Sunday, August 1, 2010

A Conversation with a Concerned Mother

I had a wonderful time talking to an old friend. All of us mothers gathered together in the living room, our kids ran off to play with the other kids their ages, and the guys (funny enough) all went into the garage to look at guns.  Typical guy conversation...they love their guns.

When my husband told me about what they had been doing in the garage, and how their conversation was all about the guns, and arranging a time to meet together at the gun range to practice shooting etc. I cringed.

What is it with men and guns?  During the deer hunt a couple years ago, my husband left very early in the morning (around 5am) and returned very late each day - each time with no success, and without a deer.  One morning, a couple hours after my husband had left in search of a deer "buck" to shoot, I opened the trailer door to find a HUGE BUCK staring right at me.  It was extremely close to the trailer.  Quietly I told the kids to come out to see something.  The buck waited there long enough for the kids to come and see what I had seen.  There in the middle of the small country town, on our property, was a buck.  "Too bad Dad isn't here", laughed my oldest son.  We thought it ironic that Shane would be out scouring the countryside looking for the perfect "kill" when what he needed was right back in the middle of town, on our property (that was under construction).  Due to what happened one terrible night, with a gun, I too say all the time "Too bad Dad isn't here"... and whenever I see a gun I cringe.

I'm going to make up a fictitious story, but will use the events from last night and other conversations I've had with others to create the story.

So, imagine there is a mother talking to you.  She has a 14 year old son.  This son has ADD, but he starts to have other symptoms - scary symptoms that are unpredictable.

Imagine there is a wife who loves her husband dearly, has several children, but the husband has started to act a little bit "crazy" lately.  He makes rash decisions.  He spends money quickly, he angers easily, is extremely jovial one moment and then withdrawn and angry the next.  You fear for yourself, and you fear for your children.

As I looked at the pictures in the house that night I looked at the children in those pictures.  They were about the same age that my brother, sister and I were when my parents were divorced.  My heart ached as I wondered what it would be like if these children didn't have their Dad with them - like me and my siblings had experienced. Imagine if the father of the family has bi-polar disorder.  Imagine if the mother was the one with bi-polar disorder...

There was no one who could make me laugh like my Dad could.  He loved to embarrass me.  One time I commented to him that I felt a little self-conscious going into the store with my track uniform on. It was sleeveless and I wasn't use to wearing shirts like that outside of track events and here we were in a big city and were walking towards a nice clothing store.  My Dad started to talk to me loudly as if he was retarded. (Please don't be offended when I use this word - I can't think of another word to portray what he was acting like) So, Dad starts dragging one of his legs, puts one of his hands to his chest in a bent deformed way and starts talking with one side of his mouth in a forced, contorted way.  He started announcing loudly to everyone that they should look at my shirt.  Absolutely horrified, I ran into the store and hid behind a clothes rack.  I watched with amusement when my Dad entered the automatic glass doors dragging his leg on the ground, walking awkwardly, and still in his changed voice yelling out "Has anyone seen my daughter?" 

Seriously, this couldn't be real.... I started to laugh.  "My Dad is CRAZY!"  I can't remember all the details, but eventually he would begin to laugh like he always did where it starts like a little burst (as if he can't contain himself any longer - like a geyser about to erupt) and then with the force of a geyser at Yellowstone, the suppressed laugh explodes.  His body would shake at the thoughts of how hilarious the situation was.  I'm sure those guys packing boxes in the very back of the store heard my Dad as he couldn't contain the hilarity of the situation any longer.  He laughed, and laughed and laughed. 

As the laugh subsides, and my Dad's physical form returns to normal, I quietly peer over the clothes rack, like a meercat, looking out of its little hole in the ground to see if it's safe.   I venture out and my Dad probably gave me a big hug as I struggle to suppress my laugh.  He was funny, but I was always the one to roll my eyes or act annoyed at his jokes. At times I felt like I was the adult and he was the child. Looking back I wish I had relaxed and just been thankful for every "crazy" instance I had with him.  It's those "crazy moments" that I cherish.

While at the same store, Dad instructed me to get "whatever I wanted".  I knew better than to take advantage of his sporadic buying.  I knew that he really would buy me anything and everything I'd ask for, but I chose a couple of items and then remembered watching his grey short haired nearly-bald, tan head bend as he searched in his wallet for the cash to pay for the items.  My heart swelled with love for that crazy gray haired / almost bald man.  He was such a good Dad.  I thought to myself how grateful I was that he wasn't like "the other people with Bi-Polar Depression".  Mom had told me about individuals who would jump out of buildings thinking they could fly.  Thank goodness my Dad was different.... how could I ever possibly imagine how his life would end...I couldn't.  He was too good of a Dad to ever imagine something so terrible. 

I never knew that crazy man that my Mom had divorced.  I have only one memory of my Dad when my parents were together- and when Dad wasn't on medication for his bi-polar depression and it wasn't a good one. I don't remember what it was that made me mad, but I had gone into my room and wrapped my arms around one of the beams that separated the open space into two rooms.  I was only 5 years old, but I remember actually biting the beam as if it was my father.  I heard a voice...  the voice asked me if I was trying to kill my father.  The voice then asked me if I really wanted my father to die...  The tenseness in my tiny little body let go of the anger.  I put my head down in embarrassment.  No, I didn't want my Dad to die I replied in my mind in answer to the question of the unseen voice.

The memory of the above situation would help me to understand later on in life why it was that my Mom divorced my Dad.  She did it for us kids.  She feared for herself, she feared for us kids.

Growing up, my Dad would never once spank me.  I don't know anything that happened before that one memory, but I know my Mom well enough- and the love she still has this day for my father, to know that it wasn't an easy choice to make, but one she felt she needed to do for our safety.  The Dad I knew was very different from the one my Mom had divorced.

Dad spent several years trying to understand his depression.  It was his greatest fear in life.  He told me this once, and said that he feared the depression so much because he never knew when it would come on and he never knew how long it would last. 

I knew when Dad was going through one of his bouts with depression when I wouldn't hear from him.  One time he called me briefly and simply explained "it's really bad this time".  Taking time off from my college classes for a day, I went to his tiny rental house and cut some roses and put them in a glass pop bottle and filled it with flowers and other various leaves etc. making a bouquet.  I left him a little note that probably read "I love you" - Steff.  This was all that Dad's cards ever said... "I love you" - Dad.  To this day, I try to carry on that simplicity with the cards, because although I knew it was just a few words - a simple sentence, my Dad had the capacity to love us with a love I hadn't seen other fathers show for their children.  Dad would go without his shoes if it meant giving us something we needed that he could provide.

I was going to go on to describe some of the manic moments, some of the fun times, but I'll stop there with the memories.  Dad is gone now - it's been nearly 9 years.  It's all memories now.

My thoughts go back to that cute little family, the grandmother, the wife and the father that I spent time with last night.  He is struggling with the same illness my father had.  Of course there are various degrees of illness, but I pray that the gun that he has in his garage will forever and always be used only for target practice.  Chills run down my back, and my stomach churns at thoughts of it being used another way.

Please stop the problem before the children even have it.

I pray that my children will not suffer the hell that my Dad experienced.  I pray that their mind will not catch the illness, the bipolar depression that my Dad had.  I pray that they will be kept well.

None of us know what our trials in life will be.  A friend of mine all of a sudden developed seizures when he was a teenager.  He barely rested from a seizure before another one would come on.  They (he and his mother) went from Dr. to Dr. seeking for relief without receiving answers.  Eventually they would be lead to a chiropractor that would be able to test him and discover that the river water he swam in regularly was filled with deadly toxins that had been absorbed through his skin and had traveled to his brain.  A diet change and natural remedies would finally reverse his condition.  He is lucky that he is alive and that the toxins that leaked from a nearby manufacturing plant hadn't killed him.

When I was living in another town, there was a man that was a little frightening to me.  He seemed to always be staring at me, when he thought I wasn't looking.  It made me feel uncomfortable and I always wanted my husband close to me whenever he was in our home.  When my husband worked out of town for several days at a time, there were several nights that the spirit would tell me to leave the house quickly.  I would gather up my kids, get in my car - my heart racing, and would feel peace as I drove away. This was a difficult time for me.

In the bible, Cain did kill Able...their food was not adulterated like ours is.  Evil does exist in the world and we can't blame everything on food and water contamination or environmental influences. 

Now, to continue with the story of the man that made me feel uncomfortable...and the possible link to food that was causing his "crazy behavior"....

The wife of this individual, who has since divorced her husband, told me (while they were still married) that the Mom of this man had told her (the soon to be bride) that she should NOT feed him processed food.  The Mom had instructed her about how his personality would change when he didn't eat the way she fed him.  The mom knew her son and would feed him fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, sprouted grains etc.  The wife, unknowing how she was contributing to her husband's insanity, was not purchasing or preparing the foods like the mother had instructed her to do.  At that particular time in my life I had not experienced my trials with my health relating to MS...I wish I could tell her now what I know...of all that I understand as it relates to food, water etc.

Even if we feed our children the very purest water and food etc., it is not a guarantee that we will be free from illness -just like teaching our children the gospel is not a guarantee to be free from spiritual illness.  We may read the scriptures together, say prayers together, go to church together, serve others etc.  What if the child decides to stop praying, stop studying the scriptures, and decides to stop going to church? What if the child does something wrong and they end up in jail?

There are people that will influence our children besides us.  My Mom told me how there was a man from Las Vegas who had visited our tiny little country town when my brother was only 12.  It was this man who introduced so many of the kids in this community to drugs.  How sad would be 10-20 years in these kid's lives to overcome the addictions that were made so many years ago from someone who came to that little town with an evil purpose, who stayed there with relatives for only a couple of weeks. 

We do not know what our kids will be exposed to.  We can only do the best we know how.  Pray to have the humility to accept the truths you need to learn and the courage to implement those truths despite the inconvenience it may cause.

The mother that I spoke to last night made me think of my Grandmother.  The Mom explained about going from Dr. to Dr. when the son started having the symptoms of bipolar disorder.  At that day and age there was little known of the illness.  When my Grandmother was experiencing the trials with my father there was even less known about the illness.  The mother talked about not feeling right about particular prescriptions, about praying and being led to people that saved her from devastating mistakes with regards to medication etc. etc.

My father would eventually end his life after going off of medication.  My blog is NOT meant to have individuals stop seeking the advice and care of their doctor.  My blog is meant to prevent our children from getting ill.  As I struggle with my health I have been able to hopefully stop the degeneration that was happening in my body.  I am still working to have the strength that I was born to have in this life.  My prayer is that those who read this blog will make the change, if not for them - then for their children and grandchildren. 

Now that I am strong physically and mentally (because of the food choices we've made) I can know dedicate time to getting strong spiritually.  Some may argue that spiritual comes before the others - which I agree in many ways, but let me tell you about something I learned when I was a missionary...

When I was a missionary, during my time in the missionary training center, I was paired with another sister missionary who was going to Panama on her mission.  We were told one day that because I was paired with someone serving in Panama, I would need to accompany her to the "humanitarian classes".  For several weeks, in addition to learning Spanish, I would learn from the humanitarian class that individuals need food and water and shelter and clothing before they would be in a position to accept and live the gospel.

As I've lacked strength to barely care for myself and my family, it was impossible for me to serve in the church.  My relief society president came to my home one day and told me that she didn't want me to be a visiting teacher any more.  Please know that to be a visiting teacher requires caring or "keeping watch" on 2 or 3 women in the ward.  You teach them a lesson once a month that comes from the prophet and apostles in the Ensign (church magazine sent to your home each month with messages from the prophets, apostles etc.)  You make sure that their spiritual, physical and emotional needs are being met and if there are problems then you notify the Relief Society President who then works with Priesthood leaders to provide the necessary care or protection. Being a "Visiting Teacher" is one of the most important parts of "mourning with those who morn, comforting those that need comfort" that you promise to do each Sunday when you partake of the sacrament. It was like I had "failed" as a Mormon when I was "relieved of being visiting teacher".  Since that time, as I've struggled with health issues (they come in waves), I've had to find peace even though I wasn't attending church as regularly as I wanted to or serving for very long in a particular calling.  It's ok to take care of yourself, your children and your husband's physical needs first....then when you have strength you can reach out to serve others. I feel the greatest service we can do is in our own families.  Be well.  Make sure your children and spouse are healthy also.

If you've been disabled in any way, please look to the Lord to lift you up, to bear your burdens and to make them light.  As I spent several years so weak that I had to rely on others to help me walk and to drive me places, I felt a variety of emotions.  Whenever I worried about the future, or worried about what others were thinking I felt anxiety and fear.  When I looked to the Lord and prayed, I felt peace....complete peace.

My thoughts and prayers are with you!

I realized last night, from talking with the mother/grandmother, that not everyone has a computer.  Not everyone reads blogs.  And those who need to read this information most probably don't even have the strength to hold up a book by themselves.  Hopefully someday I can put something together than can be read to the one needing to hear the information.

In college, I had a roommate (during the time I was sick and searching for answers) who brought into my room some story books. It was a little silly at first, but I put aside feelings of pride and listened like a little child as this amazing sister (in the spirit) read to me - like a mother would.  I felt so loved and felt so happy.  Although I had to stay behind whenever my friends went out together, it meant the world to me for my sweet, kind friend to read to me.

I'm so grateful for friends.

Please be a friend.  My motto is becoming "all we can do is simply love them....never judge them".

Service without love is harassment.

My thoughts and prayers are with you!

-Steff E

No comments: