Turning points—those moments we can look back and pinpoint as a moment that made a change in our lives happen. An event that occurred September 15th was a turning point in my son’s life and yesterday was the culmination of that moment.
Yesterday was filled with emotion………and it was the beginning of what I pray is a new start, a new chance for a change in life direction and hope for the future, which seems a little brighter than it has in the past year.
The events yesterday, really began months ago…..actually years ago with the struggles my oldest son has endured throughout his life. I wrote about those struggles in my blog post It is Time to Start the Conversation and those struggles with mental health illnesses, including addiction, continue.
Yesterday was a culmination of a series of events over the past couple of months.
And it started with a phone call on a Saturday morning…..a phone call resulting from my text message to my son, who had been gone this time for a week…..a week in which we had no idea where he was or how he was. And he wasn’t answering our calls, a sure sign that he was not doing well with his addictions. So, I texted his phone, threatening to have it shut off if he did not call me that morning……..and then the phone rang, his picture and number popping up on my phone……..only it wasn’t my son on the other end, it was his friend. He wanted me to know that he had my son’s phone and that they had been separated from each other in a town two and half hours away from us. And he wanted me to know that he had finally discovered that my son had been arrested for drug possession, two days prior and that he was released from jail the night before in a town fifty miles from where the friend was.
Now I was worried.
I knew my son did not have his phone, money, or his car. And he was in the middle of nowhere. He did not know our phone numbers, so I did not know where he was or how he was doing.
Worry really set in.
And then an hour later, the phone rang…….a number I did not recognize. I answered, fearing the worst……and then I heard my son’s voice.
He sounded pretty shook up. And he told me that the police had confiscated his prescribed medication……how that happened along with why he did not have his car is another story for another time…….and the police refused to give him any of his medication. This is a medication that when he goes without it, leads to seizures and can have life-threatening consequences. He had been without his medication for 3 days by this point. And when he was released from jail, it was night…..with no car, no money, no phone and suffering without his medication, he had nowhere to turn.
So he spent the night in the cold sleeping behind a gas station near the jail………THAT visual, now more than a month after the event, still haunts me.
But even worse is hearing him say that he was in the emergency room…..the gas station attendant had called an ambulance because my son was having seizures…..on the concrete……….behind the gas station…….ALONE. THAT visual, THAT thought is difficult for me, even now a month after it happened and if I allow myself to spend too much time thinking about him in that moment I will lose it……my tears won’t stop.
He then said he wanted help and wanted to come home.
So, we headed out for the over 3-hour drive to pick him up at the hospital and then the over hour drive to get his phone and things from his friend and then back home…….7 hours on the road that day……..and when I caught myself getting emotional, I held it back…….forced myself to NOT go there……not yet.
That night, behind a closed door, I let it all out.
And then began a month of learning, roller-coaster emotions, and seeking help for my son.
I have learned a lot this past month………some I never wanted to learn and some I wish I had known years ago.
Our mental health system is broken.
Help is hard to get for those with no money and no insurance. And addiction is a mental health issue and help is difficult for those with no money and those with co-occurring disorders.
I spent hours and hours on the phone trying to get him into an inpatient program……..sadly we could not afford the tens of thousands of dollars those programs cost. And with no insurance, my son could not get into one of those programs. And government assistance does not cover the programs that help with his co-occurring disorders and most of the government covered treatment programs are outpatient.
Yes, he is getting help now. Slowly….one-step-at-a-time.
And we are doing the best we can to help him.
But it is his life and his choices to make…….something difficult for me to let go of. I am his mother. I just want to make it better for him……but I can’t. And the helplessness is difficult to deal with, weighing heavy on this mother’s heart and soul.
Yesterday, my son and I spent the day back in the town where all these events occurred over a month ago. And he stood before the judge, accepting a plea deal that will have him on probation for quite a while and require him to complete a drug treatment program. His dreams of moving away are on hold for now.
The emotions of this past month threatened to bubble up and escape as I sat in the courtroom, listening as the judge read the charges against my son……….
And then relief settled in……he is alive…….something I am not sure I would be saying if he had not been arrested. I believe that God had a hand in answering the prayers of my husband and I and that this arrest, on that day in September, is why my son is still here. He was headed down a dangerous road and now that he is sharing with us what has really been going on, I am so thankful that this turning point occurred.
He is ALIVE! I still have my son. And today……right now……I know where he is and how he is.
This is a new start for him, a turning point in his life and an opportunity to get help and to start LIVING because the past year, especially that past 6 months, he has not been living……..he was very lost.
We don’t have all the answers. And we may not be handling things perfectly, but we will keep seeking the answers to our questions and keep seeking the help our son needs and that we need. We will take it one-day-at-a-time, realizing that this is a journey and that it has been and will continue at times to be 2 steps forward and 1 step back.
And we will continue to love our son, unconditionally, praying daily that this works, that this is the time in his life when he will become the person he was always meant to be, that he will find peace and happiness.
And we know that no matter how bad things get, there is ALWAYS hope. ALWAYS!
We just have to take the leap, trust, have faith……and just breathe.