Wednesday, May 15, 2013

It's always something

I went to bed last night and it was spring. I woke up this morning and it's summer (sunny and 80 degrees at 10:30am). Thankfully the weather is helping to deflect some of the sadness and frustration I'm feeling today.

The sadness and frustration has nothing to do with my older son. He is doing fine, living at his girlfriend's house with her mom and stepfather and best friend. In fact, he just landed a new job as a stock person at a fruit and vegetable market that should get him 40 hours of work a week. That's something he's really excited about.

The sadness and frustration I'm feeling today has to do with my younger son. As some of you know, he suffers from ADHD and depression/anxiety. He's had a lot of trouble in school since about the seventh grade and his first two years at the public high school where we live didn't go very well. Even with an IEP (Individualized Education Program) in place, it was a disaster.

That's why we chose to send him to a special boarding school in northern Michigan this year; a school that specializes in teaching kids with ADHD. Smaller classes, more individualized attention, a beautiful campus, etc.

The first few months of the school year were like a gift from God. Everything was going great, and my son was thriving. He was happy, getting good grades, and fitting in like we never dreamed he could.

But the last couple of months have been a challenge. His depression and anxiety have kicked in and his motivation to get up and get to class and do schoolwork has waned. His grades have gone into a downward spiral and there have been a couple of incidents that forced the school to change his status from "boarder" to "day student." This means he has to commute back and forth from school on a daily basis and does not spend weekends there.

Fortunately for us, my wife's parents live about 40 minutes from the school. So my wife and son have been staying there and my wife has been chauffeuring the kid to and from school. Unfortunately for me, this means that my wife is not at home. The last stint she spent away was almost two weeks, until she and my son came home this past weekend for my dad's memorial service. Then it was back up north on Sunday morning (Mother's Day, no less). In all likelihood, she'll remain up north until the end of the school year, which is June 7th.

Don't get me wrong. I'm all for doing anything to help get our son back on track in school. But the sadness and frustration I'm feeling is because the day student plan doesn't seem to be working. Our son is still depressed and anxious, and he's still way behind in his schoolwork. It's one of those situations where he's not motivated to do work because he's so far behind; but being so far behind makes him even more anxious and less motivated. So he falls even further behind.

If the situation doesn't improve, I fear that the school won't allow him to come back next year...which would be devastating. If he can't go back to that school, I have no idea where we would send him. I looked into the possibility of him going to another school we had checked out a couple of years ago, but they don't take seniors because it doesn't give them enough time to set up an individualized learning program for the student.

Although I fight it internally, I understand the current school's position. They specialize in teaching kids with ADHD, but they're not really equipped to deal with the severe depression and anxiety that our son suffers from; especially when it rears its ugly head in full force.

My wife and son are doing everything they can to try and combat this. Meeting with a therapist, adjusting medications, etc. Our son has started--on his own--eating better and working out daily. I think those things will get him feeling better about himself. I just don't know if it'll be in time for him to get his motivation back to do his schoolwork. I'm praying that it will be. I think we need another "God moment" in our lives.

It's tough being the parent of two boys with mental health issues. You do everything you can for them, but sometimes even that's not enough. My younger son is such a great kid, chock full of intelligence and goodness. But the depression and ADHD wrap themselves around his brain and keep the good stuff from getting out. Yes, mental illness sucks. Unfortunately, it's in my kids' genes and we just have to deal with it one day at a time.

There's another thing that's adding to my sadness and frustration, too. Because the school my son is attending is so expensive, I started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to help offset the cost of tuition for next year. I started this whole thing before the troubles began, not really thinking it would raise much money. But friends and complete strangers have been incredibly generous and have contributed more than $8,000.00 to date. Which is great. Unless my son can't go back to the school next year. If that happens, I will definitely refund all the money people donated. But I will be out the fees that GoFundMe takes out of each donation. That would just be a kick in the gut. Not to mention embarrassing as hell.

I wish--for the umpteenth time--that I had a magic wand I could wave over my kids' heads to make their depression, anxiety, and addiction issues go away. But I don't. So I will continue to live in the moment and pray for both my boys. God might get sick of hearing from me, but I'll keep on pestering him several times a day.

And special thanks to one of my dearest Facebook friends--you know who you are--who posted this quote on my page this morning:

"Everything will be alright in the end. If it isn't alright, then it isn't the end."

That about sums it up.


1 comment:

  1. “Hope is the thing with feathers
    That perches in the soul
    And sings the tune without the words
    And never stops at all.”

    ― Emily Dickinson -