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Happy Birthday to my Son

My son, Chris, turns thirty today.  I can’t believe I have a son that old!  I don’t know how it happens, but he gets older and I don’t!

This is a long post, but my heart is very heavy today and I am struggling.  I wanted to not embarrass him with this story, but honor him.

He has struggled so much in his life.  When he was about five, I noticed he developed what seemed to be strange habits.  He would roll his eyes around rapidly a lot.  He breathed funny.  He was pretty high strung.  All of his doctor appointments checked out fine, though, so I didn’t worry too much.  It all became much worse after the accident.  We lost my husband and oldest son in an auto accident, and it really devastated him.  It did us all, of course, but it seemed to hit Chris the hardest.  He lost so much weight, he looked like a stick kid.  He had circles under his eyes.  He became so angry and would go on rampages and beat his fists on me.  It was terrible!

He did eventually calm down but his strange habits got worse.  Still, the doctor said he was fine, just going through mourning.  He was doing well in school.  He is a bright person and school was very easy for him.  That is, until 6th grade.  I noticed he was struggling more and complained of headaches.  He was having a lot of trouble reading.  He said it made him sick.  The teacher suggested putting a yellow plastic see-through cover over the pages so the pages were not so bright.  She said it helped some kids.  We tried that, but he hated reading any type of book.

Then, when 7th grade started, he went down hill fast.  He hated school and would silently cry as I took him in the morning.  He was always a tough kid and rarely cried, so it broke my heart.  I felt like the meanest person on earth making him go, but what could I do?  He wouldn’t talk to me about what was going on.  By the end of the first quarter, he was failing a lot of his classes.  I was called into a meeting and it did not go well.  Chris became extremely depressed and again lost a ton of weight.  His ribs stood out and he developed bruising up and down his spine.  I took him to the doctor and they could find nothing wrong, except to say he needed to put on weight.  I took him to another doctor for a second opinion, and he talked to Chris for a very long time.  It turned out that he told this doctor that he wanted to die.  He was suicidal.  He had no idea what was wrong with him, but everything was hard.  The doctor’s suggestion was to remove him from school for a while and teach him at home to allow him to recover.  So, I did.

It is incredibly hard to home school when you have to work full-time!  I did my best and it helped that he has always been a bright person.  He did better for a while, but then things got bad again.  He would have periods of time that his heart would race and he felt like he was going to pass out.  His strange habits got so bad that he was miserable.  Nobody could tell us what was wrong.  I took him to doctors, and they checked everything, including his heart.  They did discover he has a murmur, but that did not explain a lot of other symptoms.

As he got older, he started using finger nail clippers and other sharp objects to tear off the skin around his finger nails.  He would hide is hands and keep his fingers curled into fists so I couldn’t see them.  When I discovered what was going on, I was so lost as to what to do!  Then, he developed a huge fear of being in a car.  He would not ride in a car for over a year.  If he tried, he would try to bail out of the car as we were driving!  At one point, I had to pull over and let him out so he could calm down.  He collapsed saying his heart was beating too fast.  I finally got him to the emergency room and they said he had a panic attack.  Even though he was 19 at the time, a social worker gave me a good questioning, and was very concerned there was abuse in the family.  I wanted to punch her.

They were able to recommend a different doctor, so we made the appointment.  She finally put a name to the problem.  Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  For those who think this is not a real disease, I will slap you silly.  It can destroy you!  I have had people say such things as…”He can stop it if he wants to.  It’s his choice to act this way” or even do an eye roll and say, “Everyone has an excuse for not working.”  Oh, and the ever popular, “He just needs to get over it.”

He does do better because he is on medication.  He could use therapy, but at about $100/hour that is not possible.  We tried to get financial help so he can get therapy, but was told OCD is not a disability.  I beg to differ.  Only people who have never experienced it could say that.  We just wanted help to get him therapy so he can work!

So, we got busy doing our own research on how to handle this.  He has worked hard over the last nine years to be able to function again.  He still has a lot of issues, and always will, but he is so much better.  Now that he feels he can do a job on his own, he can’t find one.  Over the last year, he has applied for many jobs and hasn’t even been called in for an interview.  He does well with kids and they adore him.  The problem is most people won’t even let him try because he’s a man.  It really makes me mad.

Chris is a huge-hearted and kind man.  He is smart and a hard worker.  He tries to protect me and helps me with everything.  He handles most of the yard work and is always quick to come to my aid if I need anything.  So, Chris, I hope you have a wonderful birthday!  I love and respect you so much!

Your mom

Kathy (aka Granny K)

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9 thoughts on “Happy Birthday to my Son

  1. Your son sounds amazing. So sorry that people can be so tremendously ignorant. OCD is very real and can be terribly debilitating. You’re a phenomenal mother!

  2. Happy Birthday to Chris, what a wonderful man he is and God Bless you and him. I have a son who is now 44 who had bad learning disabilities who I also am so proud of too. Having a mom in your corner makes all the difference to them succeeding. Thank you for sharing.

  3. We’ve known your family for years and I can honestly say that you are some of the most compassionate, hard-working people I’ve ever met. You are all so dear to my heart. Kathy, you are always so cheerful, funny and devoted with such determination & persistence no matter how bleak circumstances appear or how difficult the challenge. I know that you “put on a happy face” even when you are aching inside. You truly amaze me! And we love Christopher dearly. He understands all the computer technical information and he’s a diligent worker and yet he’s so gentle and compassionate with children. A rare gift indeed. I hope you all know what a special place you have in our hearts. We love you dearly.

  4. Wow, thank you for sharing this story. My heard broke as I read it! I can’t believe there are no resources to help Chris; what a terrible reflection on our country. I have noticed a shift in attitudes, though. I think many people are becoming more compassionate and concerned about mental health issues, despite the “get over it” crowd.

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