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Going Mental

Gage, before treatment

This is a picture of my son Gage from a year ago. He has had a lot of emotional issues. He’s been sick nearly all of his life with polycystic kidney disease, had numerous medical interventions and been near death with failing kidneys so it’s no wonder there are some emotional issues. Who knows? Maybe he would have had some or all of the same issues if he hadn’t been physically sick, too. We can never know.

What I do know is that the mental illness diagnoses that many doctors are throwing around is just their best guess and all of those guesses are different. The one doctor we’ve chosen to lead the rest is the one who has said, “it’s really not about the label, it’s about the symptoms, let’s look at the symptoms and let’s treat him so he is as functional as he can be.”  That’s how we feel about Gage. We’ve always wanted to help him be as functional as possible. That includes kidney function and emotionally as he tries to find his place in the world.

Gage had a mental breakdown. There were weeks of explosive behavior and it culminated into an explosive event on the high end of crazy, at school of all places. It wasn’t the Gage we knew. It was a different Gage; one with crazy glazed over eyes, crazy behavior and crazy thoughts. Crazy. It’s a negative word when used with explaining mental health.  Why is that? It was all crazy. For a bit my son was crazy, yet it wasn’t his fault. I’m not ashamed to admit we needed help. I’m not ashamed of him or the labels they keep using to describe him. Loving him means we like all the crazy that comes with him.

Gage, after treatment

A friend of mine said recently, “Crazy people need drugs, man.” We are experiencing was we know is better living through pharmacology as another friend puts it. This picture? Represents a year of trying to find the answers to help him and represents some success.

I do use the words crazy and mental very flippantly. But I’m fond of everyone processing their own experiences in their own way, including my own, and using those words helps me dial it down to real; to my experience. I fear I wouldn’t survive this craziness with my own sanity if I didn’t find a way to make it feel lighter. Admittedly, I’ve come a long way from the day I had to drive away from the (mental) hospital after having committed my son. That terrible, hard, sad, crazy day, I would have never thought I would have looked for ways to make Gage’s and our family’s situation feel lighter, but the language is just one way I do.

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