Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Why Health Matters in Relationships - Part 2

In the first installment from a couple of years ago, I wrote about why health matters in relationships, and a small part of what I wrote was this:
The kids. What genetic problems have our kids inherited, including mental illness? What did her conditions and the medications do during her pregnancies? Our kids are not lacking in their appearances and they are highly intelligent, but I'm bracing for mental illness to be diagnosed and when their behavior is problematic I wonder if they've been impacted by medication. My wife could no longer physically control the kids from an early age so discipline became a problem. Also, the kids literally watched their mother lose touch with reality and behave in ways that they'll probably be talking about in therapy for the rest of their lives.
Since then, the fit has really hit the shan, bigly.

My son, who isn't even into two digits in age yet, has really had a lot of trouble. There are times he's fine, he plays well with others, and he's always been at the top academically. But he frequently has troublesome behaviors. For the longest time, I resisted medicating him because I see that so many boys are medicated for, well, being boys or because of crappy parenting. But with him, it wasn't just being a boy (although he's had some seriously crappy parenting). We've been trying meds, and he's been diagnosed with three, possibly four mental disorders, and no, not ADD/ADHD, Autism, or Bipolar. At least three of the four my wife has dealt with since she was young, as I found out all too late. We confirmed he's extremely intelligent, but intelligence ain't going to get you far in life if you're dead, in prison, or too mentally unhealthy to function.

I know some stuff doesn't show up until later, so I'm bracing for more. Will my daughter turn out to have mental illnesses as well?

It's not just my wife who is mentally ill. My MIL definitely has a mental illness. Not sure about FIL. I wouldn't be surprised if each of my wife's siblings have mental illnesses; some of them definitely behave like it. My sister-in-law has a young kid who's had a psychiatrist from the earliest of ages.

This is not only having a significantly negative impact on my son's life, but the whole family. His sister suffers plenty. Her life is restricted because of him.

There are normal things we don't do, or can only do on a limited basis, because we don't want to set him off.

Believe it or not, he's been banished from Sunday school because he loses control and I won't physically intervene because if I do, some wrinkly old biddy will call child protective services or the police on me. And since he's been banished, the rest of us can't attend church regularly anymore. We can presumably return if there is some indication that he's under control, but I'm not sure what proof we can have of that, nor will there ever be a guarantee that he'll never lose control again. My guess is that the church wants us to use doctors associated with the church.

He causes trouble at school sometimes.

I spend my time during outings trying to contain the situation and silently eager to return home.

We've taken him to specialists, he has his own therapist, he has his own psychiatrist. We've dealt with child protective services, police, and we've had to hospitalize him in a psych ward lockup. I've had to miss work for weeks at a time and leave work on an emergency basis multiple times.

The meds situation is trial and error, of course. Test and adjust. Everything has side effects. The only way of knowing what a med will do to him is experimenting with it. What way way to live. Whatever he's taking now hasn't eliminated the problem behaviors, of course - not that they are expected to.

Can you imagine how much time, money, and energy this all eats up? All of the appointments we have? All of the the paperwork there is do to do, phone calls to make, bills to examine and pay?

My wife, who couldn't be bothered to tell me about her own mental health history, has felt free to tell others about our son's. She says she needs the support. I'm sure it has nothing to do with attention and sympathy.

Just as I was blindsided by my wife's psychotic break and suicide attempt because I wasn't aware of previous episodes, since I wasn't looking for mental illness in my son I assumed his behavior was either typical to some boys are the result of our bad parenting, and it hindered me from more effectively responding more quickly.

So here we are, trying to find the "right" treatments, therapies, medications, and parenting techniques, dealing with problems just about every day, and there's no end in sight. I figure the best case scenario is that things largely get under control to the the point that he can take care of himself when he's an adult. Sadly, I wouldn't be at all surprised if my son kills himself or does something that gets him killed, or if he ends up homeless, in prison, or in ongoing hospitalization, making all of our current expense and effort pretty much a waste.

I can't imagine my son making a good husband and father if there isn't some permanent and effective solution discovered and applied, but I would discourage him from marrying and having children anyway.

I'd have none of this if I'd never married at all, or hadn't married someone who had inheritable mental illnesses.

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