Saturday, March 5, 2011

One night when I was on call-

One night years ago, when I was on call in the OR, we were waiting for a possible procurement to arrive. It turned out to be a ten year old boy who had hung himself, and for timing reasons or family reasons, the surgery was cancelled. I don't remember exactly why.

What I do remember clearly is a resident asking... how could this happen?

So, I explained it to him. The best that I could. A child's pain. How a child doesn't understand the potential permanence of their actions. How sadness can take over. How even with all the support in the world, sometimes it's not enough. How it could happen. How it happened to us.

My son was maybe around two when something changed inside of him. As a mother, I always look carefully at my own actions, wondering if there was anything I should have done, or not done to have prevented these things from happening. There are always imperfections, things I wish I had done differently. But, I also have to acknowledge that I was an attentive, patient, and caring mom. Every action and decision I made, I can truthfully say that I put my children and their best interest first.

When my son was ten, he hung himself. He survived with anoxic and traumatic brain injuries.

I never used the word "mental illness" when explaining this to the surgery resident. We still hadn't even gone through the worst of it at that point. I only thought I knew what I was talking about. I didn't know it could get worse, but it did.

And seeing it now, when the child is miraculously an adult... my body just skips to the physically ill part for me. I want to put him first, but my body shuts down. And, there are other family members who know what the potential is here- and I need to put them first. Even if the consequences are dire. I've mourned my own childs death a couple of times over.

It was very unlike me to speak so candidly about what happened... I don't think that resident was necessarily being judgemental... it's was an honest question about life. There is no good explaination or reason. Mental illness is as painful and deadly as any other disease.


  1. You are an awesome mum - it just leaps off the page. As someone who has experienced depression (and I know that it isn't the same as what your son has gone through) I can honestly say it has nothing to do with how you are raised.

    Everything gets out of perspective.

    I can't imagine having to deal with it when I was a child.

    *hugs* to you and your family. Your son is a lucky person to have had a mum that has worked so hard to help him deal with his illness.

  2. It must be so tough, really sorry that you're going through this. Will offer long distance hugs x

  3. Oh, honey, my heart is breaking for you right now and if I am reading this post and your last post correctly, there is nothing that I can say other than I will keep you and your family in my thoughts and prayers.

  4. thoughts and prayers with you and your family (((hugs)))

  5. it is so motherhood. being the adult others will always depend on. doubting, questioning every decision we have made.

    at some point we have to let go of all of it...let go of trying to control and understand it.

  6. Indeed - mental pain can be just as deadly and I've often said I'd rather feel physical pain any day. His pain is not your fault - please know that. I love you.

  7. Sorry you are having such a difficult time, Lara. I will be praying for you and your family.

  8. {{{HUGS}}} I remember the exact day when my son at 8 years old told me he wanted to die. Pulled the rug out from under me. But we persisted because that's what mom's do. We do the best we can. My son is doing well but I blamed myself for so many years that he "had what I had (depression)". But the more we speak about Mental Illness, the more people will really understand. It isn't easily explanable because it can't be seen or touched. Hoping you get some strength from all of us out here in blogland because, you ARE an awesome mom.

  9. I am so sorry for what you are going through.

  10. I am keeping you and your family in my prayers.

  11. Ugh. This is absolutely heart breaking. I'm so sorry that you and your family have to go through this. You are absolutely right about mental illness - it is equally as painful. xoxo my friend.