Wednesday, September 24, 2014

One Year Later

Garrett came to my room in the early hours of the morning not feeling well today.  I got out of bed and took him to the kitchen to get some medicine to help him feel better so he could rest.  My mind still not fully awake, I paused as I looked in the medicine cabinet, wondering what I could give him that would not interact with his medications.  I felt a happy relief wash over me as I remembered that there WERE NO other medications to consider anymore.  I gave him what he needed and sent him back to bed.  As I lay there trying to go back to sleep, I realized that it has been one year since we began the journey that has led us to where we are now.

If you are unfamiliar with Garrett's experiences with depression and bipolar disorder, I wrote about them here.  It was one year ago this week that we began treating him with a vitamin and mineral supplement from True Hope in the hopes of reducing or eliminating the stack of medications that he was taking with limited effectiveness.

So here is the update!

EMOTIONALLY - Completely stable.  The episodes of mania and depression have not returned.  His sense of self worth has grown steadily stronger.  His emotional maturity has also caught up to where it should be.  There are, of course, the normal ups and downs that everyone has, but he is now capable of handling things appropriately.  We are able to reason with him when he does something wrong, and he accepts consequences.  Previously, this was impossible because his ability to see our point of view was nonexistent.

INTELLECTUALLY - Garrett finished last school year with straight A's (a first!), rocked his standardized tests, and is completely caught up academically with his peers.  He has become a voracious reader, and read over 1500 pages this summer.  Before, we could not get him to tackle anything more complicated than a comic book. I don't know if it was an attention or a confidence issue, but he would not even think of tackling a novel previously.  He  is even talking (in 6th grade!) about looking into the program at the high school that would allow him to complete high school in 3 years, so he can graduate with the friends he began school with.

PHYSICALLY- He has put on 25 lbs. in the last year and is now almost as tall as me!  Before, his weight and appetite fluctuated with the cravings the medications caused, or the mania which made him not eat at all.  He is lean, strong, and healthy, and enjoys playing basketball, swimming, and riding his bike. 

SOCIALLY - He has been able to make and keep good friends.  He no longer asks inappropriate questions that used to make me cringe.  He has developed tact and an ability to understand how others are feeling and moderate his behavior accordingly.  This is huge!!  He has great friends at church and school who enjoy being with him, which makes me really happy.

Basically, the news is good all around.  He is where he should be in all areas and has no lasting effects from what he experienced.

WHAT I'M DOING NOW - I am at the point of wanting to know WHY this has worked, and what implications it has for others suffering from mental illness.  I plan to write to his former psychiatrist and his therapist and tell them Garrett's story and why we no longer visit them. 

I also plan to visit his pediatrician and hope to get her help in figuring out what caused this in the first place.  From the research I have done, I am suspecting a glitch in his Vitamin B12 metabolism.  If we know what's going on, are there other ways to solve for it?

I wonder regularly and ache for other families and individuals suffering through this.  It was the hardest thing I've ever done, and I know there are many that don't have the support and resources I do.  How many could be spared this suffering from something as simple as a nutrition supplement?  I am not sure how many cases of mental illness are caused by the same physical issues Garrett faced, but I know a number of people who have been helped by hearing Garrett's story and trying the same treatment.  If this is an answer, it needs to be shouted from the housetops, and more doctors and mental health professionals need to be screening for nutritional deficiencies when presented with a patient with symptoms of mental illness. 

Thank you to all who have loved an supported this amazing boy and our family through the last few years. I can't tell you what that has meant to us.  Thank you to those who picked me up when I was at the breaking point.  Thank you to those who withheld judgment when his behavior was atrocious in public, and it appeared that I was doing nothing to correct him.  I knew the cause of the behavior and that he needed treatment and love more than harsh discipline.  Most especially, I thank my Heavenly Father for leading us to ANSWERS and for providing His grace whenever I come up short.  I hope to do good with this gift I have been given.

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