Please visit this link to hear a side of this story that is almost never told. As I read this mother’s post, I knew exactly what she was talking about, the abiding love entwined inextricably with moments of terror, all wrapped in frustration and incipient despair.
A member of my immediate family was an alcoholic with violent and abusive tendencies. Another member of my extended family is bipolar, and experiences periods of out-of-control rage. A family friend has a son with an autism spectrum disorder who is usually not violent, but is disconnected emotionally.
I could go on, but the point is that we all know somebody with the potential to do horrific things. Most of us have them in our family.
The scary thing is that the resources to deal with these people are extremely limited, both in availability and efficacy.After last Friday’s events, I was talking to a woman who had just read the story linked above, and her response was simple.
“Been there; done that.”
Her son was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, as well as a form of epilepsy. Over the years he has been arrested several times, spent some time in juvenile detention, went through both inpatient and outpatient treatment, been given pharmacies of drugs, yet was still subject to episodes of rage. In the past, he rarely turned that rage on other people, directing it at himself or inanimate objects, but the potential is always there.
Her eyes filled with tears as she said, “You are just…stuck. There’s nothing. There’s no help. And the blame is always put on you!”
She told me about one arrest, where she went to court with her son and the judge told her, “You better get your son under control. If I see you in this court again, I’m going to put you in jail.”
Why is it that it is so difficult to get help for these people before they do something like this?
I know part of the answer is that we simply do not know which ones will become violent and which ones will not, and any measures we take has to treat both groups fairly. We cannot hold people accountable for actions they did not commit; at the same time, we must protect ourselves from the ones who will become violent.
It’s a thorny problem, one that seemingly requires the ability to look into a person’s heart and measure what’s in there.
There are no easy answers, and that’s probably why it is so tempting to look in a different direction and go for the easy response. But that won’t fix the problem, just mask a part of it.
We will still have these folks out there who may be ticking time bombs, ready to explode as soon as the circumstances are right.
And those people will have parents, desperately looking for help to save the life of their child.