Meet My Murderer

Milo. Milo Leonardo. Those are two of his four names. He was born on the winter solstice in 2003, as the light was returning. He weighed 9 and 1/2 pounds.  He had a full head of dark hair. He was pink and perfect. Until he wasn’t. At 14 months he started to wail. After that it was a steady accumulation of the language of misery, howls, complaints, opposition, defiance, violence.

When he was four we called him “the world’s smallest asshole.” Okay, not to his face, but to amuse and comfort ourselves. Hey, you know grown up assholes right? Well, they were four once. Too bad for their parents but that’s how it goes.  When he was five we visited my family in California (we live on the east coast) and my brother, a veteran teacher, the father of two boys and my lifelong ally and soothsayer took me aside and said, hey, he IS an asshole but he doesn’t have to be. Something is wrong with him. It’s not your fault. But it’s your job to get him some help. So we did.

We came home and had him assessed. And reassessed. Medication, therapy (all ongoing). The diagnosis is Bipolar which is controversial, but seems to fit. I’ll tell you my impressions of pediatric psychiatry later, for now we’re going with Bipolar. He has outrageous mood swings, sometimes several in an hour. He has delusions and paranoia.  He does not climb onto the roof and try to fly. He does not stay in bed for days unable to move. It’s not the cinematic version of the disorder, it’s the excruciating variation.  He can’t sleep much. He has an endless supply of not always productive energy. He hears any harsh word as character assassinating criticism. He thinks you’re out to get him, except when he thinks that you’re the only one who can save him. He is disruptive and explosive. There is a constant electrical storm raging in his head. He tries to calm it. He tries to ignore it. He tries to escape it. We’re hoping he’ll learn to coexist with it. And eventually manipulate the power and the beauty of his unending weather into a whole, long life.

Milo can’t go to camp. Mostly because camp isn’t prepared for his unpredictability. So we spend the summer together. And it kills me.  I’d rather be working, or working out. I’d rather send him off smiling to a day of splashing or stomping or capture the flag. Instead I fight to keep his screen time down, to get us each some exercise, to stay calm, patient and engaged as he bores me or disturbs me or exhausts me for hours on end. It’s the season of our discontent. And I’m anxious to share it with you.

 

10 thoughts on “Meet My Murderer

  1. I liked the toilet paper mummification at Sunday school – maybe a future activity for these dog days. You’re awesome.

  2. The world’s smallest asshole: I haven’t laughed out loud at the written word in years, but that got me. I’m just looking forward to reading more.

  3. You just described my mother–she was bipolar and an alcoholic who bore 5 children and made them all miserable because of her disease.She refused meds as they made her gain weight she said……many many sad stories I could tell..I lived most of my life hoping I did not get the same diagnosis ..she has now passed on but life was very hard for those around her with no meds in her system..when she did take them she was apologetic,loving and non abusive .. but because of the uncertainty of her mood swings I had to cut the ties at 18 and never looked back.
    I will be praying for your child and your family.If you need a shoulder to cry on E mail me ..I am a good listener.
    Pam R

  4. My son is 30 and just recently diagnosed. In a group session I was asked how I felt when I first found out, my honest response was,” well we just thought he was an asshole” I guess it is good to know he is not “just an asshole” Now my struggle is how much help does he need and how much is he holding me hostage to his diagnosis. Good luck, God bless.

  5. My friend Sean Wiley suggested I check you out. Mental Illness runs in my family. I have an older sister who was undiagnosed for years. She made life hell for everyone but no one understood why. My paternal grandmother was bipolar too (as, I suspect other members of her family). In my grandmother’s case, relief didn’t come until the 1960s when she started taking lithium and had electro shock therapy. For many many years, this was our “family secret.” It is great progress that this disease is now being recognized in younger children and openly discussed. I look forward to reading your blog and honor you in your bravery facing this difficult disease.

  6. I stumbled upon your blog today and found myself crying. For the pain your son suffers and what I know your family is going through. We too live day by day. My youngest son lives with bipolar disorder as well as other things and now he suffers PTSD because some older boys thought it would be funny to use him as a punching bag. My son has just turned 12 and has actually tried to kill himself 3 times already. Because he had an agressive meltdown at school,he has spent 3 months in JDC already. What gets to me is the guilt. I would think my son is an asshole and then guilty for thinking it. A friend once said that God only gives these special children to parents that can handle them and I thought that I sometimes I wished God didn’t have so much confidence in me. But what hurts the most is when people only see the disorder and not the child. My child also has a big heart and it breaks everytime someone rejects him because of his behaviors. Thank you. Its relieving to know we aren’t the only ones living this unpredictible life.

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