Thursday, September 19, 2013

I Did Everything I Could

In light of what is happening in the news and the debate over why no one got this man help sooner, I thought I would share a little story with you.

Back when Thomas was in school and was getting sicker and sicker I was down at the school a couple times a week talking to “the professionals” and firing off emails to teachers letting them know that Thomas has schizophrenia and that he was really struggling. I had a couple of teachers on board with me who kept a close, caring eye on Thomas and emailed me regularly to tell me what they were seeing.

One day, for an English assignment, Thomas was supposed to write an essay. What began as a simple high school English assignment became a manifesto written by my ever-worsening son. It outlined how he understood the world and where he saw his place in it. Frankly, knowing how sick he was, it scared me to death to read it. It was exactly what I said it was. It was a manifesto.

I personally took it to one of the school “professionals” and sat silently by as he began to read it. I sat there getting sicker and sicker because I knew that this showed how sick Thomas was and I was just waiting for him to stop and tell me that they would like me to take Thomas out of school. Within moments of starting to read it he began laughing.


I was STUNNED. He told me that this was the type of thing that they used to write in college and he handed it back to me.

Let me take stock of the situation here for you. Thomas had schizophrenia, he had been being bullied at school (which the "professional" knew about) but it had seemed to get resolved (but still), he was friends with a kid who it was well known that his father owned a massive arsenal of guns and he had just written what amounted to a manifesto about how he felt the world should be. ALL OF THESE THINGS THIS SO-CALLED “PROFESSIONAL” KNEW ABOUT AND HE SAT THERE LAUGHING.

I couldn’t breathe. I got up, took the writing along with some other things that Thomas had written that were concerning but that the “professional” looked at and didn’t care about, and I went and got in my car. I called Thomas’ therapist and told his secretary that I needed to see him right away and give him something and she told me I could bring it in and she would give it to him so I went in. Luckily he was just getting out of a session and he had me come in his office. I handed him everything to read and he read it and very appropriately told me that this was something of grave concern, that it showed “grandiose themes” and he wrote a letter to the school explaining just how sick Thomas was. He and I both felt that would then make them take me seriously. I hand delivered it to the “professional” and waited for him to read it.

After reading it he told me he would write a letter to all of his teachers explaining that he had a letter in his office about Thomas and his illness and that they could come down and read it. Let me say this. Out of 8 teachers, 3 came and read it, the rest apparently didn’t care.

So tell me this everyone. As my very schizophrenic child’s mom, had I not done everything I could to warn the school that he was struggling? I had been down there multiple days in 2 weeks time, most of which the “professional” wouldn’t take me seriously, I had provided written evidence from my son that he was sick, I had provided therapist letters, I had explained many things to him and still he did not take me seriously.

The question then is this:
Had Thomas gotten sicker and had he gotten (let’s say) ahold of a gun from his friend, had he come to school and shot the bully or a teacher he didn’t like, then HAD I NOT DONE EVERYTHING TO WARN THE SCHOOL AND HADN’T THEY BLATANTLY IGNORED THE SIGNS???

This is exactly the point of my story and my opinion of why people like the Naval Yard shooter slip through the cracks. In the worst situation someone was showing signs that everyone ignored (like in his case) and in the ABSOLUTE VERY BEST situation a mother went down to the school, provided all necessary documentation that her son was struggling and was IGNORED.


In Thomas’ case, he ended up hospitalized never having hurt anyone. I do not believe that he would have hurt someone, not the boy I know. But the truth of the matter is, if he had gotten sick enough, it wouldn’t have surprised me one bit if he had done SOMETHING, snapped in some way. Maybe he wouldn’t have shot someone, maybe he might have just punched the bully that had been harassing him but MARK MY WORDS, had he reacted in any way you just know that the school would have been right on top of that, speaking in the press about the schizophrenic kid who flipped out in school and somehow everything I had done would have been pushed aside.

Don’t get me started on what the aftermath might have been like. The point is, people need to take people seriously when they speak about hearing voices and feeling paranoid, or when a mother provides evidence that is concerning, directly to the school “professionals.” This is not something to be laughed at or ignored. People need help and we, as a society, are dropping the ball.

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