In reading this article, it hits very close to home. I grew up with a sister who experienced a mental breakdown in 1975. She was in the 11th. grade & I was in the 10th. She was “slow” & had failed a couple of times. The “system” was not perfect. Instead of special education classes, she was judged as being slow, taken advantage of by the guys & yet, she was my best friend. After the nervous breakdown occurred, we experienced violent behavior patterns on & off for years. She was passive aggressive primarily towards my father. My mother was her idol & what mom said was gospel. She would fight anyone over mom & did many times. I remember having to wear a certain hairstyle for quite a while because during a fight, she pulled a patch of my hair out the size of a silver dollar. I was not the fighting kind & hated fighting because I didn’t like the pain of it! Yes I was a chicken, but……there are other ways to resolve conflict other than fighting! She almost killed my dad once because he wanted to cut down a certain tree in the yard & my mom didn’t want to. She attacked him from behind while he was using the power saw & all I thought about was seeing both of them sliced to shreds. You hear how extremely strong people are when they are mentally compromised & I can say from experience, this is the truth. For many years, we lived in fear. When she was controlled medically, things went well. You knew immediately when those medication levels were off.
She was admitted many, many times to the local state psychiatric hospital. She endured shock therapy, drugs, work therapy, etc. It wasn’t until my mother admitted her to a habilitation center did she improve. Therapy was based not only on medication, but behavior & rewarded as such. It was an answer to prayer.
I attempted to let her live with me in 1995 after my mom died. This was a grave mistake. I was a single mom working 3 jobs & the stress of adding another adult with a decreased mentality was a challenge I shouldn’t have embraced. She has slight obsessive compulsive disorder so if 1 scoop of clothes detergent worked, she would use several. Instead of 1 cap of Murphy’s oil soap to mop the hardwood floors, half a bottle worked better. I had a schedule of activities, but it wasn’t structured enough for her. She got off her meds & became violent again. When a situation escalated, I knew to call the cops, but they fused to intervene. When I asked for their names & badge numbers they listened. I calmly explained I had been through this familiar cycle since 1975 & when she caused harm to myself or my son, I would be sure to include them in the law suit against the City Police Department. They accompanied her to the local psychiatric hospital, who had no beds. A very angry, volatile sister came home with me. I made an emergency appointment with a psychiatric doctor I worked with on a regular basis at local hospital. He was a God send. The saddest sight was to see the cops come for her after the appointment & ask me if she needed hand cuffs. In her right mind stage, you wouldn’t find a more loving, giving human. I explained she would be no harm to them & please don’t cuff her. They accompanied her to a psychiatric hospital elsewhere in the state that had a bed. Meds were adjusted & she went back into a group home environment.
I personally know the agony families face who have a challenged loved one. I guided her in public of what to say, what not to say, how to act etc., to prevent judgmental attitudes. Finally I’ll never forget when I finally realized I had to let her be her. If people judged, it was their problem. I love her dearly, want the best for her & seriously know she lives a great life. She now resides in a supervised independent living environment & is doing well. She has taken on the role of being passive to me. She has learned technology, has a cell phone, computer, game systems etc.
She has recently met her son for the first time in 36 years. She got pregnant & married when I was 17. She had a baby boy, who was immediately adopted by my brother. Until recently he never knew his crazy aunt was his mother & his mom/dad were actually his aunt/uncle. I can’t say I agreed with that decision, but my mom & family thought it was best for her then. While she is glad to have met him & reconnect with my brother, she continues to insist I come visit her. Passivity!
When I hear about a child acting out in school, I have to ask what is truly going on? I quickly question the home environment, current diagnosis, lifestyle changes such as divorce, death, etc. We are quick to judge the child has bad behavior, but need to seriously search the root. If the root is just being spoiled, that is another scenario!!
I watched as my parents denied my sisters problem. Had they intervened sooner, I would like to believe things would have been different. This breakdown created a horrible wedge between my parents, division, partiality & dysfunction. Many people said I was the reason she had problems because I was the social butterfly, smart, intelligent, & daddy’s girl. Her diagnosis was slightly mild mental retardation due to anoxia at birth or oxygen deprivation. Bi-polar, manic-depressive, etc. are other terms we’ve heard. Denial delays treatment & resolve.
We can judge what recently happened in Connecticut, as well as, other acts of violence. Several times I caught myself wanting to pray for Adam’s mother out of empathy, but remembered……he killed her.
Pray for the families who have lost loved ones. Please read this article, pray for people in your neighborhood, schools, churches, & friends who bear the burden of a “special” child.
And please, please judge not!