A Letter to My Son with Mental Illness on Mother's Day
Sunday, May 10 2015 Christina Halli
Today, I write a letter to my son with a mental illness on this Mother's Day:
Seventeen years ago today, on Mother's Day, your dad and I climbed on an airplane and flew half-way around the world to adopt you. Back home, your nursery had a crib, toys and baby clothes. On the plane, we had a diaper bag, stroller and baby food. In our hearts we had dreams, hopes and excitement for the baby who would make us a family.
The adoption agency prepared us well for our new role as parents. They explained sensory processing disorder and reactive attachment disorder, since you spent your first year in an orphanage. They told us to anticipate language delays and possible learning disabilities because of poor neonatal care and lack of resources at the baby's home.
They never mentioned mental illness, bipolar disorder or social anxiety. Maybe we would have been less surprised when mental illness struck if we hadn't adopted you, considering dad and I both have mental illness in our families. Instead, we were taken aback that life was so hard for you. We cried when you cried. We worried when you worried. We suffered when you suffered.
Mother of Son with Mental Illness Received Help
I am grateful for the angels who came into our lives to help us. You know who they are. They pointed us in the right direction with hope and light during our darkest days. They educated and guided us when we were off course. They stood by us and never left our sides through the toughest times of our lives. Thank goodness for the doctors, therapists, neighbors, friends, mentors, trainers, coaches, teachers and principals who cared so much about you.
We can laugh about some of the things we have been through. There is the time you threw my car keys in a ravine at the golf course. I recall you wrestling me out of your room while I hung onto your desk for dear life. I am still amazed you piled all your furniture in front of your door so I couldn't get in. Remember when I tossed a glass of water in your face because I didn't know what else to do?
It is funny now because we have come so far and you have fought so hard. You are older, wiser and more mature. You are bright and funny. You are a wonderful young man. I am so proud of you, Bob.
Son with Mental Illness Helped Mother Grow
I am also thankful to you for helping me grow in so many ways. I am more patient, understanding, empathetic and compassionate because of you. I am not as quick to judge others, especially another mom. I've worked hard to be the best mother I can be for you. The bonus is that I am a better person.
I still have big dreams and hopes for you as you approach adulthood, Bob. I hope you will cultivate your gifts, strengths and talents and marry them with your passions and interests. I know you will honor your true self and not let your illness define you. I hope you will continue your self-care and broaden it to include all facets of your physical wellness and mental health treatment. I know you will share your story with others so they can know they are not alone and it does get better. I hope you will remember this message when the illness gets the best of you, as it surely will from time to time.
Today is Mother's Day. This is my last one before you are an adult. Next year you will be my adult child. Of course you will always be my child, just as I will always be your mom. I can honestly say I am proud you consider me your friend. I love you, Bob.