Tag Archive | Mental illness

No Escape


Wandering and wondering,
meandering aimlessly,
stumbling and tumbling,
hopelessly lost in a
labyrinth of thought.
Whispering illusions
of confusion, delusion,
welcome you in
with delight.
Teasing and taunting
with fragments of dream,
lies filled with truths
wrapped in remnants
of skin ripped from reality.
Every step forward
leads only behind.
There is no escape
from a shattered mind.

Crystal R. Cook

I’ve never cared for roller coasters.

imageI wrote what will follow this when my son was fifteen, it is a snapshot of a particular day in our lives – he is now twenty-two years old. There was a time I feared we would not make it this far together, I feared I might not be enough. There were days I was certain I wasn’t. I took each moment as it came, holding on to hope for the next and praying for the strength I so desperately needed.

It was suggested he be placed in a residential treatment home after his third in-patient hospitalization at the children’s psychiatric hospital. My heart broke at the thought. My heart has felt the shattering of despair many times over the years.

He was my second child, as perfect as his brother. I knew very early on that like his big brother, he was going to need some extra care. He began early intervention services at two for developmental delays. He began speech therapy at three because he was not learning to speak. He was provided with occupational and physical therapy to help his body assimilate to his surroundings, to try to help his sensory functions work with him rather than against him.

At three he was enrolled in a special needs preschool. At five he finally began to speak. In kindergarten they diagnosed him with ADHD and OCD, and he was very much both of those things, but there was more, something yet to be named.

By second grade he could no longer deal with the constant changes and expectations of a mainstream classroom and was moved to a special day class for what they called the emotionally disturbed kids, it was right across the hall from the regular special ed classroom.

This was the year of his first hospitalization. He was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and Autism by sixth grade, the same year he finally stopped soiling his pants. The medications they gave him helped . . . some. Middle school regressed him, it turned his world inside out, that was the year of his second hospitalization, the next year brought a third.

Done with doing it their way, I fought until he was placed in a special needs high school, the same one his older brother already attended, there he flourished educationally, but Bipolar is an insidious parasite we had to battle each and every day. We still do.

I look back on those years and remember how dark they often were, I remember wondering if we would ever come up for air. He has worked hard, he is an unbelievable young man. He no longer cycles as manically and as rapidly as he did in his youth, but he still has his many ups and downs. His life is not easy, navigating through the world with autism can be tricky enough without your own mind turning on you periodically in the process.

He amazes me. There is so much to his story, details I wish I could forget but know I mustn’t. I have to record them, hard as I know it will be. I want to share our journey so people will see the hope and the determination that can change a life when there are those who say it cannot be done.

There is always, always . . . hope.

This morning, before the sun began to shine he told me I ruined his life, and then he said he loved me.

When I thought he had calmed I said good morning to him, he said I purposely say things just to make him feel crazy, and then he said he loved me.

After he’d eaten his breakfast he told me it was my fault he is the way he is, and then he said he loved me.

He told me he’d rather be anywhere than here, and then he said he loved me.

This morning, before my day had a chance to begin he told me he never should have been born, and then he said he loved me.

This afternoon he threw a fork at his brother and then helped him clean his room. He screamed and he yelled. He cursed and he sobbed. He raged and he rested. He threw his shoes at me and then he asked for ice cream.

He had a fit of laughter followed by a slamming door. He said he was going to ride his bike off a broken ramp down the road, it’s dangerous I say, he replies, I can do it, I won’t get hurt, nothing can hurt me. I prayed for angels to keep close watch as he walked out the door.

Tonight he hugged me, and then he said he loved me. He said his prayers and he closed his eyes. As I walked from the room he said, “Mommy, today was a good day wasn’t it? I smiled through my tears and said “Yes. Yes it was little man.”

I never know what tomorrow will bring. Some days I don’t know what the next minute will bring. My fifteen year old son is bipolar. He cycles rapidly, the roller coaster that is his life never ends, it slows every now and again, but never does it stop. I hold his hand as we ride up and down and back again. Sometimes I want off. I want to plant both feet back on the ground but I can’t let him ride alone, I won’t let him ride alone.

He has mood swings and he rages. He is happy and he is tormented. He sees things and hears things that aren’t real. When he is happy he jokes and laughs and tells me he loves me half a dozen times each hour and I feel like I am walking on air, but I don’t know if that same boy will walk through the door after school. Will he hate me? Will he hide somewhere and stick safety pins into his fingers? Will he throw things at us or will he be able to smile still? I don’t know. I never know.

He is such a great kid, so beautifully and perfectly great. He has the sweetest smile and his laughter can melt hearts. I close my eyes each night in prayer and I open them each new morn with hope. I try not to think of what the future will bring, I just want to get him safely to tomorrow. Some days are better than others.

I do what the doctors say; I try what the therapists say to try. I grow weary, I do, but one day I know I will rest, one day I know he will as well. I have hope and I have faith and I have a son I love more than anything else. He is a good boy.

An angel with a broken wing, learning how to fly . . .

Crystal R. Cook


All the kings horses and all the kings men . . .

“Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. All the Kings horses and all the Kings men, couldn’t put Humpty together again.”

I will be putting my father on an airplane today. I don’t know just how I feel right now. I am thankful for the time we’ve had together, I just wish I could have done more, been more, and said more during his stay. He is quiet, spending most of his time locked away in whatever thoughts he may be thinking, hidden away within his room. We are much alike in that way. I should have made more of an effort to open the doors.

He came more out of need than desire, I suppose that isn’t entirely true, the desire was always there but until the need arose it was more of a want and a wish. I had hoped to fulfill what needs he had, to try to heal what needed healing, to nurture what needed nurturing, but I didn’t know how, I don’t think anyone does, not even him.

I don’t know much of the man who once cradled me in his arms, I know he loved me. I know he loves me still. The man I now know has been broken.

He is broken.

As I sat sipping my coffee this morning, thinking about his upcoming departure, that silly old nursery rhyme kept coming to mind. My father is Humpty Dumpty, at least he is in the picture formed by my thoughts as I let my coffee turn cold.

I think this Humpty began to break long before he sat on that wall, maybe that is why he was so easily shattered. No one noticed the insidious cracks that were slowly growing until they became crevices, few seemed to see the tiny shards that fell from his fragile shell as he walked among them.

Jagged bits of him became scattered here and there over time. Some who saw the pieces picked them up and pocketed them, in hopes of restoration, but perhaps they waited too long and forgot where they were meant to fit, or maybe they just couldn’t get near enough. Some of those precious pieces were simply crushed beneath the feet of those who walked beside and behind, without ever looking down.

Collectors of the broken pieces have attempted to patch him back together with mismatched parts they’ve carefully tried to craft themselves, but like puzzle pieces missing corners, they fit, but don’t quite fill the space where they belong.

Humpty looks whole when you see him from a distance, but when you stand with him, face to face, heart to heart, you see the places and spaces in his shell where something once was, where something should be. He is still beautiful, though broken, still shattered, yet whole. He is who he is.

I don’t know if anyone even noticed him climbing the wall he would eventually tumble from, No one seemed to see the danger until after the fall. All of those horses and all of those men never saw the pull it had on Humpty. He was small and it loomed large, offering false freedom on the other side. Humpty was trying to escape from something perhaps only he could see, but real and terrifying. Something that haunted him, something no one else could know. Whatever it was, it pierced his shell and it began to splinter.

He doesn’t need any more fixing, the time for that has passed. What he now needs is acceptance and understanding, compassion and care. He needs space and time to heal, perhaps the rest of time.

The King of Kings has promised healing, the true King has promised he would one day be whole again, when Humpty has finished his journey and he reaches the throne, every crack and every crevice will be filled. New and whole he will be, never again to be broken.

Until that day, be gentle with him . .

Crystal R. Cook