Navigating life with a teenager….who happens to have bipolar disorder

Archive for June, 2014

Controlling Opinions

I know I don’t usually write about highly political topics and usually stick to my life and personal experiences……however, this post will be about my personal experiences in regard to a highly political topic.

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About 2 years ago I had a conversation with a friend of the family in regard to having guns in the home.  I made the statement that I would never have a gun in my house and was instantly lectured on the rights of all Americans, the constitution and my narrow-minded views.   Not once during the conversation did I say it wasn’t a person’s right to have a gun in their home, not once did I mention my views on their interpretation of American history…..and not once was I asked why I felt the way I did about guns.

I have seen a lot posted on the subject of gun control on Facebook by friends all over the country, yet I stay away from commenting for fear of the same reaction I got 2 years ago.  Opinion is our own truth and your truth isn’t always the same as everyone else’s……but why can’t I voice my own opinions….my own truths without being condemned as un-American? This is the beauty of blogging….this whole page is my truth and my opinion, based on my life experiences.  I didn’t feel I could speak up to defend my choices 2 years ago, but I am going to explain them now.

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Like many people, while growing up, things happened around me that affected my point of view.    A couple of things caused me to fear guns from a young age.  When I was 8, my uncle committed suicide by shooting himself.  I was not aware that he was manic-depressive at the time…….being 8, all I knew was that he was dead because of a gun.  A few years later, my dad’s cousin (whom I never met) was shot by her boyfriend during an argument.  Both of these incidents happened with guns within their homes, not by some stranger invading their space.  These incidents put a fear of weapons in my heart.  By the time I got to high school I found myself bothered by the fact that my Eagle Scout boyfriend was out having paint ball wars.  He would come back with massive welts on him and I thought “even a gun that is meant for gaming is harmful”. My dad even kept 2 antique rifles on the wall.  They weren’t loaded, he didn’t even have ammo for all I know, but I hated them being on the wall.  I never told him…..they are still there.

As I got older, and I became a mom, this fear stuck with me.  I know that all boys play cops and robbers…..cowboys and Indians…etc., but I had a strict ‘no gun’ rule.  My luck was that CJ loved medieval culture and preferred plastic swords anyway.  Once he got older, any toy guns allowed in the house had to look ridiculous…..bright colored Super Soaker water guns, silly looking Nerf guns.  I only broke down once and bought him an antique looking cap gun at a  Civil War re-enactment to use with his costume one Halloween, but bought no caps.  I have always been adamant about not playing video ‘war’ games.  I still will not allow him to own those games.  I am aware that he plays at friend’s houses, but by not having it in our house, he can’t be lost in that world for hours on end.  A lot of people think I am being over-protective because of these rules….I just never wanted him to confuse fantasy with reality.  I never wanted him to become desensitized to the value of life.

I am glad I kept these rules over the years.  It has been less than 2 years since CJ received his bipolar diagnosis, but I knew years before that.  With mental illness comes impulsiveness …..sometimes explosive impulsiveness.  When he is in the midst of a manic rage, he doesn’t know what he is doing.  Last month, my son went through a rough spell.  I knew that things were getting bad and he needed a medication adjustment.  Just days before his appointment, he had a manic episode that  involved an incident where he threatened to harm my husband and then ran to the kitchen for a knife.  My son has threatened to harm himself before, this was the first time he earnestly threatened one of us. By the time he had the knife, they were in 2 different rooms, but I had to make the decision to call the police.  This caused a series of events that put a lot of stress on us as a family. Due to the nature of the incident, the charges were out of our hands.  Finally, last week, the DA called us to tell us that the charges were dropped.   I still plan on carrying out a series of consequences, such as community service, but this is a relief to us all. What if things had been worse?  What if we had a gun in the house?

My decision to not keep a gun in my home is to keep my family safe, to keep my son safe.   The truth is, regardless of what he might do to us in a rage, I am even more worried about what he might do to himself. On average 25% of people with early on-set bipolar disorder will commit suicide, males 4x more than females.  Another truth is; more people shoot themselves with guns than kill other people.  There was a study done following the Sandy Hook shooting that showed in 2010 approximately 30,000 people in the U.S. died due to gunshot wounds……of that  more than 66% were suicides.

So, my choice to not have a gun in my home has nothing to do with debating anyone else’s political beliefs.  It is one of the ways I keep my family safe.  I think my fears when I was younger were a tool that I was given in order to raise this challenged boy in a safe environment.

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So the moral of this story is; if someone has an opinion that is different from your own, maybe you should take the time to listen why, instead of taking the offensive.  This whole world needs to learn how to communicate better, to understand each other’s differences and choices.  Allowing someone to voice their opinion doesn’t mean that you have to give up your own, it just means that you are open-minded enough to accept that theirs is different……and that’s ok.

Think Happy Thoughts

Just a quick request to all of you for some happy thoughts sent north.  We have begun our ‘driving tour’ of the NorthEast.  We planned about 2 1/2 weeks to visit multiple family members in 4 different states.  As most parents of kids with special needs know, travel is always a challenge.  We have only had one minor meltdown so far…..and it was brief….but we are only a few days in.  Although I had a long weekend, starting today I will be telecommuting while on the road.  This can always prove to be a challenge while travelling with the kiddo.  Any thoughts and prayers sent our way would be much appreciated. I will keep my fingers crossed that the next couple of weeks go well.