 hrs. away from home. Though he returned home in good spirits, being on new medication and missing alot of school, caused him so much conflict that he decided Independent Studies would better suit him. He was always an A student and his grades were so important to him. The medication made him very lethargic and he gained weight. What once was an athlete (running and tennis) turned into a blob. It was like getting to know a whole new person.
More and more, he felt displaced in life. He talked about being born into the wrong family, in the wrong century, in the wrong part of the country, etc. It made me feel really bad when he said he didn't feel part of our family. I began feeling like he didn't feel like he belonged anywhere as the tension grew when he was around. You could feel his energy whether happy or sad, his energy in the house was something you just felt.
As far as being manic, we were told that those were the times he actually shoplifted. He also exhibited a complete cycle while he was hospitalized for that week. The other times he could have been manic is when he would drive his car at very high speeds and ignore all traffic rules, or stay up all night painting a room in the house one of the brightest colors known to man, or going around the neighborhood trimming their trees, or creating some sort of outfit. There was one time, I looked to see if his feet were on the ground because it literally seemed as though he were flying. Once when I found wine under his bed, he said he needed it some nights when he couldn't sleep just to relax him. He also said coffee had the opposite effect on him as most people and it would calm him down.
I feel guilty because I became disappointed in him at times when he'd act out in his mania and do things that caused so much trouble: I just didn't get it! The consequences were causing some real difficulties with him getting on with his dream to move to New York City and go to fashion college. He felt we weren't in support of this dream, but more than that, we became more and more fearful that he would be able to take care of himself. Not only did he have tickets to pay and community service hours to make up before he left, but what about his drinking habits and outrageous behaviors? It was perplexing and the doctors were not helping our family in any way to deal with all of these things. They just kept telling us he was doing fine, the medications were fine (though we protested against one in particular for months) and we knew he was not doing well.
The pain he struggled with was immense and I believe he was trying to protect us from more pain by ending his life. He talked about being a visionary and sacrificing for his family...all those things just keep playing in my head. He also said things that were hurtful though he may not have realized about not being loved, belonging, and that I did not treat him like a mother, but a "mommy". I wanted to let him grow up and be independent but it was really a scary outlook by the way things were looking!
We were watching Taylor very closely for about a week before he left us. I stayed up 3 nights in a row basically, checking on him now and then. We notified his psychiatrist and counselor that we suspected he was suicidal as we had found a note written 3 wks. prior in his journal. They just said to trust them and that Taylor was "in a good place". The night he died, he was very upset in the evening and I was exhausted. There were a few outstanding issues to deal with like yet another traffic accident which he claimed he didn't cause, some traffic tickets, upcoming appearance before the judge, and a lost job. I didn't talk to him like my husband advised me to and my husband didn't talk to him, like I advised him to. Both of us were worried, yet worn out, confused, and just didn't know what to say or do with Taylor....he was so argumentative and in obvious turmoil. We gave him some money so he could go out to eat dinner and go to Starbuck's with a friend. I went to bed before he got home. Seriously, with my disability and staying up those 3 nights before, I decided I was better off not to talk with him as I was slightly angry with him for just being "him". Sounds terrible now...but I was tired and I decided that I would pray to God and ask Him to take care of my son completely and totally. I gave up that night, and so did Taylor. That's when he decided he could go be with God, and he knew how to get there I guess. He wrote in his journal about "going home" to be with God where he belonged.
His younger brother and sister seem to be doing very well considering the loss. Their unshakable faith in God has led them to believe that God's plan included Taylor going home early to be with Him in Heaven and that our time will come when we will all be together and all is well. Sure, they miss him and we all have our days when we cry and share...my daughter more than my son. Guess guys are that way....but we all miss Taylor dearly. Our family is not complete without him here, yet he seems to be here still in our hearts and always will be.
I just don't know why God took him home, when I prayed. I really wanted to be able to take care of my son and help him live his life here and realize his dreams. Don't understand and never will. But, I trust God knows and I'm gonna know too someday.
Sorry this is so long but it's been pretty healing for me.